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Revolutionary War Notable Events 1775-1783

•  1775  •  1776  •  1777  •  1778  •  1779  •  1780   •  1781  •  1782  •  1783   •

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PRE-WAR EVENTS

May 10, 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On May 10, the members of the Second Continental Congress met at the State House in Philadelphia. There were several new delegates including: John Hancock from Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, and Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania.
The Second Continental Congress meeting started with the battle of Lexington and Concord fresh in their memories. The New England militia were still encamped outside of Boston trying to drive the British out of Boston. The Second Continental Congress established the militia as the Continental Army to represent the thirteen states. They also elected George Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

EVENTS OF 1775

June 14, 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (The United States Army officially created) - The Massachusetts Provincial Congress, aware of the necessity of enlisting the support of all of the colonies in the struggle against the British, appealed to the Continental Congress to adopt the New England army. Congress appointed a committee to draft regulations for a new Continental Army. On June 14, Congress voted to adopt the measure, marking the official creation of the United States Army. Also, this date marks the creation of the Infantry. The same day, Congress voted to raise 10 companies of riflemen. These were the first soldiers to be enlisted directly in the Continental service- in Pennsylvania, maryland, and Virginia, to march north to join the current force besieging Boston.

July 5, 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (The Olive Branch Petition Written) - On July 5, the First Continental Congress adopted the "Olive Branch Petition". This petition stated that, while reiterating the grievances of the colonists, the Congress professed their attachments to the king of England and a desire for a reconciliation and avoidance of any further hostile actions. King George III refused to receive the petition, and instead, he issued his own proclamation on August 23. This proclamation declared that the colonies to be in a state of rebellion.

September 21, 1775 at New York City, New York - On September 21, before 1:00 A.M., a fire broke out in a house near Whitehall Slip, at the tip of the island. The fire quickly spread north and west. It consumed 493 houses before it was brought under control. The British blamed the Americans of having started the fire, but no proof was ever found.

November 28, 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (The Creation of United States Navy) - On November 28, the Continental Congress authorized the establishment of the American Navy. Although the Navy was to play only a minor role in the war, the success of American privateers in interrupting British trade was an important factor aiding the patriot cause.

EVENTS OF 1776

July 4 1776 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Continental Congress held the Virginia Convention in May, 1776. Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution for the colonies to become free and independent states. The Congress appointed a committee to draft the formal declaration of independence. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This committee then chose Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, with the assistance of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The document defined the rights of the people of the independent states. On July 2, 1776, the members of the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. On July 4, 1776, the delegates then held a second vote and approved the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, President of the Congress and Charles Thomson, the secretary, signed the document. July 4, 1776 is officially recognized as the birth of America. The Declaration of Independence introduced a fundamental change in the view of government. Thomas Jefferson declared that governments were created to serve the people, and could only act with consent of the people. It created the democratic government. The declaration consisted of two parts. The preamble describes the peoples rights and it states that " all Men are created equal" and have the God-given right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The second part declares independence from Britain, and lists the colonies' issues against the British government. (See Also The Declaration of Independece at the National Archives)

September 21, 1776 at New York City, New York (New York City Fire) - On September 21, just before 1:00 A.M. near Whitehall Slip, a fire broke out in a wooden house. With the help of a strong wind, the fire quickly spread north. Around 2:00 A.M., a change in wind direction confined the fire to an area between Broadway Street and the Hudson River. In the end, a total of 493 homes were destroyed before the fire could be put out. The British accused the Americans of starting the fire. British troops had planned on using the houses in the area as billeting and stated that The Americans burned the city to prevent this from happening.

EVENTS OF 1777

July 27, 1777 at Fort Edwards, New York - On July 27, Jenny McRae and Mrs. ?? McNeil were captured by Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne's Indian allies, which were travelling ahead of the British army. Jenny, or Jane, was a Tory girl who had lived with her brother on the Hudson River, between Saratoga and Fort Edward. She was engaged to Lt. David Jones, a Tory in the service of Burgoyne's army. She had went to join her fiance at Fort Edwards when she was captured.
The Indians started back to Fort Ann, where Burgoyne was headquartered. They arrived with Mcneil and the scalp of Jenny. Jones identified the scalp as belonging to McRae. The killer was identified but was not punished by Burgoyne. he did not want to alienate his allies.
The incident was used a propaganda for the local citizens. Local outrage over the killing, even though she was a Tory, stirred the patriot cause and called to the colors the farmers of Bennington. This would prove the undoing of Burgoyne's grand strategy.

EVENTS OF 1778

February 6, 1778 at Paris, France (The Alliance With France) - After the Battle of Saratoga, Congress decided to seek French support in the war. They sent Benjamin Franklin, who could speak French, to meet with King Louis XVI and the French foreign minister. France wanted to get revenge on Britain for the defeat in the French and Indian War. They also wanted to ensure that Britain and America don't resolve their differences. In February 1778, France and America signed a treaty which put France at war with Britain. This treaty was the first document to officially recognize America as an independent state. Spain, an ally of France, joined the alliance a year later. Britain was now forced to defend its own territory of England against possible French and Spanish attacks.

