Unit Guide and Primary Sources
The French and Indian War
Parliament Taxes the Colonies
(The Long Train of Abuses: Part I)
The Road to Revolution
(The Long Train of Abuses: Part II)
Legacies of the American Revolution
"These are the times that try men's souls..."
The French and Indian War - the North American theater of the Seven Years' War - marked a major turning point in the history of the Thirteen Colonies. Not only did it mark the first time that the colonies had cooperated with each other, but it also marked the end of Britain's longstanding policy of salutary neglect, which set into motion the colonial protests that began the chain of events leading to the American Revolution.
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Following the French and Indian War, Britain ended its policy of salutary neglect toward the colonies. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbade colonists to settle in the newly-acquired lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. In order to help finance the war debt and to help pay for the cost of quartering British troops in the colonies (something the colonists never asked for), Parliament passed three taxes: the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), and the Townshend Acts (1767). These taxes were highly unpopular in the colonies - especially the Stamp Act, which colonists believed to be a violation of their rights to be taxed by their own representatives in their colonial legislatures.
After the Boston Massacre, things settled down for a bit as the British laid off imposing new taxes on the colonies. The passage of the Tea Act in 1773 set in motion the chain of events leading to the first shots of the American Revolution that were fired at Lexington and Concord.
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The American Revolution gave the United States its start as an independent nation. American Revolution APUSH questions will primarily ask about the causes of the war and the reasons for American victory.
What is the American Revolution?
The American Revolution was the war for independence of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain. The war was fought on American soil from 1775-1783.
There were many factors that led the American colonists to seek their independence. In brief, these reasons included:
- the development of an American identity and culture separate from that of Great Britain
- a sense of independence that grew from life on a frontier
- resentment over the end of salutary neglect and the implementation of more strict colonial control, especially new taxes that were levied without the colonists consent via direct representation in Parliament
- the influence of Enlightenment ideas (especially those of John Locke) about natural rights, consent of the governed, and the ability of the people to abolish or alter an unjust government
All of this led to increased tensions, culminating in protests and, eventually, violent revolution. Fighting began with the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. The following year, the colonists issued the Declaration of Independence.
The war continued over the next several years. The colonists were outnumbered and out-armed, and they had inferior military experience. They did, however, have some advantages, including familiarity with the terrain and the desire to fight for their own homes. They also found an excellent leader in General George Washington, who would later be elected the nation’s first president. Towards the end of the war, the colonists also benefitted from aid from the French.
The British surrendered following their defeat in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris brought the war to its official close in 1783.
Important years to note for the American Revolution:
- 1775: The American Revolution begins with the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
- 1776: The Declaration of Independence is signed.
- 1781: The British surrender at Yorktown.
- 1783: The Treaty of Paris officially ends the war.
Why is the American Revolution so important?
Very simply, the American Revolution enabled the United States to break free of British colonial rule and start its new journey as an independent nation. The American Revolution also inspired revolutionary efforts in other nations in the years that followed, including France and Haiti.
What are some historical people and events related to the American Revolution?
Key events leading up to the war:
- French and Indian War (1754-1763): War between Britain and France that left Britain with enormous war debt, and led to the end of salutary neglect in the colonies as Britain levied new taxes to raise money
- New taxes levied on colonists such as the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), the Townshend Acts (1767), and the Tea Act (1773)
- Boston Massacre (1770): Angry mob of colonial protestors confront British soldiers, who open fire, killing five
- Boston Tea Party (1773): Protest in response to the Tea Act, in which patriots dumped British tea into Boston Harbor
- Intolerable Acts (1774): A series of laws (also called the Coercive Acts) passed as a punishment for the Boston Tea Party
Important people of the revolutionary era:
- King George III: British king during the Revolution
- Benjamin Franklin: Key journalist and political figure in the pre-revolutionary era
- Thomas Jefferson: Primary author of the Declaration of Independence
- Samuel Adams: Member of the Sons of Liberty
- John Adams: Key political leader
- Thomas Paine: Author of Common Sense, which helped convince many to join the revolutionary cause
- George Washington: General during the Revolution and first president of the United States
Important battles in the American Revolution:
- Lexington and Concord (1775): First battle of the war
- Bunker Hill (1775): cCstly British victory that showed them that the war would not be quickly and easily won
- Saratoga (1777): American victory that convinced the French to openly join the war on the side of the Americans
- Yorktown (1781): Battle in which the British surrendered, ending the war
What is an example American Revolution APUSH question?
Surrender of General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777 (Source)
The Battle of Saratoga is considered significant primarily because
A) it caused Native Americans to join the war on the side of the British.
B) it inspired the French to begin their own revolution.
C) it convinced most Loyalists to abandon their support of the British.
D) it enabled the Americans to secure the assistance of foreign allies.
The correct answer to this American Revolution APUSH question is (D). The French had supported the Americans through indirect means throughout the war, but were hesitant to commit actual military support to what was considered a risky cause. The American victory in the Battle of Saratoga brought enough confidence in the Americans’ chances that the French finally provided military aid, which helped the Americans win the war decisively.
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