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The Road to Revolution
Transcript of The Road to Revolution
King George III, new to the throne, needed to pay debt for the French and Indian War and continue paying for the defense of the Thirteen Colonies. Plus he had to establish his "street cred" and prove he was in charge.
The Colonies Organize
and First Battles
Spreading the Fire: 2nd Continental Congress
Just for fun you should hear of these....
The Northern War
Think of the British strategy as dealing with an unruly chicken. They just simply needed to cut the chicken's head off. The head of the chicken is New England.
After being driven from Boston by Washington, the British would simply sail to New York and invade from the Great Lakes and Canada. The three armies would meet at Saratoga, NY and form a line that isolates New England. The revolution could then be crushed and execute its leaders before it spread out of New England.
The Southern War
The original British strategy was to cut off New England, isolate the Revolution ringleaders and crush the rebellion before it grew. Saratoga gained foreign support, though. The French sent promises of guns, soldiers and money. Spain sent ammunition and money. Prussia helped train American soldiers at Valley Forge...enough training we almost won Monmouth Courthouse.
So, the British shift to a Southern Strategy. If you cannot cut the head off the chicken, then at least save the meat. There was still time to save the valuable southern tobacco and cotton colonies.
Treaty of Paris 1783
The US and GB begin negotiations to win the war after 11 years of squabbling and 5 years of HARD fighting. The people of England did not support the war, much like the Vietnam War, later...it was too far, too misunderstand and both sides were losing money when they could have been trading and making money from each other....so the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.
Prime Minister George Grenville LOWERS the sugar tax!! The goal was to undermine French sugar entering colonies and make England more money. It hurt Boston sugar smugglers such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who organize the Sons of Liberty to begin undermining the King's authority.
The Stamp Act was the first "direct tax" on goods. All other taxes were built into the price like you pay gas taxes. The Stamp Act taxed legal documents and paper goods like a sales tax you pay. This enraged more colonists than just "businessmen" such as Hancock and Adams. Hancock and Adams harness the anger to fight back.
George III and Parliament repeal the Stamp Act due to the boycott, but declare Parliament has the absolute right to tax the colonists. Parliament represents ENTIRE empire through virtual representation and each member is duty-bound to do the best for the ENTIRE empire. Thus, the colonies are represented.
The King and Parliament still need money.
The King arranges the election of a new prime minister, Charles Townshend, to put his foot down and tax the colonies to pay for their defense. The Townshend Acts tax imports, but the colonies boycott again. England is forced to back down yet again...Townshend resigns in discrace...
Lord North is elected. He repeals ALL the taxes...except ONE....the Tea Tax!!!!
Hancock and Adams organize a meeting to protest the tax. They send a Declaration of Rights and Grievances to King George III claiming the right of "no taxation without representation." George III, and all of England, view Parliament as representing the good of the ENTIRE empire, not just their elected district. However, the Congress organizes a boycott of English goods, which costs English businesses money. English businessmen push the King to back down
The Stamp Act Congress
In order to assert royal authority, King George III makes search warrants easier to attain to put sugar smuggles such as Hancock and Adams out of business. Hancock and Adams use the issue to say that the King is crushing traditional English rights dating back to Magna Carta.
Writs of Assistance
The tension rises as more soldiers are sent to Boston to enforce the Tea Act, keep the peace and defend the colonies. An unruly, drunken mob confronts a group of soldiers. Insults and snowballs are hurled until the soldiers fire their muskets. Crispus Attucks and 4 Others are killed on March 5, 1770.
Sam Adams and John Hancock use the incident to incite more hatred and anti-British propaganda.
The Boston Massacre
The HMS Gaspee ran aground while patrolling for smugglers along the Boston coastline. The crew signaled for help to Bostonians on the shore.
The Bostonians set the ship on fire.
The Tea Act of 1773 allowed only English tea to be bought in the colonies, which again angered tea smugglers. Hancock and Adams claim rights are being infringed. They organize the Sons of Liberty to dress as Indians and dump tea cargo into Boston Harbor.
The Boston Tea Party
George III must take action to re-gain control of Boston. He orders the port closed, appoints Thomas Gage as military governor, sends in boatloads of soldiers and begins hunting for Hancock and Adams to dispose of the ring leaders of the trouble.
