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The American Revolutionary War (19 April 1775-3 September 1783) was an armed conflict between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which sought to rule themselves as an independent nation. The war began with the battles of Lexington and Concord, in which the British Army had attempted to capture the leaders of the Continental Congress, an unlawful body which represented the people of the colonies. After this battle, armed colonial militia nicknamed "minutemen" besieged Boston, capturing it in March 1776; Virginia, New York, and other colonies also broke free from the British, with New Hampshire forming its own government in January 1776; this was the first state to form its own government and state constitution separate from the British. The American colonies declared their independence as the United States on 4 July 1776, removing any possibility of the British granting autonomy to the Americans - now, the Americans sought to have their own country and government. Congress became the government of the nascent United States, and the Congress convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to lead the United States during the war. George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the "Continental Army", the military of the Continental Congress, due to his experience as a British officer during the French and Indian War, and the Continental Army would fight against the British in unconventional warfare. The British captured New York City in August 1776, using the city as a base for the rest of the war; the 32,000-strong British army under William Howe also included Hessians, a force of German mercenaries. The war would see the British attempt to chase down Washington's army, but the survival of Washington's army and the great victory at the battles of Saratoga led to the Kingdom of France, Spain, and the United Provinces deciding to side with the patriots against their British rivals. War was waged on the frontier against Native Americans and their Tory (American loyalist) allies, in the North against British troops and Hessians, and in the South against the British and the southern loyalists. The war's de facto end was at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, where Charles Cornwallis' army was forced to surrender, ending Britain's chances of victory. In 1783, after some naval warfare between the British and the French and Spanish and some frontier clashes, the British agreed to the Treaty of Paris, recognizing US independence. 

Background

Colonization of the Americas

England began its settlement of the New World in 1607 by establishing a colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and the first immigrants to the English colonies came from the British Isles. In 1619, slaves were introduced to Jamestown to assist in agriculture, and the Triangle Trade route was formed as Africans were sent to the Americas, raw materials were sent from the Americas to Europe, and completed products were sent back to the Americas from Europe. The English would have settlements up and down the East Coast, and the settlements would become the "Thirteen Colonies", with the state of Georgia being the newest, being formed in 1730. The Thirteen Colonies eventually developed their own culture, and they ceased to be English, becoming Americans. The American colonists set up their own governmental bodies such as the House of Burgesses in Virginia, as they had inadequate representation in Parliament. Soon, major trade ports and cities such as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia developed as immigrants arrived to settle the Americas.

Seven Years' War

The Braddock Expedition of 1755

However, the English were not the only colonists to establish settlements in the Americas, with the Kingdom of France colonizing Canada and the region of French Louisiana (the region from Michigan and Minnesota to the north down to Louisiana in the south, essentially the middle third of the future United States). The French built a string of forts in the Ohio Valley and formed an alliance with the local Native Americans, including the Wyandots, Abenaki, Lenape, Algonquin, Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Shawnee tribes. The British sent George Washington to demand that the French abandon their forts, but the French refused, leading to war. From 1754 to 1763, the British and the Thirteen Colonies fought against France and its Indian allies in the "French and Indian War", which spread to Europe in 1756 as the Seven Years' War. The end result was the British capture of Canada and Florida, while Spain gained Louisiana.

Taxation without Representation

Sons of Liberty dumping chests of tea in Boston harbor in the Boston Tea Party

However, the French and Indian War had bankrupted Britain, and King George III of Britain decided to levy new taxes on his American colonies to pay for the war's huge costs. In the "Intolerable Acts", the British taxed tea, stamps, imports, and other goods, leading to the city of Boston rioting against British rule. This culminated in the Boston Massacre of 1770, in which redcoats fired on a crowd of rioting colonists, killing five. In 1773, the Americans protested against the tax on tea by dumping boxes of tea into Boston Harbor in the "Boston Tea Party", another act of defiance against King George. The colonists decided to assemble a "Continental Congress" in Philadelphia to represent the thirteen colonies, with the British declaring it an illegal body due to its representation of the colonies without royal permission. Congress' leaders sought self-rule in America, and the Congress was assisted by the Sons of Liberty, a secret society of rebels that protested against the British.

War

Siege of Boston

The Battles of Lexington and Concord

In 1775, the Sons of Liberty armed some Massachusetts farmers, who were rising up against Thomas Gage, the newly-appointed military governor; these farmers became known as "minutemen", as they could be ready to fight at a minute's notice. The militia planned to march on Boston and force the British to end their taxation of the colonies, leading to Gage dispatching a detachment of British troops to seize the rebels' supplies and capture the leaders of the Congress.

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