1492-1504 – Columbus voyages
1607 – Jamestown Founded
1619 – Virginia House of Burgesses Founded (London Company)
1620 – Mayflower Compact
1623 – New Hampshire Founded (John Wheelwright)
1630 – Puritan Migration
1635 – Connecticut Founded (Thomas Hooker)
1636 – Rhode Island established (Roger Williams)
1636 – Harvard College founded to train clergy
1638 – Delaware established (Peter Minuit)
1639 – Fundamental Order of Connecticut
1651 – First Navigation Act ( Taxing ) to restrict trading with the Dutch
1653 – North Carolina founded by Virginians
1663 – South Carolina founded by Royal Charter from King Charles II
1664 – New Jersey founded by Lord Berkeley & Sir George Carteret
1664 – New York founded by the Duke of New York (formerly New Amsterdam)
1676 – Bacon’s Rebellion
1682 – Pennsylvania Founded by William Penn
1732 – Georgia founded by James Edward Oglethorpe
1733 — Molasses Act
1734 – The First Great Awakening begins
1746 – Princeton (college of New Jersey) founded by Rev. John Witherspoon
1751 – Liberty Bell Ordered by Pennsylvania Speaker of the House with the inscription: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof”(Leviticus 25:10).
1753 – John Pass and John Stow deliver the Liberty Bell
1754 – Albany Congress
1756 – 1763 — SEVEN YEAR WAR/ French and Indian War– Conflict pitted a coalition of Great Britain and its allies against a coalition of France and its allies.
1760 – Two-Penny Act: Pay Clergymen in Tobacco at set price
Proclamation of 1763 – This act banned the colonization of British subjects west of the Appalachian Mountains. It also ordered the colonists who already colonized the Ohio Valley and beyond to abandon their homes and move back east. The British also changed the legal status for crimes in the colonies to guilty until proven innocent in the Vice-Admiralty court.
Cider Tax – Lord Bute, the Prime Minister, introduces a tax of four shillings a hogshead on cider and perry.
The Currency Act – Parliament banned the colonies from printing their own money that would make it easier for them to pay off their debts. It also prohibited the American colonies from giving bills of credit the same status as legal tender. Bills of credit were a local solution to the lack of silver and gold coin in the colonies.
The Sugar Act 1764 – England decided that since it had fought in America during the French Indian War, then the Americans should help pay for the cost of the war. It taxed all sugar or molasses into the colonies. Many colonists were now born in Americas and considered themselves as citizens of their colonies. This tax helped fortified this sentiment, “taxation without representation”
Quartering Act Congress
Loyal Nine – A well-organized Patriot political organization shrouded in secrecy, was formed in 1765 by nine likeminded citizens of Boston to protest the passing of the Stamp Act. The Loyal Nine evolved into the larger group Sons of Liberty and were arguably influential in that organization. Very little is known about the Loyal Nine as they operated in complete secrecy.
Sons of Liberty – Earliest records indicate origins to this year and were responsible for the Boston Tea Party. Founded by the “Loyal Nine.”
1766 – Declaratory Act – Stipulated that Parliament reserved the right to tax the colonies anytime it chose.
Townshend Revenue Act – levied another series of taxes on lead, paints, and tea.
Suspension Act – Suspended the New York assembly for not enforcing the Quartering Act
1768– Boston Non-Importation Agreement – a formal collective decision made by Boston based merchants and traders not to import or export items to Britain. The agreement, essentially a boycott, was a series of agreed upon commercial restrictions the colonists put in place with regard to trade with the mother country.
1769 – List of Sons of Liberty members – Radicals of the Revolution included: Sam Adams, John Adams…
1770 – Boston Massacre
1771 – The Battle of Alamance, a pre-American Revolutionary War battle between local militia and a group of rebels called “The Regulators”, occurs in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina.
Tea Act – granting the financially troubled British East India Company a trade monopoly on the tea exported to the American colonies.
