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American Revolution

Many events in the colonies led to the American Revolution and the Revolutionary War. In 1765, the British crown issued the Stamp Tax against the colonists. As a result of the Stamp tax, colonists had to pay a tax for all printed documents. The Townshend Acts soon followed, which required colonists to pay taxes on glass, lead, paper, paint and tea. The colonists responded by boycotting (refusing to buy) British goods. The boycott forced the British to repeal many of the taxes, but resentment increased among the colonists toward the British.

The situation in the colonies soon turned violent. In 1770, a battle erupted between British soldiers and Boston townspeople. In the mob, several Bostonians were killed. The event came to be known as The Boston Massacre. Then in 1773, after the British issued the Tea Tax, members of the militant group known as "The Sons of Liberty" took control of a British sea vessel carrying tea, and dumped all of the tea into Boston Harbor. The event came to be known as "The Boston Tea Party" and resulted in the British issuing the Intolerable Acts, which basically authorized officials to take all means necessary to control the colonies. The colonists then formed the Continental Congress and the Revolutionary War was inevitable.

In 1775, the first shots of the war were fired at Lexington, Massachusetts. Several battles then erupted in and around Boston, such as the battles of Concord and Bunker Hill. On July 4, 1776, the colonies ratified the Declaration of Independence which outlined their intentions to break away from England and form a new nation. A violent war erupted between the British army and the colonists. Both the colonists and the British won important battles. British forces, however, better trained and equipped than the colonists, routed the colonists under George Washington in several battles near New York City. The colonists, however, resisted and won battles in New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as naval battles under John Paul Jones.

Two major turning points in the war occurred in 1777 and 1778. On October 7, 1777, the colonists scored a major victory over British forces at Saratoga, New York. Then, on February 6, 1778, the colonists signed a Treaty of Alliance with France (negotiated by Benjamin Franklin). As a result of the alliance, the French agreed to supply soldiers, generals and arms to the colonists in the fight for independence.

Three years later, after many major wars and battles, the British army had control of the southern colonies. Nevertheless, their army and navy were severely depleted. They could not hold on much longer. On September 28, 1781, the British navy was surrounded and besieged at Yorktown, Virginia by French and American forces under general George Washington. British general Charles Cornwallis was forced to surrender many thousands of soldiers. The colonists had won their independence.

Although the American victory at Yorktown ended all major battles between the colonies and England, American independence was not recognized by England until September 3, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed.