The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War in alliance with France and others.
Members of American colonial society argued the position of “no taxation without representation”, starting with the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. They rejected the authority of the British Parliament to tax them because they lacked members in that governing body. Protests steadily escalated to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the burning of the Gaspee in Rhode Island in 1772, followed by the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, during which Patriots destroyed a consignment of taxed tea. The British responded by closing Boston Harbor, then followed with a series of legislative acts which effectively rescinded Massachusetts Bay Colony’s rights of self-government and caused the other colonies to rally behind Massachusetts. In late 1774, the Patriots set up their own alternative government to better coordinate their resistance efforts against Great Britain; other colonists preferred to remain aligned to the Crown and were known as Loyalists or Tories.
Tensions erupted into battle between Patriot militia and British regulars when the king’s army attempted to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The conflict then developed into a global war, during which the Patriots (and later their French, Spanish, and Dutch allies) fought the British and Loyalists in what became known as the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). Each of the thirteen colonies formed a Provincial Congress that assumed power from the old colonial governments and suppressed Loyalism, and from there they built a Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. The Continental Congress determined King George’s rule to be tyrannical and infringing the colonists’ rights as Englishmen, and they declared the colonies free and independent states on July 2, 1776. The Patriot leadership professed the political philosophies of liberalism and republicanism to reject monarchy and aristocracy, and they proclaimed that all men are created equal.
The Continental Army forced the redcoats out of Boston in March 1776, but that summer the British captured and held New York City and its strategic harbor for the duration of the war. The Royal Navy blockaded ports and captured other cities for brief periods, but they failed to defeat Washington’s forces. The Patriots unsuccessfully attempted to invade Canada during the winter of 1775–76, but successfully captured a British army at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. France now entered the war as an ally of the United States with a large army and navy that threatened Britain itself. The war turned to the American South where the British under the leadership of Charles Cornwallis captured an army at Charleston, South Carolina in early 1780 but failed to enlist enough volunteers from Loyalist civilians to take effective control of the territory. A combined American–French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in the fall of 1781, effectively ending the war. The Treaty of Paris was signed September 3, 1783, formally ending the conflict and confirming the new nation’s complete separation from the British Empire. The United States took possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, with the British retaining control of Canada and Spain taking Florida.
Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of the United States Constitution, establishing a relatively strong federal national government that included an executive, a national judiciary, and a bicameral Congress that represented states in the Senate and the population in the House of Representatives. The Revolution also resulted in the migration of around 60,000 Loyalists to other British territories, especially British North America (Canada).