The American Revolution

For the most part, the American colonists had come to the "New World" seeking political, religious and economic liberty. Consequently, when King George III and the British parliament began encroaching on these new-found freedoms, the colonists were greatly alarmed. There was no single act or event which led the colonists to commence a war against the British Crown. Rather, there was a litany of abuses and insults which, taken together, convinced the colonists that revolution was their only acceptable course of action.

The colonists were perhaps the most likely of people in the history of the world to commence a revolution against a tyrannical government. Generally well-read, the colonists had "devoured" the writings of 17th Century English Civil War writers and their successors, such as Milton, Neville, Trenchard and Gordon. From these authors, the colonists acquired a powerful sense of moral indignation toward political corruption of any kind.1 Moreover, while recognizing that government is necessary to save man from the "state of nature" depicted by Hobbes and Locke, they also believed that their liberty rested on their ability to maintain superiority, i.e. physical military power, over their government. As the British government continually pressed itself and its authority on the colonists, they concluded that England's dominion over the colonies was essentially the power to destroy their liberty.2 Together, these beliefs laid the philosophical foundations for the Revolution.

1. Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1967), 47.
2. Ibid., 55-66.

Facts & Figures

A Brief Chronology of the Revolutionary War

Historical Documents

Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress 
Declaration and Resolves 
Declaration of Independence 
Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms 
The War Inevitable Patrick Henry 
Boston Massacre Oration John Hancock 
Common Sense Thomas Paine

Reasearch and Study Helps

Why is George Washington considered the Father of this nation?
A Memorial Day Salute

Independence Day Salute

Think About It

Try to put yourself in the position of the American Colonists in the mid-1770s. What kinds of feelings do you think they had about Britain? What beliefs and principles do you think guided them in their quest for independence?

When is revolution justified? When is it better to work "within the system" to bring about necessary and desired changes?

What would America be like today if the Continental Army had not won the Revolutionary War?