The American War Of Independence

The American War Of Independence

British Rule

The Stamp Act Protest, 1765 by Granger

The Stamp Act Protest, 1765 by Granger

The brutal and bloody eight-year struggle between the British Empire and the newly-declared United States of America, which comprised the American War of Independence represented a key turning point in world history, seeing the world’s most powerful entity lose an unprecedented amount of power and territory. Indeed, prior to the explosive conflict, tensions between the British and their American subjects were long-simmering. This had a number of underlying causes, the most notable of which was the heavy taxation incurred by the American colonies following the Seven-Year War with France, which had left Britain in financial debt.

Thus, the policy of tax imposition on British colonies was introduced in 1765 in the controversial Stamp Act. This was met with outrage by the American subjects, who had accumulated a great deal of wealth in the preceding years and perceived these new measures as unconstitutional, as they had no elective representatives in the British Parliament through which they were taxed. Indeed, these taxation issues would prove decisive in the intensifying conflict between the British and the Americans.

boston-massacre by Paul Revere

Boston Tea Party Massacre by Paul Revere

A pivotal development in the growing conflict between the British and the Americans, the Boston Tea Party was a protest against the heavy taxation recently imposed upon the colonies. Carried out by the Sons of Liberty, a secret society formed to protect the rights of the colonies, these activists boarded ships docked in Boston Harbour by the East India Company and destroyed the tea shipments by throwing them asunder. The Boston Tea Party is viewed as both a culmination of tensions between Britain and the Americas as well as a key catalyst for the American Revolution.

The British responded with punitive measures, crippling Boston’s economy through the Trade Act of 1774, which prevented trade from occurring within the region while also stripping Massachusetts of self-governing privileges. These, among others, were collectively known as the Coercive Acts, which were only met by increasing resistance from the colonies. This resistance grew increasingly sophisticated as the American Revolutionary War soon began.

US Declaration of Independence 1823, Stone Printing

US Declaration of Independence 1823, Stone Printing

Declaration Of Independence

Composed in the midst of the War of Independence with the British, the Declaration of Independence was a statement issued by the Continental Congress, a collection of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies, which comprised the United States of America. Officially adopted on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence announced the USA’s separation from the

British Empire and the beginnings of a new nation. Key figures in the composition of the Declaration of Independence were future American Presidents John Adams, who played a pivotal role in the drive for independence and Thomas Jefferson, who was selected by the committee to produce a draft of the Declaration. This would be amended by Adams and Benjamin Franklin, another future President. Printed and distributed to the general public, the document would go to resonate for hundreds of years after its inception, remaining a key feature of American cultural history.

Washington’s Role 

Walters Gilbert Stuart George Washington

Walters Gilbert Stuart George Washington

Known as the United States of America’s first President, George Washington played a pivotal role in the conflict between the British and the Americans, serving as the latter’s military and political leader, appointed the titles of General and Commander-in-chief.

Born into a wealthy colonial family of tobacco farmers, he quickly ascended the ranks of the British military during the French and Indian War. Due to his military experience, patriotic values and political abilities, he was a natural Act and particularly the Intolerable Acts of 1774.

Upon the creation of the Continental Army in 1775, Washington was appointed its leader. He devised the American Revolution’s basic strategy in collusion with the Congress, vowing never to surrender and to continue fighting, despite losing a number of battles. He also trained and organised the American army, creating a sense of structure within the newly-established military force. He also provided a representative face of the Revolution, an embodiment of the ideal of resistance against the British, arguably his most important function of all.

His political manoeuvring allowed a number of different, potentially
unwieldy forces, such as the continental army, the congress and allies such as the French, motivated and co-operative towards the same goal. Amongst his most notable military
accomplishments were the Siege of Boston in 1776 wherein he ousted the British, the crossing of
the Delaware River, and the small yet pivotal Battle of Trenton, which boosted the Revolutionaries’
wavering morale and renewed a sense of inspiration amongst the soldiers.

Key Battles

Over the eight year conflict, there were several military engagements, some of which carried more significance than others. Arguably the most notable were the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which signified the beginning of the conflict between the British and the Americans.

With the colonial assembly having formed a provisional government-the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, the British interpreted this as a state of rebellion and thus assembled 700 troops in Boston under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith. The Patriots however, having been informed of the British military’s movements, were prepared for this, and were able to plan an effective strategy to combat the British.

Despite initially being overwhelmed by the British, the Patriots managed to oust the British from North Bridge, causing them to retreat to the rest of the British forces. With a combined force of 1,700 men, they were forced into a tactical retreat as the Patriots prevented access to Charlestown and Boston, thus beginning the Siege of Boston.

