American War of Independence (also known as American Revolutionary War) was fought between Great Britain and its 13 colonies of eastern North America. American Revolutionary War started in 1775 over imposition of taxes by Britain on the American colonies. There are two stages in this war. During the first stage, the revolutionaries fought alone against the British while the second stage started in 1778 when France, Spain and Netherlands also joined the American revolutionaries in their war against the British Empire. In 1784, the war ended in favor of the revolutionaries and Britain recognized the independence of United States of America.
Reasons of American Revolution
Through the French and Indian War, the British expelled France from eastern North America and took control of the 13 eastern states of North America. After victory in the war, British parliament imposed direct taxes on their American colonies in 1765 in order to pension several officers of the military. These taxes were rejected by the local people of British American colonies as they thought it unjust without their representation in the British parliament. But Britain refused to give them any representation in the parliament.
The Americans started boycott of the British goods. On 16th December 1773, American demonstrators threw the containers of tea from the ships of East India Company in the sea at Boston Harbor (Massachusetts) to protest the tax on tea by British parliament. This event is known as Boston Tea Party. In response, Britain ended local self-government in Massachusetts and laid other restrictions on people of Massachusetts which were named Intolerable Acts by the Americans.
After Intolerable Acts, the First Continental Congress was held from 5th September to 26th October 1774 during which delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies (Georgia didn’t participated) gathered to discuss the troublesome situation. The congress sent a petition to King George III of Britain to inform him about their complaints and also decided to call another Continental Congress in case of a cold response from the British Empire.
The Second Continental Congress was established in May 1775 in which delegates of all the 13 colonies participated (Georgia also joined the Congress in July 1775). On 14th June 1775, the Second Continental Congress announced the creation of Continental Army with George Washington as its commander. After a year on 4th July 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared the independence of United States and announced thirteen American colonies as thirteen newly independent sovereign states.
First Phase of War (1775-78)
Massachusetts was declared as a rebel colony by British Parliament in February 1775 while the British commander of Boston was given orders for disarmament and arrest of the rebels. The war started on 19th April 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The towns of Lexington and Concord are present in the Middlesex county of Massachusetts. The British remained victorious at Lexington while the revolutionaries repel the attack on Concord.
Several battles were fought during Boston Campaign while the largest battle during that campaign was the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought on 17th July 1775. Britain remained victorious during this battle and they captured Charlestown peninsula but only after losing hundreds of soldiers (including several officers). The Boston Campaign ended in March 1776 when the Continental Army captured Dorchester Heights and the British forces evacuated Boston.
In June 1775, the Continental Army invaded Canada. The campaign remained unsuccessful and the British completely defeated the invaders till October 1776.
In July 1776, the New York and New Jersey Campaign started between the British Army and the Continental Army for control of New York City and New Jersey. This campaign lasted till March 1777. The British gained control of New York City and they initially also remained successful to take New Jersey. But the Continental army managed to retake control of New Jersey from British in the Washington’s counteroffensive.
In April 1777, the Philadelphia Campaign started with the Battle of Bound Brook. The purpose of the Philadelphia campaign was an effort by the British forces to capture Philadelphia which was the seat of Second Continental Congress while the battles of this campaign were fought in the areas of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. In September 1777, Britain captured Philadelphia but they evacuated in city after an inconclusive Battle of Monmouth in June 1778 which was the last battle of that campaign.
The last major campaign of the First phase of American Revolution was the Saratoga Campaign. The area involved during this campaign was the Upstate New York (New York State north of New York City). The campaign lasted from June to October 1777 and ended as a decisive victory for America after surrender of British General John Burgoyne. This campaign is very important as the complete American victory encouraged France to enter the war in favor of America and the campaign marks the end of First Phase of American revolutionary War.
Second Phase of War (1778-81)
France, Spain and Netherlands were assisting the Americans since 1776 by providing them with weapons and other supplies. But the American decisive victory in Saratoga Campaign encouraged them to take active part in the revolutionary war against Britain. France entered the war after signing the Treaty of Alliance with America in February 1778. Spain signed Treaty of Aranjuez with France in April 1779 and officially announced its war against Britain in June 1779. The Dutch Republic recognized USA and declared war against Britain at the end of 1780.
During second phase of the war, the northern theatre of the American Revolutionary War lasted from 1778 to 1782 (till the opening of peace process) during which the revolutionaries were assisted by France. This war was fought in the areas of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England.
The southern theatre of American Revolutionary War was fought in the areas of North & South Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Georgia between 1775 and 1782. Americans were later joined by France while the war ended in victory for Franco-American alliance with surrender of British troops after Siege of Yorktown (1781).
The Western Theatre of American Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1782 in the areas of Ohio Valley and Great Lakes Region. During this conflict, Americans were aided by Spain. The war ended as military stalemate as Spain successfully defended Spanish Louisiana and Britain also controlled its territories in these areas but they later ceded the area of Ohio (belonged to American Indians) to America after peace treaty in 1782.
The Caribbean Theatre of the American Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1782 but the active phase of this war started in 1778. The war was fought between Britain and the alliance of France, Spain and Dutch Republic while mainly naval battles were fought during this campaign in the areas of West Indies, Central America and northern South America. After Treaty of Paris (1783), Britain handed over Tobago to France while no changes were made for other areas.
Peace of Paris (1783)
After British defeat in Siege of Yorktown (1781), Britain decided to end war in America after which preliminary peace articles were signed in November 1782 in Paris. After Treaty of Paris (September 1783), Britain recognized the independence of United States of America while the issues of other parts of Americas between Britain, France, Spain and Dutch Republic were settled through Treaties of Versailles (1783). Both these treaties are collectively known as Peace of Paris.
Consequences of American Revolutionary War
After American War of Independence, Britain lost almost all areas of North America to United States while its later efforts to establish a buffer Indian state also failed after Northwest India War and War of 1812. After these defeats, Britain turned its attentions towards Asia and Africa which helped Britain to establish Second British Empire.
France was able to take revenge of French and Indian War from Britain through American Revolutionary War but this war harmed France badly from economic point of view and became a major cause of French Revolution.
Spain gained few areas in America (Florida) but later they lost this area to America while Dutch could not achieve anything from this war.
Americans remained the real winners of this war who gained the areas that were not under their control (area under rule of American Indians).