The American Revolution marks the beginning of the modern era in many ways. It created a Republic ruled without a monarch. The rules of this new state were enshrined in a Constitution which in itself were ideas of the Enlightenment put into practice - words like freedom, individual, liberty and fraternity were now part and parcel of the legal system of a new nation. It promoted the values of the people who had fought against an authority they saw as unjust and won. It provided an example of how to put into practise the revolutions of the mind that had dominated early modern Europe.
The Colonies of the Atlantic coast of N America had been ruled by the British Crown for centuries. Over that time, the Colonists had come to see themselves as an independent people. However, the British King (George III) and Parliament still saw them as the property of Great Britain and refused to allow any of their representatives into Parliament. As a result, frustration at their lack of a political voice began to grow and opposition to British rule of the Colonies increased.
Why did the Colonists declare war on the British Empire?
The British Empire by the end of the 18thC had started to establish itself around the world, with key trading ports in the Mediterranean, Africa, the New World and Asia. Its jewel in the crown however was the Eastern Seaboard of the North American landmass - the unlimited amount of resources that the Colonies provided was matched only by its potential. the timber helped make the British Navy the predominant military organisation of its era, and its cotton and markets helped Britain industrialise decades before anyone else. Given Britain's economic and military might, it seems inconceivable that the divided and still dependent Colonists population saw they had any chance in claiming these lands for themselves - but that is exactly what they did. What inspired this decision? How did they believe they could win?
Andrew Marr 'History of the World' (16.30-24.00)
- using the video documentary on the left, answer the questions in the attached document
- how many reasons for the Colonists to declare war can you identify?
- which ones are the most important in your opinion?
- explain your decision...
Having identified some of the key reasons for war, read the text provided and take notes on:
European colonies in the Americas
Democratic ideas in the Colonies
Causes of the American Revolution
How to revise - helping hand #1
- Use of mnemonics
Mnemonics are words that can act as keys to the memory rooms we all have and work to fill
The single letters of these mnemonics act as memory prods to help remember lists
These letters are the first letter of another word or phrase that help explain an event for example
For example, BELIEF can help us remember the main causes of the American Revolution
Can you fill in the gaps? The first one is completed to get you started....
E _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
L _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
E _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
F _ _ _ _ _ - _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Now we've identified how to use mnemonics, your job is to use my examples as inspiration
If you create your own mnemonics they will stick a lot easier as their are your own creation!
Why we Fight....What is propaganda?
The anti British campaigners such as the Sons of Liberty and Paul Revere used propaganda to try and persuade fellow Colonists to join the struggle.
They used simple slogans and pictures to express political views such as the Join or Die poster on the left....
- can you do the same? Click on the image below to complete the task...
How did the Colonists beat the British Empire?
Unhappiness at the increasingly hands-on approach to governance of the British government found its first demonstrations in the predominantly Irish-American city of Boston. The Boston Massacre of 1770 was the result of public demonstrations by Colonists, whilst the Boston Tea Party was the first direct action taken by the anti-British Sons of Liberty. It was in response to the subsequent closure of the port of Boston by the Government until they were repaid that saw the first of the Continental Congresses called. The First and Second Continental Congress saw Colonists come together to debate their future for the first time and so played important roles in the decision to go to war, and how that war was to proceed. The First Congress in 1774, alongside launching an economic boycott of British goods, established the essential rule that governed Colonist conduct and tactics throughout he campaign, namely that they should back each other up and stand united. The Second Congress of 1775 followed on from events at Lexington-Concorde and declared their independence.
So how did these recently united yet still very different colonial peoples defeat the professionally trained soldiers and sailors of the days great superpower? Use the two documentaries below to complete the attached documents.....
America: The Story of US - episode 1 - Rebels
America: The Story of US - episode 2 - Revolution
How to work - helping hand #1
- Audio-visual notetaking
Most importantly, watch - audio-visual resources benefit the student via the brain interacting with the sights and sounds that are part and parcel of these type of resources
The amount of information is always overwhelming and everyone struggles at first..
In order to watch effectively, you can use a number of techniques to take down the information:
- Use the pause button - stop the video, think about the key information in the last 1/2/5 minutes
- Develop shorthand annotation which allows you to take down lots of information quickly
- use initials, characters, emoji faces, abbreviations
- diagrams, arrows, punctuation, maths + science symbols
- Only take down the most important information
- again this needs practice as everything seems important at first
- need to think and choose quickly which is a difficult skill to master!
