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Time Line of Events Leading to the Revolution:  dominos.gif (3062 bytes)

1775 and 1776

1775
January,
1775
(London)
King George III has responded to recent activities in the American Colonies by declaring "The new England governments are in a state of rebellion.  Blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent."  Parliament responds by ordering troops against Massachusetts, though the order does not reach General Gage until April 14th.
February,
1775
(Massachusetts)
In response to Parliament's declaration calling Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion, the Massachusetts committee of public safety votes to purchase military supplies to equip 15,000 men.  It is no secret that the Minutemen of Massachusetts, as well as other Colonies, have been organizing, arming and training to prepare for any armed resistance to the British that events may dictate.

Meanwhile General Thomas Gage begins several attempts to quell the rising tide of Colonial military preparedness.  A detachment of troops is dispatched to Salem to confiscate the suspected buildup of military weapons and supplies by local militia, but the detachment returns to Boston after finding nothing. 

In Philadelphia a new patriot leader is emerging in Thomas Paine who came to the Colonies last year from England.  The dissident Englishman has begun publication of the new Pennsylvania Magazine.

March 22,
1775
(London)
As the debate on how to deal with the patriots of the rebellious American colonies continues in Parliament, Edmund Burke presents a magnificent speech in the House of Commons urging conciliation of the differences between the Colonists and the British Government.   Despite his excellent orator which appeared generally well received, Parliament voted against his proposal for conciliation by a vote of 270 to 78.
March 23,
1775
(Virginia)
Though he is only 39 years old attorney Patrick Henry has served in the House of Burgesses for almost ten years.  Today the fiery speaker and radical leader tried to explain why the commonwealth must mount and arm a militia to confront the British.  His stirring words concluded with the question:

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?   Forbid it, Almighty God!  I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

April 13,
1775
(London)
Determined to demonstrate his right and that of Parliament to govern the activities of the American Colonies and in retaliation for the work of The Association previously created by the Continental Congress, Lord North extends the New England Restraining Act to the southern and middle colonies of Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.   This act forbids the colonies to conduct trade with any countries other than Britain and Ireland.
April 14,
1775
(Boston)
General Thomas Gage finally received the orders issued by Parliament last January to take military action to quell the rising rebellion in the American colonies.  Moving swiftly the British commander a secret plan to send 800 troops to the city of Concord just 20 miles west of Boston.  Local militia had been storing arms and military supplies at Concord and General Gage was determined to surprise the Minutemen, seize their supplies and disarm the militia.  He further ordered the arrest of radical leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
April 18,
1775
(Boston)
General Gage has assembled the 800 British grenadiers scheduled to march on Concord the following day, but General Gage's plan is a poorly kept secret.  As the British soldiers prepare for their early morning march Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott, and William Dawes are already riding through the darkness to warn their countrymen that the British are coming.
April 19,
1775
(Lexington)
An advance guard of British soldiers led by Major John Pitcairn approach the small town of Lexington in their early morning march towards Concord, where they are met by 40 - 50 armed and ready Minutemen led by Captain John Parker.  The order for the Patriots is not to fire unless they are fired upon, but Captain Parker concludes with the statement, "If they want a war, let it begin here."  Standing in the village green, the brave patriots initially bar the passage of Pitcairn's Redcoats, then begin to retreat.   Without warning a pistol shot is fired.  It is the "shot heard round the world".  The retreating Minutemen fire far fewer rounds than the British contingent and when the battle smoke clears eight patriots are dead and 10 more are wounded.  It is the first deadly battle of the American Revolution.

After the deadly confrontation at Lexington the British soldiers continue their march to Concord where they locate and destroy some of the stockpiled patriot military supplies.  But even as they attempt to successfully complete their mission, the British soldiers find themselves confronted by large groups of Minutemen pouring into Concord from all directions.  When several hundred Minutemen engaged three companies of British soldiers at Concord's North Bridge, the tide of battle changed.  The badly beaten Redcoats retreated to the center of Concord and attempted to regroup before beginning the twenty mile march back to Boston.  Along the route the Redcoat contingent was beset by continued sniper fire that wreaked havoc among their ranks and caused many losses.  Total disaster was averted only by the arrival of 1500 additional soldiers sent by General Gage to reinforce the retreating British soldiers.   By days end the British had sustained 273 casualties, the Patriots fewer than 100.   The battle forced General Gage to grudgingly admit, "The rebels are not the despicable rabble too many have supposed them to be."   

