Bloodshed at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775 was a clarion call to arms. TheSecond Continental Congress met in Philadelphia the next month in May, 1775. Theconservative element in Congress was still strong, with no well-defined sentiment forindependence. The Congress hopefully drafted new appeals to the British people andking, while also adopting measures to raise money and to create an army and a navy.
BUNKER HILL and HESSIAN HIRELINGSThe clash of arms continued on a strangely contradictory basis. On one hand, theAmericans were emphatically affirming their loyalty to the king and earnestly voicingtheir desire to patch up difficulties. On the other hand, they were raising armies andshooting British soldiers.This curious war of inconsistency was fought for 14 months, from April 1775 until July1776, when independence was officially declared.
In June 1775 the colonials seized a hill, now known as Bunker Hill (actually Breed’s Hill),from which they menaced the enemy in Boston. The British blundered bloodily when theylaunched a frontal attack. Strongly entrenched American sharpshooters mowed down theadvancing British. But the colonists ran out of gunpowder and were forced to retreat.
Even in July, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted the “Olive Branch Petition,”professing American loyalty to the crown and imploring the king to end the violence.But following the bloodshed at Bunker Hill, King George III slammed the door on all hopeof reconciliation. In August of 1775 he officially declared the colonies in an officialstate of rebellion. Colonial violence and propaganda was treason, punishable by hanging. In September, 1775, King George III hired thousands of German troops to help crush the rebellion. The German royalty needed the money; the British needed the manpower. Americans called these German mercenaries Hessians. How did they prove as soldiers?
THE ABORTIVE CONQUEST of CANADA In the fall of 1775, the Americans daringly undertook a two- pronged invasion of Canada. American leaders erroneously believed that the conquered French would seize the opportunity to attack the British. A successful assault would add a 14th colony, while depriving Britain of a valuable base for striking at the colonies. The bold attack on Canada narrowly missed success. The two American forces were beaten back and the French-Canadian leaders showed no desire to welcome the anti-Catholic invaders. Gen. Montgomery Gen. Arnold
THOMAS PAINE PREACHES COMMON SENSEWhy did the Americans largely deny any intention of independence? What factorswould cause the change of heart for many Americans?
Then in 1776 came the publication of Common Sense, one of the most influentialpamphlets ever written. Its author was radical Thomas Paine. Common Sense highlightedthe following points:1. Attacked America’s intrepidness and inconsistency 2. Nowhere in the physical universe did the smaller heavenly body control the larger one. Then, why should England control the vast continent of North America? 3. America had a sacred mission, a moral obligation to the world, to become independent 4. Paine called for independence and the creation of a republic 5. France would not aid America unless a complete break with Britain was made•American waverers now saw their cause rationalized through self-determination &democracyNot all Patriots agreed with Paine’s ultra-democratic approach to republicanism – explainwhy
JEFFERSON’S “EXPLANATION” of INDEPENDENCE Richard Henry Lee (VA) declared American independence on June 7, 1776. His motion was adopted on July 2, 1776. But John Adams called for a formal explanation to the colonies and the world. Congress appointed a committee to prepare a statement. Thomas Jefferson was appointed to draft the document.
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress.
PATRIOTS and LOYALISTSNathan Hale Loyalists Fleeing
The war of independence was also a civil war. Like many revolutions, the AmericanRevolution was a minority movement: 1. Many Americans were apathetic or neutral 2. Both Patriots and Loyalists competed for civilian allegiance 3. The British proved inept at exploiting colonial divisionLoyalist (Tories), approx. 20% of the population, remained loyal to the crown: 1. Loyalists were in a “no-win” situation 2. Conservatives generally remained loyal (older; more content with their lot; feared change) 3. Loyalists were least numerous in New England
The American Revolution was also an American civil war. Families & friends sometimesbitterly split over their loyalties. Benjamin Franklin suffered an irreparable split with hisson, William, over the war.
THE LOYALIST EXODUS The persecution of Loyalists was relatively mild prior to 1776. The retaliation worsened after 1776 – many estates were confiscated and sold. Approximately 50,000 Loyalists bore arms for the British. And Loyalists aided the British by providing intelligence and inciting Indians – the British never fully utilized them (mistrust).
GENERAL WASHINGTON at BAY Disaster befell the Americans in the summer and fall of 1776. Outgeneraled and outmaneuvered, they were routed throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Washington and his army were on the verge of annihilation. The wonder is that Gen. William Howe did not speedily crush the demoralized American forces. Why did he allow Washington off of the hook?
During the early months of the war, Gen. Washington was being out-fought by British forces. As hisarmy teetered on the brink of collapse, Washington utilized one of his greatest strengths –establishing an elaborate spy network to gather intelligence on the enemy to keep them off balance.
Washington, who was almost counted out, stealthily re-crossed the Delaware River andattacked Trenton on December 26, 1776. He surprised and captured 1,000 Hessians whowere sleeping off their Christmas celebration.
BURGOYNE’S BLUNDERING INVASIONLondon officials adopted an intricate scheme for capturing the vital Hudson River Valleyin 1777. If successful, the British would sever New England from the rest of thestates and paralyze the American cause. The main invading force was under thecommand of Gen. John Burgoyne. Gen. Horatio Gates
As Howe was defeating Washington at Brandywine Creek and Germantown, Burgoyne wastrapped at Saratoga. Unable to move, Burgoyne surrendered his army at Saratoga onOctober 17, 1777, to American Gen. Horatio Gates.