So using all the evidence you have collected, write a summary sheet detailing how the American Revolution was won by the Colonists:
- what both sides wanted and how they fought
- at least one key battle that turned the war in favour of the Colonists
- at least one key tactic that turned the war in favour of the Colonists
How was the American Revolution fought?
The war itself saw a trained professional army fighting abroad against an untrained local militia fighting for their future
The British redcoats had an overwhelming advantage in terms of military training, weapons, ammunition...
The Colonists had popular support, local knowledge of the land and resources, along with a personal interest in securing victory
The Redcoats therefore spent their time mobilising huge armies around the vast landscape
The Colonists meanwhile ran away as much as possible, relying on ambush and surprise
The pattern of these battles can be seen on the left..tap on it for details about the battles
Use the map and the links below to create a mindmap of the crucial battles detailing:
- Who, when, where fought
- Tactics used by both sides
- Who won and why?
- Why was this battle important?
Who was Thomas Paine?
Tom Paine was a British writer whose works allowed the American population to access the ideas of the Enlightenment
These ideas were to provide the inspiration for many Revolutionaries
They would also unite the still quarrelling Colonists and provide them with a set of overall targets to aim for
Use the sources on the left to construct a mindmap about the following:
Who was Thomas Paine - where did he come from, early background
What did he do? - what books did he write; what were their message
Why is he important? - what was his influence on the American Revolution?
How was the USA established?
1760 - King George III ascends to the throne of England.
1763- Treaty signed between England and France ending the French and Indian War.
Canada and the continent east of the Mississippi River added to Great
Britain's growing empire.
1765 - Parliament passes The Stamp Act as a means to pay for British troops on the
American frontier. Colonists violently protest the measure..
1766 - March 18. Stamp Act repealed, but on the same day parliament passes the
Declaratory Act asserting its right to make laws binding on the colonies.
1768 - October. British troops arrive in Boston to enforce customs laws.
1770 - March. Four workers shot by British troops stationed in Boston. Patriots label the
killings "The Boston Massacre."
1773 - December. Massachusetts patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians protest the British
Tea Act by dumping crates of tea into Boston Harbor.
1774 - January. The Privy Council reprimands Benjamin Franklin in London for leaking
letters damaging to the Royal Governor of Massachusetts. September. First
Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia.
1775 - April. Shots fired at Lexington and Concord. "Minute Men" force British troops back to
Boston. George Washington takes command of the Continental Army.
1776 - January. Thomas Paine's Common Sense published. Becomes an instant best seller and pushes the colonies closer to independence.
July 4. Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence ratified by the Congress
July. A huge British force arrives in New York harbor bent on crushing the rebellion.
August. Continental Army routed at Long Island, New York.
December 26. Washington crosses the Delaware River and captures a Hessian force at Trenton, New Jersey.
December. In desperate need of financing and arms, Congress sends Benjamin
Franklin to France to urge the French to ally with America.
1777 - July. A British force led by John Burgoyne takes Fort Ticonderoga in a devastating loss to the Americans. The Marquis de Lafayette arrives in America
Washington defeated at Brandywine (September 11) and Germantown (October 4). Philadelphia is lost to the British.
October 17. Americans capture Burgoyne and his army at Saratoga.
1778 - February. France signs a treaty of alliance with the United States and the American Revolution becomes a world war.
1780 - British attack Charleston, South Carolina. City falls in May.
Americans "lose" series of engagements in the south 1780-81, but exact a heavy toll on the British army who are a long way from home...
1781 - African-American Elizabeth Freeman sues for her freedom in Massachusetts. Her victory prohibits slavery in that state.
October 19. A miraculous convergence of American and French forces traps Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. He surrenders his British army.
1783 - September. A peace treaty is signed between Great Britain and the United States.
December. George Washington gives up command of the Continental Army and, to the astonishment of foreign observers, returns to private life.
George Washington facts, biography etc etc...
Crash Course US History - eps 5-9 - 12 min episodes explaining how US formed
- Timeline of revolution - click on underlined terms for extra detail (use text/websearch to add detail for other underlined terms)
- Role of Thomas Paine
Was the American Revolution really a revolution?
- If you find some words difficult, highlight them and use a dictionary to find out what they mean.....