OMay 10. Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia.
OJune 14. Continental Congress creates Continental Army
OJune 17. Battle of Bunker Hill.
OJuly. Congress offers the Olive Branch Petition in attempt at reconciliation with king.
OAmerican armies march on Montreal and Quebec.
OJanuary1. Americans lose assault on Quebec.
OJanuary. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense published.
OMarch. British evacuate Boston
OJuly 4. Declaration of independence adopted.
The British defeated the French and their Indian allies in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The result was British control over much of North America. But the war had cost England a great deal of money and Parliament decided it was time for the Colonies to pay a share for their own defense.
The American Revolution became inevitable as far back as 1643 when the New England Confederation of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven were formed for defense against Indians and the Dutch. In 1754 representatives of seven northern colonies met at Albany, N.Y. to consider plans for a permanent union of all colonies for defense against the French and Indians and for other purposes, however, the time was not right for a union.
After England won the French and Indian war in 1763, England turned its attention to ways of increasing government revenues to pay the war debt. England believed that the best way to increase funds was to further tax the colonies. It imposed Navigation Acts of 1651, 1660, 1672, 1696, the Molasses Act of 1733 and the Sugar Act of 1764. It required that most of the trade of the British colonies be carried on in British or colonial ships so that all tax collection could be controlled. The frontiersmen found that a Royal Proclamation of 1763 halted their expansion westward stopping them at a line created at the Appalachians.
Open opposition to all of these acts became serious when the Stamp Act of 1765 was passed. Parliament passed it with no thought that any colony would object. But the slogan “no taxation without representation” swept over the land and unofficial delegates of nine colonies met in New York City in September 1765 and drew up declarations of rights and grievances. Although the hated stamp act never went into effect and was repealed in less than a year, trouble continued.
In 1767, Parliament, reasserting its sovereign power, passed an act levying duties on tea, glass, paper, and a few other articles, only to arouse new opposition from the Colonies. In Massachusetts, British troops were used to suppress disorders, but this action led to the Boston Massacre, in which soldiers fired on citizens, under pressure, the act of 1767 was repealed and, by 1773, only a modest tax was left to uphold the principle of Parliamentary authority. But by that time the colonists had determined not to pay the tax. In Boston, Sons of Liberty, disguised as Indians, boarded ships in the harbor and threw cargoes of tea into the water, an action known as the Boston Tea Party.
The American colonists then took a serious step. Following the leadership of Massachusetts, the colonists called the First Continental Congress to meet in Philadelphia at Carpenters’ Hall in September 1774. Statesman with abilities such as are seldom found in a body of equal size, attended as delegates to the Congress. This Congress decided to cease importing British goods until its demands were met. It also provided for a meeting, if necessary, of a second Continental Congress in May 1775.
The well-known battles of Lexington and Concord followed on April 19, 1775. The die was cast and war had begun. The Second Continental Congress met in May 1775. It provided for the raising and supplying of an army and appointed George Washington of Virginia commander-in-chief. For a year the colonists fought only for their rights as Englishmen. At Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, and Boston, their soldiers demonstrated that they could defeat British regulars. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Although a committee reported it, the Declaration was written almost entirely by Thomas Jefferson.
In 1773, with the issuance of the Tea Act, the East India Company was granted a virtual monopoly on the importation of tea. In protest, a group of Boston citizens disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded a ship and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston harbor. This was known as the Boston Tea Party.
Parliament responded with the “Intolerable Acts.”
OAccused Colonists could be tried in England
OAmerican homes were forced to host British troops
OBoston Harbor was closed
This resulted in the First Continental Congress, in 1774, which met at Philadelphia’s Carpenters’ Hall. Twelve colonies sent delegates to discuss how to return to a state of harmonious relations with the Mother Country – not revolution! But radical thinking won out. Parliamentary acts were declared “unconstitutional.” Taxes were not paid, an import-export ban was established, and Colonists were urged to arm themselves.
The “shot heard ’round the world” was fired at Lexington and then later that day at Concord where armed colonists tried to resist British seizure of an arsenal. Eight Americans and 273 British soldiers were killed. The Revolution began.
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775 and they declared themselves the government. They also named George Washington Commander in Chief of the newly organized army.
In June 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill resulted in about 400 American and 1054 British fatalities. The first major battle of the War gave the Americans great confidence. Skirmishes in late 1775 led to the capture of Ft. Ticonderoga in New York and a win at the Battle of Crown Point, under the command of Ethan Allen. However, Benedict Arnold’s attempt to capture Canada for the Americans failed. In conclusion, on July 4th, 1776, Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence. The United States was born.