American Revolution

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George Washington crossing the Delaware River, December 25, 1776, Currier & Ives, Lithograph

American Revolution, a conflict between Britain and 13 of its colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. It is also called the American War of Independence and the Revolutionary War.

During the course of the American Revolution the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from the mother country and concluded an alliance with France. As a result of their victory in the fighting that followed, the United States of America came into being. With the Declaration of Independence, the Thirteen Colonies became the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The war began near Boston, Mass., in 1775 and ended formally in 1783 with a peace treaty signed in Paris. Most of the fighting had ended two years earlier, at Yorktown, Va.

This article is divided into four principal sections: 1) Origins of the American Revolution; 2) Military Campaigns; 3) Political, Social, and Economic Developments; and 4) Diplomatic Developments.

Origins of the American Revolution

Had Britain followed the lenient pattern of colonial administration developed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the American Revolution might well have been avoided. Under different historical circumstances the Thirteen Colonies might have achieved independent status through an evolutionary process, as did other members of the British Empire.

Rapidly expanding in wealth and numbers, developing a cultural identity differentiating them from Englishmen, and possessing a complex and sophisticated political life of their own, the Americans were certain to resist growing control from London. That they did resist, and finally rebel, indicates a profound change in British colonial policy after 1763. It is, however, impossible properly to understand the American Revolution apart from the 150 years of colonial history preceding it.

Old Colonial System

The British colonial effort in the 16th and 17th centuries shared certain basic concepts with the policies of France, Spain, and other European powers. Colonial interests were subordinate to those of the mother country, which regarded the colonies as sources of raw materials and as markets for manufactured goods. The British made little attempt to systematize those mercantilistic principles, designed to strengthen the mother country and render it economically independent of other nations, until after the restoration of the Stuart dynasty in 1660. In that year and in 1673 and 1696, Parliament passed the Navigation Acts. These acts reserved the whole trade of the colonies to ships of English or colonial construction, provided that trade in certain colonial "enumerated articles" be confined to the empire, and required that all European products destined for the colonies be brought to England before being shipped across the Atlantic.

A series of Acts of Trade passed in the 17th and 18th centuries were designed to prevent colonial competition with home industries and to reward with bounties the production of needed articles. The Acts of Trade and Navigation were the heart of the Old Colonial System (1660–1763), which envisioned the colonies as part of a great economic, not a political, unit.

The Revolution has been seen by some historians as a movement by the colonists to throw off the shackles of an unfair and oppressive system, stultifying to the economic development of the colonies. It has been held that the Revolution was the inevitable result of one capitalistic economy attempting to impose its interests on another. But modern scholarship indicates rather that the colonists prospered under the Old Colonial System. Although there are instances of enmity toward the Acts of Trade and Navigation, the system largely worked to the benefit of both England and its colonies.

A major reason for lack of colonial opposition to mercantilism, aside from the economic benefits it afforded, was the laxity with which the acts were enforced. No centralized, competent body, vested with sufficient authority to make and enforce colonial policy, existed prior to the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Royal officials in the colonies, especially custom collectors, lacked the means of coercion, and they often were incompetent and corrupt. Evasion of the laws was widespread, and smuggling became a respected profession in the colonies.

So long as English colonial administration was characterized by "salutary neglect," in the words of Edmund Burke, there was little serious friction. When England, after 1763, attempted to reform and tighten the machinery for administration and enforcement, the colonists stoutly resisted.

The Political Background

The British government was slow to think of the American possessions as a political unit. Prior to 1763 the colonies were seen as the king's possessions, with Parliament exercising little control over them other than to regulate their trade. Basically, the Thirteen Colonies were of three types: 1) royal colonies, under the direct control of the crown; 2) proprietary colonies, under the control of a proprietor or proprietors, to whom the king granted land and political authority; 3) "corporate" colonies, founded by various groups in conjunction with trading companies to which the king granted a charter.; and

The degree of political autonomy exercised through local representative bodies varied with the circumstances under which the colonies were founded. From 1660 and after the accession of William and Mary in 1689, the crown pursued a sporadic policy of royalization and centralization. By 1763, only Connecticut and Rhode Island retained their original corporate status. All of the other thirteen colonies except Pennsylvania and Maryland, which remained proprietary, had become royal colonies. This increase in direct crown control would appear to indicate a growth in royal power; but it was paralleled by the development and rise to power of the lower house of assembly in the royal and proprietary colonies.

The political history of the American colonies in the 18th century centers largely on the struggle for power between royal authority, represented by the royal governors, and the elected representatives of the colonists in their lower houses of assembly. The three branches of colonial government roughly resembled those of England: the royal governors represented the king, the councils occupied the place of the House of Lords, and the elected assemblies that of the House of Commons.

The royal governors possessed extensive powers, at least in theory. They were the chief executives and military commanders of the colonies; they possessed vetoes over all legislation passed by the assemblies, and with the councils, or upper houses, they were the supreme courts of appeal within the colonies. They could summon, prorogue, and dismiss the assemblies. The colonial assemblies viewed their struggle for power with the governors as similar to the long battle for supremacy between king and Parliament in England.

Gradually the assemblies claimed and won extensive power and privileges—or "rights," as the colonists called them. Most important, they came to possess the right to levy taxes and to grant supplies. In several royal colonies, the governors had to rely for their income on temporary grants from the assemblies. The assemblies further used their control over the purse to assume certain executive functions, stipulating how appropriations were to be spent and appointing committees to supervise expenditures.

The colonists accepted parliamentary taxation that had the purpose of regulating trade. But Parliament had never taxed the colonies for revenue; Americans certainly would have regarded such a practice as a dangerous and even unconstitutional innovation threatening their self-government. The power of taxation was indispensable to the assemblies' domination of the governors, and the colonists jealously regarded that power as the constitutional right of their elected representatives. Although acts of assembly were subject to review and veto by the Privy Council in London, the Americans believed that their representatives should decide domestic questions.

In fact, two conceptions of the constitution of the empire were developing in the 18th century. From the British point of view, king and Parliament wielded the same powers in America that they did in London. The colonial elective bodies were regarded as derivative, functioning only because they were permitted to do so. To the great majority of Englishmen, Parliament's authority was supreme, and its sovereign power extended over the colonies as well as England. The Americans, on the other hand, considered their elective assemblies to be, in essence, little parliaments—the supreme legislative power in domestic matters for the colonies. The tendency of their political thought was toward a conception of the empire as a federation, with one king and many parliaments.

Maintenance of the Army

Antagonism arose between the colonists and Britain during and after the French and Indian War. More properly called the Great War for Empire, this conflict was the culmination of a long struggle between England and France for hegemony in the New World. England emerged victorious, but with a heavy national debt and the immensely difficult prospect of administering vast territorial additions to the empire.

During the war the Americans had continued to trade with the French West Indies despite British efforts to prevent it. Colonial jealousy and disunity had hampered the war effort. After the war, England could reform and enforce her neglected colonial system; but the colonies, fearing the French no longer, felt less dependent on the mother country. From the English point of view, the imperial policy after 1763 was by no means designed to destroy colonial "rights and liberties," but to protect and govern an augmented empire, and to tighten a dangerously lax colonial system. The colonies, however, had passed the point where they would submit to an increase in subordination to king and Parliament.

In the early months of 1763 the ministry headed by John Stuart, 3d earl of Bute, decided that a standing army of 6,000 men should be maintained in North America to police the newly acquired lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi; to defend them against the French, Spanish, and Indians; and to prevent clashes between the British colonists and the former enemies. The colonists, who were not asked whether they desired the army, were naturally suspicious. Sharing the traditional Whig fear of a standing army and desiring expansion into the new territories, they could not but regard the English army as a threat to American interests.

The Bute ministry also decided that the colonists must help support the new army at an estimated cost of £350,000 a year. Since the British national debt and taxes were high, and the army was stationed in America ostensibly to protect the colonials, the Bute ministry saw no reason why the colonials should not contribute a fair share to the administration of imperial interests. But to the Americans, "imperial" interests did not coincide with their own.

Parliamentary Acts

In April 1763 a new ministry headed by George Grenville came into power and pushed through Parliament a series of measures that brought on a crisis in relations with the American colonies. That year a serious Indian uprising, known as Pontiac's Conspiracy, ravaged the English outposts in the west. To pacify the Indians, the British government issued on Oct. 7, 1763, a proclamation forbidding colonial settlement beyond the Allegheny Mountains. American pioneers and land speculators, temporarily checked by this and later measures restricting westward expansion, chafed under what they regarded as an unfair and oppressive policy.

The Currency Act of 1764 forbade the issuance of legal-tender paper money by the colonial assemblies. Lacking hard money, the colonists concluded that the measure would seriously harm their economy while benefiting English merchants who desired payment of debts in sterling. The controversy over paper currency was of long standing, going back to the 1730s in Massachusetts and the 1740s in Virginia.

In April 1764, Parliament passed the Sugar Act, imposing new restrictions on colonial trade and levying a three-penny-per-gallon duty upon molasses imported from the West Indies. Although formally a revision in the regulations of trade, the act was designed to raise revenue. Grenville also secured passage of a resolution stating that it might be necessary to levy certain stamp duties in the colonies. To ensure enforcement of this legislation, admiralty courts in the colonies, functioning without juries, were given jurisdiction over the Acts of Trade. This extended the courts' authority and further limited the cherished right of trial by jury.

