The American Revolutionary War fought between 1775 to 1783, is also known as the American War of Independence, was initiated by the thirteen colonies against the Kingdom of Great Britain, ultimately resulting in the overthrow of British rule and the establishment of the United States of America.
After 1765, growing political differences concerning excessive taxes without colonial representation in Parliament greatly strained the relationship between the American colonies and Great Britain and fueled the resentment that led to the American Revolution. Patriot protests against taxation without representation followed the Stamp Act and escalated into boycotts, which culminated in 1773 with the Sons of Liberty destroying a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor. Britain responded by closing the harbor and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts colonists responded with the Suffolk Resolves, and they established a shadow government which wrested control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that effectively seized power.
British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in Concord led to the Battles of Lexington and Concord and a British defeat on April 19, 1775. Militia forces then besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776, and Congress unanimously appointed George Washington to command the Continental Army. Soon after the Americans failed decisively in an attempt to invade Quebec and raise insurrection against the British. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4. Sir William Howe launched a British counter-offensive, capturing New York City and leaving American morale at a low ebb. However, victories at Trenton and Princeton restored American confidence. In 1777, the British launched an invasion from Quebec under John Burgoyne, intending to isolate the New England Colonies. Instead of assisting this effort, Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, and Burgoyne was decisively defeated at Saratoga in October 1777.
Burgoyne's defeat had dramatic consequences. France formally allied with the Americans and entered the war in 1778, and Spain joined the war the following year as an ally of France; by the end of September 1779, Spanish troops had cleared all British forts and settlers located in the entire region along the Mississippi. The British mounted a "Southern strategy" led by Charles Cornwallis which hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, but too few came forward. Cornwallis suffered reversals at King's Mountain and Cowpens. He retreated to Yorktown, Virginia, intending an evacuation, but a decisive French naval victory deprived him of an escape. A Franco-American army led by Washington and Comte de Rochambeau then besieged Cornwallis's army, and he surrendered in October 1781.
Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tories in Parliament, and the surrender gave them the upper hand. In early 1782, Parliament voted to end all offensive operations in America (although Britain continued to war against France and Spain in Europe, the Caribbean, and India). On September 3, 1783, the belligerent parties signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States and formally end the war.
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