The American Revolution, also known as the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. War of Independence, began in 1775. However, for almost ten years before this, tensions built between Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and colonial government, which represented the British crown. The battles of Lexington and Concord officially started the armed war. The French joined the colonist in their fight for independence turning a civil war into an international war. With the France’s help, the Continental Army was able to force the British to surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1779. Although this officially meant independence for the 13 North American colonies, the fighting did not stop until 1783. To protect the colonist from Indian attacks, the British kept a standing army in North America. In 1764, in order to pay for this army, Britain passed the Sugar Act, which taxed molasses and sugar imported by colonists. This upset many colonists since they were accustomed to being independent so they formed the Committees of
Correspondence. They shared ideas on the new British laws and ways to challenge them. Boycotting became an effective way for the colonists to protest British laws. The Stamp Act and Townshend Acts followed the Sugar Act. Angered colonists boycotted British goods. In October, 1768, British soldiers arrived in Boston to restore order to the angry colonies. On March 5, 1770, a British soldier standing guard had an argument with a colonist and struck him. A crowd gathered throwing snowballs and verbally attacking the soldier. British troops arrived and the crowd grew angrier taunting the soldiers. Suddenly, the soldiers fired upon the crowd, killing a total of 5 colonists. This became known as the Boston Massacre and word spread quickly. In order to restore some peace, the British repealed all of the Townshend Acts except tea. In 1773, the British government made an arrangement, the Tea Act, with British East India Company to sell tea directly to the colonist at a discounted price, in hopes to minimize smuggling. Worried that this cheap tea would put them out of business, the colonists boycotted the shipments. As the ships waited overnight in the harbor, colonists in disguise snuck onto the ships and dumped 340 tea chests into Boston Harbor, becoming known as the Boston Tea Party. In 1774, hoping to restore order in the colonies, the British passed the Coercive Acts, which became known as the Intolerable Acts to the colonists. These acts only increase the colonist’s anger. In September 1774, the First Continental Congress, formed by a group of colonial delegates including George Washington, John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and John Jay, met to voice there anger against the British crown. Some thought that violence was unavoidable, while others had strict order to seek peace. Compromising, they halted all trade with Britain and alerted colonial militias to prepare for war. They also drafted the Declaration of Rights, a list of resolutions that included the right to “life, liberty, and property.” The King refused to read the Declaration of Rights and ordered British troops to prepare to seize the colonial militias’ weapons. On April 19, 1775, 700 British soldiers headed for Concord where the colonial militia had a major weapons storehouse. The Sons of Liberty set up a signal to alert the colonial militia that the British were coming. Members of the civilian volunteer militia, or minutemen, were summoned to duty. Seventy armed minutemen waited for the British troops at Lexington. At dawn, on their way to Concord the British were surprised by the minutemen. Suddenly, a shot rang out. The battle was over in minutes and 8 minutemen lay dead, 10 wounded. With only one man wounded, the British continued on to Concord destroying any weapons they found. The “Redcoats,” soldiers wearing red uniforms, made easy targets on their way back to Boston.