In 1765 came the Quartering Act, a measure requiring the colonists to supply quarter and supplies to British troops stationed in settled parts of the colonies.

The Stamp Act Crisis

In the spring of 1765, Parliament passed the famous Stamp Act, which required the colonists to purchase stamps for newspapers, playing cards, dice, marriage licenses, and many other legal documents. Virtually every segment of the American population would be affected by this direct tax. The revenue obtained from the molasses and stamp duties was to be used to pay part of the expenses of maintaining British troops in America.

News of the passage of the Stamp Act provoked protest and open resistance throughout the American colonies. The colonists saw in the Stamp Act and the other measures of the Bute and Grenville ministries a pattern of tyranny. Following the lead of Patrick Henry and the Virginia House of Burgesses, they denounced the tax as unconstitutional, and asserted they could be taxed only by their own elected representatives. Mobs, calling themselves Sons of Liberty, threatened the stamp distributors, destroyed their property, and forced them to resign. No stamps were sold in the Thirteen Colonies except for Georgia, where they were soon removed from circulation.

Through their colonial assemblies and the Stamp Act Congress, which met in New York in October 1765, the Americans demanded repeal of the Stamp Act. Associations were formed to enforce a general boycott of British goods, and economic retaliation proved more effective than petitions and remonstrances. As British merchants and manufacturers began to suffer, they joined the Americans in opposition to the tax. In March 1766, a new ministry headed by the 2d marquis of Rockingham repealed the Stamp Act, but simultaneously Parliament rejected the American principle of "no taxation without representation." The Declaratory Act asserted that Parliamentary authority extended over the colonies "in all cases whatsoever."

Growing Resistance

The repeal of the Stamp Act was greeted with joy in America, and the colonists resumed their purchase of British goods. But in 1767 the Americans were again confronted with a Parliamentary tax for revenue. Since neither the colonial assemblies nor the Stamp Act Congress had clearly denounced the Sugar Act as unconstitutional, Charles Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, mistakenly assumed that the colonists rejected only "internal" taxation, and would not object to an "external" import duty for revenue.

In the spring of 1767, Townshend steered through Parliament a series of duties on lead, tea, painter's colors, and various kinds of paper imported into the colonies. The Townshend Act provided that a large part of the funds received was to be used to pay salaries of royal governors and other royal officials in America, thus rendering them independent of the colonial assemblies.

Further reforms in the apparatus for enforcing the Acts of Trade and Navigation achieved the following: 1) the granting of specific legal authority to writs of assistance, or general search warrants; 2) the creation of a Board of Customs Commissioners to sit in Boston and supervise the American service; 3) the suspension of the legislative "privileges" of the New York Assembly until it complied with the provisions of the Quartering Act of 1765.; and

The Townshend duties and the other parliamentary measures of 1767–1768 pushed the colonists to a further repudiation of parliamentary authority. In his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania (1768), John Dickinson contended that all revenue taxes on the colonists were unconstitutional, whether "external" or "internal," and the colonists generally followed his lead. The Board of Customs Commissioners, often involved in "customs racketeering," infuriated New Englanders. The act suspending the New York Assembly and the scheme to pay royal officials from the Townshend duties further convinced Americans that the right to govern themselves through representatives of their own choosing was in grave danger.

Although American resistance was not so uniform as in 1765, nonimportation and nonconsumption associations again were formed. The economic boycott led British merchants and manufacturers to request repeal of the duties.

In the spring of 1768, Governor Francis Bernard of Massachusetts and the Board of Customs Commissioners informed the British ministry that it was impossible to enforce trade regulations without the presence of British troops. Accordingly, Maj. Gen. Thomas Gage, commander in chief of the British forces in America, was ordered to dispatch at least one regiment of troops to Boston. On June 10, John Hancock's sloop Liberty was seized for alleged violation of the trade acts. Three days later, the customs commissioners fled before enraged Bostonians and took refuge on board the British warship Romney. The British cabinet then ordered to Boston two regiments from Ireland. By the spring of 1769, four regiments were in the city. In May, Gage was authorized to withdraw the troops from Boston, but at the request of royal officials he retained two regiments.

The Bostonians had expected that all troops would be withdrawn, and trouble between civilians and soldiers increased. On March 5, 1770, a mob converged on the hated Customs House, cursing and threatening the lone sentry. Pleas for help brought Capt. Thomas Preston and a file of troops to the rescue. When the mob became violent, the troops opened fire, killing five persons and wounding several others in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Threatened by a general uprising in the wake of the incident, the Massachusetts Council arranged for the withdrawal of the troops from the city.

Under pressure from the colonial boycott and British merchants, Lord North, head of a new ministry, moved on March 5 for repeal of the Townshend duties except for the tax on tea. Parliament acquiesced. Between 1770 and 1773, the duty on tea caused little ill feeling, for the colonists bought smuggled Dutch tea that was much cheaper than English tea. The boycott on English tea was continued, but the partial repeal of duties was followed by a gradual relaxation of the nonimportation associations. The period of calm was deceptive, however. The Americans were now extremely sensitive to any exertion of British authority, and they had grown accustomed to violent resistance.

Boston Tea Party

In 1773, Lord North revived the unsettled issue of parliamentary taxation for revenue. The British East India Company, in serious financial trouble, had 17 million pounds of tea in its warehouses. Under North's leadership Parliament passed the Tea Act, which relieved the company of heavy duties on the tea it brought to England and enabled it to establish direct sale of the tea in America, thus undercutting American importers. The East India Company could now undersell even smuggled tea.

In the fall of 1773 the company sent several consignments of tea to America. There was little doubt that if the tea should be offered for purchase at the low price, it would be bought. But purchase of the tea would mean paying the Townshend revenue duty, and the colonial case against such taxation would be lost. The resistance leaders of 1765 and 1767, supported by the American merchants, were determined to prevent the sale of the tea. In most instances the colonists simply turned back ships carrying consignments of the tea, but in Boston it appeared that customs officials would attempt to sell some of the cargo. On the night of Dec. 16, 1773, townsmen disguised as Indians rowed out to three ships in Boston harbor and dumped the tea into the bay.

The Boston Tea Party provoked a strong reaction in London. Faced by united colonial resistance, George III and the British Parliament had twice retreated. Now they chose to stand firm, to force the colonists to obedience. The result was the passage of the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts of 1774, which closed the port of Boston and increased royal control of the government of Massachusetts. Also included in the Coercive Acts were a new Quartering Act and the Quebec Act, which extended the boundaries of that province into areas claimed by Virginia and Pennsylvania.

First Continental Congress

General Gage was sent to Massachusetts as military governor to enforce the new laws. Massachusetts refused to yield, and the other American colonies rallied to support the Bostonians. While Gage was gathering his troops in Boston and requesting instructions from London, colonial committees of correspondence decided to convene a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September 1774. Meanwhile, extralegal conventions began to replace royal government and to assume political control in the colonies.

Delegates from all of the colonies except Georgia attended the First Continental Congress, which sat from September 5 to October 26. A redress of grievances, not independence, was the acknowledged objective. But militant leaders such as Samuel Adams and John Adams of Massachusetts and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia led the congress to reject a plan for conciliation offered by Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania. Instead, the congress demanded repeal of all objectionable laws passed since 1763. It also provided for a Continental Association, which was to enforce a new boycott of British goods. Provision was made for another meeting by May 1775 if England did not meet the demands.

Lexington and Concord

In the early months of 1775, George III, supported by a majority in Parliament, decided to use military force to assert British sovereignty. At the same time that Lord North offered his Conciliatory Resolution, Gage was ordered to move decisively against the rebels. Accordingly he sent out troops to destroy military stores gathered by the Massachusetts patriots at Concord.

At Lexington, on April 19, 1775, British redcoats clashed with Massachusetts militia. Eight Americans were killed and ten wounded. After marching to Concord and destroying such stores as they could find, the British returned to Boston under the harassing musket fire of thousands of enraged farmers. More than 15,000 aroused New Englanders besieged Boston. The War of Independence had begun.

Military Campaigns

The Forces

The defeat of Great Britain in the American Revolution has puzzled many students of the conflict who have perhaps made too much of British strength and American weakness. Britain certainly had greater material resources than the Thirteen Colonies: a much larger population, a professional army, and an overwhelmingly superior navy. British weaknesses, however, largely offset these advantages. The prosecution of war against a people 3,000 miles (about 4,800 km) across the Atlantic Ocean posed baffling problems in transportation, communication, and strategy. The British army in America was never large enough to overwhelm and occupy the colonies, nor were there strategic centers in America which, if captured, would ensure victory. The rough, hilly, and remote spaces of North America made the traditional style of European warfare impractical.

The Americans were used to arms, and were tough-fibered mentally and physically. Although they were obliged to build a military force during the war, their incentive to win was greater than that of their opponents. Many Americans were either neutral or loyal to Britain during the conflict. Probably half the population was Patriot, however, and that half was more militant and better organized than the Loyalist (Tory) element. Even without foreign aid, the Patriots would not have been easily conquered.

