SHARE Early Wars & Conflicts

The American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783

Also known as the U.S. War of Independence, the American Revolutionary War arose from mounting political tensions late in the 18th Century between the British Empire and its thirteen American Colonies. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 even though the war didn't officially end for another seven years, the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified in 1788.

Prior to the start of hostilities, the British Colonies in America grew increasingly unsettled by colonial rule that exploited the wealth produced by American colonists through various tax acts. Civil unrest grew so much that British soldiers were sent over from Europe to calm any disturbances and ensure the smooth operation of the valuable trade that made Great Britain one of the wealthiest empires in the world at that time. Great Britain was unprepared for the response of American colonists who became disappointed with the British colonial system. Politically, and later militarily, American founding fathers collaborated to push forward their agenda, which eventually called for independence from British rule.

On April 19, 1775, a confrontation between Great Britain’s General Thomas Gage’s soldiers and members of the colonial militias, or Minutemen, occurred at Lexington and Concord. During the standoff between the inexperienced colonials and the well trained British Red Coats, a shot rang out and the American Revolutionary War began. One year later, the colonies officially rebelled by signing the Declaration of Independence thus starting the United States of America.

The Revolutionary War expanded to two continents as France and later Spain officially entered the war, after the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. This created a European theater of war that spread the British Army too thin. Although the war continued elsewhere for a time, Britain eventually sued for peace. The war officially ended with the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

Selected Bibliography on the Revolutionary War

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