The war was the result of the political American Revolution. The British Parliament insisted it had the right to tax colonists to finance the colonies' military defense, which had become increasingly expensive due to the French and Indian Wars. The colonies argued that they already spent much through local government to maintain their place in the British Empire, with Benjamin Franklin appearing before the British Parliament testifying "The Colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions." The colonists claimed that, as they were British subjects, imposing laws in Parliament upon the colonists, and particularlytaxation without representation, was illegal. The American colonists formed a unifying Continental Congress and a shadow government in each colony, though at first wishing to remain in the Empire and loyal to the Crown.
The American boycott of taxed British tea led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when shiploads of tea were destroyed. London responded by ending self-government in Massachusetts and putting it under the control of the British army with General Thomas Gage as governor. In April 1775 Gage learned that weapons were being gathered in Concord, and he sent British troops to seize and destroy them. Local militia confronted the troops and exchanged fire (see Battles of Lexington and Concord).
After repeated pleas to the British monarchy for intervention with Parliament, any chance of a compromise ended when the Congress were declared traitorsby royal decree, and they responded by declaring the independence of a newsovereign nation, the United States of America, on July 4, 1776. American Loyalists rejected the Declaration, and sided with the king; they were excluded from power everywhere. American attempts to expand the rebellion intoQuebec and the Floridas were unsuccessful.
France, Spain and the Dutch Republic all secretly provided supplies, ammunition and weapons to the revolutionaries starting early in 1776. By June 1776 the Americans were in full control of every state, but then the British Royal Navy captured New York City and made it their main base. The war became a standoff. The Royal Navy could occupy other coastal cities for brief periods, but the rebels controlled the countryside, where 90 percent of the population lived. British strategy relied on mobilizing Loyalist militia and was never fully