The American Army

The core of the American military force was the Continental, or regular, Army. Created by the Continental Congress, the regular Army, through experience and much hard work by Washington and his fellow officers, gradually acquired the character of a trained professional military force.

The original army, composed of the "embattled farmers" who surrounded Boston after the Battle of Lexington (1775), enlisted for a one-year term. Thereafter the ranks were filled by voluntary enlistment according to quotas apportioned among the states by Congress. Although provision was made in November 1776 for three-year enlistments, most Patriots continued to prefer short-term enlistments, often for only three months.

The number of regulars who served during the war is uncertain. Estimates of total enlistments in the Continental Army and state militias vary from 184,000 to 396,000. Many enlisted two, three, or more times. Probably about 100,000 actually bore arms under repeated enlistments; perhaps half this number served in the regular army. In August 1776, Washington had about 20,000 men, the largest and rawest American force of the war. At Valley Forge, his forces had dwindled to a pitiful 4,000. After 1778, the Americans were fortunate to have 10,000 long-term regulars on all fronts.

Supplementing the regular army were the state militia, composed of all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60. Mustered, organized, and directed by the states, the militia were called out on special occasions, served for short terms, and were usually employed for action within a specific state. Washington and other officers, however, could and did call upon state militia for service in conjunction with the Continental Army. Lacking training and discipline, the militia were often untrustworthy soldiers, but on occasion they fought well, and were an indispensable part of the American military force.

Other Americans served in the small Continental Navy and Marine Corps, or as irregulars and guerrillas with such leaders as Ethan Allen of Vermont and Francis Marion of South Carolina. Scores of foreigners, especially Frenchmen, offered their services to the Patriots. Some were particularly helpful in training the raw American recruits.

The appointment of officers in the Continental Army was divided between Congress and the colony-states. Colonels and officers of lesser rank were chosen by the colonies, higher officers by Congress. In quality and experience, the officers of the Continental Army were a mixed lot. A few, such as Washington, Charles Lee, and Richard Montgomery had served in the British Army; the majority had only militia experience. Among the latter were, however, men of ability, such as John Thomas of Massachusetts and Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, both of whom were appointed brigadier generals.

Provincial jealousy and ideas of prestige overshadowed merit in the choice of some officers, but the appointment of Washington as commander in chief was a wise one. Experienced, respected, and absolutely dedicated, he was by far the best man for a terribly difficult job. He brought to his command qualities of leadership that set him apart from the other commanders of the American Revolution. Other American officers rivaled Washington in some respects: Benedict Arnold and Montgomery in boldness and courage in the field; Nathanael Greene in execution of strategy; the eccentric Charles Lee in experience. It is difficult to imagine any one of them shouldering the immense and varied burdens of Washington with as much success.

The Private Soldier

Victory ultimately depended upon the fighting ability of the rank and file. The American soldier was not a professional. He was a farmer, frontiersman, or town dweller, but he proved to be a match for his adversary. Many were used to rough living. They were familiar with firearms and were, on the whole, better shots than the British.

Patriot morale rose and fell with the fortunes of war. Not all Americans shared Washington's indomitable spirit, but their tenacious will to win, spurred by the probable consequences of defeat, was generally greater than that of the British.

Discipline in the American Army was a constant and difficult problem. The lack of a military tradition, and a spirit of equality and independence, especially among the New Englanders, militated against regimentation.

The American soldier was generally ill fed, badly clothed, lacking in arms and sufficient ammunition, and poorly paid. His uniform was usually whatever could be obtained, and ranged from the red garb of the Maryland line to the linen shirts and leather breeches of the frontier riflemen. Privates received $6.67 per month, of which $1.67 was withdrawn to pay for clothing. Wages for officers ranged from $18 per month for lieutenants to $166 for major generals. Pay was usually in Continental paper money and was undependable. Both officers and men suffered from depreciating currency and high prices.

The scarcity of war materiel was often acute. The Americans built factories to manufacture gunpowder, small arms, and cannon, and imported large quantities of supplies from Europe. Most of their arms and munitions were captured from the invaders. The principal weapon was the small-bore musket, but frontiersmen from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were equipped with a far more accurate weapon—the Pennsylvania rifle.

American tactics, influenced by the tradition of Indian fighting, were less conventional than European linear tactics, in which troops were marched into the field in columns and deployed in three lines that delivered successive volleys. Emphasizing the loose skirmish line and individual marksmanship, the American army lacked the stability and cohesiveness of the British but was more flexible and adaptable.

The British Army

Before the Battle of Lexington, there were about 8,500 British regulars in America, most of them at Quebec and Montreal and in posts along the Atlantic coast. The 32,000 troops under Gen. William Howe in the summer of 1776 were the largest single British force during the war. The British probably had no more than 42,000 effectives available in North America at any time during the war.

The British regulars served largely in infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments of the line, generally for the duration of the war. Voluntary enlistment prevailed before May 1778; after that date impressment laws were passed to fill the ranks. Common soldiers were drawn from vagabonds, convicts, and unemployables. Esprit de corps was rare except in picked regiments. But the redcoats were far more professional than their American counterparts. They were held under harsh discipline and were trained to obey orders and fight as a unit. Many were able fighting men, dedicated to the army.

Officers, especially among the higher echelons, often were mediocre or poor in quality. Social position and political influence, rather than merit, were the primary requisites for high command. Officers' commissions were usually purchased; consequently many capable officers of moderate means were confined to regimental command.

British commanders in America were not the blundering incompetents described by some historians, but with few exceptions they were too cautious and unimaginative. William Howe was slow and indolent; Henry Clinton, his successor as commander in chief in America, was insecure and afraid to take risks. John Burgoyne and Lord Cornwallis were bold but impetuous.


To augment the army in America, the British government purchased the services of 30,000 soldiers from minor German princelings at great cost. Seventeen thousand were obtained from the principality of Hesse, and the term Hessians was applied to all the German soldiers. They were less dependable in battle than the redcoats and were inclined to desert. Of their number, 7,500 died in America and 5,000 deserted.

Loyalists and Indians. Loyalist military support in America was considerable. Approximately 50,000 Americans fought for the king. Although few joined the British Army and Navy, thousands served in provincial regiments under Loyalist officers. Loyalists fought well in most important actions after 1778, but never provided the powerful indigenous force expected by Britain.

Indians, chiefly in Canada, on the frontier, and in the South, also fought for Britain. They were generally unreliable, though ferocious, allies. They were effective in raids, and were a nuisance in extended campaigns. The use of Indians, as well as Hessians and Loyalists, greatly increased American hatred of Britain.


The British Army enjoyed a considerable advantage in cannon, mortars, howitzers, and other artillery. Weighted down with 60 pounds (27 kg) of equipment, the common soldier fought the Americans with the "brown Bess," a smoothbore, flintlock musket fitted with a bayonet, and probably named for its brown walnut stock. Little marksmanship was required. The object was to smash the enemy with successive volleys, then charge with the bayonet. Against undisciplined troops this method of warfare could be devastating.    

Army Administration

Although the British soldier gave a good account of himself in pitched battle, winning about half of the major engagements of the war, he was hampered by factors beyond his control. Inefficiency, dissension, and diffusion of responsibility characterized the administrative machinery in London. The lines of authority among departments and officials were unclear and often overlapped. Administrative jealousy and bickering resulted in confusion and delay. Especially acrimonious were the relations between Lord George Germain, secretary of state for the colonies, and the earl of Sandwich, first lord of the Admiralty. The apparatus for transporting and supplying an army across 3,000 miles (about 4,800 km) of ocean was inadequate. The responsible departments were inefficient and often riddled with graft. In America the commissary and quartermaster services were baffled by the lack of interior communication and transport facilities. Away from the Atlantic coast and the royal navy, supply was uncertain, and the British Army courted disaster.

War Aims and Strategies

The war aims of both Britain and the Thirteen Colonies were political as well as military. The British had not only to destroy American military resistance, but to restore royal rule and to bring the colonies back into the empire. While using force, the British government also sought to negotiate a reconciliation on increasingly liberal terms. The policy of political conciliation was ineffective and interfered with the military effort. Before 1776, the Americans ostensibly were fighting to defend their rights and liberties within the empire; after July 4, 1776, they fought for political independence.

British Strategic Plans

Britain had two master plans for winning the war. British grand strategy during 1776–1777 envisaged the isolation and subjection of New England, followed by piecemeal reduction of the Middle and Southern colonies. According to the "Southern strategy" of 1778–1781, the South would be conquered, restored to royal control, and used as a base to thrust northward. Neither plan worked. The distance from London to America, the vast stretches of land in America, division of command between the British forces in Canada and the Thirteen Colonies, and friction among those responsible for making and executing strategy all combined to reduce grand strategy to a series of ill-coordinated, often confused operations.    

American Strategy

American strategy developed in response to British efforts and in relation to specific situations. Washington, fighting an essentially defensive war, sought to keep his army intact, offer battle on terms as equal as possible, and wear down the British will to win. The Patriot commander carried the war to the enemy when he could.

