The War of Independence

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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  • The causes of the war
  • The conflict of 1775
  • The end of hostilities

With American Revolutionary War, means The American Revolution that is, the conflict that broke out between the thirteen British colonies in North America and the motherland, between 1776 and 1783, ended with the constitution of an independent nation, the United States of America.

The causes of the war

At the end of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), Great Britain turned out to be the greatest power and absolute dominator on the seas, but despite this the English crown found itself having to bear enormous war expenses and the responsibility of administering and defending the new territories acquired in North America.

In order to make the colonists contribute to the expenses of the empire, the English Parliament, in March 1765, imposed one stamp duty on all legal documents, contracts, licenses, even newspapers, brochures, playing cards, printed on American soil.

The tax caused strong opposition among the American colonists. Normally, in fact, it was the local assemblies that issued tax laws and laws for the organization of internal security; this law was therefore perceived by the colonists as an attempt to limit their self-government plans.

In October 1765, the delegates of nine colonies reunited in New York to make their complaints known to the motherland.
In fact, in the following March, the Parliament abolished the tax but this was not determined by the settlers' objections to the institutionality of the tax, but by the pressure of the English merchants, heavily damaged by the protest of the colonists.

The cancellation of the tax left unresolved the financial problems of the British crown which soon imposed new taxes on the import of glass, lead, paint, paper and tea, while sending troops to force the colonists to comply with the law. Once again, the reaction was prompt and vigorous.

Protests everywhere welcomed the arrival of customs officers and traders again adopted the policy of not importing British goods. Tensions erupted on June 21, 1768, when thousands of Bostonian protesters they threatened the customs commissioners by forcing them to flee; London immediately sent four regiments of troops to allow the commissioners to return and to begin the military occupation of the city.

The Boston Massacre

The long series of clashes that followed culminated in March 1770 in the so-called Boston massacre, when the British soldiers, provoked by the crowd, opened fire killing five settlers; then a new violent wave of protest was unleashed.
Bent once again by the economic boycott, London ordered the tax lifting.

The monopoly of the sale of tea

Three years later the Parliament ordered the monopoly of the sale of tea in America. This measure immediately raised the conflict between the settlers and the motherland, so much so that in Boston the cargo of the ships carrying the tea was even spilled overboard.

In response, in 1774 the English Parliament approved some repressive measures, intended to reaffirm the royal authority: the port of Boston it was closed and the military occupation regime of the city was strengthened, also reducing the self-government laws of the settlers.

On December 16, 1773, in protest against the British Crown's imposition of a tax on the import of tea, some American colonists, led by Samuel Adams, boarded British ships and threw their loads of tea overboard.

The conflict of 1775

Representatives of all the colonies gathered in Philadelphia in September 1774 at the first Continental Congress to establish a common line of action and define the rights of the lands of America and the limits of the authority of the London Parliament.

In a Declaration of Rights the delegates reaffirmed their refusal to pay taxes and decided to stop all trade with Great Britain until the withdrawal of the British troops. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the city militias were organizing themselves into an underground public health committee. On the night of April 18, 1775, the English governor sent a regiment to requisition an arms depot near Boston but the colonists intercepted the English troops who were forced to retreat to Boston which was placed under siege by the rebels.

In April 1775, while on their way to Concord, Massachusetts to destroy American colonists' gunpowder reserves, a British contingent, under the leadership of General Thomas Gage, clashed in Lexington with a group of 70 volunteers. It is not known which side triggered the battle, but the eight settlers who died in the clash were the first to be killed in the American Revolutionary War.

These developments determined, by the colonists, the establishment of an army that was placed under the command of George Washington. However, a desire for reconciliation with Great Britain was still prevalent among the delegates and in fact they reaffirmed loyalty to the King, asking him to withdraw his troops.

Meanwhile, the British barricaded in Boston, received reinforcements by sea, had achieved a clear victory over the Americans which did not, however, serve to break the siege of the city.

King George II declares war on the American colonists

News of the battle and congressional demands reached London at the same time. Without taking into account the demands of the colonists, the King, George II declared war on the rebels.

In response to the English decisions, the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), with which the colonies were constituted into free and independent states, pledging to repel the invasion of what was now considered a foreign power.

The end of hostilities

At the beginning of 1779 Spain also declared war on Great Britain, and the following year did the same for Holland. In American territory the operations continued with ups and downs until the siege of Yorktown, where the English troops had taken refuge.

In August 1781 the French fleet defeated the English one, thus preventing any possibility of connection by sea. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to force the enemy lines, on October 19, 1781 the English commander was forced to surrender.

Yorktow marked the end of hostilities, even if the peace negotiations dragged on until September 3, 1783, when Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, with which it recognized the independence of the former colonies; the borders of the United States of America were established in the west with Mississippi, in the north with Canada, in the south with Florida.

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