“America” – 1763-1787
Coming of Age in an
Age of Revolution
Indicators 3-3.1, 3-3.2,3-3.3, 4-3.1, 4-3.2, 4-3.3, 4-3.4, 4-3.5, 4.3.6,
7-2.2, 7-2.3, 7-3.2, 8-2.1, 8-2.2, 8-2.3, 8-2.4,
USHC 2.2, USHC 2.3, USHC 2.4
French and Indian War ends -1763
The colonies found themselves free of the
terrible threat from the French and their allies
The continent lay open for them to explore and
settle until England closed the way west at the
mountains in the Proclamation of 1763
The colonists found themselves faced with
taxation to help pay for the war and the everpresent British soldiers kept for their protection
Seeds of Unrest
Men like Samuel Adams in Massachusetts,
Christopher Gadsden in South Carolina, and
George Mason in Virginia, among others,
started speaking loudly and often about
breaking away from England and making a
Many rallied to their side – especially as the
taxes and restrictions continued to pile up
More Reasonable Men
There were others with cooler heads who
wanted to stay tied to England and enjoy
the benefits of being a British subject
They argued for calm and deliberate action
that would not bring trouble for the colonies
The revolutionary ideas of the Age of
Enlightenment were taking root as more and
more people discussed them.
French Philosophers wrote about
freedom and the rights of man
Voltaire was a pen name used by
Francois Marie Arouet in Paris in the
18th Century to write books that
asked questions about the rights of
man and criticized the Church and
the Government. He was twice
thrown in the prison of Bastille, so he
started using satire which blends a
criticism with humor and wit
to create a story that criticizes as well
as entertains. Voltaire wanted people
to be able to speak and write freely
Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote
The Social Contract to describe
an ideal relationship between
people and the government. He
was criticizing the way the
government in France was
treating her citizens with no
regard for their needs. He felt
that governments should have a
contract with people to protect
them and guarantee their rights.
Charles de Secondant,
Baron de Montesquieu
Montesquieu was a member of the
aristocracy but he wrote books that
criticized the leaders of Government
and Church in France. He took great
risks to criticize but he had specific
ideas about how a government should
work. France certainly did not fit his
description. One idea was that there
should be three branches of
government and a system of checks
and balances to keep one branch from
becoming too powerful.
John Locke – an English
Philosopher echoed their thoughts
John Locke believed that men were
capable of governing themselves and they
did not need a king to tell them what to
do. Men of good will could take care of
themselves and others. Locke believed
that all men had basic rights such as Life,
Liberty, and Property. He believed that
government should respond to the needs
of people or the people could replace the
government with one that would meet
their needs. Do you hear his words in the
Declaration of Independence?
If you’d lived in America in 1770 you
would have heard from these men •
Voltaire – men should be able to speak and write
freely – and criticize when necessary
Rousseau – governments and their people should have
a social contract to protect the right of the people
Montesquieu – governments should have three
branches with checks and balances
Locke – men can govern themselves and they all have
basic rights that need to be protected. If the
government won’t protect them they can replace the
Americans Wrote Too!
Thomas Paine wrote about his ideas on Liberty and his criticism
of the English government in a pamphlet called Common Sense.
It was as widely read as the Bible in the colonies.
Revolutionary Ideas fell on fertile
ground because of English activities
1764-1766 -England placed taxes on sugar that
came from their North American colonies.
England also required colonists to buy stamps to
help pay for royal troops. Colonists protested, and
the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766.
1770 - Boston Massacre: English troops fired on a
group of people protesting English taxes.
1773 - Boston Tea Party: English tea was thrown
into the harbor to protest a tax on tea.
Stamps like this were to be placed
on many different documents.
Paul Revere created this image of the
Boston Massacre to anger the
colonists. John Adams defended the
soldiers because “it was the right
thing to do.”
The Sons of Liberty, men dressed up as
Indians, dumped the tea into Boston
Harbor to protest the tax on tea. Tea parties
were also held in New York and
Charleston, where the tea was “saved.”
Fighting in the Early Days…
1775 - Fighting at Lexington and Concord,
Massachusetts, marked the beginning of the
1776 – General Clinton sent a fleet of ships south to
attack Charleston but the defenders at Fort Sullivan,
under the leadership of Colonel William Moultrie in the
famous palmetto log fort, forced the English to
July 1776 – The Declaration of Independence was
proclaimed and war began in earnest.
This scene from the Battle of
Princeton was typical of many
Sgt. William Jasper rescued
the flag over Fort Sullivan,
later Fort Moultrie…
Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson
revised the Declaration of
Independence many times
before presenting the final copy.
Fighting did not go well in the North
Washington and the Continental Army were fighting
the finest army in the world and they were losing.
Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys captured
Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates were successful at
the battle of Saratoga.
Washington crossed the Delaware to Trenton and
defeated the British and Hessians at Christmas.
However, they lost many battles.
Washington held the army together
The Winter at Valley Forge, 1777-1778 was the
lowest point in the war. 3000 men died of
starvation or from the cold.
A bitter George Washington — whose first concern
was always his soldiers — accused Congress of
"little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers.
I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul
pity those miseries, which it is neither in my power
to relieve or prevent."
General Washington watches the suffering of
his troops at Valley Forge
Surviving Valley Forge
One could see bloody footprints in the snow left by
bootless, nearly naked soldiers wrapped in thin
blankets, huddled around a smoky fire of green wood.
One could hear a chant from the starving soldiers: "We
want meat! We want meat!“
One could feel that after that winter, as a result of a
vigorous, systematic training regime under Baron von
Steuben, the army was transformed from ragged
amateur troops into a confident 18th century military
organization capable of beating the Red Coats in the
open field of battle.