Character of the War    

The War of Independence differed in several important aspects from 17th and 18th century European wars. England faced a people in arms rather than another professional army. The rebellious colonies had to be subdued and occupied, and the British Army, operating in a geographic expanse roughly 1,000 by 600 miles (1,600 by 1,000 km), was too small for the task. In its total involvement of a people, the war resembled modern conflicts. In terms of combatants and casualties the war was small in comparison with modern contests. Casualty statistics are incomplete and unreliable. By conservative count, there were slightly more than 4,000 American battle deaths in the Revolution. In the American Civil War, over 600,000 men on both sides died in action or of disease. United States dead from all causes in World War II totaled more than 400,000, and in the Korean War more than 54,000.    

Scope of the War    

Campaigns on the North American mainland generally progressed from north to south. The British considered New England to be the center of American resistance, and hoped to crush Washington's army at the outset. When this attempt failed they applied pressure elsewhere.

The War in the North

Operations Around Boston

Many of the New Englanders who besieged Boston after the Battle of Lexington drifted away, but by June 1775 about 7,500 men had enlisted under the authorization of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and the number steadily increased. On May 25, the frigate Cerberus had arrived from England, bringing Major Generals William Howe, John Burgoyne, and Henry Clinton to assist Gage. With them came instructions to pursue military operations vigorously.

By June 12, 1775, Gage's forces numbered about 6,000, far short of the 20,000 men he had asked for in late 1774. After conferring with his three colleagues, Gage determined to move decisively against the Patriots. He decided to take steps to occupy and fortify the heights on Dorchester Peninsula south of Boston, and prepared to move a detachment to cover Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill on Charlestown Peninsula across the Charles River to the north.

Possibly because Burgoyne had talked too much, the Patriots were aware of Gage's plans by the 14th. On June 16, American militia occupied Charlestown Peninsula and fortified Breed's Hill. The next day, two frontal attacks on the American position were repulsed, and the British had heavy losses. Reinforced by about 700 troops from Boston, Howe led a third advance, driving the Patriots to Bunker Hill and then to the mainland.

By this engagement, known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, Gage had gained Charlestown Peninsula, but at prohibitive cost. British casualties had amounted to 271 dead and 783 wounded, compared to only 140 Americans killed and 271 wounded. Gage declined to fortify Dorchester Heights and refused to make further offensive motions. He was soon recalled to London, and Howe succeeded to the command on October 10.

Washington in Command

Meanwhile, in June and July, the Continental Congress had adopted the army besieging Boston, had promulgated a military code, and had appointed officers to the new Continental Army. Washington, named commander-in-chief, had assumed command on July 3 at Cambridge, accompanied by other officers.

Washington had found the Patriots recovering from the fierce fighting at Bunker Hill and suffering from sectional dissension and personal jealousies. During the summer and autumn, while Gage and then Howe remained on the defensive, Washington and his staff labored to create a well-regulated army. The American commander contemplated an assault on the British lines, but wisely delayed action until Congress authorized him to bombard Boston. On the night of March 4, 1776, working parties laboriously hauled cannon, brought from Fort Ticonderoga by Col. Henry Knox, to the heights of Dorchester Peninsula. Howe, realizing that they could level Boston, reluctantly decided to evacuate the city and move to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On March 17, the British abandoned Boston to the Patriots, thus ending the preliminary stage of the war in America.

Invasion of Canada

While the British were failing to subdue New England, the Americans moved to force Canada into the family of 13 colonies. On May 10 and 11, 1775, a small expeditionary force under the joint command of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point (N.Y.), British posts at the southern end of Lake Champlain. They took Fort St. John's (Quebec) on the Richelieu River north of the lake, but were unable to hold it. But, the Americans controlled Lake Champlain, opening Canada to invasion from the south.

In late June, Congress ordered Gen. Philip Schuyler of New York to advance against Montreal, but he spent almost two months preparing for the expedition. Fortunately his second in command, Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery, was more energetic. While Guy Carleton, governor of Canada, frantically prepared to meet the threatened invasion, Montgomery led an American force up Lake Champlain. On November 2, Fort St. John's fell to the Americans, but the resistance of Maj. Charles Preston, commander of the post, had delayed Montgomery almost three months. On November 10, the Americans entered Montreal.

They planned next to attack the city of Quebec, where Carleton had fled. Montgomery stopped for two weeks before passing on to join a larger American force under Benedict Arnold, which was already camped before Quebec. On December 5, the combined American force of about 1,000 men laid siege to Quebec. The fortress had been reinforced by Carleton and 80 troops under Allan McLean. After an exchange of artillery fire, it became clear that Quebec must be carried by storm, if at all. On December 30, under cover of a snowstorm, Montgomery attacked the west wall, Arnold the eastern defenses. The Americans were repulsed, their army cut in half. Both Arnold and Montgomery were wounded, the latter mortally. Arnold refused to admit defeat. He continued to blockade the city until relieved by Gen. David Wooster, who was superseded by Gen. John Thomas. On May 6, a British fleet brought reinforcements, and Thomas retreated toward Montreal. The Canadian invasion strategy had failed, but Montgomery and Arnold had prevented a southward thrust by the British until the fall of 1776.

British Strike at the South

In firm agreement with the King's decision to crush the American rebellion, Germain hurried reinforcements to America. Two offensive thrusts were planned. The first was by Gen. Henry Clinton with 3,000 men. He was instructed to strike at the Carolinas, supported by a naval squadron under Sir Peter Parker. The British hoped that Loyalists in the Carolinas would rise in great numbers and join the royal forces. Sailing slowly down the coast, Clinton reached North Carolina in May, 1776; Parker had arrived in April. They discovered that the Loyalists of that colony had been thoroughly cowed by a disastrous encounter with Patriots at Moore's Creek Bridge.

Frustrated and disappointed, Clinton and Parker, after several weeks' delay, decided to capture Sullivan's Island at the mouth of Charleston harbor. Clinton hoped to use the island as a base from which to attack Charleston, which was then the capital of South Carolina. While Gen. Charles Lee and Governor John Rutledge frantically prepared to defend the city, Col. William Moultrie toiled to build a fort on Sullivan's Island. On June 28, Parker sent three frigates to assail the fort from the west and seven heavier vessels to bombard it from the south. The plan was well conceived, but two of the frigates ran against a shoal, ruining the flanking maneuver. Meanwhile, Parker had begun a frontal assault, but the walls of the fort, built of palmetto logs, absorbed the cannon shot. Moultrie returned fire and after an 11-hour bombardment Parker withdrew, having suffered heavy casualties. Shortly thereafter the British sailed for New York.

British Attack on New York

The second offensive planned by the British was launched by General Howe whose army had been increased to 32,000 men. He was ordered to seize New York City and reduce New England. Washington grimly prepared to defend the city. The British did not move until late August 1776, because of the efforts of General Howe and his brother, Richard, Adm. Viscount Howe, to act as peace commissioners as well as military commanders. When their efforts to parley with influential officials in Congress and the states were unsuccessful, they resorted to force. On August 27, General Howe launched a massive attack against the American position at Brooklyn Heights on the western end of Long Island, commanded by the gallant but incompetent Israel Putnam. Howe employed a three-pronged attack, Gen. James Grant moving against the American right wing, Gen. Philipp von Heister pushing against the center, and Howe himself assaulting the left wing. Unprepared for a flanking maneuver, the Americans were crushed, suffering 2,000 dead or wounded and 1,000 captured.

The American Army might have been destroyed had Howe been more aggressive, but he allowed Washington to evacuate the remainder of his troops across the East River to the lower end of Manhattan Island under cover of night. General Howe again moved against Washington, landing troops on Manhattan at Kip's Bay on September 15. The British pushed rapidly to the north and west, but were halted by the Patriots in a series of encounters at Harlem Heights in northern Manhattan on the 16th. Howe occupied and fortified New York City while Washington strengthened his position at Harlem Heights.

In early October the British resumed the offensive, planning to cut off Washington's line of retreat to the northeast. On October 18, a picked force of Hessians and redcoats landed at Pell's Point near New Rochelle. There Col. John Glover with only 850 men managed to delay the British advance while Washington retreated to White Plains, where an indecisive action was fought. Believing Washington did not intend to stand and fight, Howe swiftly attacked Fort Washington in northern Manhattan and Fort Lee, N.J., across the Hudson River. He captured both, and the loss in men, equipment, and cannon was nearly a catastrophe for the Patriot cause.

Washington retreated across New Jersey, hotly pursued by Lord Cornwallis. Again the British had great opportunities but Cornwallis, having pushed the Americans across the Delaware River, into Pennsylvania, followed Howe's orders and prepared to go into winter quarters.

American Successes

Washington's spirits had sunk low during the disorderly retreat from New York, but he was resolved to strike back. On Christmas night of 1776 he recrossed the Delaware with 2,400 men and routed the Hessian garrison at Trenton the next day. His surprise attack on Princeton, on Jan. 3, 1777, resulted in another minor but important American victory. Washington moved into winter quarters at Morristown, N.J. but his courageous action had infused new hope and vigor into the Patriot cause.

Far to the north, on Lake Champlain, Benedict Arnold had won valuable time for the embattled Americans. With a hastily built "mosquito fleet," he engaged a fleet of 20 gunboats under Guy Carleton at Valcour Island on Oct. 11 and 13, 1776. Arnold's fleet was almost destroyed, but his bold maneuver prevented a junction between Carleton and Howe that might have been fatal to Washington.

