Thomas Paine—"Common Sense" (January 1776)
•Colonists no longer had to be loyal to king
•Persuades common people to pursue independence
Richard Henry Lee’s Resolution
June 7, 1776
1. Resolved, That these United Colonies are,
and of right ought to be, free and
independent States, that they are absolved
from all allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between
them and the State of Great Britain is, and
ought to be, totally dissolved.
2. That it is expedient forthwith to take the
most effectual measures for forming
3. That a plan of confederation be prepared
and transmitted to the respective Colonies
for their consideration and approbation.
Committee of Five appointed led by Thomas Jefferson. Presented on June 28, 1776
Thomas Jefferson—Declaration of
• Approved July 4, 1776
• Lists grievances against
Homework: Read the Declaration and be able
to identify and summarize the four main parts.
The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Thomas Jefferson. It was approved,
with minor modifications, by the Continental Congress, on July 4, 1776.
Underestimated colonial militia
Overestimated loyalist strength
Difficult to control large territory
No great leader
European balance-of-power considerations
Americans had home field advantage
Americans were willing to die for cause
One third of the number of British forces
One tenth of the money
British were the best fighters in the world
Experienced standing army of 50,000 men
Hired 30,000 German mercenaries (Hessians)
Had 50,000 American Loyalists
July -British Arrive in New York harbor bent
on crushing the rebellion.
New York (1776)
Washington retreats to
• General Washington had 19,000 troops in New York, but many were
inexperienced and ill-equipped. Admiral Richard Howe arrived on July
12 with 150 more ships and reinforcements. On August 12, Maj.
General Henry Clinton returned from the failed Charleston
Expedition. Howe began operations on August 22, 1776. On
September 15, 1776, General Howe landed at Kip's Bay and entered
the city of New York virtually unopposed and paused his campaign. In
November, he would pursue Washington out of New York and across
• December 26. Washington crosses the
Delaware River and captures a Hessian force
Trenton (1776) and
at Trenton, New Jersey.
British withdraw from
The battle ended quickly — 22 Hessians killed, 83 seriously
wounded, and 900 captured, to two American combat deaths.
The American troops found 40 hogshead of rum in the town,
which temporarily blunted their effectiveness. Washington
followed up soon enough with another victory at Princeton. In
the space of a few weeks, the Americans killed or captured as
many as 3,000 of the enemy and irreversibly changed the
dynamic of the war.
Help From France
• December. In desperate
need of financing and
arms, Congress sends
Benjamin Franklin to
France to urge the French
to ally with America.
In 1776 Congress sent Franklin on his most important diplomatic mission. He was asked
to persuade France to help America in its fight for independence. Before he left he lent
Congress about 4,000 pounds of his own money to help carry on the war. He reached
Paris just before Christmas.