The American Revolutionary War
began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain
and thirteen united former British colonies
on the North American continent
, and ended in a global war
between several European great powers
. The war was the culmination of the political American Revolution
and intellectual American Enlightenment
, whereby the colonists rejected the right
of the Parliament of Great Britain
to govern them without representation
. In 1775, revolutionaries gained control of each of the thirteen colonial governments
, set up an alliance called the Second Continental Congress
, and formed a Continental Army
. Petitions to the king
to intervene with the parliament on their behalf resulted in Congress being declared traitors and the states in rebellion
the following year. The Americans responded by formally declaring
as a new nation
, the United States of America
, claiming sovereignty
and rejecting any allegiance
to the British monarchy. In 1777 the Continentals captured a British army
, leading to France
entering the war on the side of the Americans in early 1778, and evening the military strength with Britain. Spain
and the Dutch Republic
– French allies – also went to war with Britain over the next two years.
Throughout the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside (where 90% of the population lived) largely eluded them due to their relatively small land army. French involvement proved decisive, with a French naval victory in the Chesapeake leading to the surrender of a second British army at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.
Completed in 1786, this painting depicts the death of Massachusetts militia general and politician Joseph Warren at the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. Depicting the nature of personal divisions the revolution created, Warren is cradled by John Small, a British Army officer who is preventing another British soldier from bayoneting Warren. General Israel Putnam, with whom Major Small served in the French and Indian War, is at the far left of the painting; portraits of other figures important in the battle are also included.
(1719 or 1720 – 2 April 1787) was a British general who was the commander in chief of British forces in the early days of the American War of Independence
Born to an aristocratic family in England, he entered military service, seeing action in the French and Indian War, where he served alongside future opponent George Washington in the 1755 Battle of the Monongahela. After the fall of Montreal in 1760, he was named its military governor. During this time he did not distinguish himself militarily, but proved himself to be a competent administrator.
From 1763 to 1775 he served as commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, overseeing the British response to the 1763 Pontiac's Rebellion. In 1774 he was also appointed the military governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, with instructions to implement the Intolerable Acts, punishing Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. His attempts to seize military stores of Patriot militias in April 1775 sparked the Battles of Lexington and Concord, beginning the American War of Independence. After the Pyrrhic victory in the June Battle of Bunker Hill he was replaced by General William Howe in October 1775, and returned to Britain, playing no further major role in the war.