The Stamp Act 1765 that was passed by the British Parliament in 1765 was the first direct tax imposed on the British colonies in North America. The goal of the tax on printed material including newspapers, magazines, legal documents, insurance policies and many other types of paper material was to help finance for the British troops in the colonies. But the British also sought to reduce their debt that increased dangerously after the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763). The colonists were outraged because they had no say in which taxes were to be imposed on them and how the raised money was to be spent. Britain repealed the Act in 1766 but as it would later turn out, the American Revolution had already began.
The Boston Massacre was an incident between the British soldiers and a crowd of colonists in Boston, Massachusetts. It took place on March 5, 1770, when a group of nine British soldiers confronted with over 100 hostile colonists opened fire on the crowd, killing five and wounding six men. The commander of the watch and his eight soldiers were arrested by the next morning which partly relieved the tensions in the city. But a series of pamphlets depicting the British soldiers shooting on a group of peaceful colonists further increased the anti-British sentiment in the colonies.
On December 16, 1773, a group of about 70 men boarded on three British ships in the Boston harbor and threw their tea cargo into the sea. The destruction of the tea cargo was a protest against the Tea Act that was passed by the British Parliament earlier in the same year and gave the British East India Company monopoly on tea sale in the colonies. The incident, known as the Boston Tea Party triggered a chain of events that directly led to the American War of Independence.
In response to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed a series of laws known as Intolerable Acts or Coercive Acts in 1774. These closed the Boston harbor for all shipping until the city paid for the destroyed tea cargo, limited political authority of the colonists, made legal persecution of British officials more difficult and extended the boundaries of the Quebec province to the lands that were claimed by the American colonists. But rather than disciplining the colonists, the Intolerable Acts only made them more determined in their resistance against the British Empire and more determined to defend their rights and liberties.
On September 5, 1774, the delegates from 12 colonies met at the First Continental Congress to discuss how to react to the Intolerable Acts that were passed by the British Parliament earlier in the same year. They decided to boycott British goods and ban export of the American goods to Britain if the latter refused to repeal the Intolerable Acts. In order to effectively carry out the embargo, the delegates also established the Continental Association and called for the Second Continental Congress if their protest at the British Crown would not achieve the desired effect. And so it happened. But by the time the delegates met at the Second Continental Congress, the War of the American Revolution had already began.
On the evening of April 18, 1775, the British governor of Massachusetts sent several hundred British troops to seize colonists’ military stores at Concord. The British intentions and movements were soon discovered by the Patriot colonists who decided to prevent the British from carrying out their plan. The local militiamen gathered at Lexington to intercept the British troops. The British managed to repulse the outnumbered militia in early morning of April 19 and proceeded towards Concord. There, they destroyed some colonial military supplies before they clashed with the militiamen at the North Bridge. This time, the British were defeated and forced to withdraw to Boston. The American War of Independence just began, while the American Revolution entered its final phase.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence which formally proclaimed the 13 colonies independent from the British Empire. The war for independence, however, continued because Britain was not willing to give up its North American colonies without a fight. The original Declaration of Independence that was mostly drafted by the future US President Thomas Jefferson is today permanently exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives building in Washington, D.C..
The Battles of Saratoga that were fought on the same ground on September 19 and October 7, 1777, marked the turning point of the American Revolution and encouraged France to openly support the Americans against Britain. In the First Battle of Saratoga (also known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm), the Americans prevented the British to break through their lines and join with other troops at Albany. After another failed attempt to break through the American lines at Bemis Heights (Second Battle of Saratoga) on October 7, the British were surrounded by a much larger Continental Army. By October 17, the British commander John Burgoyne accepted defeat and surrendered.
After a successful land and sea campaign of joint American and French army in Virginia in 1781, the British army found itself trapped on the Yorktown peninsula. The British commander Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis, realizing that he did not have a slightest chance against the overwhelming Franco-American army tried to escape but his attempts failed. On October 19, 1781, Lord Cornwallis accepted the terms of surrender for which he asked two days earlier. Armed hostilities continued but with the Surrender of Yorktown, the American War of Independence was practically won.
The American War of Independence and with it, the American Revolution formally ended with the Treaty of Paris that was signed on September 3, 1783. The British Empire accepted defeat against its former colonies and recognized independence of the United States of America. The Treaty of Paris also set the boundaries of the United States – to the Mississippi River in the west, Great Lakes in the north and 31st parallel in the south, and guaranteed access to the American fishing boats to Newfoundland.