Timeline of Events
The below timeline describes the important events which occurred between 1756 -- the beginning of the colonists' anger -- and 1787 -- when the Constitution was put in place.
The road to revolution was slow and long, but sure, resulting in The Colonies freedom and independence from England.
1756: French & Indian War
The British won this war against the French and Native Americans. It caused lots of debt for England, so it needed the Thirteen Colonies to pay taxes. This marks the beginning of the colonists' anger.
1764: Sugar Act
This act put a 3-cent tax on sugar and increased the taxes on non-British goods shipped to the colonies. This tax gave needed money to the British Parliament.
1764: Currency Act
This act did not allow Americans to print their own money. This made colonists very angry, because they were forced to use British money when they didn't want to.
1765: Stamp Act
This act put a tax on every piece of printed paper used: newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets, and playing cards. A stamp was put on the document to show that the tax was paid. The colonists didn't think that they should have to pay for printed paper-it had always been free before.
1765: Quartering Act
The colonists were forced to provide housing, candles, beds, and food for British soldiers in the colonies.
1766: Declaratory Act
This act said that King George III and Parliament had the right to make laws for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever." This meant that the colonists had no say in the government.
"NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!"
1767: Townshend Act
This act put taxes on glass, paper, paint, and tea. The colonists were very angry, because they used these objects everyday.
1770: Boston Massacre
This riot took place on March 5, 1770, where British troops shot five American colonists. This act of violence brought the colonists closer to revolution.
1773: Boston Tea Party
On December 6, 1773, angry American Patriots disguised as Indians and raided British ships. They dumped 342 crates of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the unfair tea tax.
1774: Intolerable Acts
This act was passed by British Parliament to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. It closed Boston Harbor and took away all of Massachusett's rights.
1774: First Continental Congress
56 representatives from different colonies organized meetings in Philadelphia. The representatives worked together to decide their rights, how to end British control, and how to gain independence.
1775: Paul Revere's Midnight Ride
On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode a horse from Boston to Lexington to warn the colonists that the British troops were coming. He was successful, because the colonial minutemen were armed and ready for them.
"THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"
1775: Battles of Lexington & Concord
The first shot of the revolutionary war was fired on April 19, 1775. It is called "the shot heard 'round the world," but no one knows whether the British or Americans fired first.
These famous battles were a success for the Americans, who fought the British (the Redcoats) with bravery.
1775: Battle of Bunker Hill
This famous battle took place on June 16, 1775 to protect Boston's shipyard from the British. The British won this battle, but suffered many losses.
The Americans began to run out of ammunition for their guns, so were ordered to shoot the British only when "they could see the whites of their eyeballs."
1776: Declaration of Independence
On July 4, 1776, this document was signed declaring America's independence from England.
1783: The Treaty of Paris
This treaty between England and the United States marks the end of the revolutionary war. British troops leave America and England sees the United States as and independent nation.
This document describes the United States government and lists the rights of the free American people.
The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies,then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. Acommittee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.
Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, although Adams wanted July 2.
After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printedDunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.
The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few for the next four score years.Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in theGettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:
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.
This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted byAbraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which theUnited States Constitution should be interpreted.
It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:
"The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty."