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THE CAUSES OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, 1763-1775 New England militiamen prepare to meet the oncoming British regulars at the Battle of Breed’s Hill, just outside Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 1775.
THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR: A STRONG BRITISH COMMITMENTTwo years after the outbreak of the French and Indian War, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder decided to send a substantial number of Redcoats to win a decisive victory against the French in North America.(Left) Two privates of the 77th Highlanders visit a comrade’s grave in western Pennsylvania.(Below) British infantry in line of battle.
A STRONG BRITISH COMMITMENT(Left) A grenadier of the 1st Regiment of Foot, also known as the Royal Regiment. (Below center) Grenadiers from the 22nd, 45th, and 40th Regiments of Foot. (Below right) A battalion man of the 36th Regiment of Foot.
SCOTTISH HIGHLANDERS IN NORTH AMERICAThree views of the 42nd Regiment of Foot, the famous “Black Watch,” during its service in North America.
THE BRITISH BLUNDER: BRADDOCK’S DEFEATMajor General Edward Braddock lost 977 out of 1,400 Redcoats and Provincials to a much smaller force of French and Indians in a catastrophic defeat in western Pennsylvania on July 9, 1755.
THE BRITISH ADAPT TO INDIAN WARFAREContrary to myth, the British Army did not remain a spit-and-polish organization more comfortable on a European parade ground than an American forest. (Below) An officer, drummer, and private of the 60th Royal American Regiment of Foot in their regulation uniforms. (Left) A private of the same regiment ready for frontier campaigning.
ROGERS’ RANGERS: THE BRITISH ARMY’S BEST IN THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR(Left) Contemporary print of Major Robert Rogers. (Right right) Two rangers in green confer with the sergeant of a British line infantry regiment.
LEARNING FROM THE RANGERSA British officer (in red at left) assigned to Rogers’ Rangers learns about wilderness warfare from his Provincial allies. The dog is “Sergeant Beaubien,” which belonged to Captain John Stark, was listed on the rolls as a duly enlisted Ranger.
WOLFE AT QUEBEC, SEPTEMBER 13, 1759Contrary to myth, British regulars learned to adapt to campaign conditions in North America, and their traditional European discipline and tactics were most useful on several crucial occasions, such as Wolfe’s crushing victory over the French on the Plains of Abraham just outside Quebec. (Above) Wolfe’s troops climb an undefended path to engage the French on the Plains of Abraham. (Right) Two likenesses of Wolfe made during the campaign.
WOLFE AT QUEBECBenjamin West’s epic canvas of Wolfe’s death at the very moment of victory on the Plains of Abraham.
COMPLETING THE CONQUEST OF CANADAFollowing Wolfe’s death at Quebec, General Jeffrey Amherst, shown here in full armor, completed the British conquest of French Canada.
THE BRITISH ADAPT TO INDIAN WARFAREBy combining light infantry tactics with their traditional discipline, British Redcoats learned to master Indians in wilderness warfare. Here the 42nd Black Watch Highland Regiment drives home an attack at Bushy Run, Pennsylvania, August 5, 1763.
THE BRITISH ADAPT TO INDIAN WARFAREAnother view of the 42nd Regiment of Foot at Bushy Run. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the colonists would forget the British Army’s success at adapting to North American conditions during the French and Indian War.
BRITAIN WINS THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WARAmerican artist Benjamin West glorified the death of Major General James Wolfe, the brilliant British commander who captured Quebec from France in 1759.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN NORTH AMERICA, 1763-1775 (Right) A private or fusilier of the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers), circa 1768.
PONTIAC’S REBELLIONA bloody Indian uprising from western Pennsylvania and across the Old Northwest dramatically raised the cost of Britain’s new North American empire. Here Black Watch Highlanders from the 42nd Regiment of Foot defeat the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run, August 5, 1763, near Pittsburgh.
THE STAMP ACT RIOTS England’s rulers were unprepared for the vehemence and the violence with which Americans would protest taxes not approved by their own colonial legislatures. Colonial mobs intimidated royal officials and destroyed public and private property.