Mar 7 – British close port of Boston.
Mar 25 – Parliament passes Boston Port Bill.
Mar 28 – Britain passes Coercive Acts.
May 23 – Chestertown tea party.
May 28 – 1st Continental Congress convenes.
Jun 2 – Intolerable Acts
Jun 13 – Rhode Island – 1st colony to prohibit importation of slaves.
Jul 4 – Orangetown Resolutions.
Jul 12 – Citizens of Carlisle Penn, pass a declaration of independence.
Aug 14 – Non-Importation Agreement
Sep 5 – 1st Continental Congress assembles, in Philadelphia.
Oct 14 – 1st Continental Congress – Declaration of Colonial Rights.
Oct 21 – First “Liberty” on a flag in defiance of British rule.
Oct 26 – Minute Men organized.
Dec 13 – Attack of Ft William and Mary, New Hampshire.
Jan 25 – Americans drag cannon up Gun Hill Road.
Feb 9 – Parliament declares Massachusetts in rebellion.
Mar 22 – Edmund Burke presents to English parliament.
Mar 23 – Patrick Henry – “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Apr 14 – First abolitionist society organized.
Apr 18 – Paul Revere & William Dawes ride from Charleston to Lexington.
Apr 19 – Capt. John Parker orders not to fire unless fired upon.
Apr 19 – Revolution begins at Lexington Common, “shot heard round the world.”
Apr 20 – British siege of Boston.
May 10 – 2nd Continental Congress names George Washington supreme commander.
May 10 – Green Mountain Boys capture Fort Ticonderoga NY.
May 17 – Continental Congress bans trade with Canada.
May 20 – Citizens of Mecklenburg County, NC declare independence from Britain.
Jun 12 – First naval battle.
Jun 14 – US Army founded.
Jun 15 – Washington appointed commander-in-chief of American Army.
Jun 16 – Liberty Bell rang.
Jun 17 – Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill)
Jun 22 – First Continental currency issued ($3,000,000)
July 3 – Washington takes command of Continental Army at Cambridge.
Jul 5 – US Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition.
Jul 6 – Continental Congress issues “Declaration of Arms” … “the Causes & Necessity of Taking up Arms.”
Jul 17 – First military hospital approved.
Jul 25 – Maryland issues currency depicting George III trampling Magna Carta.
Jul 26 – United States Post Office created under direction of Benjamin Franklin.
Aug 3 – Treaty of Greenville. It established a boundary between Indian land and land open for settlement.
Aug 22 – King George III proclaims colonies in rebellion.
Sep 25 – Ethan Allen captured.
Oct 13 – Continental Congress orders construction of a naval fleet
Oct 16 – Portland, Maine burned by British.
Oct 23 – Continental Congress approves resolution barring blacks from army.
Oct 27 – US Navy forms.
Oct 30 – First US Navy formed.
Nov 10 – Congress forms US Marine Corps.
Nov 13 – American Revolutionary forces capture Montreal.
Nov 28 – 2nd Continental Congress formally establishes US Navy.
Dec 3 – First official US flag raising (aboard naval vessel Alfred).
Dec 5 – Fort Ticonderoga, Henry Knox begins transport of artillery to Cambridge.
Dec 22 – Continental navy organized with 7 ships.
Jan 1 – Washington raises Continental Union Flag.
Jan 2 – First revolutionary flag displayed.
Jan 5 – New Hampshire adopts its 1st state constitution.
Jan 10 – “Common Sense.” By Thomas Paine moved many to the cause of independence with his pamphlet titled “Common Sense.” In a direct, simple style, he cried out against King George III and the monarchical form of government.
Jan 16 – Continental Congress approves enlistment of free blacks
Jan 18 – James Wright, Georgia, is placed under house arrest by Major Joseph Habersham.
Jan 24 – Henry Knox arrives at Cambridge, Massachusetts with the artillery from Fort Ticonderoga.