Considered the beginning of outright military engagement between the two sides, the opening gunshot by the patriots was termed ‘The shot heard round the world’, indicative of the battle’s importance in the grand scheme of American, and even world history.

The Siege of Boston, which immediately followed the Battles of Lexington and Concord, was another key phase of conflict in the American War of Independence, lasting nearly an entire year from April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776.

With the British Army’s movements by land restricted entirely to the city of Boston, a siege broke out. Although the British seized Bunker Hill in June, they suffered heavy casualties with over 1,150 dead or wounded in comparison to the 400 American casualties. They were also unable to make an impact on the British military’s control of Boston. A key turning point of the conflict came in November, when Commander-in-Chief Washington dispatched former bookseller Henry Knox to transport heavy artillery into Boston from Fort Ticonderoga.

Over a few months, the Continental Army were able to fortify the Dorchester Heights region with canons, thereby severely constricting the supply lifeline to the British. With no choice left, the British retreated from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, marking a key and decisive American victory.

The Battle of Trenton in December 1776 was another key victory for the Colonial Americans despite being a small battle. With the British having exercised a period of military dominance previously, the Continental Army were forced into a state of retreat. With morale at an all-time low, Washington formulated a plan to cross the Delaware River, surrounding and overwhelming a garrison of Hessian soldiers, definitively defeating them.

Battle of Trenton by Charles McBarron

Battle of Trenton by Charles McBarron

Although there were less than 100 British casualties, the Battle of Trenton nonetheless proved to be a definitive turning point in the conflict, affording the Continental Army an inspirational morale boost, causing a huge influx of new recruits.

The Siege of Yorktown was another armed conflict of huge importance, signalling the end of the conflict as well as the height of co-operation between the Continental and French Armies. The last major land battle, it lasted nearly an entire month. With the French having arrived in Rhode Island in 1780, numbering 5,500, the two armies united near New York City in Summer 1781.

The British defence had weakened significantly in recent months as a result of American and French bombardments. The British, under the command of Lord Charles Cornwallis, found their situation spiralling further and further out of control, sustaining over 300 casualties. In addition, over 7,000 British soldiers were captured by the Americans and the French. Cornwallis was forced to surrender, the ceremony of which took place after two days of negotiation. While the conflict wasn’t entirely over, the siege of Yorktown signified the beginning of the end.

 

Signing of the preliminary Treaty of Paris, November 30, 1782

Signing of the preliminary Treaty of Paris, November 30, 1782

Victory

Following the Siege of Yorktown, American liberation was all but inevitable. While King George III pledged to continue the fight, the British Empire soon became preoccupied with conflict else whereas a number of Britain’s other colonies in the West Indies became threatened by French and Spanish forces. As a result, Parliament decided to call off all offensive operations in America and begin negotiations towards peace. While over 30,000 British soldiers remained in North America, in Savannah, New York City and Charleston, all land combat had ended. While naval conflict in the West Indies remained ongoing, peace gradually began to take form, culminating in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Support for the war in Britain had fallen significantly since the Yorktown fiasco, with the House of Commons voting to cease all conflict once and for all in April 1782. After months of negotiations, the Treaty of Paris marked a formal end to conflict, with the United States attaining all North American territory between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains, which angered the First Nations and leading to further conflict in later years. Despite this, hostilities had, for the better part, ended, and the United States had formally been established.

The American War Of Independence

Study Guides

A Short History Of Convict Australia

Who Were The Convicts? The late 18th century was a period of immense social and political change. France was reeling from revolution and America had just gained her independence. In…

The French Revolution

The French Revolution is one of the most important instances of political upheaval in history, marking France’s transition from Empire to Republic after centuries of monarchy. Lasting a period of…

The Nazis & The Holocaust

Who Were The Nazis? The Nazis, abbreviated from the National Socialist Germany Worker’s Party, rose from the civil unrest in the interwar years in Germany. Spearheaded by Adolf Hitler for…

The Crusades

The Crusades were military campaigns endorsed by the Latin Roman Catholic Church during the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. Pope Urban II declared the First Crusades with the…

Chinatowns Of The World

Chinatowns are located all around the world, from the Americas to Europe as well as Africa, Australia and Asia. These areas are historically known as any ethnic enclave of expatriate…

The Lost World Of Joseph Banks

Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist, explorer, collector, patron and President of the Royal Society for more than 40 years was one of Australia’s founding fathers.  As a young botanist, he accompanied…

A Short History Of Beer

Many anthropologists and archaeologists now believe that it was a taste for beer, not bread that started people farming barley around 9000 BC. Known as the agricultural revolution, it ended…