The economy of Boston was crushed while closed. The jobless grew hungry, angry and suffered greatly.
Hancock and Adams form letter writing committees to inform the other colonies of the pain, suffering and economic ruin of Boston under the heavy hand of tyrant king.
Committees of Correspondence
Clark took a "hillbilly" army West. He defeated the British at Vincennes, Indiana and then marched further to capture Kaskaskia, IL. His far reaching heroics gave America claim to conquering British land to the Mississippi river after the Revoluton.
George Rogers Clark
John Paul Jones
Jones was a swashbuckling adventurer. The French build him a ship named the Bonhamme Richard in honor of their favorite American, Ben Franklin. Jones faces off with the British ship Serapis. Jones's ship gets blasted by the British, he is wounded and the ship is disabled and sinking. The British demand that Jones do the civilized thing and surrender. Jones replies, "Surrender? I have not yet begun to fight!" On that signal his men thrown grappling hooks and ropes over to the Serapis, board the Serapis and defeat the British sailors in hand to hand combat...
then Jones sails away in the British ship!
Hancock and Adams organize a meeting of most of the colonies, but most of the colonies still believe a peaceful settlement with England will be found. Southern colonies believe war will cost them much money in trade and middle colonies such as Pennsylvania do not believe in war.
The most Hancock and Adams can get is an agreement to boycott English goods and begin collecting weapons and ammunition.
1st Continental Congress
The British decide they must arrest Hancock/Adams and search for the weapons and ammunition. The British army marches out at night to surprise search Lexington.
However, Hancock and Adams have arranged the famous lantern signal in the Old North Church, "one if by land, two if by sea" to signal warning riders to set out for Lexington.
Paul Revere rides out, but is quickly captured by a British patrol. However, Dr. Samuel Prescott and William Dawes complete the ride.
The Minutemen awake and assemble at Lexington. When the British approach at dawn there is a tense stand-off when the Minutemen refuse to move. The "shot heard round the world" goes off and the British open fire...the Minutemen run for their lives.
The British find neither Hancock/Adams or weapons/ammunition in Lexington.
Battle of Lexington
The British march on to Concord and encounter more prepared Minutemen, but still easily win the battle. However, they still fail to find Hancock/Adams or weapons/ammunition.
They begin the long night march back to Boston after nearly 24 hours of marching/fighting. Minutemen snipe the British all night long from barns, trees and behind fences. The British suffer many killed and wounded.
The tension will be become worse now. A peaceful settlement seems impossible now.
Battle of Concord
In a stroke of brilliance, the Americans, led by a professionally trained Col. Benedict Arnold and daring frontiersman Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys attack Ft. Ticonderoga in upstate New York in order to capture cannons. They then float the cannons down the river and drag them overland to Boston.
Battle of Fort Ticonderoga
Meanwhile in Boston, the colonists occupy Bunker Hill north of Boston Harbor. The hill allows them to fire on British ships in harbor. Thus, the British must either take the hill or leave the harbor.
The British arrogantly charge the hill three times, but are mowed down ruthlessly by Americans given the order to not shoot until they see "the whites of their eyes" in order to preserve rare ammunition.
Eventually, the Americans run out of ammunition and lose the battle, but the British realize that Americans can fight tough when they have ammo and wise leaders.
Battle of Bunker Hill
A peaceful settlement seems impossible after the battles and bloodshed around Boston. John Adams rises above Hancock and his cousin Sam in the 2nd Continental congress.
More than anyone else, Adams has the idea that America should fight for complete independence, instead of getting a peaceful settlement or their rights as Englishmen back.
He proposes a Declaration of Independence, a Continental Army army and Congress.
He also had the brilliance to begin appointing southerners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to key positions in order to gain Southern support.
Young but brilliant Thomas Jefferson was chosen by John Adams to write the Declaration of Independence for his political philosophy genius and southern roots.
Jefferson used the Thomas Hobbes idea that government exists with permission from the people, and the John Locke idea that the purpose of government is to protect their natural rights of life, liberty and property. A government that fails to protect, or blatantly infringes on those rights as the British had in Boston, should be overthrown and replaced with a new social contract.
