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Learn About the Revolutionary War

Fighting began on April 19, 1775 at Lexington, Massachusetts and nearby Concord. British strategy called for crushing the rebellion in the North. Several times the British nearly defeated the Continental Army. But victories at Trenton and Princeton, N.J., in late 1776 and early 1777 restored patriot hopes, and victory at Saratoga, N.Y., which halted a British advance from Canada, led France to intervene on behalf of the rebels.

In 1778, fighting shifted to the South. Britain succeeded in capturing Georgia and Charleston, S.C. and defeating an American army at Camden, S.C. But bands of patriots harassed loyalists and disrupted supply lines, and Britain failed to achieve control over the southern countryside before advancing northward to Yorktown, Va. In 1781, an American and French force defeated the British at Yorktown in the war's last major battle.

CONSEQUENCES:

  • About 7,200 Americans died in battle during the Revolution. Another 10,000 died from disease or exposure and about 8,500 died in British prisons.
  • A quarter of the slaves in South Carolina and Georgia escaped from bondage during the Revolution. The Northern states outlawed slavery or adopted gradual emancipation plans.
  • The states adopted written constitutions that guaranteed religious freedom, increased the legislature's size and powers, made taxation more progressive, and reformed inheritance laws.

Much more than a revolt against British taxes and trade regulations, the American Revolution was the first modern revolution. It marked the first time in history that a people fought for their independence in the name of certain universal principles such as rule of law, constitutional rights, and popular sovereignty.

Learn more about the Revolution's causes, history, and signficance in our online textbook
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"I hope you will not consider yourself as commander in chief of your own house",
Lucy Knox to her husband General Henry Knox, August 23, 1777
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More documents of the Revolutionary era
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Handouts and fact sheets:

Toward Revolution
Impact of the Revolution
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Recommended lesson plan:

Declare the Causes:The Declaration of Independence
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=282
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Quizzes:

Test your knowledge about the Revolutionary War
Quiz 1, Answers to Quiz 1
Quiz 2, Answers to Quiz 2
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Recommended books:

Ray Raphael, A People's History of the American Revolution.
The Revolution-its origins, nature, and consequences-as seen through the eyes of ordinary people, including 15-year-old Joseph Plumb Martin, a soldier in George Washington's army; James Forten, a 15-year-old African American powder handler; Sybil Luddington, the female Paul Revere, as well as Tory loyalists, Native Americans, and slaves.

Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution.
Rejecting the notion that the revolution was essentially a conservative effort to defend American rights against British encroachments, Wood argues that was the Revolution was truly revolutionary-transforming a hierarchical, deferential society into one that was much more democratic and commercial.

Recommended film:

1776, a musical portraying the events surrounding the Continental Congress and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


Comprehensive reviews of this movie from Rotten Tomatoes
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/movie-1000035/
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The first major film to deal with the America Revolution, Robert Goldstein's Spirit of '76, is a textbook example of a movie appearing at precisely the wrong time. The film was completed in 1917, as the United States was entering World War I as an ally of Britain. A federal appeals court judge ruled that "the disposition and purpose of the whole play…is to incite hatred of England and England's soldiers." Goldstein served three years in jail for attempting to distribute a picture "calculated to foment disloyalty or insubordination" among American servicemen.

Recommended Website:

Liberty
The companion site to the PBS series Liberty! Chronicle of the Revolution
http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty
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