The Spanish Empire

Lasting nearly five centuries, The Spanish Empire was, at its peak during the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, the world’s most prominent global power, earning the nickname ‘The empire on…

Latin American Independence Movements

The political chaos in Spain predictably resonated throughout its empire, most significantly in Spanish America, which became a battleground for several independence movements during the early 19th Century, marking the…

Planet Of The Apes

The primate family, most closely related to humans, is in danger of becoming extinct. This is largely due to the activities of the nearly seven billion humans inhabiting the earth.…

The English Civil War

 One of the most important and violent periods in British history, the English Civil War was a series of closely related conflicts during the 17th Century, which saw the monarchy…

Volcanoes

Volcanoes have fascinated mankind for generations – their enormous beauty and destructive power revered in awe. They have been worshiped, immortalized in folklore and voraciously studied by geologist throughout the…

The Mongol Empire

One of the most imposing military and imperial forces in history, the Mongol Empire cemented itself as a power to be reckoned with over a very quick period of time.…

The Story Of Cheese

Cheese is one of the most ubiquitous foods in the world, ever-present across the world. Its many different variants reflect the cultural and culinary identity of each corresponding country. History…

Colonial Australia: The Gold Rush And...

The Gold Rush The Victorian gold rush was quite a significant part of Australia’s history, which began in 1851 when one of the earlier discoveries by Thomas Peters, a hut-keeper…

Native Americans

Given their near-genocidal treatment at the hands of European colonialism, the current population of Native Americans in the United States remains staggeringly low at over 5 million, just over 1.6%…

Galleons, Pirates And Treasure

Christopher Columbus put the Americas on the map in 1492. Shortly after, this ignited over 250 years of treasure hunting and vicious competition with the English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese,…

A Short History Of The Moors

Granada – the word in Spanish means pomegranate – a fruit brought to Spain by Moslem tribes from North Africa in the 8th century. They were known as the Moors…

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade (1501-1867), sold at least 12.5 million black Africans as slaves to work for white land-owners on the other side of the ocean. Of these 1.8 million…

A Brief History Of Japan

 The early periods of Japanese history can be divided into four distinct periods. Firstly, the Japanese Paleolithic Period, which lasted several millennia between 40,000 BC to 14,000 BC. Human presence…

A Short History Of Tea

Food Facts: Where: Began in China, now consumed throughout the world, most notably in Japan, England, America, Russia and India. Serving Suggestion: Green Tea - serve without milk and honey to sweeten. Black teas -…

A Global Guide To Coffee Tasting

Coffee primarily grows within a belt thirty degrees north and south of the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Within this belt, more than eighty countries…

Route 66

Route 66 is commonly known as few different names, from Will Rogers Highway, The Main Street of America to the Mother Road, each identifies the famous stretch of highway that…

Who Were The Vikings?

Often misconstrued in contemporary times as a culture of bloodthirsty yet noble savages, the Vikings’ historical legacy is in fact far more complex and important. A race originating from modern day…

Wellington Vs Napoleon

In 1814, it seemed that twenty five years of war in Europe was finally coming to an end with the surrender of the Emperor Napoleon and his banishment to the…

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire occupies a special place in the collective consciousness of the West, at once a dark star on the eastern horizon, threatening the very existence of Western civilisation,…

What Caused World War I?

World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars, no matter what you call it, it was a game changer. Lasting from 1914 to 1918, this war…

The American Civil War

A house divided against itself cannot stand.  I believe this government cannot endure  permanently half-slave and half-free. — Abraham Lincoln, 1858 What Was The American Civil War? A war fought…

The American War Of Independence

British Rule [caption id="attachment_23753" align="alignright" width="300"] The Stamp Act Protest, 1765 by Granger[/caption] The brutal and bloody eight-year struggle between the British Empire and the newly-declared United States of America, which…

The Journey of Spices

Spices conjure images of tempting culinary art, fascinating travels and bitter struggles for supremacy. Expressions like variety are the spice of life and sugar and spice and all that is…

The Spanish Inquisition

One of the darker periods of Spanish history is the Spanish Inquisition, which entrenched Spain for over 350 years. Also known as The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the…

The Story Of Chocolate

Our love affair with chocolate began at least 4,000 years ago in Mesoamerica, in present-day southern Mexico and Central America, where cacao grew wild. When the Olmecs unlocked the secret…

Global Cities: Melbourne

No Australian city better personifies the country’s multiculturalism than Melbourne, one of the most diverse melting pots on the planet. The city is one of the most ethnically and culturally…

