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Revolutionary America. The First Continental Congress. Opposition to the Intolerable Acts drove the colonies together. On 5 September 1774, delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress.

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The first continental congress
The First Continental Congress

  • Opposition to the Intolerable Acts drove the colonies together.

  • On 5 September 1774, delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress.

  • The Congress quickly fell into disagreement between advocates of the Suffolk Resolves and the more radical Galloway Plan.

  • The Congress eventually settled on the Suffolk Resolves which contented itself to a listing of colonial grievances with England.

  • It was no matter as King George III never read the resultant document.

Early fighting the battles of lexington concord and bunker hill
Early Fighting: the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill

  • On 15 April 1775, British General Thomas Gage detached a unit of British soldiers to destroy the colonial weapon stores at Concord, MA.

  • The move was not unexpected. When the British troops landed on 18 April, Paul Revere made his famous ride to alert the militias.

  • Upon encountering stout colonial resistance at Concord, the British withdrew to Boston.

  • Along the retreat, the real battle was fought as the British soldiers were subjected to nearly constant sniper fire and ambushes. The British lost nearly 20% of the original force and had to be rescued by reinforcements.

  • This was the start of the Revolutionary War. Bunker Hill

  • After Lexington and Concord, the British occupied Boston.

  • In June, the colonists set up positions on Bunker Hill, overlooking the city. British General Howe had no choice but to dislodge the Americans.

  • Rather than laying siege to the Americans and starving them out, Howe, to better demonstrate British power, favored a direct frontal assault into the fortified position.

  • Though eventually successful, Howe's tactics cost the British 1054 killed or wounded from a force of 2400--40% casualties.

Asserting independence blows must decide
Asserting Independence: Blows Must Decide Bunker Hill

  • The Second Continental Congress opened on 10 May 1775 following the fighting at Lexington and Concord.

  • Unlike the First Continental Congress, all thirteen colonies sent a delegation.

  • The proceedings quickly split between a more conservative faction led by John Dickinson and a more radical faction led by John Adams and Samuel Adams.

  • The early Congress was marked by two documents; “The Olive Branch Petition,” supported by Dickinson, sought reconciliation with Great Britain, and the strident “Declaration of Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms,” which asserted the American willingness to fight for independence.

  • Parliament refused to consider the "Olive Branch Petition" because it would not negotiate with a colony in rebellion.

  • The Congress also appointed George Washington commander of American forces, which was encouraged by his wearing a military uniform everyday, and dispatched Benjamin Franklin to solicit French support in the war with England.

  • George III responded to the Continental Congress on 23 August by declaring the American colonies in open rebellion.

  • On 18 November he wrote, "blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent."

  • On 31 May 1775, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina asserted its independence from Britain and established local government in the Charlotte Town Resolves.

Slavery and the revolution the dunmore proclamation
Slavery and the Revolution: the Dunmore Proclamation because it would not negotiate with a colony in rebellion.

  • On 14 November 1775, Virginia Royal Governor Lord Dunmore offered freedom to any slaves or indentured servants in Virginia willing to fight against the colonists.

  • This outraged the colonists. In addition to fears that Dunmore was encouraging a slave rebellion, colonists believed that, in freeing slaves, Dunmore was interfering with their property.

  • This is demonstrated in the French cartoon of the British soldiers with the slaves where the man is holding a sign reading "Liberation of the Negroes" and the British soldiers are trampling on documents labeled "The Rights of Men," and "The Rights of Civilized Nations at War."

  • Later, British General Henry Clinton extended this offer to slaves throughout the colonies. Later, British General Clinton would expand the offer to all slaves in the colonies.

  • In Virginia's Response to Dunmore, the colony threatens to execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • The Memoirs of Boston King tell the story of a slave able to escape to the British lines.

  • At the end of the war, the British evacuated liberated slaves and other loyalists from New York City.

  • As terms of the peace, the Americans insisted that the British record the identity of any freed slaves so that their former owners could sue for compensation.

  • This became known as "The Book of Negroes." While it is unclear how many slaves attempted to escape to freedom, the Book of Negroes contains three thousand names, including a slave of George Washington.

Common sense
Common Sense execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • By the winter of 1775, after the fighting around Boston and the British rejection of overtures to settle the crisis, many Americans for the first time began to seriously think about independence from Great Britain.

  • In this environment, the impact of the publication Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” in January 1776 can hardly be overstated.

  • In “Common Sense,” Paine lays out an argument, in the language of common people, for why the colonies should declare their independence from Britain.

The declaration of independence
The Declaration of Independence execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson, only 33 years old, distilled a century of enlightenment thought into a few sentences:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

  • Even if imperfect in their application, the thought that all men were equal and that government existed to serve the people, was revolutionary in a world dominated by monarchy and aristocracy.

  • Jefferson's words have changed the nature of government throughout the world, even the most repressive regimes pay at least lip service to Jefferson.

  • "Remember the Ladies" is a playful, yet serious letter from Abigail to John Adams asking him to keep women in mind when forming the new government.

Loyalists and the revolution
Loyalists and the Revolution execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • For many Americans, the Revolution was a civil war.

  • The war divided families and communities between patriot and loyalist. Most famously, this estranged Benjamin Franklin from his son William.

Times that try men s souls
Times that Try Men's Souls execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • Shortly after the jubilation of independence had subsided, the winter of 1776-1777 found the Continental Army poorly fed and equipped and Congress unable to appropriate any money to help.

  • In December 1776, Thomas Paine, who had joined the Continental Army, published nine “Crisis” essays to boast troop morale and rally public support for the war effort.

  • Similarly, George Washington led the army on several attacks against unsuspecting British and Hessian forces camped in their winter quarters.

  • It was on one of these attacks that Washington made his iconic crossing of the Delaware River.

Battle of saratoga and french involvement
Battle of Saratoga and French Involvement execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • The Battle of Saratoga represents the turning point in the Revolutionary War.

  • British General John Burgoyne planned a three pronged attack into New York to drive the Americans to battle near Buffalo.

  • Burgoyne's plan called for General St. Leger to attack from the west, General Clinton to attack from the south, and Burgoyne would float an army down the Hudson River and attack from the north.

  • The plan fell apart from the start. Burgoyne, having never seen the Hudson, did not realize the challenge of floating an army, and an extensive camp including champagne and wives, down a wild river.

  • When Burgoyne arrived at Saratoga, he expected to find the other prongs of his attack waiting for him. Instead he found himself alone. St. Leger was defeated at the Battle of Oriskany and Clinton, rather than moving North actually went further south. Burgoyne quickly found himself surrounded by American soldiers and, after two battles, was forced to surrender.

  • Overshadowing the actual battle, the victory proved to the European powers that the Americans could win. Following the Battle of Saratoga, Benjamin Franklin successfully negotiated a treaty in Paris for French entry into the war.

The world turned upside down yorktown
The World Turned Upside Down: Yorktown execute anyone attempting to take advantage of Dunmore's offer.

  • After a grueling campaign through the southern colonies, General Cornwallis retreated to the coast of Yorktown, Virginia for the winter and the protection of the Royal Navy.

  • Cornwallis was not aware however that the French navy had defeated the British fleet at the Battle of the Capes in September.

  • Therefore, when Cornwallis arrived at Yorktown, he found the French navy at his back and the American army before him.

  • The Americans and French laid siege to the British position and, with no where to turn, Cornwallis surrendered on 20 October 1781.

  • This ended major fighting in the Revolutionary War.

  • Legend says that, as the British surrendered, their band played the song "The World Turned Upside Down."