April 14, 1775 - Massachusetts Governor
Gage is secretly ordered by the British to enforce the Coercive Acts and
suppress "open rebellion" among colonists by using all necessary
April 18, 1775 - General Gage orders
700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists' weapons depot.
night, Paul Revere and William Dawes are sent from Boston to warn colonists.
Revere reaches Lexington about midnight and warns Sam Adams and John Hancock
who are hiding out there.
dawn on April 19 about 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face
on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered 'shot heard
around the world' begins the American Revolution.
A volley of British muskets followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight
Americans dead and ten wounded. The British regroup and head for the depot in
Concord, destroying the colonists' weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge
in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with 14 casualties.
forces then begin a long retreat from Lexington back to Boston and are
harassed and shot at all along the way by farmers and rebels and suffer
over 250 casualties. News of the events at Lexington and Concord spreads
like wildfire throughout the Colonies.
April 23, 1775 - The Provincial
Congress in Massachusetts orders 13,600 American soldiers to be
mobilized. Colonial volunteers from all over New England assemble and head
for Boston, then establish camps around the city and begin a year long
siege of British-held Boston.
10, 1775 - American forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold
capture Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The fort contains a much needed supply
of military equipment including cannons which are then hauled to Boston
by ox teams.
10, 1775 - The Second Continental
Congress convenes in Philadelphia, with John Hancock elected as
its president. On May 15, the Congress places the colonies in a state of
defense. On June 15, the Congress unanimously votes to appoint George Washington
general and commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army.
17, 1775 - The first major fight between British and American troops
occurs at Boston in the Battle of Bunker Hill. American
troops are dug in along the high ground of Breed's Hill (the actual location)
and are attacked by a frontal assault of over 2000 British soldiers who storm
up the hill. The Americans are ordered not to fire until they can see "the
whites of their eyes." As the British get within 15 paces, the Americans
let loose a deadly volley of musket fire and halt the British advance. The British
then regroup and attack 30 minutes later with the same result. A third attack,
however, succeeds as the Americans run out of ammunition and are left only with
bayonets and stones to defend themselves. The British succeed in taking the
hill, but at a loss of half their force, over a thousand casualties, with the
Americans losing about 400, including important colonial leader, General
3, 1775 - At Cambridge, Massachusetts, George
Washington takes command of the Continental Army which now has about
See also: George Washington Picture
July 5, 1775
- The Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch
expresses hope for a reconciliation with Britain, appealing directly
to the King for help in achieving this. In August, King George III refuses
even to look at the petition and instead issues a proclamation
declaring the Americans to be in a state of open rebellion.
July 6, 1775 -
The Continental Congress issues a Declaration
on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms detailing
the colonists' reasons for fighting the British and states the Americans
are "resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves."
July 26, 1775
- An American Post Office is established with Ben Franklin as Postmaster
November 28, 1775 - The American
Navy is established by Congress. The next day, Congress appoints
a secret committee to seek help from European nations.
December 23, 1775 - King George
III issues a royal proclamation closing the American colonies to all commerce
and trade, to take effect in March of 1776. Also in December, Congress
is informed that France may offer support in the war against Britain.
January 5, 1776 -
The assembly of New Hampshire adopts the first American state constitution.
9, 1776 - Thomas Paine's "Common
Sense" is published in Philadelphia. The 50 page pamphlet
is highly critical of King George III and attacks allegiance to Monarchy
in principle while providing strong arguments for American independence.
It becomes an instant best-seller in America. "We have it in our power
to begin the world anew...American shall make a stand, not for herself
alone, but for the world," Paine states.
March 4-17, 1776 - American forces
capture Dorchester Heights which overlooks
Boston harbor. Captured British artillery from Fort Ticonderoga is placed
on the heights to enforce the siege against the British in Boston. The
British evacuate Boston and set sail for Halifax. George Washington then
rushes to New York to set up defenses, anticipating the British plan to
invade New York City.
April 6, 1776 - The Continental
Congress declares colonial shipping ports open to all traffic except the
British. The Congress had already authorized privateer raids on British
ships and also advised disarming all Americans loyal to England.
April 12, 1776 - The North Carolina
assembly is the first to empower its delegates in the Continental Congress
to vote for independence from Britain.
May 2, 1776 - The American revolutionaries
get the much needed foreign support they had been hoping for. King Louis
XVI of France commits one million dollars in arms and munitions. Spain
then also promises support.