Mar 2 – Americans shell British troops in Boston.
Mar 4 – Americans capture “Dorchester Heights” controlling the port of Boston.
Mar 17 – The British Evacuate Boston. American General Henry Knox arrived in Boston with cannons he had moved with great difficulty from Fort Ticonderoga, New York. Americans began to entrench themselves around Boston, planning to attack the British. British General William Howe planned an attack, but eventually retreated from Boston.
Mar 25 – Continental Congress authorized a medal for George Washington.
Apr 7 – USS Lexington captures the Edward.
Apr 12 – Halifax resolution for independence adopted by North Carolina.
May 1 – Adam Weishaupt founds secret society of Illuminati.
Continental Congress – the Colonies need to Adopt New Constitutions. In May, the Second Continental Congress recommended that the colonies establish new governments based on the authority of the people of the respective colonies rather than on the British Crown.
May 2 – France & Spain agree to provide weapons to America.
May 4 – Rhode Island declares independence from England.
Jun 7 – Richard Lee (VA) moves for Declaration of Independence in Continental Congress.
Jun 11 – Continental Congress committee of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston to create draft of the Declaration of Independence.
Jun 12 – Virginia Declaration of Rights
Jun 23 – Final draft of Declaration submitted to Continental Congress.
Jun 28 – Charleston, SC repulses British sea attack.
Jun 29 – Virginia state constitution adopted. Patrick Henry governor.
Jul 1 – First vote on Declaration of Independence.
Jul 2 – NJ gave all adults who could show a net worth of 50 pounds right to vote
Jul 2 – Continental Congress: “these United Colonies are & of right to be Free & Independent States.”
Jul 4th – Continental Congress Declares Independence. When North Carolina and Virginia empowered their delegates to vote for American independence, Virginian Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution stating that the colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” A committee was appointed to draft a declaration of independence, and Thomas Jefferson chosen to write it. On July 2, Congress voted in favor of independence, and on July 4, the Declaration of Independence was approved. Copies were sent throughout the colonies to be read publicly.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.
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.–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.
IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connexions and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benjamin. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, Jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.
Jul 6 – Dec of Independence announced on the front page of “PA Evening Gazette”
Jul 8 – Col John Nixon issues first public reading of Declaration.
Jul 9 – Declaration of Independence read to Washington’s troops.
Aug 2 – Formal signing of the US Declaration of Independence.
Aug 10 – Word of the United States Declaration of Independence reaches London.
Aug 27 – British defeat Americans in Battle of Long Island. After leaving Boston, British General Howe planned to use New York as a base. The British captured Staten Island and began a military build-up on Long Island in preparation for an advance on Brooklyn. Washington succeeded in saving his army by secretly retreating onto Manhattan Island. Washington eventually retreated from Manhattan, fearing the prospect of being trapped on the island, and the British occupied New York City.
Aug 29 – Americans withdraw from Manhattan to Westchester.
Aug 30 – US army evacuates Long Island / falls back to Manhattan, NYC.
Sep 6 – First (failed) submarine attack – Bushnell’s “Turtle” attacks British boat “Eagle” in Bay of NY.
Sep 9 – Congress officially renames the country as the united states of America.
Sep 10 – George Washington asks for a volunteer spy, Nathan Hale volunteers.
Sep 12 – Nathan Hale leaves Harlem Heights Camp for spy mission.
Sep 15 – British forces capture Kip’s Bay Manhattan.
Sep 21 – Nathan Hale, spy, arrested.
Oct 11 – British defeat Brig. Gen. Arnold’s Lake Champlain fleet.
Oct 18 – Battle of Pelham: Col John Glover & Marblehead regiment meet British Forces in Bronx.
Oct 26 – Congress Names Commissioners to Treat with Foreign Nations. Congress sent a delegation of three men to Europe — Silas Deane, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee — to prepare treaties of commerce and friendship, and to attempt to secure loans from foreign nations.