The document was signed by Continental Congress on July 4, 1776...the official beginning of the American Revolution...for Independence.
Declaration of Independence
Radical newcomer Thomas Paine's Common Sense was a 30 page booklet that REALLY fired up the common people of all 13 colonies to support the revolution. He made three major and simple arguments.
1. England only defended American so they could make money by monopolizing our trade. We could only trade with England, thus England controlled prices
2. All colonies could make MORE money if England, France and Spain competed to buy our goods and those countries would have to lower prices of their goods for us to buy
3. It was dumb for a tiny island to rule a continent.
Washington rushes his army, and all the cannons from Ticonderoga, from Boston when the British sail away to try to save New York. He blocks them on Long Island, but eventually loses the Battle of Brooklyn Heights and has to retreat from the city.
Much of the city is burned and many of the people view the revolution as un-winnable.
Battle of Brooklyn Heights
The British chase Washington from New York City into the State of New York. The British Commander, William Howe decides to chase Washington instead of meeting the armies marching from the Great Lakes and Canada at Saratoga to cut the head off the chicken. Howe believes just crushing Washington's army would end the revolution.
Washington is wiley, though. He loses the Battle of White Plains, but his army escapes into winter quarters at Germantown. Where he plans a couple of surprises for British during the winter.
Battle of White Plains
Washington breaks all the rules to give America hope!! He plans a surprise Christmas morning attack on the British. He crosses the icey Delaware river at night in a sleet and snow storm to surprise attack Trenton. He routs a small group of German mercenaries.
It isn't real important...except a win is a win.
Battle of Trenton
The surprise Christmas attack on Trenton worked so well, that George Washington attacks Princeton a week later on New Years.
Again, not real big...but a win is a win is a win.
It makes his soldiers feel good, it makes the country feel good, and makes Washington look like not such a loser...
plus, it kept Howe from ever going up and meeting the armies from the Great Lakes and Canada that were supposed to cut the head off this chicken.
The men start to REALLY trust and believe in G-Dub
Battle of Princeton
Meanwhile, Washington has sent Generals Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates, two of our best, to be the "heroes of Saratoga." They arrive early before the British armies marching from the Great Lakes and Canada arrive. Since it is impossible for these armies to communicate through the vast wilderness, they cannot arrive at the same time. Gates and Arnold destroy them when they arrive individually.
Saratoga is THE TURNING POINT...
1. We prove we can beat the British in a REAL battle
2. France signs an alliance. Spain and Prussia provide secret help. They all want England to lose since England has become the most powerful country.
Battle of Saratoga
Washington has high hopes after some successes, but loses Brandywine Creek...which loses Philadelphia, the new nation's capital to the British.
Washington retreats to and spends the next horrible winter at Valley Forge. He endures the hardship with his men...unlike Benedict Arnold, who lives in a fancy Philadelphia house, lots of tea with British officers and falls in love with a girl loyal to England. He is also totes jelly that Washington is still in overall command while Benedict Arnold was winning all the important battles. Thus, Arnold betrays America and jumps to the British side.
Battle of Brandywine Creek
The winter at Valley Forge was brutal on an army that was not receiving any pay and no regular food. Washington refused all pay for his 8 years of military service and endured the hardships of his soldiers.
Prussian officers arrive like Baron von Steuben and ruthless drill the American soldiers. We had to develop the discipline, the ability to march in straight lines and shoot in the three line system to ever have a chance against the highly disciplined British army.
Valley Forge is famous for the bloody footprints in the snow left as the ragged, shoeless American volunteers worked hard to become soldiers.
After the intensive training at Valley Forge, George Washington marches out in the spring and ALMOST wins the battle of Monmouth Courthouse.
The British realize their Northern strategy was not working. They could not crush the revolution. Washington's army was getting better and the ideas were spreading...
However, with swift action, the British might capture the South. This would save the valuable colonies even if New England and the north gained their independence...
After all, Southerners generally did not support the war anyway.
Battle of Monmouth Courthouse
Battle of Charleston
Washington sends the hero of Saratoga Horatio Gates to stop Cornwallis in the South. Gates faces off with Cornwallis, but gets totally crushed without the co-leadership of Benedict Arnold. His poorly trained soldiers break and run in the face of British discipline.