May 10, 1776 - The Continental Congress
authorizes each of the 13 colonies to form local (provincial) governments.
June 28, 1776 - In South Carolina,
American forces at Fort Moultrie successfully
defend Charleston against a British naval attack and inflict heavy damage
on the fleet.
- A massive British war fleet arrives in New York Harbor consisting of
30 battleships with 1200 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300
supply ships, under the command of General William Howe and his brother
Admiral Lord Richard Howe.
June-July, 1776 - On June 7, Richard
Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presents
a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from
Britain. Congress decides to postpone its decision on this until July.
On June 11, Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence.
Committee members are Thomas
Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John
Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson is chosen by the
committee to prepare the first draft of
the declaration, which he completes in one day. Just seventeen days later,
June 28, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence is ready and is presented
to the Congress, with changes made by Adams and Franklin. On July 2, twelve
of thirteen colonial delegations (New York abstains) vote in support of
Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress formally endorses
Jefferson's Declaration, with copies to be sent to all of the colonies.
The actual signing of the document occurs on August 2, as most of the 55
members of Congress place their names on the parchment copy.
July 4, 1776 - United
States Declaration of Independence
July 12, 1776 - As a show of force,
two British frigates sail up the Hudson River blasting their guns. Peace
feelers are then extended to the Americans. At the request of the British,
Gen. Washington meets with Howe's representatives in New York and listens
to vague offers of clemency for the American rebels. Washington politely
declines, then leaves.
August 27-29, 1776 - Gen. Howe leads
15,000 soldiers against Washington's army in the Battle
of Long Island. Washington, outnumbered two to one, suffers a severe
defeat as his army is outflanked and scatters. The Americans retreat to
Brooklyn Heights, facing possible capture by the British or even total
at night, the Americans cross the East River in small boats and escape
to Manhattan, then evacuate New York City and retreat up through Manhattan
Island to Harlem Heights. Washington now changes tactics, avoiding large
scale battles with the British by a series of retreats.
September 11, 1776 - A peace conference
is held on Staten Island with British Admiral, Lord Richard Howe, meeting
American representatives including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The
conference fails as Howe demands the colonists revoke the Declaration of
September 16, 1776 - After evacuating
New York City, Washington's army repulses a British attack during the Battle
of Harlem Heights in upper Manhattan. Several days later, fire engulfs
New York City and destroys over 300 buildings.
September 22, 1776 - After he is
caught spying on British troops on Long Island, Nathan
Hale is executed without a trial, his last words, "I only regret
that I have but one life to lose for my country."
September 26, 1776 -
Congress appoints Jefferson, Franklin and Silas Deane to negotiate treaties
with European governments. Franklin and Deane then travel to France seeking
financial and military aid.
October 9, 1776
- San Francisco is established by Spanish missionaries on the California
October 11, 1776 - A big defeat
for the inexperienced American Navy on Lake Champlain at the hands of a
British fleet of 87 gunships. In the 7 hour Battle
of Valcour Bay most of the American flotilla of 83 gunships is crippled
with the remaining ships destroyed in a second engagement two days later.
October 28, 1776 - After evacuating
his main forces from Manhattan, Washington's army suffers heavy casualties
in the Battle of White Plains from Gen. Howe's
forces. Washington then retreats westward.
1776 - More victories for the British
as Fort Washington on Manhattan and its precious stores of over 100 cannon,
thousands of muskets and cartridges is captured by Gen. Howe. The Americans
also lose Fort Lee in New Jersey to Gen. Cornwallis. Washington's army
suffers 3000 casualties in the two defeats. Gen. Washington abandons the
New York area and moves his forces further westward toward the Delaware
River. Cornwallis now pursues him.
December 6, 1776
- The naval base at Newport, Rhode Island, is captured by the British.
December 11, 1776
- Washington takes his troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.
The next day, over concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental
Congress abandons Philadelphia for Baltimore.
Among Washington's troops is Thomas Paine,
author of Common Sense, who now writes "...These are the times that
try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this
crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it NOW
deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not
easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder
the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
25-26, 1776 - On Christmas, George Washington
takes 2400 of his men and recrosses the Delaware River.
then conducts a surprise raid on 1500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries)
at Trenton, New Jersey.
Hessians surrender after an hour with nearly 1000 taken prisoner by Washington
who suffers only six wounded (including future president Lt. James Monroe).
Washington reoccupies Trenton. The victory provides a much needed boost
to the morale of all American Patriots.