Oct 28 – Battle of White Plains. British and American forces met at White Plains, New York, where the British captured an important fortification. Washington once again retreated, still attempting to save his army from the full force of the British army.
Nov 16 – First gun salute for an American warship in a foreign port.
Nov 16 – British troops captured Fort Washington during American Revolution.
Nov 18 – Hessians capture Ft Lee, NJ.
Nov 30 – Capt. Cook begins 3rd & last trip to Pacific (South Sea).
Dec 8 – Washington and his army retreat across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Congress, fearing British attack on Philadelphia flees to Baltimore.
Dec 19 – Thomas Paine published “American Crisis” essay: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Dec 23 – Continental Congress negotiates a war loan of $181,500 from France.
Dec 25 – Washington crosses Delaware & surprises & defeats 1,400 Hessians.
Dec 26 – Washington defeats Hessians at Battle of Trenton. Washington launched a surprise attack against a British fortification at Trenton, New Jersey, was staffed by Hessian soldiers. After one hour of confused fighting, the Hessians surrendered. Only five American soldiers were killed.
Battle of Princeton. British General Howe reacted to the Battle of Trenton by sending a large force of men to New Jersey. At Princeton, Washington once again launched a surprise attack, and succeeded in defeating the British. His efforts cleared most of New Jersey of enemy forces, and greatly boosted American morale.
Flag. On June 14, Congress declared that the flag of the United States would consist of thirteen alternating red and white stripes, and a blue field with thirteen white stars.
The British Attack Philadelphia. British and Americans met at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania. The Americans retreated, and the British soon occupied Philadelphia, forcing Congress once again to flee the city. After retreating further during the Battle of Germantown, Washington settled his army for the winter in Valley Forge — a winter of extreme cold and great hunger.
Stanwix. American held Fort Stanwix is besieged by British and Indian troops under the command of General Barry St. Leger. The British are forced to withdraw after three weeks under the duress of the fort’s defenders, led by Colonel Peter Gansevoort.
Continental Congress on September 11, 1777, ordered the importation of 20,000 Bibles for the American troops. The law read as follows: The use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great that your committee refers the above to the consideration of Congress, and if Congress shall not think it expedient to order the importation of types and paper, the Committee recommends that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different parts of the States of the Union. Whereupon it was resolved, accordingly to direct said Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 copies of the Bible.
Indeed, the Congress authorized its endorsement to be printed on the front page of the edition of the Bible approved for the American people: Whereupon, Resolved, that the Unites States in Congress assembled…recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the Unites States, and hereby authorize [Robert Aitken] to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.
Saratoga. On October 7, British and American troops engaged in New York. Fatigued from battle and short of supplies, British General John Burgoyne’s troops were repulsed by American forces under General Horatio Gates. On October 8, Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga; by October 13, he asked for terms of surrender. The “Convention of Saratoga” called for Burgoyne’s army to be sent back to England, and for each soldier to pledge not to serve again in the war against the colonies.
The “Conway Cabal.” Many in Congress were unhappy with Washington’s leadership; some murmured the name of General Horatio Gates as a possible replacement. Thomas Conway, the army’s inspector general, wrote a critical letter to Gates about Washington, leading many to believe there was an organized effort to replace Washington. Conway resigned from the army, and eventually apologized to Washington.
Articles of Confederation. When Richard Henry Lee made a motion for independence (1776), he also proposed a formal plan of union among the states. After a discussion lasting more than a year, Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, although the states did not ratify the Articles until 1781.
John Adams, elected commissioner to France by the Continental Congress, and Benjamin Franklin engage their support for the Revolutionary War, France recognizes the independence of the 13 colonies, signing treaties of alliance and commerce. French involvement becomes the turning point of the war.
Valley Forge – After failing victory in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and in response to the British capture of Philadelphia, George Washington marches his 11,000 man Continental Army into Valley Forge for the first winter encampment.
IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777. ORDERED, THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the names of the members of congress, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the united states and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD. By Order of CONGRESS, JOHN HANCOCK, President.
Treaty of Amity and Commerce. France and America formed an alliance, negotiated by Benjamin Franklin, stating that each would consider the other a “most favored nation” for trade and friendship; France would be obligated to fight for American independence; and America would be obligated to stand by France if war should occur between France and Great Britain. Within four months, France and Great Britain were at war.
British Attempt to Make Peace. Threatened by the alliance between France and America, Parliament proposed the repeal of the Tea Act (1773) and Coercive Acts (1774), pledged not to tax the colonies, and sent peace commissioners to America. However, most Americans were interested only in British recognition of American independence. When a British commissioner tried to bribe congressional representatives Joseph Reed, Robert Morris, and Francis Dana, Americans became even less interested in reconciliation. Competing for support from the American people, both Congress and the desperate commissioners appealed directly to them with broadsides, but the British commissioners soon returned to Great Britain, their mission a failure.
John Paul Jones Wins Victories. Although Esek Hopkins was never very successful with the American navy, Captain John Paul Jones won several victories against the British with his ship, the “Ranger.”
The Battle of Monmouth. When the British headed for New York, Washington left Valley Forge to follow. At the Battle of Monmouth, American General Charles Lee gave several confused orders, and then ordered a sudden retreat. Washington’s arrival on the scene saved the battle, although the British escaped to New York during the night. Lee was later court-martialed.
Fort Sackville at Vincennes, Indiana is surrendered by British troops under the command of British Lt. Governor Henry Hamilton. The militia under Lt. Colonel George Rogers Clark, bolsters the western claims in the American Revolution.
The British Attack in North and South. Fighting continued in both the northern and southern states. In the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania, Loyalists and Indians led by Mohawk Joseph Brant attacked American settlers. The Loyalists soon were defeated, and Americans went on to destroy many Native American villages whose residents were fighting on the side of the British.
Spain Joins the War. Spain asked Britain for Gibraltar as a reward for joining the war on the British side. When Britain refused, Spain joined with France in its war against Britain, although refusing to recognize American independence.
Although currently a successful American general, Benedict Arnold is court-marshaled for civil authority disputes. His sentence, however, was a light reprimand by General Washington. Mad about the court-marshal and the new American alliance with France, Arnold became a traitor against the American cause when he plotted to transfer the fort at West Point, New York, for 20,000 sterling (approximately $1,000,000 today) that would effectively give control of the Hudson River to British forces. His plot was uncovered, but Arnold escaped, then joined British forces and fought against the Continental Army.
The British Take Charleston, South Carolina. After a brief fight, the British took Charleston, capturing 5,400 men and 4 American ships in the harbor. It was the worst American defeat of the war.
A Mutiny in the Continental Army. When the value of Continental currency sank to a new low, Congress had problems supplying the American army. Great shortages of food led to a short-lived mutiny among some Connecticut soldiers at Washington’s camp in New Jersey.
The Treason of Benedict Arnold. American General Benedict Arnold, frustrated and ambitious, began dealing with British General Sir Henry Clinton. After General Washington promised him the command at West Point. However, Arnold told Clinton that he would give the strategic American fortification to the British because he was mad about the court-marshal and new American alliance with France. Arnold became a traitor against the American cause when he plotted to transfer the fort at West Point, New York, for 20,000 sterling (approximately $1,000,000 today) that would effectively give control of the Hudson River to British forces. However, when British Major John André was captured, Arnold fled to a British ship, revealing his involvement in the treasonous plan. André was executed as a spy, and Arnold was made a brigadier general in the British army.
The Continental Congress on October 18, 1780, issued another Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer:
Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and thankful acknowledgments, more especially in the late remarkable interposition of his watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution…
It is therefore recommended to the several states…a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, that all the people may assemble on that day celebrate the praises of our Divine Benefactor; to confess our unworthiness of the least of His favors, and to offer our fervent supplication to the God of all grace…to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.
