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Analyze how Americans resisted British policies before 1775 and analyze the reasons for the American victory and the British defeat during the Revolutionary War
Focus Question: How did Americans resist British policies before 1775?
Topics on the Page
Boston Tea Party
nd Boston Massacre
and the American Revolution
For an overview, see
Teaching the Revolution
, an essay by historian Carol Berkin from Baruch College and City University of New York from the History By Era series of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. Alan Taylor, W.W. Norton, 2016
Read Gordon S. Wood review of the Taylor's book
How the American Revolution Worked Against Blacks, Indians and Women,
The New York Times Book Review, September 11, 2016
25,000 Americans in the military died in the war, one percent of the population, more deaths proportionally than any other war except the Civil War
20 percent of the population remain loyal to the British Empire and faced great suffering and hardship from supporters of the Revolution
60,000 Loyalists fled to other parts of the British Empire
For more, s
United States History I.5
for the role of Massachusetts in the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party and other events in the revolutionary period.
for information on the course of the war as well as the experiences of African Americans and Women
The Repeal, 1760s political cartoon depicting the repeal of the Stamp Act
The Coming of Independence
, a video with transcript from
A Biography of America
from Annenberg Learner.
The History of the American Revolution
by David Ramsey (1789) is the first American national history written by an American revolutionary and printed in America.
Timeline of British taxes and acts and American reactions until 1775.
Provided by the Library of Congress
Battling for Liberty: Tecumseh's and Patrick Henry's Language of Resistance
. See also Patrick Henry's
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech
, March 23, 1775.
A Common American Soldier
from Colonial Williamsburg details the experiences of everyday members of the Revolutionary Army.
Causes of the Revolution
Nathan Hale, 1925 Postage Stamp
was one of the first American "spies" during the Revolution, and although he was caught, his quote "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country" is still widely known today. This is a short piece about the work he did and his eventual capture.
is another well known patriot. With the help of William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott,
helped to warn the Sam Adams and John Hancock of the imminent British march to capture them. The link above leads to a map detailing their routes, and
is an account of the ride's events.
Too Late To Apologize (with lyrics)
is a music video about the Declaration and the Constitution from Soomo Publishing.
There were a number causes to
the American Revolution
, but the primary cause for the outbreak of war revolved around the colonists' acts of defiance toward British policies. The colonists were not content with laws and taxes being enforced without their consent.
The British had just won
the French and Indian war [4
] and were claiming that the colonists were in their debt for the defense they provided them. They started levying several taxes on the colonies and began enacting laws without the colonists' approval.
The famous phrase,
“No taxation without representation,” [5
] came out of this period and the colonists were furious and they began to resist British acts and policies.
Colonists began by publicly protesting
the Stamp Act [6
], which was able to bring together the colonies but also forced the British to repeat that they have full power over the colonies and continued to control them. At the same time they were also attacking the tax collectors, often violently. Colonists were also forced to quarter British troops in private homes.
In 1772, the colonists went as far as to destroy a British warship that was being used to make sure British policies were being forced, known as
the Gaspee Affair
There was also the events known as the Boston Massacre in which British troops shot and killed 5 colonists who were taunting them and the Boston Tea Party, during which the Sons of Liberty, angered by import tariff regulation, dressed up as Mohawks and destroyed a shipment of British tea intended for the colonies by throwing it into the Boston Harbor.
The British responded with Coercive Acts effectively limiting Massachusetts' local government.
Watch a video from YA author John Green on
Taxes and Smuggling
"The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Drought."
(1774), written to convince the British public that Great Britain had the right to tax the colonies.
Boston Tea Party
High Tea in Boston Harbor
from the PBS website, Liberty.
BostonTea Party, W.D. Cooper. The History of North America, 1789
page to explore the event in more detail
Focus Question: What were the reasons for the American victory and the British defeat?
Washington leading Continental Army to Valley Forge by William B. T. Trego, 1883
Click here for an
Interactive Timeline on the American Revolution
African Americans and the Revolutionary War
Some 1500 people of African descent from Massachusetts served in the Continental Army and state militia during the Revolutionary War.
In Franklin County, the town of Shelburne had the highest participation with 7 African Americans serving in the army.
Colonial soldiers at the siege of Yorktown, by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine DeVerger, watercolor, 1781. The African American soldier is supposedly from the first Rhode Island Regiment.
In the colonies, some 5,000 black men served in the Continental Army, and hundreds more served on ships at sea.
African Americans in the Revolutionary Period,
National Park Service
For more, go to the website of the
National Mall Liberty Fund DC
For more on African American participation, see
AP United States History Theme 4.
African Americans and the American Revolution
for more on roles of Blacks before and during the war.
for more resources.
is a PDF file of many of the important African American individuals and units in the Revolution, who fought for both the Rebels and the British forces
For a perspective from Rhode Island, see
Deeds of Desperate Valor: The First Rhode Island Regiment
Blacks also fought for the British. Click here to read
Lord Dunmore's Proclamation, 1775
that offered freedom to slaves that fought for the British.
Women and the Revolutionary War
Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth from a 1859 print
Women of the American Revolution: A Unit of Study for Grades 5-8
from the National Center for History in the Schools.
is a revolutionary war figure who may or may not have been one actual individual.
Click here for
a brief biography
Click here for the
Molly Pitcher Historical Marker
in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Will the Real Molly Pitcher Please Stand Up?
is a lesson plan from the National Archives.
After Challenging Military Ban on Women in Combat, Molly Pitcher Project's Dreams are Realized
details how legal action led to lifting the military's longstanding ban on direct ground combat by women (May, 2013).
for more women who were involved in the Revolutionary War, such as Martha Bratton and Esther Reed.
See also Grade 5.17
you can also find an article in the Huffington Post from 2012 on Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, also known as "The Baron," a French military genius, and also gay, who helped to train Washington's forces at Valley Forge and was awarded honorary citizenship for his efforts.
See Grade 5.17
specific information about key battles
during the war
The Continental Army struggled for finances, trained regulars, and supplies early in the war. Forcing the British out of Boston was a critical moment for survival at that particular stage.
Great Britain faced long supply routes along the Atlantic Ocean, an unsympathetic population in the colonies, and an increasingly vocal political opposition in Parliament.
Gates' unexpected victory in Saratoga Springs
, New York, Ben Franklin had increasing success forming an alliance with the French.
Benjamin Franklin to France Lesson Plan
The French, bringing a formidable naval power, were vital to the the colonists' victory over Great Britain. The Dutch and Spanish also provided smaller but important assistance.
British forces under General Cornwallis surrendered after the Battle of
in 1781, the last major action to take place on the American mainland.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emmanuel Luetze, 1851
On December 25, 1776 General Washington lead 5,400 troops across the Delaware River.
He was planning to surprise Hessian (German
mercenaries) who were celebrating Christmas in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington lead about 2,400 men himself, the remaining 3,000 were split into two separate groups, which did not make it across the river.
They departed around 11pm on the 25th and headed towards the Hessians by 8am the 26th. The Hessians were not only caught off guard, but also underestimated the troops lead by Washington.
By 9:30am, the town was surrounded. Hundreds of Hessians escaped, but the troops captured about 1,000 Hessians. Only four men were lost under Washington.
However, because not all the troops and weapons made it across the river, Washington was forced to withdraw.
Despite this, the attack restored faith in the Continental Army, who suffered many losses and lost control of New York City in the previous months. This gave people confidence the Continental Army could win the war.
for the website for Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Crossing the Delaware, 1851
from National Endowment for the Humanities
Emanuel Leutze's Symbolic Scene of Washington Crossing the Delaware
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The American War for Independence was actually a world conflict, and the end of the Revolution brought the new United States nation into international relationships with many other countries. The Treaty of Paris is a key document for learning about the beginnings of American foreign policy. It was negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. It required British recognition of US independence and allowed for westward expansion of the US.
for a lesson plan on the Treaty of Paris
 Hewes, G Boston Tea Party- Eyewitness Account. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from The History Place Web site:
 Boston Massacre. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from Boston Massacre Historical Society Web site:
 (2007). Seven Years War Timeline. Retrieved April 10, 2007, Web site:
 (2000). No Taxation Without Representation. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from Virtuology Web site:
 (2001). Stamp Act 1765. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from America's Homepage Web site:
 (April 7, 2007). Gaspee Affair. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from Wikipeida Web site:
 (March 22, 2009). Timeline of Resistance, 1763-1774, from Library of Congress:
Image IDs from left to right
Boston Tea Party
Wikimedia Commons, "Boston Tea Party - Cooper".
Sons of Liberty
Wikimedia Commons, Sons of Libery".
The Gaspee Affair
Wikimedia Commons, "Gaspee Affair".
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Wikimedia Commons, "Washington Crossing the Delaware".
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