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Revolutionary War for kids

Revolutionary War was fought by Britain's thirteen colonies in America against the British between 1775 and 1783. The colonies united by the war called themselves the United States of America and defeated the British. The British and their American colonies had been unable to agree about taxes. In 1763, the British wanted to set up a permanent army in North America, to be paid for by taxes on the colonies. The colonists strongly objected to being taxed, because they had no representatives in the British parliament, and insisted on 'no taxation without representation'.

Revolutionary War for kids - a battle scene

Revolutionary War for kids - a battle scene

The Stamp Act of 1765 aroused so much opposition that it was withdrawn a year later. Disputes between the British and their colonies grew more violent as Britain imposed more taxes and still refused representation for the colonists. In 1770, six people died after British troops had opened fire on an angry crowd in Boston. In 1773, some Bostonians disguised as Red Indians threw a cargo of tea off a British ship into harbor, in protest against a new tax on tea. The British parliament passed strong measures to punish Boston, which the Americans called the Intolerable Acts. The British also sent troops under General Gage to enforce the Acts.

Most colonial leaders were furious about the British actions. In September 1774, many of them met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the first Continental Congress. Some of the leaders talked about independence, but most of them were still loyal to Britain. The congress decided to put pressure on the British by stopping trade with Britain. Some colonists, fearing the powerful British forces, began to train as soldiers either as militiamen or minutemen (ready at a minute's notice).

On April 18, 1775, British troops set out to seize the colonists' military supplies at Concord, Massachusetts. During the night, one of the colonists, Paul Revere, rode out to warn the militia (see Paul Revere for kids and adults). The next day, the minutemen were ready at Lexington. A rifleman opened fire. The Revolutionary War had started.

King George III - Revolutionary War for kids Painting of Paul Revere's - Revolutionary War for kids

Revolutionary War for kids

A portrait of King George III of England. His government's mismanagement of the Revolutionary War helped the colonists to gain independence

Part of a painting of Paul Revere's famous ride, in which he warned the minutemen of Lexington that British troops were marching on Concord. The battle that followed started the war

After a clash with the militia at Concord, the British returned to Boston. Outside Boston on June 17, 1775, the British defeated the Americans at Bunker Hill, but with heavy losses. In July, George Washington was made commander of the American forces. He seized Dorchester Heights outside Boston and forced the British to leave Boston in March 1776. While Washington was at Boston, American troops tried to beat the British in Canada. After a victory at Montreal, they were defeated at Quebec and retreated.

With the thirteen colonies at Revolutionary War with Britain, Thomas Jefferson drew up the Declaration of Independence. The colonies declared themselves independent on July 4, 1776. At first, the war that Washington fought in the east was not very successful. In 1776, the British redcoats (red-coated soldiers) won the Battle of Long Island and captured New York, Washington preferred to fight the British armies when they were on the move. In this way, he was able to beat British forces at Princeton, New Jersey in 1777. But the British General Howe defeated Washington at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and the British captured Philadelphia.

While the British were winning in the east, they lost the west. At Oriskany, Bennington, and the two battles of Freeman's Farm in 1777, the British were defeated. In October 1777, the British General Burgoyne surrendered in the west to General Gates at Saratoga.

In 1778, France officially recognized the new American republic and sent a fleet to help the Americans. The main fighting then moved to the south. In 1780, the British in South Carolina captured Charleston and defeated the Americans at Camden. But disaster soon came for the British. In late 1781, General Cornwallis was cut off with his British troops at Yorktown, Virginia. He hoped to be rescued by sea, but when French ships blocked the harbor, he surrendered, in October 1781. A peace treaty was signed in Paris, France, in 1783.

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