British Capture of Philadelphia

In the spring of 1777, the Continental Army, refitted in part with equipment secretly supplied by France, was again ready to fight. The British blundered strategically by abandoning, or at least confusing, their plans to concentrate on New England. Howe, after submitting two plans to Germain, decided to move by sea against Philadelphia, leaving a holding garrison in New York. John Burgoyne's plan, to march southward from Canada to Albany where he expected to receive support from Howe, was likewise approved. Germain ordered Howe to cooperate with Burgoyne, but his letter did not reach Howe until Howe was at sea en route to Philadelphia. So, Howe did not order troops to aid Burgoyne.

When Howe, far off schedule, landed his troops at the head of Chesapeake Bay on August 25, Washington took position in southern Pennsylvania, on the northern banks of Brandywine Creek. In an encounter on September 11, Cornwallis turned the American right flank, and the Patriots were driven back, suffering heavy losses. Placing 9,000 troops at Germantown to hold off Washington, Howe entered Philadelphia on September 25.

Washington, however, was not disposed to give up Philadelphia without a further test of arms. On the night of October 3, 11,000 Patriot troops moved in four columns against the British lines at Germantown. Next day the Americans had the advantage of surprise, but in the fog one column of Continentals fired on another, and the advance turned to disorderly retreat. Nevertheless, Washington, who moved into winter quarters, had given a good account of himself. Philadelphia was of no strategic value to Howe, and contrary to his expectations the Pennsylvania Loyalists did not rally to his banner by the thousands.

American Triumph in the Hudson Valley

While Howe posed as the conqueror, Burgoyne encountered disaster. With a force of over 7,500, Burgoyne easily took Fort Ticonderoga on July 5, but his moment of glory was fleeting. To the west, determined Patriots in the Mohawk Valley, aided by 1,000 volunteers under Benedict Arnold, turned back Barry St. Leger's expeditionary force, which was to supply a diversion for Burgoyne. Menaced by the gathering number of Patriots, who impeded his march down the Hudson valley by littering the route with fallen trees, Burgoyne was in serious trouble by mid-August. To obtain supplies Burgoyne sent Col. Friedrich Baum to Bennington (Vt.) on a foraging expedition. On August 16, Baum's troops were crushed by a force of New Hampshire militia and Continentals. The defeat cost Burgoyne about a tenth of his army.

As he pushed down the west bank of the Hudson in mid-September, Burgoyne was confronted by Gen. Horatio Gates with more than 7,000 militia and Continentals in strong fortifications at Bemis Heights, about 25 miles (40 km) north of Albany. Burgoyne tried twice to turn the American left flank. On September 19, 2,400 regulars and Hessians clashed with picked troops under Arnold and Daniel Morgan at Freeman's Farm, about a mile (1.6 km) north of Bemis Heights. The Americans were forced back at dusk, but Burgoyne's thrust had been blocked. On October 7, Burgoyne tried a reconnaissance in force against the American left, but was repulsed in the second Battle of Freeman's Farm. He was surrounded at Saratoga (now Schuylerville) and was forced to lay down his arms on October 17. Because Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga, the fights at Freeman's Farm are often—but inaccurately—called the first and second battles of Saratoga.

In early October, Sir Henry Clinton had begun an advance from New York up the Hudson River to aid Burgoyne. He faltered and retreated, but the threat of his forces impelled Gates to grant Burgoyne surrender terms that permitted his troops to return to England with the pledge that they would not serve in America again during the war. The agreement, known as the Saratoga Convention, was nullified by Congress, and Burgoyne's men were held as prisoners.

Burgoyne's defeat was a crushing blow for the British. Not only had they lost an army, but when the news reached Paris in early December, King Louis XVI and his ministers took France into the war as the open ally of the United States. News of the French alliance came to Congress May 2, in time to nullify the efforts of a British peace commission led by the earl of Carlisle.

Later Events in the North

In winter quarters at Valley Forge near Philadelphia in 1777–1778 Washington's army suffered terribly from cold, hunger, exposure, and disease. Possibly 2,500 perished during the six months at camp. But plans were made to reorganize the supply services. Drill and training were directed by Baron von Steuben, formerly of the Prussian Army. By spring the American Army was reinvigorated.

Clinton, who had replaced Howe as British commander in chief, evacuated Philadelphia in June 1778 immediately before the arrival of a powerful French fleet under Vice Adm. d'Estaing. As Clinton marched the bulk of the British Army across New Jersey, Washington promptly left Valley Forge in pursuit. The two armies clashed at Monmouth on June 28, but an advance American force under Gen. Charles Lee retreated in confusion until halted by an enraged Washington.

After the Battle of Monmouth, d'Estaing and Washington laid plans to move on New York City, but the admiral declined to attack the British fleet in New York harbor after discovering his heavier ships could not cross the bar. At Washington's request d'Estaing conferred with Gen. John Sullivan and agreed to a joint assault on the British garrison at Newport, R.I. On August 10, d'Estaing sailed out to engage a smaller British fleet under Admiral Howe. While the two fleets maneuvered, a violent storm arose on the night of the 11th, scattering both squadrons. D'Estaing refused to resume action against Newport, and the projected assault collapsed. In the fall of 1778 the French fleet sailed off to the West Indies, leaving the Patriots disappointed and embittered.

After 1778 there was little campaigning in the North. Clinton carried on a wasting war while Washington sought an opportunity to strike at New York. Gen. Anthony Wayne did win a small, but brilliant victory at Stony Point (N.Y.) on the Hudson River north of Haverstraw, in July 1779, and a month later Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee took another British post at Paulus Hook (N.J.). In the summer of 1780, after the British had evacuated Newport, a French squadron and army under Count de Rochambeau took post there.

Action in the West

Military activity on the western frontier of the American states increased after 1778. During 1777 and 1778 Tory contingents and their Indian allies under the command of Henry Hamilton, lieutenant governor of Detroit, raided settlements on the frontiers of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. The excessive cruelty of these raiders provoked swift retaliation. In the fall of 1777, the Virginia Assembly authorized a young Kentuckian, George Rogers Clark, to lead an expedition against the British in the West. After a long, hard march, Clark, with about 200 men, surprised and took the town of Kaskaskia (Ill.), on July 4, 1778. With his second capture of Vincennes (Ind.) and its fort in February 1779, he took Hamilton himself prisoner.

Though unable to attack Detroit, Clark did gain control of the old Northwest (the lands between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River), and gave the United States a technical claim to that territory at the peace table. Strong raids by Gen. John Sullivan in western New York and by Col. Daniel Brodhead in northwestern Pennsylvania ensured that American control would be firm in those areas.

The War in the South

As the war in the North became one of attrition and endurance, Clinton mounted a major offensive against Georgia and South Carolina, where he counted on strong Loyalist support. On Dec. 29, 1778, a detachment of 3,500 men under Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell overwhelmed a small American force under Gen. Robert Howe and captured Savannah. Shortly afterwards Gen. Augustine Prevost arrived from St. Augustine (Fla.) with 2,000 British troops, and on Jan. 29, 1779, Augusta was taken by the British. Within a short time, Georgia passed under British control. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, whom Washington had sent to command the new Southern Department in the fall of 1778, was defeated at Brier Creek (Ga.), but forced Prevost to withdraw to Savannah. In response to Patriot pleas, Admiral d'Estaing appeared off Savannah in September 1779 with his fleet and about 4,000 troops, and joined Lincoln in besieging the city. On October 9, an allied attack failed. On October 20 the siege was abandoned and the French fleet set sail for France.

Operation in the Carolinas

D'Estaing's departure enabled Clinton to attack South Carolina in great force. Leaving Baron Knyphausen to defend New York, the British commander sailed southward in December with 8,000 troops. Supported by a fleet under Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot, Clinton besieged Charleston in April 1780. After holding out for over a month, Lincoln and more than 5,000 Patriots, their escape route cut off, surrendered on May 12. After the fall of Charleston, the British occupied forts throughout South Carolina, while Tories flocked to the king's colors. Clinton returned to New York at the end of May, leaving Lord Cornwallis in command with instructions to maintain control of South Carolina and to avoid risky operations.

Cornwallis, however, was not content with holding operations. Hearing that Horatio Gates, who had succeeded Lincoln in August, was moving against the British post at Camden (S.C.), Cornwallis hurried north to reinforce Lord Francis Rawdon's garrison. The two forces collided on the morning of August 16, and Gates' army was routed. One fourth of his men were killed or wounded. Gates himself, riding hard to Charlotte (N.C.), left behind him the reputation gained at Saratoga. The disastrous defeat exposed North Carolina to invasion, and Cornwallis, intending to overrun that state and Virginia, marched on. He had hardly entered North Carolina when news came that militia from the backwoods of Virginia and North Carolina had defeated a body of Loyalists under Maj. Patrick Ferguson at Kings Mountain (S.C.). His auxiliary force destroyed, Cornwallis withdrew south of Camden where he remained for almost three months.    

Greene in American Command

In January 1781, after receiving reinforcements and learning that Clinton had sent a force under Arnold to Virginia, Cornwallis resolved to return to North Carolina. Meanwhile the American army in the South had acquired a new leader, Nathanael Greene, who brought to the command courage tempered with caution, and considerable skill in strategy. At Charlotte, Greene found "only the shadow of an army," but was joined by Gen. Daniel Morgan and "Light-Horse Harry" Lee with his famous legion.