Gen. Howe, commanding the other half of theBritish force, embarked for an attack onPhiladelphia, where he would engage anddestroy Washington’s army.Washington transferred his army to thevicinity of Philadelphia, where in late 1777, hewas defeated in two pitched battles –Brandywine Creek & Germantown.
After his two victories, Gen. Howe settled down comfortably for the winter inPhiladelphia. Washington retired to winter quarters at Valley Forge. There, hisfrostbitten and hungry men were short of about everything except misery. Morale waslow and Washington pleaded for provisions that would not be forthcoming.
It was during this brutal wintercamp that Washington’stattered army was whipped intoa professional army by aPrussian drillmaster, theprofane but patient Baron vonSteuben.
Saratoga ranks high among the decisive battles of American history. The victoryrevived the faltering colonial cause and it made possible the urgently needed foreign aidfrom France which in turn helped ensure American independence.Leading the negotiations with the French govt. was America’s most gifted diplomat, BenFranklin. Unlike many of his fellow Founding Fathers, Franklin remained at all times apragmatist and an astonishingly flexible thinker. Franklin was respected and effective in both Paris and London because he demonstrated courteous deference to Old World European traditions, even when he might detest them.
STRANGE FRENCH BEDFELLOWSFrance, eager for revenge against Britain, was eager to enflame the quarrel between itsrival and the American colonies. France saw an opportunity to regain its former positionand prestige.And America’s cause rapidly became something of a fad in France. Bored aristocratswere intrigued by the ideal of American liberty and French officials saw support as arelationship of convenience.After Lexington & Concord in 1775, French agents secretly provided war materials.About 90% of all gunpowder used by Americans in the first 2 ½ years of the war camefrom France.Secrecy enshrouded French-American policy because open aid might provoke Britain towar, and France feared that the American rebellion might fade out. The Declaration ofIndependence and the American victory at Saratoga proved American resolve to theFrench.After its defeat at Saratoga, Britain belatedly passed a measure that in effect offeredAmericans home rule within the empire. This had been the American demand. BenFranklin deftly used this leverage to secure direct and open French aid.
Louis XVI was reluctant to intervene, but hisministers convinced him to act.It was better to fight Britain while theycould have America as an ally.
So France, in 1778, offered the Americans a treaty of alliance. The treaty offeredeverything Britain was offering – plus independence. 1. Both allies bound themselves to wage war until the U.S. had won its freedom and until both agreed to terms with the common foe. 2. It was the first entangling military alliance for America – would later cause problems. 3. There was reluctance to a certain extent on the American side, but desperation demanded drastic action.
THE COLONIAL WAR BECOMES a WORLD WARWith the Franco-American alliance, Britain finds itself at war with France in 1778.Spain and Holland declare war on Britain in 1779. Finding itself in a survival struggle,the war in America becomes a secondary scuffle. Americans deserve credit for keepingthe conflict alive until 1778, but they did not achieve independence until the conflicterupted into a multi-power world war that was too big for Britain to handle. France’sinvolvement forced the British to change their American strategy. The British wouldreposition and dilute its strength in America.
THE SOUTHERN CAMPAIGNThe British devised a plan to conquer the American South, where the Loyalists werenumerous. Loyalists and Patriots fought bitterly. Using tactics of delay and guerrillawarfare masterly, Gen. Francis Marion and Gen. Nathanial Greene drove British Gen.Charles Cornwallis from the deep South. Gen. Nathanial Greene Gen. Francis Marion Gen. Charles Cornwallis
THE LAND FRONTIER and the SEA FRONTIER On the frontier, the majority of Indian tribes sided with the British. Mohawk chief Joseph Brant believed that a victorious Britain would restrain American expansion into the West. By 1779, the Americans had defeated the biggest Indian threats.
YORKTOWN and the FINAL CURTAINWhy was the period of 1780-1781 one of the darkest periods of the war forAmerica? How was Gen. Cornwallis blundering into a trap? Essentially, what role did the French play in the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781? How long did fighting continue after Yorktown? Why was it imperative for America to keep the cause alive during this time?
The French, at left, and the Americans, right, accept the surrender of the Britishredcoats at Yorktown.
PEACE at PARIS The American victory at Yorktown marked the practical end of the war. Britons were weary of war and the British military suffered setbacks in S. Asia. Three American negotiators gathered at Paris: Ben Franklin; John Adams; John Jay
A tangle of alliances complicated the peace process. France was committed tosatisfying Spain (for its support) and America had promised France it would notnegotiate a separate peace with Britain (alliance of 1778).Of the 3 American negotiators, Jay was the most determined to freeze-out the French.He quickly figured out France’s game (keep America weak). Jay also distrusted theContinental Congress which was under the influence of the French.Fearing that France may secretly cut a deal with the British, undermining America, Jaynegotiated a separate peace. Britain seized this opportunity to split the Franco-American alliance.France protested the Anglo-American treaty half-heartedly: 1. Did not want to push America toward Britain 2. Took France off the hook with Spain 3. France was relieved to bring the costly conflict to an end
Identify & explain theprovisions of the treatyfor both sides.