The American Revolution and the New Nation (1775–1787) for AP US History
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Summary: The Second Continental Congress, meeting in May 1775, began to prepare the American colonies for war. The impact of Common Sense by Thomas Paine and other documents continued to fan anti-British sentiment in the colonies, although there were still a number of loyalists who supported British policies. As commander of the colonial army, George Washington practiced a defensive strategy, which, along with invaluable assistance from the French, helped to defeat the British army. The first government of the new nation was established by the Articles of Confederation, which created a weak national government.
Second Continental Congress (May 1775): meeting that authorized the creation of a Continental army; many delegates still hoped that conflict could be avoided with the British.
Common Sense (1776): pamphlet written by Thomas Paine attacking the system of government by monarchy; this document was very influential throughout the colonies.
Battle of Yorktown (1781): defeat of the British in Virginia, ending their hopes of winning the Revolutionary War.
Treaty of Paris (1783): treaty ending the Revolutionary War; by this treaty Great Britain recognized American independence and gave Americans the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.
Articles of Confederation (ratified 1781): document establishing the first government of the United States; the federal government was given limited powers and the states much power.
Northwest Ordinances (1784, 1785, 1787): bills authorizing the sale of lands in the Northwest Territory to raise money for the federal government; bills also laid out procedures for these territories to eventually attain statehood.
The American Revolution
Prelude to Revolution: Lexington and Concord: April 1775
Events in the colonies had little effect on attitudes in Britain. Both George III and Lord North still insisted that the colonies comply with edicts from England. What they failed to realize was that royal authority in the colonies was routinely being ignored. British General Thomas Gage was the acting governor of Massachusetts, and in early 1775 he ordered the Massachusetts Assembly not to meet. They met anyway.
Gage also wanted to stop the growth of local militias. On April 19 he sent a group of regular British troops to Concord to seize colonial arms stored there and to arrest any "rebel" leaders who could be found. As you learned in second grade, Paul Revere and other messengers rode out from Boston to warn the countryside of the advance of the British soldiers. At dawn on April 19, several hundred British soldiers ran into 75 colonial militiamen on the town green in Lexington. The British ordered the colonists to disperse; in the confusion, shots rang out, with eight colonists killed and ten wounded.
The British marched on to Concord, where a larger contingent of militiamen awaited them. The British destroyed military stores and food supplies and were ready to return to Boston when the colonists opened fire, with three British soldiers killed and nine wounded. The British were attacked as they retreated to Lexington; they lost 275 men, compared to the 93 colonial militiamen killed. At Lexington, the British were saved by the arrival of reinforcements.
Several weeks later, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British. Cannons from the fort were dragged to Boston, where they would be a decisive factor in forcing the British to leave Boston harbor in March 1776.
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