Deciding to concentrate on guerrilla tactics, Greene sent Morgan with one force toward the British post at Ninety-Six in South Carolina, while he led the main body of the army to the southeast. Cornwallis hurriedly dispatched Col. Banastre Tarleton after Morgan, and the two forces clashed at Cowpens, (S.C.) near the Broad River, on Jan. 17, 1781. Morgan performed brilliantly, placing his militia in an advance line and luring the British into heavy fire from his Continentals. Tarleton's force was routed, and the defeat greatly weakened Cornwallis' prospects of overrunning North Carolina. A more prudent man would have returned to South Carolina, but Cornwallis impetuously hurried after Morgan, who withdrew northward. Greene managed to draw back both of his contingents across the Dan River in Virginia, and Cornwallis, realizing how far he was from his base of supplies, withdrew to Hillsborough (N.C.). His army now numbered hardly more than 2,000.

With an army of over 4,500 militia and Continentals, Greene moved back into North Carolina, confronting Cornwallis at Guilford Courthouse on March 15. Greene's deployments were similar to Morgan's at Cowpens, but the militia broke and ran, and the Americans withdrew.

Cornwallis' victory was costly; almost a quarter of his army was dead or wounded. He could not ignore the fact that his triumphs in the Carolinas were empty, and that he could no longer safely remain in the interior of North Carolina. He marched off to Wilmington, and thence to Virginia, leaving the defense of the Carolinas to Lord Rawdon.

American Offensive

After the departure of Cornwallis, Greene again assumed the offensive in South Carolina and Georgia. Powerfully assisted by partisan fighters such as Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, and Col. Elijah Clark of Georgia, the Patriots gradually pushed the British back into Savannah and Charleston. On April 23, 1781, Fort Watson, (S.C.), one of seven British forts that protected Charleston and Savannah, was captured by Marion and Light-Horse Harry Lee. Two days later at Hobkirk's Hill near Camden, Rawdon with 1,500 men repulsed Greene with an equal number in a bloody slugging match. Unable to maintain a long supply and communication line, the British commander fell back toward Charleston. The isolated British garrisons at Forts Motte, Granby, Orangeburg, and Georgetown (S.C.) and Augusta (Ga.) were all forced to yield by June 20. Greene was repulsed in an attack on the British post at Ninety-six.    

Spanish Aid to the Americans

Meanwhile the British were expelled from the colony of West Florida (parts of Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi) by Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana. In September 1779 he seized the British posts of Manchac and Baton Rouge (La.) and Natchez (Miss.). Mobile (Ala.) fell to Gálvez in March 1780, followed by Pensacola (Fla.) in May 1781.

End of Fighting in Far South

In September 1781, Greene attempted a last major effort against Charleston. At Eutaw Springs (S.C.), about 50 miles (80 km) north of the city, he was intercepted on September 8 by Col. Alexander Stuart, who had succeeded Rawdon. After initially forcing the British to fall back, the Patriots stopped to loot the British camp. Stuart re-formed, counterattacked, and finally forced Greene to retire. Again Greene had failed to win a major engagement, but Stuart had lost more than two fifths of his force. He limited his efforts to defending Charleston. Greene remained near the city until the close of the war. Greene had committed serious tactical errors, but his strategy of maintaining his own army while wearing down the enemy had won. The British effort in the far south had failed.

Cornwallis at Yorktown

Meanwhile, Cornwallis had collected a force of 7,000 men in Virginia. After checking the Marquis de Lafayette at Greene Spring, but failing decisively to defeat him, Cornwallis abandoned all hope of conquering Virginia, moved to Yorktown, and near the end of July 1781 began to build fortifications. Clinton, appalled by Cornwallis' situation but insecure in his command, reluctantly agreed to Cornwallis' decision to make Yorktown his base.

Clinton's fear that another powerful French fleet would appear in American waters was well founded. In the spring of 1781, the French government had sent Admiral de Grasse with 20 warships across the Atlantic with orders to cooperate with Washington. Washington at first urged a land and sea attack upon New York, but then agreed with Rochambeau's suggestion to alter his objective and attempt to trap Cornwallis. Admiral de Grasse, heeding the advice of Rochambeau, appeared off the Chesapeake Bay on August 30 with a fleet of 28 ships and more than 3,000 French regulars. British admirals in the West Indies did not send enough ships to give the fleet at New York under Adm. Sir Thomas Graves equal strength.

Late in August, Rear Adm. Samuel Hood reached New York harbor with only 14 ships of the line. Graves and Hood joined their squadrons, and with 19 ships sailed on August 31 to find the French. They had no trouble finding de Grasse. On September 5 he sailed out of Chesapeake Bay to meet them. The action was indecisive, but Graves returned to New York eight days later to refit and secure reinforcements. Before his departure the French Newport squadron of seven ships under Count de Barras slipped into the bay to reinforce de Grasse. An escape by sea was impossible for Cornwallis.

Learning of de Grasse's plans on August 14, Washington boldly decided to transfer the bulk of the Franco-American army in New York to Virginia, leaving ten regiments of Continentals and militia to cover the Hudson. Moving swiftly and silently, most of Washington's force was beyond Philadelphia before Clinton could tell where it was going. On September 7, troops carried by de Grasse joined Lafayette and took positions covering Yorktown on the land side. Adding his own allied command to these forces, Washington had 17,000 men when he began the siege of Yorktown on September 28. On October 15 the allies seized two redoubts, forcing Cornwallis within his inner fortifications. On October 17, the British commander agreed to the surrender of all his forces, and on October 19 his army of more than 7,000 men laid down their arms. Except for minor skirmishes in the West, the war had virtually come to an end.

The War at Sea

Before the end of 1775, the majority of colonies had commissioned several craft, and Congress had established a navy and marine corps. The Continental Navy eventually put into service 50 or 60 ships; the Colonies' navies added another 40 or so. In contrast, the British Navy in 1775 had 270 ships and by 1783 had increased the number to 468. Although the combined American navies were unable to cope with the British fleets, they sank or captured nearly 200 royal ships.

The greatest damage to British shipping was inflicted by privateers, privately owned ships carrying letters of marque issued by Congress and the states. Early in 1778 approximately 10,000 Americans were engaged in privateering. After 1778, when the British had to deal with the fleets of France and Spain, American privateers multiplied. Late in the war more than 400 American vessels operated as privateers in the waters off the Atlantic coast, the West Indies, and even those surrounding the British Isles. They inflicted severe damage on British ships and trade, costing Britain about 2,000 ships, £18 million, and 12,000 men captured.

American Naval Raids

Credit for the first American naval victory belongs to Commodore Esek Hopkins. In the spring of 1776 he descended on Nassau in the Bahamas with eight ships and 200 marines, capturing the fort and carrying off powder, cannon, and other stores. By the end of 1777, United States ships had taken 464 enemy merchantmen. Britain, however, still commanded the seas with about 100 vessels in American waters, and had struck vigorously at the American commerce destroyers. In 1778, a second American raid on Nassau resulted in the capture of five ships. That year John Paul Jones, the most brilliant American naval officer of the Revolution, struck at the English border port of Whitehaven, on the Irish Sea, spiking the guns of the fort and destroying some of the vessels at the dock.    

French and Spanish Action

The Franco-American alliance in 1778 and the entry of Spain into the war as an ally of France in 1779 fundamentally changed the war at sea. Thereafter, England was unable to maintain maritime supremacy, although throughout 1779 British ships dominated the waters adjacent to the American states. The cautious earl of Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, insisted on keeping a fleet in the English Channel to guard against invasion, leaving the French and Spanish naval forces free to take the offensive where they pleased.

American Victories and Defeats

The American Navy enjoyed its most notable victory in 1779. In June of that year John Paul Jones put to sea from France in a converted 42-gun merchantman renamed the Bon Homme Richard. With him were the frigate Alliance and three French vessels. In September, in the North Sea off Flamborough Head, England, Jones engaged the English Serapis of 50 guns and the Countess Scarborough of 20 guns. After a moonlight battle of two hours, he captured both.

In the fall of 1779, Congress replaced its Marine Committee with a Board of Admiralty composed of experts outside Congress, but the strength and performances of the American Navy did not improve. For sea power Washington had to depend upon France.

Political, Social, and Economic Developments

Military conflict was but one aspect of the American Revolution. When the Thirteen Colonies severed themselves from Great Britain, they embarked upon an experiment in government that wrought fundamental changes in the political, social, and economic life of Americans. The triumph of republicanism in the establishment of state governments and a federal union was in itself a revolutionary development in an age of monarchies.

Toward Self-Government

There was no sudden, cataclysmic overthrow of constituted government. Extralegal organizations and institutions in the colonies, beginning with the nonimportation and nonconsumption associations, developed into more sophisticated and permanent bodies that gradually assumed the functions of government. Provincial conventions, generally elected by the freeholders, appeared in most of the colonies by the summer of 1774. These conventions appointed delegates to the First Continental Congress, passed laws and ordinances, and set up a system of committees of safety to combat disaffection.