May 10,
1775
(New York)
In an effort to capture  the heavy weapons needed to drive the British forces from Boston, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen have lead 200 of their Green Mountain Boys through upper New York and the outskirts of the British garrison at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain.   Today, without firing a single shot, they captured the fort and confiscated 50 cannon, 2300 pounds of lead and a barrel of flints for muskets.  It is reported that when the British commander at the British outpost inquired of Ethan Allen by what authority he was conducting his military campaign, Mr. Allen replied "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."  The captured military supplies will be taken under the command of Henry Knox to reinforce the Minutemen outside Boston.
May 10,
1775
(Philadelphia)
In accordance to the acts of the Continental Congress last year, a second group of delegates met in Philadelphia to begin a Second Continental Congress on this day.  The delegation included veterans of the First Congress including John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and others.  George Washington of Virginia was the only delegate to arrive dressed in military uniform.    The venerable Benjamin Franklin joined the delegation from Pennsylvania and John Hancock of Massachusetts was promptly chosen president of the Congress.  The delegation again includes representatives from every Colony except Georgia. 

As with the first Congress, the esteemed body had no basis in law.  One of the first acts therefore, with the agreement of the Colonies, was for the Congress to constitute itself a government exercising supreme executive and legislative powers.

May 20,
1775
(South Carolina)
In a show of support for the courage of Colonial Minutemen at Lexington and Concord a group of North Carolinians met in Charlotte Town in Mecklenburg County to express their unity with other patriots.  On this date the assembly passed 20 resolves often called the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and declaring "all laws and commissions" derived from the King of England or Parliament to be "annulled and vacated".  In so doing, South Carolina became the first Colony to declare its independence from Britain.

(Webmaster Note:  The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence's validity has been argued for centuries by historians and was labeled a "spurious document" by Thomas Jefferson.  Despite the disagreements on both sides of the historical argument, it is beyond disagreement that certain efforts towards independence began to occur in North Carolina a full year before the united Colonies' Declaration of Independence.  The State Flag of North Carolina bears two dates:  May 20, 1775 for the Mecklenburg Declaration and April 12, 1776 to commemorate the Halifax Resolves.

May 25,
1775
(Boston)
Massachusetts Governor General Thomas Gage eagerly turned command of the British soldiers in the American colonies over to Sir William Howe.  Howe arrived from England with two other generals Sir Henry Clinton and John Burgoyne.  The arrival of the three military commanders signals an escalation in the Crown's militant stand against the insurrections mounting throughout the Colonies.
June 12
1775
(Maine)
A group of local patriots led by Jeremiah O'Brien demonstrated today that the British Navy is not immune from the military actions brewing in the Colonies.  In the first naval action of the war, O'Brien's band boarded the British schooner "Margaretta" capturing its commander and crew.  O'Brien's band of patriots suffered nine casualties in their successful action conducted from the decks of a captured British supply ship.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts General Thomas Gage has imposed martial law after declaring all armed colonists to be traitors and offering a full pardon to anyone who will swear allegiance to the King.