Beginning with the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765, colonial opponents of British tax policy used intimidation and mob violence to nullify British authority. THE SONS OF LIBERTY TAR AND FEATHER AN AMERICAN TORY
Colonists upset about Parliament’s taxes force local merchants to sign a pledge to boycott British goods. Using economic sanctions as a political weapon is a hallowed American tradition. DEFENDING THEIR RIGHTS AS ENGLISHMEN
PATRICK HENRY AND THE VIRGINIA RESOLVESWith a deft use of the press, Patrick Henry created the illusion that Virginia’s House of Burgesses openly opposed the Stamp Act.
A British cartoon marking the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1765. High officials of the British government carry the short-lived law in a baby’s casket. The united and effective character of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act shocked London into backing down.
THE COLONIES FINALLY UNITE AGAINST A COMMON ENEMY – MOTHER ENGLANDBenjamin Franklin’s cartoon advocating greater colonial unity and cooperation was resurrected during the Stamp Act Crisis. It pointed the way to the future.
THE BOSTON MASSACRE, MARCH 5, 1770 Paul Revere’s sensationalized engraving shows how quickly the soldiers colonists hailed as their defenders during the French and Indian War (1754-63) came to be seen as a threat to Americanliberties.
THE INTOLERABLE ACTSThis engraving by Paul Revere captures the mindset of American Whigs. British North America, depicted as a bare-breasted maiden, is forcibly fed boiling tea by evil and rapacious British ministers, while Dame Britannia weeps in the background, and France and Spain leer at left.
SUSPICIOUS OF STANDING ARMIESWith their susceptibility to conspiracy theories, many colonists believed that the 10,000 British troops who remained in North America after the French and Indian War were intended to reduce them to slavery. (Left) Light infantry officer, 4th Regiment of Foot. (Right) Battalion company officer, 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers.
BLOODSHED ON LEXINGTON GREEN, DAWN, APRIL 19, 1775 A confrontation between British light infantry and the Lexington town militia early on April 19, 1775, triggered the shots that signaled the start of the Revolutionary War.
GEORGE III AMERICA’S LAST KING By all accounts, George III was a good king who tried to rule wisely, but by 1776 American republicans viewed him as a bloody and corrupt tyrant.
PARTNERS IN RADICALISM(Left) Samuel Adams quickly emerged as the leader of anti-British agitation in Boston, the most radical city in the Thirteen Colonies from 1763 to 1775. (Right) John Hancock, a wealthy Boston merchant, enthusiastically supported Adams.
THE POWER OF THE PRESSDuring the final years of the colonial period, newspapers played a vital role in mobilizing public opinion against British tax policies.
WOMEN REVOLUTIONARIESThis British cartoon, “A Society of Patriotic Ladies,” lampoons the colonial women who joined in economic boycotts to protest British tax policies.
THE MAN WHO PROPOSED INDEPENDENCEActing on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution calling upon the Second Continental Congress to declare the Thirteen Colonies free and independent states.
DRAFTING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEThis painting shows (left to right) Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson reviewing an early draft of the document. Jefferson’s language, which stressed the need for good government to be attentive to the needs of the people, was an explicit statement of republican thought.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEWhile a seated John Hancock watches right of center, John Adams, Roger Sherman, John Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Philadelphia’s Dr. Benjamin Franklin present the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress for signing.
THE REVOLUTIUON EMBRACES REPUBLICANISM(Right) The Pennsylvania State House, known today as Independence Hall because the Declaration of Independence was adopted there. (Bottom left) The Declaration of Independence. (Bottom right) The Assembly Room where the Second Continental Congress met.
REPUBLICANISM TRIUMPHANT American Whigs celebrate during a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, July 1776
AN APPEAL TO REASON – AN APPEAL TO ARMSThe Declaration of Independence is read to General George Washington’s Continental Army at Boston in the summer of 1776. While Congress could declare independence, it was up to these Rebel troops to win it.