Blood had already been shed at Lexington and Concord when the Second Continental Congress convened in May 1775. England's decision to use force against the Thirteen Colonies led Congress to take an aggressive stand in defense of American "rights." John Dickinson, leader of the conservative faction, prevailed on the delegates to issue one last plea for a redress of grievances in the form of the "Olive Branch Petition" to the king, adopted July 8. The effort failed when George III refused to accept the petition.

Many, perhaps most, of the delegates still hoped for a reconciliation. But Congress, under the leadership of John Adams and Samuel Adams, set about putting the colonies in a state of defense. On July 6, the "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms" was adopted, asserting that Americans were "resolved to dye Free-men rather than live Slaves." On the last day of July, Congress adopted a report rejecting Lord North's Conciliatory Resolution.

British policy in 1775 was largely responsible for pushing the Americans toward independence. Even as the radical faction worked to prepare Congress for independence, urging the opening of colonial ports to foreign trade, alliance with France, and creation of state governments—George III declared that the colonies were in open rebellion. The Prohibitory Act, passed by Parliament in December 1775, authorized a naval blockade of America, seizure of American goods on the seas, and impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy. The effect of this act was to reconcile hundreds of thousands of reluctant rebels to the necessity of separation from Britain.

In January 1776, Thomas Paine's Common Sense was published. In this most influential of American revolutionary tracts, Paine called for independence, and vigorously attacked the venerated institutions of royalty and the English constitution. Paine's plea convinced many that separation was not only inevitable but right and just.

Declaration of Independence

In response to the Prohibitory Act, Congress on April 6, 1776, resolved to open the ports of America for foreign trade. On May 10, the delegates adopted a resolution recommending that the colonies establish permanent governments. On June 7, in accordance with instructions from the Virginia Convention, Richard Henry Lee moved resolutions for independence, a general confederation, and the formation of foreign alliances. Conservatives, fearing a premature separation, managed to delay a final decision until July 2. On that day 12 states adopted Lee's resolutions (New York abstained, but gave its approval on July 9). Two days later, on July 4, 1776, Congress sanctioned the Declaration of Independence. The Thirteen Colonies were now the independent United States of America.

The Declaration of Independence was a convincing apologia for independence, a concise statement of the principles of the Revolution and of the nature of true government, and a magnificent assertion of the innate freedom and equality of all men. No other document so well expresses the highest ideals of the Revolution and the hopes of Americans for a better society under a government created by and functioning for the people.

Building a Government

Independence, however, was not an end but a beginning. There followed the processes of establishing constitutional state and central governments.

Many states, emulating Virginia, called special conventions for the purpose of framing their new constitutions. The "constitutional convention," transforming political ideology into practical politics, was certainly one of the greatest contributions of the American Revolution to political thought and practice. Another important innovation was the written constitution. In the 1780s the constitutional convention and the constitutional referendum, based on the principle that government must be sanctioned by the people, became American institutions.

In establishing their new constitutions, Americans did not totally reject their colonial experience and traditions. Most of the new governments were modeled on the old colonial systems, with the legislative body dominant over the judicial and executive branches.

It has been argued that the Revolution was "conservative," that Americans already enjoyed considerable democracy, and that they fought to preserve constitutional freedoms and privileges that they considered to be their rights as British subjects. This is in part true, and helps explain the broad unity of purpose among the Patriots. After 1774, however, most Patriots fought for a changed and better society, not to preserve the status quo.

Their gains were considerable. Every state acquired a bill of rights, guaranteeing trial by jury, the right of petition, freedom of speech, and other rights familiar to English law. Qualifications for the franchise and office holding were generally liberalized, although no state conceded universal manhood suffrage. In many of the states, redistricting in the interest of political justice and democracy led to increased representation in the legislatures for interior and frontier areas.

Articles of Confederation

The Patriots found it more difficult to agree on a constitution for a central government. Although virtually every Patriot acknowledged that a union was indispensable to winning and maintaining independence, jealousy among the states and fear of tyrannical rule made it difficult to achieve a satisfactory distribution of powers between the state and central governments.

On June 11, 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a plan of confederation. John Dickinson reported a draft of Articles of Confederation that would, in the opinion of many delegates, create too strong a central government. Many of the most influential Revolutionary leaders feared power, especially political power concentrated in the hands of a relative few. They therefore desired that political power be diffused as much as possible—confined in the states where government officials might be more responsible to the citizens.

On Nov. 15, 1777, after long debate and many amendments, Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation and referred them to the states for ratification. Not until March 1, 1781, were the Articles formally ratified, and the United States at last had a constitutional union. The Articles of Confederation, however, proved inadequate to the political, economic, and diplomatic needs of the new nation.

The Constitution

In September 1786, delegates from five states met at Annapolis, Md., to study interstate commercial problems. Turning to broader questions, they issued a call for a special convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. The result was the Constitutional Convention, which met in Philadelphia from May 25 to Sept. 17, 1787.

Quickly discarding the old Articles of Confederation, the members of the convention produced an entirely new constitution, providing for a much stronger central government with a bicameral legislature, a federal judiciary, and a powerful executive. On Sept. 28, Congress resolved to transmit the Constitution to the states for submission to special ratifying conventions.

Debate between the proponents of the Constitution, who called themselves Federalists, and opponents, who were labeled Antifederalists, was vigorous and often bitter. Not until June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to vote in the affirmative, was adoption ensured.

The addition of 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, on Dec. 15, 1791, reconciled many Antifederalists to the new system of government. It has been asserted that the Constitution was the work of conservative forces, fearful of the democratic tendencies of the Revolution, and determined to gain control of the political and economic life of the nation. On the whole, however, the Constitution preserved, rather than destroyed, the gains made during the Revolution, and it has proved a durable, flexible, instrument of government.

Economic Upheavals

The Revolution brought economic as well as political change, together with much hardship and suffering. All of the colonies were affected by inflation and economic dislocation. Stock, grain, and tobacco, in addition to slaves, were taken from farms, warehouses, and plantations.

The shortage of finished goods, heretofore imported largely from England, led to soaring prices and an inflationary spiral. Hard money was scarce, and to finance the war effort Congress and the states resorted to the expediency of printing paper money. As the war progressed, paper money, especially Continental currency, rapidly depreciated. Efforts to establish a more stable currency supported by state taxation were fruitless.

More strenuous and somewhat more successful efforts were made to control inflation. In 1776, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island adopted legislation to fix prices and wages. In November 1777, Congress recommended a grand program of price and wage regulation, and New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania instituted controls. Powerful opposition to regulation, especially from merchants who indulged in "black market" operations, undermined the program, however, and the machinery needed to enforce the laws was lacking. In June 1778, Congress recommended that attempts to set prices be abandoned. Inflation continued to plague the American economy throughout the war.

Economic dislocation and financial instability affected all Americans, but some suffered more than others, and some even prospered. Familiar channels of trade were closed to merchants, farmers, and the New England fisherman. Tobacco and rice planters in Virginia and South Carolina, heretofore assured a market in England for their produce, were forced to seek new outlets, or obtain new means of livelihood. Hardest hit by inflation were the clergy, town laborers and artisans, and the men and officers of the Continental Army. Desperate workers fought for higher wages, in some cases even went on strike, and organized committees to force merchants to lower prices. On occasion mob violence broke out, as in Philadelphia in October 1779, when angry townspeople besieged the house of James Wilson, a Loyalist counsel and commercial speculator.

Such outbursts give the impression of an internal conflict based on economic class divisions. In Pennsylvania and New York, and in some areas of other states, the struggle between privileged and nonprivileged, between upper and lower economic and social classes, was sharp. However, these clashes were not so numerous, widespread, and enduring as to support the thesis that there was an internal American revolutionary movement on the part of the poor against the rich. Many planters in the South, who rented much of their land, were seriously hurt by being obliged to accept rent payments in depreciated paper money. In such cases, the lower-class tenants, who sold their produce for high prices, were the gainers, and the "aristocratic" planters were the losers.

Among those who profited by the war were the farmers, whose products were in great demand by the Army. Privateering, which combined "business as usual" with patriotism, proved a remarkably profitable venture for thousands of enterprising Americans. Merchants and contractors—particularly men like Robert Morris of Philadelphia, Silas Deane of Connecticut, and Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, who participated in obtaining French commercial aid for America—often realized fortunes. Many Patriots in official positions, such as Morris, who was the financial agent for the Continental Congress, carried on public and private business simultaneously, sometimes to the detriment of the former. Army commissaries and quartermasters, whose services were eagerly sought by merchants and contractors, often did the same.

Role of the Loyalists

Among those who suffered most during the Revolution were the Loyalists, or Tories. By early 1777, every state except Georgia and South Carolina had passed laws declaring as traitors those who actively supported Britain. In many states their property was seized and sold. They were denied access to the courts, the right to vote, and freedom of speech. Not less than 60,000 and perhaps as many as 100,000 Loyalists became exiles, either through banishment or refusal to submit to the hundreds of laws passed to confine and suppress them. Their property, amounting to several millions of pounds, was confiscated and sold by the states.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the precise effect of the departure of the Loyalists, and the confiscation and sale of their property. It has been argued that they were, in the main, of the colonial aristocracy and gentry, and that their flight and the distribution of their property profoundly altered social and economic conditions in America. The Loyalists, however, were not a distinct economic and social class. Coming from virtually every station in life, they chose to support the king (or oppose the "rebellion") for a variety of reasons. The sale of their property doubtless benefited many Americans of moderate or meager means, but there followed no general leveling of social and economic status.