Congress Creates a Department of Finance. American finances were in such a crisis that Congress saw the need for a separate department of finance. Robert Morris was appointed superintendent of finance.
The Articles of Confederation Ratified. With the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, under discussion since 1777, Congress assumed a new title, “The United States in Congress Assembled.”
The Battle of Yorktown. French and American forces joined at Yorktown, on land and at sea, and attacked British fortifications. The Americans and French soon held Key British points, and British General Cornwallis soon surrendered, giving up almost 8,000 men. With this defeat, Britain lost hope of winning the war in America.
Peace Negotiations Begin in Paris. British, French, and American commissioners met in Paris to discuss peace. The United States sent Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. By November, the commissioners had drafted a peace treaty. Its terms called for Great Britain to recognize American independence and provide for the evacuation of all British troops. Great Britain also gave up its territory between the Mississippi River and the Allegheny Mountains, doubling the size of the new nation.
Bald Eagle. On June 20, 1782 – Congress decides the national bird and adopts the Bald Eagle.
British evacuate Georgia. Troops begin to leave United States’ soil, evacuating Savannah, Georgia. On December 14, they would continue their evacuation by leaving Charleston, South Carolina.
Britain acknowledges US – British Parliament agrees to the recognition of U.S. independence. A preliminary peace treaty, later formalized as the “Treaty of Paris” signed between American and British officials in Paris on November 30.
The Army Complains. When a delegation of army officers complained to Congress about their unpaid salaries and pensions, Congress had no quick solution. An anonymous letter urged officers to unite and attempt one last appeal to Congress. If its attempt was ignored, the army was prepared to revolt against Congress. Washington, addressing the army in person at its headquarters in Newburgh, New York, convinced them to be patient, and not to dishonor themselves after their glorious victory. Visibly moved, the officers adopted resolutions to present to Congress, and pledged not to threaten violence or rebellion.
Congress Ratifies the Preliminary Articles of Peace. After Spain, France, and Britain successfully came to terms, the treaty between France, Britain, and America warfare formally ceased. Congress ratified the Articles of Peace on April 15.
The Loyalists and British Evacuate New York. New York City was the last Loyalist refuge in America. Starting in April, nearly 30,000 Loyalists, knowing that the British soon would leave New York, packed their belongings and sailed to Canada and England, followed shortly by the British army. In November, when the British sailed away, Washington entered the city and formally bade farewell to his officers. Soon after, he resigned his commission.
The American Army Disbands. In June, most of Washington’s army disbanded and headed for home just before the British evacuated New York. A small force remained until all the British had departed.
Congress Is Threatened. A group of soldiers from Pennsylvania marched on Congress, demanding their pay. Armed and angry, they surrounded Independence Hall. The members of Congress were eventually allowed to leave the building; they fled to Princeton, New Jersey.
The Western Territories. Thomas Jefferson headed a committee that proposed a plan for dividing the western territories, providing a temporary government for the West, and devising a method for new western states to enter the Union on an equal basis with the original states. The plan was adopted, but not put into effect.
Congress Creates a Board of Finance. When Robert Morris resigned as superintendent of finance, a Board of Finance consisting of three commissioners replaced him.
New York the Temporary Capital. Congress decided to make New York City the temporary capital of the United States, until the location of a permanent federal city was decided upon.
Congress Lacks Power over Commerce. When American commissioners attempted to make trade arrangements with Britain, the British Ambassador refused, because any state could decline to abide by Congress’s trade regulations. The inability of Congress to regulate commerce on a national scale led to the formation of a committee dedicated to appealing to the states to grant Congress enlarged powers over commerce. Despite these attempts, no effective action was taken.