June 15,
1775
(Philadelphia)
The delegates of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution today that "a General be appointed to command all the continental forces raised for the defence of American liberty."  After adoption of the measure a delegate from Maryland formally nominated George Washington to fill the newly created post and the resulting election was unanimous.  Colonel Washington was absent from the proceedings.  He slipped out quietly yesterday after John Adams submitted his name to the delegates to command a Continental army and did not return for the proceedings of today that he knew would involve his nomination for the post.
June 17,
1775
(Charlestown, Massachusetts)
A frustrated General Gage decided a few days ago to mount a force to capture the peninsula at Charlestown and control Dorchester Heights.  Once again however, the British plans were a poorly kept secret and last night several regiments of Patriot militia used the cover of darkness to cross Bunker Hill and set up defensive positions on the slightly lower Breeds Hill.  Angry at their defiance, General Gage sent 1500 troops under the protective fire of cannon and several war ships to attack the citizen army first at Morton's Hill.  When the rebel patriots dug in on Breeds Hill they were running short on ammunition and rallied under the cry of one of their commanders, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."  Two subsequent assaults by the Redcoats failed, but reinforcements allowed them to overwhelm the Colonial defenders on the third assault.  Though it was a sound defeat for the citizen militia, it was a costly victory for the British who lost more than 1,000 men in a force of 2,500.  The Patriots lost only 400 men, most of them cut down by British bayonets after they ran out of ammunition and the hill was taken.  Though the battle was fought on Breeds Hill, for no apparent good reason it has come to be known as the Battle of Bunker Hill.
June 26,
1775
(London)
General George Washington arrives in Boston to assume command of the fledgling Continental Army.   Meanwhile the Continental Congress has voted to raise six companies of infantry from the Middle Atlantic and Southern Colonies to join the forces near Boston.
July 3,
1775
(Boston)
General Washington assumes formal command of the 17,000 man Continental Army and establishes his headquarters at Cambridge.  Unimpressed with his first glimpses of the citizen soldiers, he is reported to have told his friend Patrick Henry "From the day I enter upon the command of the American armies, I date my fall and the ruin of my reputation."
July 5,
1775
(Philadelphia)
In a break from the more radical emotion evident in much of the Continental Congress, delegates today approved a petition drafted and proposed by Pennsylvania's John Dickinson.  The petition calls for King George III to repeal the Coercive Acts and work together with the Colonists in a mutually beneficial relationship.  Despite the patriotic fervor and cries for independence throughout the Colonies, many of the delegates here prefer a peaceful resolution with the Crown and a reunion under the proper rule of law.
August 23,
1775
(London)
King George III responded today to the petition drafted by John Dickinson and approved last month by the Continental Congress.  The King, after refusing even to receive the "olive branch" offered by the Colonial leaders, has declared the Colonies are in open rebellion against the crown.  It is further reported that the King has begun efforts to contract for the use of 20,000 Hessian soldiers to suppress the rebellion of the American Colonies.
Sept 12,
1775
(Philadelphia)
The American Colonies are now unanimously represented in the Continental Congress with the arrival of delegates from Georgia.  Georgia was the only Colony that was not represented at the First Congress, but has now joined the unified effort to find a common ground for settlement of the disputes between the Colonies and the British government.
Dec 3,
1774
(Boston)
George Washington's Continental Army is now supplemented by a Colonial Navy.  Members of the Continental Congress have enacted most of the legislation necessary to provide for a Navy to challenge the British and named Esek Hopkins the commander of the new fleet.  As Commodore Esek was piped aboard his flagship Alfred, his first lieutenant John Paul Jones hoisted a new flag bearing thirteen red and white stripes.  The upper corner of this new flag bears a smaller semblance of the Union Jack, a reference to the feeling of more moderates in Congress that union with Britain is preferable to separation.
Winter,
1775
(Boston)
King George III has presented a speech deriding the rebellion in the American Colonies and calling upon Colonial troops to abandon their arms and submit to the English government.  It is reported that copies of his speech have been printed for distribution in the Colonies.
Dec 31,
1775
(Quebec)
A tumultuous year comes to an end in the Colonies with a shattering defeat in neighboring Canada.   General Richard Montgomery was  killed in a failed attempt to capture Quebec and more than 100 of his soldiers were also killed or wounded, 300 more captured.   Among the wounded was his second in command, General Benedict Arnold who was successful earlier in the year in the capture of Ticonderoga.
1776
Jan 1,
1776
(Boston)
George Washington's troops received copies today of King George's speech last year calling upon them to abandon their arms and the rebellion.  They responded by burning the speech and then raised the new red and white striped flag recently authorized by Congress on the liberty pole at Prospect Hill near the General's headquarters in Cambridge.
Jan 10,
1776
(Philadelphia)
An anonymous pamphlet appeared in Philadelphia today under the title "Common Sense".   Published by printer Robert Bell, there are numerous rumors about who the author is.  The pamphlet contains 47 pages that urge Colonial independence from Britain as the only act that makes "Common Sense" and as a necessary act in response to the way the English government has treated its American Colonies.  The well written pamphlet approaches the necessity for independence from both a practical and a philosophical view point.  On the practical side the anonymous author argues that the time is right to effect a complete separation from Britain in order to take advantage of opportunities to gain financial and military assistance from France and Spain should there be a struggle to insure that independence.  On the philosophical side the author, who also espouses a rather radical republican form of government argues that the Colonies have an almost Divine "mission" to take such an act (independence) as a moral beacon to the rest of the world.
March,
1776
(Philadelphia)
Reaction to the anonymous pamphlet "Common Sense" that began appearing a couple months ago has been widespread and diverse.  In the American Colonies, which presently have a population of only about 2.5 million freemen, many of whom can't even read, it is amazing that the pamphlet has already sold 120,000 copies.  It is now widely believed that the author is Thomas Paine, editor of "Pennsylvania Magazine", who came to the Colonies last year from England.

The words of the pamphlet have excited many patriots to actively call for a complete separation of the Colonies from England and has incited a patriotic fervor for Independence.  Even General George Washington who read the pamphlet shortly after its release last January has acknowledged its impact stating "Common Sense will not leave numbers at a loss to decide upon the propriety of separation."