Perhaps those Loyalists who chose to remain in America, either as active or passive partisans of England, had the greater effect upon the course of the Revolution. Their presence and activity served to increase hatred of England, rendered immensely difficult the position of Patriot moderates and conservatives, and stiffened the determination of the majority of their countrymen to win the war.

Social and Cultural Reforms

The Revolutionary upheaval also led to important changes in the social and cultural fabric of America. The essentially democratic thrust of the Revolution can be seen in the efforts to strike at aristocracy and hereditary concentration of wealth and privilege, to obtain a large measure of religious freedom, to assail the institution of slavery and the slave trade, and to improve and extend education in the interest of an enlightened citizenry.

The principles of primogeniture and entail, designed to perpetuate wealth, social position, and political power, were abolished in every state. To be sure, they were not widely applied prior to 1776, nor, apparently, did their abolition contribute to a broad redistribution of property. Nevertheless, these legal changes did strike a blow against one prop of aristocracy. Further evidence of American distaste for rigid class or caste distinctions can be found in several of the state constitutions, which forbade hereditary distinctions, and in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, which prohibited the states and the United States from granting titles of nobility.

Far more important was the movement for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established in the five southern colonies; the Congregational Church was strongly favored in three of the New England colonies. Persons of non-Christian or unorthodox Christian belief were often discriminated against. Roman Catholics could not vote in Maryland; non-Episcopalians were taxed to support the Anglican Church in Virginia. Led by Thomas Jefferson, Virginians, through the Statute of Religious Settlement (1779), made religious belief a personal matter, and disestablished the Anglican Church. Other states followed Virginia's example, although the Congregational Church retained its privileged status in Massachusetts and Connecticut well into the 19th century.

By the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Congress was denied power to interfere with religious freedom or create an "establishment" of religion. Full freedom of religious belief, or lack of it, was not attained; but the principles of separation of church and state and the liberty of free inquiry and thought were immeasurably strengthened by the Revolution.

Not all Patriots agreed with the proposition, stated in the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal" and have "certain unalienable rights." Still, thoughtful men in both the South and North agreed that chattel slavery was not morally justifiable and that both the slave trade and slavery should be ended. Abolition of slavery was much easier where slaves were few. Within 30 years after the Declaration of Independence, slavery had largely disappeared in the New England states, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 forbade the institution in the Northwest Territory, from which the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were eventually formed.

In the South, manumission was made possible in Virginia and Maryland, but economic self-interest and the immense social and political problems posed by abolition led Southern reformers reluctantly to accept the institution as a necessary evil and postpone action against it to some future time.

A Beginning

In other areas the Revolutionary generation addressed itself to the construction of a better society. Jefferson, John Adams, and other foresighted leaders, convinced that a republic could not long exist without an enlightened citizenry, urged the establishment of state and national education systems. Some beginning was made toward state-supported education, but economic troubles stymied most of these efforts. The dream of education that would be open to all remained for future generations of Americans to fulfill.

It may perhaps be an exaggeration to speak of an "internal" American Revolution. The period from 1763 to 1789 was marked by social, cultural, and political continuity as well as change. It is nevertheless true that American society was in many ways transformed, and American institutions altered and reformed, during this period. Not least, a republic was established–as yet it was still an infant among nations, but it possessed vast opportunities for greatness.

The greatest tribute to the Revolution is the fact that its ideals not only were achieved but also remained a reality two centuries later. The Constitution was still a great force for order and justice, and Revolutionary heroes were still held up to youngsters as worthy of emulation.

Diplomatic Developments

In 1776, Britain faced only 13 belligerent colonies. Within four years, France, Spain, and the Netherlands had declared war on England; the War of Independence had become a part of a vast international struggle to reduce British power in America and elsewhere, and to restore a colonial and European balance of power violently disturbed by British victory in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763).

Alliance with France

After 1763, France and Spain sought an opportunity to retaliate for the losses they had suffered at the hands of Britain. In France, Étienne François, duke de Choiseul, head of the foreign ministry, rebuilt a new and powerful navy in preparation for a war of revenge. Assuming that commerce was the real foundation of British strength, Choiseul eagerly watched the developing Anglo-American crisis after 1764. He hoped that the Thirteen Colonies would gain their independence and that their trade could be channeled to France. In this way, he hoped to strike a telling blow against British power and increase the wealth and prestige of France.

Choiseul fell from power in 1770, but his policies were continued by the Comte de Vergennes, who became foreign minister in 1774. An experienced, cautious diplomat, Vergennes embarked on a circumspect policy of encouragement to the American colonies. In September 1775 he sent an agent to Philadelphia to intimate that French ports might be opened to American ships. In March 1776, Vergennes and the playwright Caron de Beaumarchais set up a fictitious trading company—subsidized by one million livres each from the Bourbon courts in France and Spain—secretly to supply munitions and other materials to the Americans. Aid from France and from Spain, the latter largely through the services of Don Diego de Gardoqui, began to arrive after the end of 1776 and materially contributed to the American success.

In 1776, the Continental Congress sent Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee as agents to France to obtain a commercial and military alliance. The American agents pressed the French court to recognize American independence and to form an alliance with the struggling states. They were unsuccessful until news arrived in Paris in early December 1777 of the American victory at Saratoga. On December 17, not waiting to discover whether Spain would join France, Vergennes promised the United States formal recognition.

On Feb. 6, 1778, two treaties, one of amity and commerce, the other of alliance, were signed by France and the United States. Spain, fearful of the possible threat of an independent republic adjacent to her American colonies, refused to join the alliance. In April 1779, Spain entered the war on the side of France, although not as an ally of the United States.

In November 1780, angered by the sale of supplies to America, France, and Spain by Dutch merchants, Britain delivered an ultimatum to The Hague that brought the Netherlands into the war. In the same year Russia, Denmark, and Sweden formed the League of Armed Neutrality. Other European nations joined the league until, by 1783, Britain found itself in a position of military and diplomatic isolation.

British Conciliation Efforts

During the War of Independence, Britain was seriously torn by domestic discord at a time when political unity was indispensable for the preservation of the empire. British politics were characterized by factionalism. Corruption and place-seeking had largely supplanted political principle.

After 1770, when Lord North became prime minister and through the "King's Friends" obtained large majorities in Parliament, a semblance of political unity emerged, at least in regard to the American War. The North ministry, however, was constantly under attack by William Pitt the Elder and his following, and by other dissident factions. The war was never popular among the middle and lower classes.

At various times during the war, the North ministry made gestures toward conciliation, but the overtures were consistently too late and too little. Lord North's first plan of conciliation, embodied in a resolution of the House of Commons on Feb. 20, 1775, was regarded by the Americans as an insidious attempt to subvert their unity, and the plan was repudiated by the Continental Congress. The drift toward separation resumed and ended with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The news of Gen. John Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga (October 1777) stirred panic among British officials and raised fear of a Franco-American alliance. On Feb. 17, 1778, at the behest of Lord North, Parliament repealed the Townshend tea duty, the Massachusetts Government Act, and the Prohibitory Act, and authorized the government to send negotiators to America. The Carlisle commission—composed of the earl of Carlisle, William Eden, and George Johnstone—was authorized to deal with Congress but not to recognize American independence or withdraw British forces from the 13 states.

A month before the arrival of the British commission in Philadelphia, Pa., Silas Deane delivered the Franco-American treaties to Congress. On May 4, Congress ratified both treaties. When the Carlisle commission arrived in Philadelphia in early June, it was unable to reach an understanding with the Patriots, who now would accept nothing short of independence.

Peace Negotiations

After 1778 the war went badly for England. But the king refused to consider peace negotiations even when news of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown reached London in November 1781. Finally bowing to the clamor for peace, George III, after briefly considering abdication, accepted in March 1782 a new ministry drawn almost entirely from the Opposition.

Sir Guy Carleton was dispatched to New York to replace Sir Henry Clinton and was instructed to withdraw British troops from the 13 states. At the same time, Lord Shelburne, secretary of state for the colonies in the ministry, sent Richard Oswald to Paris to open negotiations with Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of trying to wean the Americans away from France. The Patriots had already discovered that their interests and war aims did not entirely coincide with those of the Bourbon powers.

Franklin acted for America in the early stages of the negotiations with the British; he was later joined by John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens. In September 1781, Oswald was authorized to treat with the commissioners of the "Thirteen United States," which was tantamount to informal recognition of American independence; and Jay, who had become increasingly distrustful of France and Spain, persuaded Franklin to ignore Congress' instructions that the American envoys consult fully with France.

Thereafter, negotiations moved swiftly toward a final settlement. On Nov. 30, 1782, the preliminary Anglo-American peace treaty was signed, and on Sept. 3, 1783, the treaty (called the Peace of Paris) became final.

The peace settlement was a great diplomatic achievement. The American commissioners agreed to validate private debts to British creditors, and pledged restoration of Loyalist rights and property. In addition, minor boundary concessions were made to Britain. In return, Britain recognized American independence, agreed to American fishing rights off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and most important, granted America the territory between the Appalachians and the Mississippi.

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