Conference at Mount Vernon. Several commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, to discuss regulation of trade between the two states. At the meeting’s conclusion, the commissioners suggested that all the states meet at a convention in Annapolis to discuss common commercial problems.
Basic Land Ordinance. Congress arranged for surveys to divide the western territories into townships, with one lot in each town set aside as a site for a public school.
Attempts to Revise the Articles of Confederation. In Congress, Charles Pinckney proposed a revision of the Articles of Confederation. A committee debated the question, and recommended several changes, including granting Congress power over foreign and domestic commerce, and enabling Congress to collect money owed by the states. Under the Articles, unanimous approval from all thirteen states would be necessary to pass the suggested changes. Doubting that all the states would ever agree, Congress never acted.
Annapolis Convention. Nine states agreed to send delegates to Annapolis to discuss commerce, but only five state delegations arrived on time. Because of the poor attendance, the delegates decided to invite the states to another convention. Alexander Hamilton drafted an address to the states, inviting them to a convention to be held in Philadelphia in 1787, to discuss not only commerce, but also all matters necessary to improve the federal government. After debate, on February 21, 1787, Congress endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation.
The Constitutional Convention. Every state but Rhode Island sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The gathering included some of the most respected and talented men in America. George Washington named president.
Edmund Randolph proposed the “Virginia Plan,” drafted by James Madison — a plan that recommended an entirely new form of government, including an executive, a judiciary, and a legislature composed of two houses and including a number of representatives from each state based on their population.
Opposition came from the small states, which feared domination by the more populous states in the legislature. William Paterson proposed the “New Jersey Plan,” which essentially revised the Articles of Confederation, preserving equal representation of the states. After much debate, the Convention rejected the New Jersey Plan, deciding instead to work toward an entirely new form of government.
The issue of representation in the two houses of the new national legislature became a major sticking point for the Convention. Roger Sherman was helpful in framing the “Connecticut Compromise,” a plan that suggested representation in the lower house (the House of Representatives) based on population, and equal representation in the upper house (the Senate). With this compromise, the Convention succeeded in completing a rough draft of a constitution.
A Committee of Style was appointed to create a final draft; Gouverneur Morris was chosen to write it. After carefully reviewing the draft, the Convention approved the Constitution on September 17. After signing it and sending it to Congress, the Convention adjourned.
Northwest Ordinance. While the Constitutional Convention debated a new government, Congress decided upon a plan for governing all western territories north of the Ohio River. The Northwest Ordinance provided for a plan of government, the creation of states, the acceptance of each new state as an equal of the original states, freedom of religion, right to a trial by jury, public support of education, and the prohibition of slavery. Arthur St. Clair named first governor of the territory.
Congress Receives the Constitution. Although some congressional representatives were displeased at the Convention for doing far more than revising the Articles of Confederation, on September 28 Congress agreed to pass the Constitution on to the states, so each could debate it in separate ratifying conventions. Nine states had to agree to the new Constitution for it to go into effect.
“The Federalist.” Supporters of the Constitution — Federalists — and opponents of the Constitution — Antifederalists — fought fiercely in the press. Seventy-seven essays, written anonymously by “Publius,” appeared in New York newspapers, explaining and defending the new Constitution. The essays, published in book form with eight additional essays titled “The Federalist.” Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist was the most organized, coherent effort to defend the Constitution.
The Constitution Is Ratified by Nine States. On June 21, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the new Constitution, making its adoption official. Preceding New Hampshire were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina. Virginia and New York ratified shortly after New Hampshire, followed by North Carolina in November 1789. Rhode Island was last to ratify, not joining the Union until May 1790.
Congress Steps Aside for a New Government. On July 2, Congress announced adoption of the Constitution. By September, a committee had prepared for the change in government, naming New York City as the temporary official capital, and setting dates for elections and for the meeting of the first Congress under the new Constitution. Congress completed its business on October 10. Its last action was the granting of ten square miles of land to Congress for a federal town.
