It was 1775 and the first shots of the American Revolution had already been fired. The image you see of General George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River symbolizes their bravery as they battled for our nation’s freedom.
Despite having little practical experience fighting large, conventional armies, Washington proved to be a capable leader. His determination, vision and leadership paved the way for the Continental Army’s victory over the British.
The road leading to revolution started long before the conflict began. After the French and Indian War of the previous decade, Britain placed a larger tax burden on America to raise revenue for their homeland. Americans cried out “No taxation without representation.”
The final straw was in 1773, when the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, giving a trade monopoly to the British East India Company. On the night of December 16, 1773, American colonists–disguised as Native Americans–boarded a ship in Boston and dumped its cargo of tea into the harbor. The Boston Tea Party was a bold step toward revolution.
As protests continued, prominent colonists gathered in Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress in an effort to get Britain to repeal these acts. They also instituted a boycott of all British goods in the colonies.
Later, Colonial leaders convened for the Second Continental Congress in a final attempt for a peaceful solution. King George lll rejected the petition and formally declared that the colonies were in rebellion.
This caused many colonists to advocate for total independence as opposed to rights under British rule. Thomas Jefferson, a young lawyer from Virginia drafted the Declaration of Independence. In this historic document, Jefferson detailed the abuses that George lll inflicted on the American colonies. He believed that in light of these abuses, the colonists had no choice but to declare independence from Britain and establish a new government to protect their rights.
The Continental Congress unanimously approved Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776. The United States of America was born.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The war came to an official end on September 3, 1783 when the Peace of Paris treaty was signed granting vast tracts of western lands to the Americans and recognizing the United States as a new and independent country.