The Korean Diaspora

Overall, the Korean diaspora is comprised of around 7 million people. This includes Korean-born emigrants as well as the descendants of emigrants. This total includes people from all parts of…

The British Diaspora

Given the supremacy of the British Empire for much of the Age of Discovery, the British diaspora is widely dispersed throughout the world. The United Kingdom retains some control of…

The Mexican Diaspora

Mexican immigration is one of the more contemporary and urgent strands of global mass movement. The Mexican diaspora population is overwhelmingly based in the United States due to geographical proximity.…

The German Diaspora

The German diaspora, like many European populations, is difficult to quantify and is best divided into two separate groups. Countries with large populations of German descent and large countries with…

The Scandinavian Diaspora

The Scandinavian diaspora encompasses the foreign populations of five different countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Despite the distinction between the countries, they bear a number of cultural and…

The Persian Diaspora

The Persian diaspora currently numbers at around 4.5 million people around the world. A significant portion of this population lives in the United States, numbering around 1.5 million (most of…

The Jewish Diaspora

The history of the Jewish diaspora stretches back thousands of years. It remains a contentious and culturally significant issue. The Jewish Homeland of Israel remains a hotbed of political and…

The Thai Diaspora

The Thai diaspora is estimated to account for around 1.1 million people across the world. The most significant Thai populations around the world are based in the United States (247,000),…

The Filipino Diaspora

The Filipino diaspora is one of the largest and most spread-out in the world. Indeed,it is estimated to consist of over 10 million people, 10% of the country’s population. Countries…

The Armenian Diaspora

The Armenian diaspora has a long and extensive history stretching back nearly two millennia. Armenia has been a country which has long been contested by a number of larger powers…

The Japanese Diaspora

The Japanese diaspora has a very rich and unique history despite being a very recent phenomenon. Japan was notably one of the most isolated countries on the planet up until…

The Chinese Diaspora

As the most populous country in the world, it is of little surprise that China has one of the largest diasporas on the planet. It is estimated that there are…

The Vietnamese Diaspora

The Vietnamese diaspora has a population of 4 million people, over half of whom live in the United States. Other countries with significant Vietnamese populations include Cambodia (600,000), France (350,000),…

The Ethiopian Diaspora

The Ethiopian diaspora, despite the long and extensive history of the country, is relatively small and confined to certain countries. With a total population of 107 million, less than 1…

The Cambodian Diaspora

The Cambodian diaspora, as is the case with many other Southeast Asian countries, does not have a relatively long history. The Cambodian Civil War of the 1960’s and 1970’s was…

The Puerto Rican Diaspora

The Puerto Rican diaspora is overwhelmingly centralised in the United States due to the former essentially being a part of the latter. Puerto Ricans comprise 10% of the United States’…

Global Cities: Paris

As one of Europe’s most important major cities, Paris is known for its distinct cultural identity, something which makes it one of the most appealing cities for visitors. With centuries…

The Italian Diaspora

The Italian diaspora is one with a long and extensive history and provides one of the definitive immigration narratives in the world. It can be divided into three major stages.…

The Indian Diaspora

The Indian diaspora is the largest in the world, numbering 31.2 million. It is widely dispersed throughout the world, with sizeable populations across each continent. The United States is home…

The Bangladeshi Diaspora

The Bangladeshi diaspora is one of the largest in the world, with a population of over 7.5 million people. It is fairly evenly distributed around the world, with no country…

The Pakistani Diaspora

The Pakistani diaspora is one of the largest immigrant populations in the world, numbering around 9 million. The large majority are based in the Middle East, particularly in the Arab…

The Sri Lankan Diaspora

The Sri Lankan diaspora is relatively large in comparison to the country’s overall population. 3 million Sri Lankans live overseas, with Western Europe, the Arab Gulf States and North America…

The Arab Diaspora

The Arab diaspora is one of the most widespread immigrant populations around the world, as well as one of the trickiest to define. Unlike most diaspora populations, Arabs are not…

The Irish Diaspora

The Irish diaspora is one of the largest in the world. Ireland itself has a very small population of 4.8 million. More than double this number has emigrated from Ireland…

The Polish Diaspora

The Polish diaspora is widespread and has been notably oppressed for centuries by a number of different external forces. This has caused it to become dispersed throughout the world, with…

The Nigerian Diaspora

The Nigerian diaspora is one of the largest African immigrant populations in the world, but its actual size is very difficult to estimate. The advent of colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic…

The Jamaican Diaspora

The Jamaican diaspora is a very large one in proportion to its overall population. The Caribbean island nation has a population of 4.4 million. Its diaspora population is over 2…

Showing study guides -