The American Revolution: Shmoop US History Guide

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The American Revolution —also called the U. British attempts to assert greater control over colonial affairs after a long period of salutary neglect , including the imposition of unpopular taxes, had contributed to growing estrangement between the crown and a large and influential segment of colonists who ultimately saw armed rebellion as their only recourse.

On the ground, fighting in the American Revolution began with the skirmishes between British regulars and American provincials on April 19, , first at Lexington , where a British force of faced 77 local minutemen , and then at Concord , where an American counterforce of to sent the British scurrying. The American Revolution was principally caused by colonial opposition to British attempts to impose greater control over the colonies and to make them repay the crown for its defense of them during the French and Indian War — Britain did this primarily by imposing a series of deeply unpopular laws and taxes, including the Sugar Act , the Stamp Act , and the so-called Intolerable Acts Until early in , the American Revolution was a civil war within the British Empire , but it became an international war as France in and Spain in joined the colonies against Britain.

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The French navy in particular played a key role in bringing about the British surrender at Yorktown , which effectively ended the war. In the early stages of the rebellion by the American colonists, most of them still saw themselves as English subjects who were being denied their rights as such. What made the American Revolution look most like a civil war , though, was the reality that about one-third of the colonists, known as loyalists or Tories , continued to support and fought on the side of the crown.

Americans fought the war on land with essentially two types of organization: the Continental national Army and the state militias. The total number of the former provided by quotas from the states throughout the conflict was , men, and the militias totaled , At any given time, however, the American forces seldom numbered over 20,; in there were only about 29, insurgents under arms throughout the country. The war was therefore one fought by small field armies. Militias, poorly disciplined and with elected officers, were summoned for periods usually not exceeding three months.

The terms of Continental Army service were only gradually increased from one to three years, and not even bounties and the offer of land kept the army up to strength. By contrast, the British army was a reliable steady force of professionals. Since it numbered only about 42,, heavy recruiting programs were introduced.

To license content, please contact licenses [at] americanheritage. Victory at Yorktown By Nathaniel Philbrick. Reassessing William H.

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