EVENTS OF 1779

June 21, 1779 in Spain (Spain declares war against Great Britain) - France induces Spain to declare war on the British by promising to assist the Spanish in recovering Gibraltar and Florida after the British reject the Spanish ultimatum presented to them on April 3. Spain refuses to recognize or enter into an alliance with the United States. However, the Spanish commence joint naval operation with the French and this assists the American cause.

EVENTS OF 1780

January 1, 1780 in West Point, New York (Mutiny of Massachusetts Line) - On New Year's Day, 100 soldiers from Massachusetts mutiny and attempt to return home at the expiration of their enlistment, or in some cases, shortly prior. Some are punished although the majority is pardoned.

September 21, 1780 at West Point, Philadelphia (Benedict Arnold turns traitor ) - Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold was faced with financial ruin, uncertain of future promotion, and disgusted with congressional politics. He decided to seek fame and fortune in the service of the British. With cool calculation, he initiated correspondence with Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, the local British commander. Arnold promised to deliver West Point and its 3,000 Patriot defenders for 20,000 sterling. He hoped that this act would spark the collapse of the American cause. Persuading Gen. George Washington to appoint him commander of West Point, Arnold moved in September 1780 to execute his plan. On September 21, Maj. John Andre, Arnold's co-conspirator, came ashore near the town of Havestraw. Andre arrived aboard the HMS Vulture. There, he met Arnold to finalize the agreement. Unfortunately for both of them, the Vulture came under American fire and headed away. This unfortunately left Andre stranded. He reluctantly put on some civilian clothes and headed down the Hudson River with a safe conduct pass from Arnold. Andre was eventually captured near the town of Tarrytown. He was soon turned over to the commander at North Castle. Found on Andre was the incriminating papers that Arnold had given him. When Arnold was notified that a British officer had been captured, he fled by boat to the HMS Vulture. Arnold received 6,000 Sterling from the British government and an appointment as a brigadier general.

EVENTS OF 1781

January 1-10, 1781 in Princeton, New Jersey (Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line) - Winter inactivity combined with grievances concerning enlistment terms, pay, and food, among other things, culminates in mutiny in the Continental camp located near Princeton, New Jersey. Little is known about how the mutiny is organized. The two leaders are a William Bozar and John Williams. Only two individuals are recorded as having died in the mutiny. The mutineers intend to confront the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. General "Mad" Anthony Wayne manages to defuse the situation on which the British hope to capitalize. However, almost half the soldiers involved in the mutiny leave the army.

January 20-27, 1781 in Pompton, New Jersey (Mutiny of the New Jersey Line ) - While in winter quarters at Pompton, New Jersey, these soldiers have the same basic complaints as their compatriots of the Pennsylvania Line. Washington sends a 600-man force commanded by Robert Howe to suppress the mutiny and enforce unconditional surrender. Howe surrounds the Pompton encampment at dawn on the 27th. Sergeant David Gilmore and John Tuttle are tried and immediately executed on the spot by other prominent mutineers serving as an example to the other soldiers.

March 1, 1781 (Articles of Confederation Are Ratified) - The Continental Congress ratifies the Articles of Confederation initially proposed by Richard Henry Lee on June 7, 1776. After a long delay these articles are sent to the individual states for ratification on November 15, 1777. Bickering over land claims between Virginia and Maryland holds up ratification until March 1, 1781. The nation is guided by the Articles of Confederation until the ratification of the Constitution on November 21, 1788.

August 4, 1781 in Charleston, South Carolina (Isaac Hayne Is Executed) - Patriot militia officer Isaac Hayne is executed by the British. Prior to the war he is a horse breeder and owns an iron works. Hayne is captured at Charleston and paroled, but later the British attempt to have him join the Loyalist militia. Hayne considers the terms of his parole invalidated by this action and once again joins the Patriots. He is again captured but this time hanged as a spy without a trial.

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EVENTS OF 1782

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EVENTS OF 1783

January 20, 1783 at Paris, France (Preliminary Articles of Peace signed) - On January 20, Great Britian, France, and Spain signed the preliminary Articles of Peace. In doing so, this established a military armistice both among themselves and between England and America.

November 3, 1783 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Continental Army troops discharged) - On May 10, Congress ordered Gen. George Washington to furlough all of the Continental troops that had enlisted for the duration of the war. On June 11, Congress authorized the Secratary of War to furlough the troops of the middle states that were not already released. On November 3, Congress ordered the discharge of all of the furloughed troops.

November 25, 1783 at New York City, New York (The Evacuation of British troops ) - On November 25, the British force completed their troop evacuation of New York City. Also evacuating the city earlier was about 7,000 Loyalists, heading for Maritime Provinces, Canada, and Great Britian.

December 4, 1783 at Staten Island, New York (The Last British troops leave) - On December 4, the withdrawal of the last British troops from Staten Island and Long Island. This officially ended the British occupation of the Atlantic coast of the United States.

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