The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence and the Revolutionary War in the United States, was the armed conflict between Great Britain and thirteen of its North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America. Early fighting took place primarily on the North American continent. France, eager for revenge after its defeat in the Seven Years’ War, signed an alliance with the new nation in 1778 that proved decisive in the ultimate victory.
The American Revolutionary War had its origins in the resistance of many Americans to taxes, which they claimed were unconstitutional, imposed by the British parliament. Patriot protests escalated into boycotts, and on December 16, 1773, the destruction of a shipment of tea at the Boston Tea Party. The British government retaliated by closing the port of Boston and taking away self-government. The Patriots responded by setting up a shadow government that took control of the province outside of Boston. Twelve other colonies who supported Massachusetts, formed a Continental Congress, to coordinate their resistance, and set up committees and conventions that effectively seized power. The Continental Congress consisted of fifty-six delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies that were to become the United States of America. In April 1775 fighting broke out between Massachusetts militia units and British regulars. They fought the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, near Boston. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its colonies on the mainland of British America. The Continental Congress appointed General George Washington to take charge of militia units besieging British forces in Boston, forcing them to evacuate the city in March 1776. Congress supervised the war, giving Washington command of the new Continental Army; he also coordinated state militia units.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress formally voted for independence, and issued its Declaration of Independence on July 4, each swearing;
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,
we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”
Of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, 24 were lawyers and judges, 11 were merchants, 9 were farmers and plantation owners and 12 were comprised of doctors, ministers, and politicians.
Washington managed to drive the British out of most of New Jersey. In 1777 Sir William Howe launched a campaign against the national capital at Philadelphia, and failing to aid John Burgoyne’s invasion from Canada, Burgoyne’s army was trapped, and surrendered after the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777.
France entered the war in 1778 and during that year the British, having failed in the northern states, shifted their strategy toward the south. They brought Georgia and South Carolina under their control in 1779 and 1780, however, the resulting surge of Loyalist support was far weaker than expected. In 1781, British forces moved through Virginia and settled at Yorktown but their escape was blocked by a French naval victory in September. Led by Count Rochambeau and Washington a combined Franco-American army launched a siege at Yorktown and captured more than 8,000 British troops in October.
The defeat at Yorktown finally turned the British Parliament against the war, and in early 1782 they voted to end offensive operations in North America. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bordered roughly by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.
The Constitution of the United States, was written Sept. 17, 1787, and on ratified June 21, 1788. The “Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution, was written Sept. 25, 1789 and on ratified December 15, 1791.