The War took a toll on the English
The war was costly and difficult for England to
maintain so far from home.
Clinton decided to change tactics and he sent Lord
Cornwallis south thinking the citizens of Savannah and
Charleston with their close ties to England would
welcome them with open arms.
Some of the people did welcome the English but most
rallied to defend their cities in separate sieges. The loss
of Charleston in May 1780 was the greatest loss of the
war for the patriots.
The Fall of Charleston was a disastrous loss
for the patriot cause…
With much of the Continental Army in the South in
captivity, the highest ranking officer not held by the
English in the South was Francis Marion. He had
escaped before the surrender due to a leg injury.
Marion and fellow militia officers like Thomas Sumter
and Andrew Pickens began a campaign using farmers
and backwoodsmen to make surprise attacks to annoy
and harass the English soldiers in an amazing display
of guerilla tactics, learned from the Native Americans.
The ragtag army did its job and the tide began to turn.
Francis Marion led his band of
farmers and hunters though countless
battles in the swamps of the low
country of South Carolina. He was
known as the Swamp Fox.
Thomas Sumter led his band of militia
through the midlands of South Carolina,
concentrating his actions on the Tories
who were siding with the English. He
was known as The Gamecock.
Andrew Pickens was an old Indian
Fighter. He led his backwoodsmen and
militia in the fight against the English
mainly in the upcountry . He was
known as the Wizard Owl.
The Southern Campaign Succeeds
On October 7, 1780, the Overmountain Men gathered
at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, to give battle to
Major Patrick Ferguson. Ferguson had threatened to
march over the mountains and lay waste to their land
with "fire and sword". Ferguson was the only English
soldier on the field that day. The rest were American
Tories fighting with Ferguson.
The arrogant Ferguson was killed and most of his
army captured. Over 1100 of them were killed,
wounded or captured. This battle was the turning point
of the Revolutionary War in the South.
At the Battle of Kings Mountain the Overmountain Men, rugged
backwoodsmen defending their homes and families, allowed the
English to climb the hill and hold the high ground. Then the
sharp shooters and guerrilla fighters began their attack. At the
end of the day there were no Tory fighters left on the hill,
Ferguson was dead, and the tide had turned in favor of the
The Battle of Cowpens
The Battle of Cowpens was a great victory by
American forces under Brigadier General
Daniel Morgan, with 700 militia and 300 Continentals
over the forces of Colonel Banastre Tarleton with his
legion of 1100 soldiers. American commander
Nathanael Greene had taken the daring step of dividing
his army, detaching Morgan away from the main
Patriot force. Morgan called Americans to gather at the
cow pens (a grazing area), a familiar upcountry
landmark. From all over the South, patriots came to
call on January 17, 1781.
Tarleton attacked with his customary boldness but
without regard for the fact Morgan had had much
more time to prepare. He was consequently caught in
a double envelopment. Only Tarleton and about 260
British troops escaped, but the Americans suffered
only 73 casualties (12 dead and 61 wounded).
There were other battles in the South
General Nathanael Greene, known as the Fighting
Quaker, and second only to George Washington, was
the commander in the South.
Greene’s plan was to drive the English from the South.
Under traditions of warfare, the English could retain
lands they held when fighting ceased. Greene wanted
the English out of the South when the end came.
He fought many battles, some of which he lost, but
these battles caused the English to consolidate and
withdraw. That was his goal.
Daniel Morgan was a
Virginian who came to join
the Southern Campaign. He
had gained fame with his
sharpshooters at the Battle of
Saratoga. Now he applied his
efforts in the South at the
Cowpens and Eutaw Springs.
Nathanael Greene was a
Quaker from Rhode Island
who joined the cause despite
being a Quaker. He was
Washington’s most trusted
commander and he put his
powerful brain to work against
The end of the Southern Campaign
Important battles at Guilford Courthouse in North
Carolina and Eutaw Springs in South Carolina were
the beginning of the end.
French arrived off Yorktown in October 1781 to put
Cornwallis in a place from which he couldn’t escape.
The fledgling colonial army had defeated the world’s
finest standing army. At the surrender, the band
played “The World Turned Upside Down”.
There were other, later skirmishes, but the real
fighting was over. A new nation was taking its first
breaths of freedom.
Now to create a government for the
In 1781 the states approved the framework of the new
government – The Articles of Confederation established
a loose union of states – a “league of friendship”
between the states.
There were flaws and weaknesses in the Articles of
Confederation and soon the states were quarreling over
The states had great powers while the central
government had almost none. Trouble was brewing.
Leaders of the Committee that drafted the
Articles of Confederation included John Adams,
Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton,
Weaknesses in the Articles
The Articles united the thirteen American states into a
loose union capable of making war, making diplomatic
agreements, resolving issues of the western territories, and
little more. It intended that a weak national government
could manage an emergency but almost nothing else.
* could not enforce taxes to pay national debts
* no leader to enforce laws and no court system
* could declare war but could not raise and army
* could do nothing about mistreatment by other countries
A special meeting was called in May 1787 with 55
representatives to revise the Articles of Confederation.
The Constitutional Convention
The Convention was made up of many of the finest men
in America. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at over
80 years of age. George Washington was elected
president of the Constitutional Convention.
Some had served at the creation of the Declaration of
Some had served as soldiers in the war.
Some had served their colony and state during the
struggle for independence.
What Happened Next?
Bringing such a group of powerful men to
consensus would be a monumental and
What do you think happened?
Created by Carol Poole, December 2006