The revolutionary war
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The Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress. Called as result of fighting in Massachusetts Met in Philadelphia (May , 1775) Radicals (John & Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, etc.) wanted war Moderates (John Dickinson – PA) looking for reconciliation. The Second Continental Congress.

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The Revolutionary War

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The Revolutionary War

The Second Continental Congress

  • Called as result of fighting in Massachusetts

  • Met in Philadelphia (May, 1775)

  • Radicals (John & Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, etc.) wanted war

  • Moderates (John Dickinson – PA) looking for reconciliation

The Second Continental Congress

  • Dickinson’s Olive Branch Petition

    • Loyalty to King George III

    • Asked for repeal of oppressive legislation

  • King’s response

    • Refused to receive Olive Branch Petition

    • determined to crush rebellion


The Second Continental Congress

  • Fighting continues

    • Breeds and Bunker Hills (Boston)

    • Patriot attempt at Quebec

      • Capture Montreal

      • Fail to capture Quebec City

    • Virginia and the Carolinas rebel

  • Washington commander of Colonial forces

  • Merchants refused British goods


Thomas Paine: Common Sense

  • Many Americans

    • angry with Parliament

    • still loyal to King

  • Thomas Paine

    • Emigrated from England (1774)

    • Radical

  • Common Sense(January, 1776)

    • Built on

      • John Locke and Glorious Revolution

      • Great Awakening: all equal in the eyes of God

    • root of the problem was monarchy

Declaration of Independence (1776)

On the Eve of the Revolution

Revolutionary War:

Great Britain

American Colonies

  • Advantages

    • Large economy/world empire

    • Well established government - Constitutional Monarchy

    • Professional Army

    • Large Royal Navy

  • Disadvantages

    • Long lines of Communication

    • Fighting on “foreign” soil

  • Advantages

    • Fighting on “Home Turf”

    • Ready market of resources

  • Disadvantages

    • Weak government: Continental Congress

    • Economy designed to support Britain (mercantilism)

    • Disunity - Loyalists or Tories = 1/3 of population

Exports & Imports: 1768-1783






  • British

    • Command of the Sea

      • Blockade American ports

      • Transport troops to areas of rebellion (mobility)

    • Hudson River Valley

      • Cut off New England from middle and southern colonies

      • Rally Loyalist Support in South

  • American

    • War of Attrition

      • Wear down British forces

    • Diplomacy

      • Gain European allies with large navies - France

    • Commerce Raiding

      • Privateering

Phase I:The Northern Campaign[1775-1776]

  • Phase II:

  • NY & PA[1777-1778]

General Washington – 1776-78:

  • Defense of New York from British invasion.

    • Prevent British from dividing colonies

    • Continental Army defeated and forced to retreat toward Philadelphia

  • Valley Forge

  • Washington crosses the Delaware

    • Trenton

    • Princeton

  • Continental Army remains a threat to the British

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Battle of Saratoga:

  • Americans defeat and capture General John Burgoyne in upstate New York

  • Turning point of the war

    • French enter the war as America’s ally

  • French Navy: 80 ships of the line

    • Small American rebellion becomes major world war

  • Great Britain faces multiple enemies:

    • 1775 American Colonies

    • 1778 France and Spain

    • 1780 Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, Austria, and Portugal form an Armed Neutrality

Franco-American Treaty of 1778

  • Permanent, defensive alliance

    • France looking for revenge from French & Indian War

    • American contingent led by Ben Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee

    • French Foreign Minister Comte de Vergennes convinces King Louis XVI to support Americans

  • France agreed to fight until U.S. independence achieved

  • America would recognize French conquests in West Indies

Why do the french want to get involved?



Franco-American Alliance

Charles Gravier,

Comte de Vergennes

Phase III: The Southern Strategy [1780-1781]

Southern Strategy

  • Nathanael Greene commander in Carolinas and Georgia

    • Little over 1,000 Continentals and bands of ill-disciplined militia against Cornwallis’ 10,000 men

  • Had to create circumstances to achieve success

  • Guerilla warfare


  • Greene divided army

    • Allowed him to better feed own men, sustain militia, harass British

    • Tempted Cornwallis to divide main body, making it more vulnerable

      • Cornwallis did this in Jan 1781, sending 1,100 men (commanded by Tarleton) to attack Greene’s western division (commanded by Daniel Morgan)


  • Americans suffered 6.2% losses (12 killed and 60 wounded)

  • British suffered 90% losses

  • Cornwallis became obsessed with Morgan and turned to pursue him

    • Morgan retreated into Virginia

    • In a month Cornwallis had marched 225 miles without achieving decisive battle


  • From Aug 21 to Sept 26, 1781 Washington and Rochambeau (French) marched their armies from New York to Virginia

  • Simultaneously, De Grasse (French) sealed off the Chesapeake with the Navy

  • Objective was to trap and defeat Cornwallis’ army on the York Peninsula


  • Battle would begin with two parallel siege lines followed by an assault

  • Allies had an overwhelming advantage in numbers (16,000 to fewer than 8,000)

  • On Oct 19, the British surrendered and in Sept. 1783 they formally recognized American independence


Did the Americans win?

Did the British lose?

Treaty of Paris, 1783

  • American Delegation

    Benjamin Franklin

    John Adams

    John Jay

Treaty of Paris, 1783

  • Terms:

  • British recognition of United States

  • U.S. granted territory east of Mississippi

    • Granted to native tribes after French and Indian War

  • Loyalist property returned

    • Some ended up being auctioned to pay off debt

  • Pre-war colonial debts to be paid

  • US fishing rights off Grand Banks

  • Florida returned to Spain by separate treaty

North America After theTreaty of Paris, 1783

Treaty of Paris, 1783

  • What did it mean for

  • Women

    • Contributed to war effort through clothing for troops

    • Often ran farms while men were away

  • Blacks

    • In south

      • Many joined British cause to escape slavery

      • Slavery kept for fear of blacks outnumbering whites and taking control

    • In north

      • Many joined patriot cause

      • Beginning of emancipation in north (relatively few blacks anyway)

  • Loyalists

    • Many fled to Canada, West Indies, or back to Britain

    • Those who stayed had property reinstituted

Was the American Revolution inevitable?

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