Cornwallis confidently begins marching across the South.
Battle of Camden
However, something is different in the South. The South has a certain pride factor that is hard to explain. Southern pride is a force greater than the British ever expected. The Southern colonies were not supportive of the Northern War. After all, that was the British just killing a "bunch of danged yankees." Now the British made the mistake of invading the South...which injures Southern pride and explodes in Southern anger.
Southern hillbillies led by Nathaniel Greene surround a British force on King's Mountain and use their "Kentucky Rifles" to kill them all.
Battle of King's Mountain
The secret weapon Southern hillbillies possessed was the Kentucky Rifle. Since these were poor mountain dwellers who lived off small farms and hunting rather than large tobacco plantations, they had modified their muskets to rifles. They drilled a spiral groove down the barrel to make the ball spin. The accuracy was greatly improved. A musket is only accurate to about 50yards. A rifle can cut a playing card turned sideways in half at 50 yards and hit a man at 200 yards.
Daniel Morgan and Nathaniel Green's Hillbillies lure the British into a trap and win again at Cowpens. Cornwallis decides to use his larger force to catch and crush the fast-moving hillbillies.
Battle of Cowpens
Cornwallis burns his baggage and catches the fast moving hillbillies at Guilford Courthouse. The battle becomes fierce and sways back and forth all day. Finally, each side charges into the middle for hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, swords, knives, shovels and anything else to hurt people with.
Cornwallis fears losing, so he orders his artillery to "grapeshot" everyone on the field...including his own men.
So, in the end, Cornwallis is left with a weak army and no supplies because he burned his baggage to catch the hillbillies.
Simple solution, he just needs to retreat to the coastline at Yorktown peninsula where the British navy can bring him supplies and reinforcements.
Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Washington demonstrates his true brilliance at Yorktown. He typically avoided battles when he might lose, but Yorktown was perfect. His men had become super fast marchers from running away so much and drilling so hard at Valley Forge. Now he just has to march them as fast as possible to Yorktown and trap Cornwallis on the peninsula....
Cornwallis with no fear digs in and waits for the British navy to save him...
but....wait for it....
the French navy finally arrives to help and blockades Cornwallis by sea.
He is forced to shamefully surrender to Washington!!!
Battle of Yorktown
George Washington is chosen as commander of the new army. He had military experience from the French and Indian War. Despite his failures in that war, he gained the wisdom that fighting battles is dangerous. Instead, he learned to avoid battles when possible, drag the war out to tire the enemy, and then strike fast and hard when opportunity presents itself.
In addition, he is a southerner that really believes in American independence. He is widely respected as a leader. His greatest leadership quality was his realization that he was never the smartest guy in the room among the founding fathers. Instead, he had the wisdom to use smarter people in the right spot...and to make them all feel smarter and more valuable than himself, which built a great love and respect for his leadership.
In the war, he refused all pay and suffered the same hardships as his men. He was literally the first to charge in battle, rather than yelling charge from the rear, and the last to retreat. He constantly exposed himself to the dangers of war which gained the respect of the common soldier.
Washington marches to Boston and blocks the British inside of Boston. However, they threaten to burn the city if he attacks.
When Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen arrive with the cannons from Ticondoga, though, the British wake up one day and realize Washington has put the cannons on the hills south of Boston Harbor. They cannot stay or burn the city without Washington BLASTING their ships from the hills.
So the British leave Boston quietly and launch their new chicken strategy.
Lord Cornwallis is sent South to save the valuable tobacco and cotton colonies from the Revolution. Cornwallis is typically arrogant about his superior fighting skills and training as a general. He was of course correct....the Southerners were "nuthin' but a bunch of ignert hillbillies."
The US sends three great minds to deal with the negotiations to write a peace treaty. John Adams, John Jay, and Ben Franklin make the journey.
They completely gear up for the fight of their lives because the British are know for their tough negotiating.
Instead the British want out of the war sooo badly they immediately agree to American demands...
1. The US will get all land to the Mississippi River
2. Spain retains Florida for helping us, England retains Canada
3. England will abandon their western forts on US soil
4. The US will re-pay pre-war debts to England
The Terms of the Treaty