John Adams is not so sure and has voiced concerns for the pamphlet's call to an independent, republican government based on equal representation for the 13 colonies and has denounced the publication as "flowing from simple ignorance and a mere desire to please the Democratic Party in Philadelphia."   Rev. William Smith has been even more direct calling Paine's Common Sense "NONSENSE".   None the less the pamphlet continues to be immensely popular and widely circulated.

Mar 4,
1776
(Massachusetts)
In a daring military maneuver Colonial General John Thomas and 2,000 soldiers wrested control of Dorchester Heights from the British.  Once occupied by the Patriots, General Thomas began creating defensive positions in the event that the British mount an attack to retake the vital area.  Last January the Patriot troops around Boston were encouraged by the arrival of the artillery captured last year at Ticonderoga.  Throughout the last few months General Henry Knox, a former book seller and now General Washington's chief of artillery, slowly moved the 50 cannon and supplies for the armament by sled over 300 miles of wintry terrain.  The artillery now sits on Dorchester Heights, virtually over the heads of the British soldiers who still hold Boston in a state of siege.

In a separate action this day, the Continental Navy bolstered the revolutionary war cache of armament in the Bahamas.  Upon arrival at Nassau as part of Commodore Esek Hopkins first fleet, 270 marines under the command of Captain Samual Nicholas went ashore and captured 71 cannons.

Mar 26,
1776
(Boston)
British soldiers under General Sir William Howe, who have now held Boston in a state of virtual siege for more than a year, found their siege quickly turning into a prison after the capture of Dorchester Heights earlier this month.  Today General Howe and his 9,000 soldiers left Boston aboard 125 British transports and war ships.  With them were about 1,000 local families still loyal to the Crown and who are fearful of the zealous Patriots who now can move in to reclaim Boston.  General How, his troops and the loyalist families are heading for Halifax, Nova Scotia.
May 2,
1776
(Paris)
Word has arrived that the underdog American Colonies have a powerful new friend and ally.   King Louis XVI, the young king of France, has pledged one million livres in military and financial aid.  The support will be funneled to the Colonies through a fictitious company called Roderigue Hortalez et Cie., and the program will be administered by 44 year old French playwright and nobleman Pierre Beaumarchais. 
May 10,
1776
(North Carolina)
Last February a Patriot force of frontiersmen defeated a large Tory army at Moore's Creek, a highly successful victory for the pro-independence movement.  More importantly, it has galvanized the Colony in an almost universal call for independence from Britain.   Continental Congress delegate John Penn states that "recent events in the colony have wholly changed the disposition of the inhabitants who are friends of liberty; all regard for the King and the nation of Britain is gone.  A total separation is what they want."  Today a total separation is what they GOT, as the North Carolina Provincial government voted unanimously to declare the independence of the Colony from Britain and encouraged the other 12 American Colonies to follow their example.
May,
1776
(New York)
With Boston finally free of the British military presence, General Washington has begun to express his concerns for the second largest city in the American Colonies, the city of New York.   The large area presents some tactical concerns and Washington has had to split his army up and spread is resources thinly to cover the area including the Hudson River and Long Island. 
May,
1776
(Philadelphia)
In the civil unrest that is sweeping the colonies and with confrontation with the king of England becoming more and more unavoidable, Colonial governments are falling apart throughout the region.  The Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia has begun to urge each of the Colonies to formulate and adopt new constitutions, and has passed a resolution authorizing them to do so.
June 7,
1776
(Philadelphia)
With North Carolina already having declared itself free and independent of the rule of King George III and urging the other colonies to follow suit, the Virginia House of Burgesses has instructed their delegation to the Continental Congress to formally present a resolution to that effect.  Members of that delegation include Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lightfoot Lee and his cousin Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson, and George Wythe.  Today Richard Henry Lee spoke for the delegation in following the dictates of the House of Burgesses, and presented a resolution calling for each of the delegations in the Congress to declare the American Colonies "free and independent states....absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown".

What has been discussed widely and supported separately in small groups for months now has become a formal resolution before Congress.  If approved, it is sure to lead to a Colonial....

Declaration of Independence.

 

 

Time Line for Our Documents

 


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Sources:
Chronicle of America. DK Publishing.  New York: 1997
Family Encyclopedia of American History. Reader's Digest Association. Pleasantville, NY: 1975.
"Continental Congress."  Funk & Wagnals New Encyclopedia, Volume 7.  1986
The American Nation. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. New York: 1998
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
George Washington, Man and Monument. Cunliffe, Marcus.   Little, Brown & Co.  New York: 1958

 

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