“We the People? or We the States?” Speech by Patrick Henry
“Liberty or Empire?” Speech by Patrick Henry
First President. February 4, 1789 – The 1st Congress meets in Federal Hall, New York City with regular sessions beginning two months later on April 6. Frederick A. Muhlenberg becomes the first Speaker of the newly formed House of Representatives. George Washington is elected unanimously by the Electoral College as the 1st President of the United States.
1794 – Whiskey Rebellion
Jay’s Treaty – England refused to evacuate the frontier forts in the Northwest Territory; it seized American ships, forcing American sailors to serve in England’s war against France. The United States passed navigation laws that were potentially damaging to Great Britain. It was apparent a commercial war between the two countries was eminent. John Jay, as special envoy, went to England to negotiate. On November 19, 1794 Jay’s Treaty was signed, averting the threat of war.
The Naturalization Act of 1795: Immigration Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization; and to repeal the Act heretofore passed on that Subject. For carrying into complete, affect the power given by the constitution, to establish a uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States.
SECTION 1. BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States, or any of them, on the following conditions, and not otherwise. First, he shall have declared, on oath or affirmation, before the Supreme, Superior, District, or Circuit Court of some one of the states, or of the territories northwest or south of the Ohio River, or a Circuit or District Court of the United States, three years at least before his admission, that it was, bona fide, his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whereof such alien may at that time be a citizen or subject. Secondly. He shall, at the time of his application to be admitted, declare on oath or affirmation before some one of the courts aforesaid that he has resided within the United States five years at least, and within the state or territory where such court is at the time held, one year at least; that he will support the Constitution of the United States; and that he does absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreigh prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whatever and particularly by name the prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whereof he was before a citizen or subject; which proceedings shall be recorded by the clerk of the court. Thirdly. The court admitting such alien shall be satisfied that he has resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States five years. It shall further appear to their satisfaction that during that time he has behaved as a man of a good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the same. Fourthly. In case the alien applying to be admitted to citizenship shall have borne any hereditary title, or been of any of the orders of nobility, in the kingdom or state from which he came, he shall, in addition to the above requisites, make an express renunciation of his title or order of nobility in the court to which his application shall be made; which renunciation shall be recorded in the said court.
SEC. 2. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That any alien now residing within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States may be admitted to become a citizen on his declaring, on oath or affirmation, in some one of the courts aforesaid, that he has resided two years, at least, within and under the jurisdiction of the same, and one year, at least, within the state or territory where such court is at the time held; that he will support the Constitution of the United States; and that he does absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whatever, and particularly by name the prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whereof he was before a citizen or subject. Moreover, on its appearing to the satisfaction of the court that, during the said term of two years, he has behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; and when the alien applying for admission to citizenship shall have borne any hereditary title, or been of any of the orders of nobility in the kingdom or state from which he came, on his, moreover, making in the court an express renunciation of his title or order of nobility, before he shall be entitled to such admission; all of which proceedings, required in this proviso to be performed in the court, shall be recorded by the clerk thereof.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, that the children of persons duly naturalized, dwelling within the United States, and being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, and the children of citizens of the United States born out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, shall be considered as citizens of the United States. Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend on persons whose fathers have never been resident of the United States. No person heretofore proscribed by any state, or who has been legally convicted of having joined the army of Great Britain during the late war, shall be admitted as foresaid, without the consent of the legislature of the state in which such person was proscribed.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, that the Act, intitled, “An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization,” passed the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, be, and the same is hereby repealed.
FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States, And President of the Senate.
APPROVED, January the 29th, 1795:
GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States
The Treaty of San Lorenzo. Preceded by the acquisition of lands set forth by the Northwest Ordinance eight years earlier, and soon-to-be followed by the Louisiana Purchase eight years later, the Treaty of San Lorenzo (also known as Pinckney’s Treaty) opened up the Mississippi River to American navigation.