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Independence Declared and the Revolutionary War

  • On July 4, 1776, the Congress approved a Declaration of Independence
  • Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that “all men are created equal” and that they possess the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and that government derives its power from the “consent of the governed”
  • Patriots were in the majority of the 13 mainland colonies & used their control of local govts to funnel men, money, & supplies to the rebel cause
  • The Loyalist strongholds were limited to Nova Scotia, NY, NJ, & certain areas in the South
  • Native Americans favored the British & helped the Loyalist cause
  • The Battle of Saratoga was the turning point in the war since Patriots captured more than 5,000 British troops & their equipment; it also ensured the success of American diplomats who were in Paris seeking a military alliance w/France
  • The Treaty of Paris was signed on Sept. 1783 & Britain recognized independence of its seaboard colonies & relinquished claims to lands south of the Great Lakes

Independence Declared and the Revolutionary War

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Overview 0:08
  • Independence Declared 1:01
    • Declaration of Independence
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • Principle of Individual Liberty
    • The Legitimacy of Republican State Government
  • War in the North 7:20
    • Patriots
    • The Loyalist Strongholds
    • Native Americans' Preference
  • The British Military and Strategy 8:46
    • Powerful Navy
    • Joseph Brant
  • The American Army and Strategy 10:15
    • Economically and Militarily Weak
    • New Continental Army
    • Guerilla Tactics
  • British Tactics 12:12
    • General Howe
    • Battle of Long Island
    • Trenton
  • 1776-1777 Map 14:04
  • African-American Role in the War 14:30
    • Loyalists and Americans
    • Enslaved During the War
  • Women's Role in the War 15:32
    • Boycott of English Good
    • Abigail Adam's Letters
    • The Ladies Association
    • Washington’s Sewing Circle
  • Edenton Ladies Tea Party 20:11
  • Philadelphia on the Eve of the Revolution 21:15
    • General William Howe
    • Starvation at Valley Forge
  • Thomas Jeffery's, After George Heap. “ An East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia” 22:11
  • Turning Point: Battle of Saratoga 23:26
    • Saratoga
    • Captured British Troops and Equipment
  • End of War 24:36
    • Dutch Declared War Against Britain
    • Marquis de Lafayette
    • Yorktown
    • Treaty of Paris
  • Treaty of Paris in 1783 26:49
  • Example 1 27:33
  • Example 2 29:09

Transcription: Independence Declared and the Revolutionary War

Welcome back to

This lesson is titled independence declared and the revolutionary war.0002

In this lesson, we are going to talk about the actual declaration of independence.0010

As you probably know, this is one of the most important documents in U.S. history.0015

We are also going to talk about some of the key events during the revolutionary war.0020

Although, we will not go through every single battle, I am going to highlight some of the main events and key battles,0024

specially, turning points in the revolutionary war.0030

We are also going to compare and contrast the British and U.S. military strategies throughout the war.0033

And ultimately, highlight why the U.S was able to be successful and victorious over the British, even though they are the underdogs.0039

We are also going to talk about some of the social history of the war and the various people who are involved.0051

And ultimately, we will talk about the outcome of the war.0057

Picking up where we left off last time talking about Common Sense.0064

We know that enlightenment ideas were extremely influential during the revolutionary era.0068

We can see that especially in the Declaration of Independence,0075

that was approved on July 4, 1776, by the second Continental Congress.0080

Thomas Jefferson, who was an enlightenment thinker, who was very much influenced by John Locke.0088

You can see a lot of Locke’s language in the Declaration of Independence and in other Jeffersonian writings.0095

He was the primary author, there are others as well, who helped edit the work, but Jefferson has been credited as the main author.0104

Although, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, were some of the editors of the Declaration.0114

There were others who did put some input into the final document.0123

There were 39 revisions.0128

This was something that did take a lot of thought and revision before the final version.0132

You may be able to access some of these, if you look on the Library of Congress web site,0140

if you are curious to see other versions.0144

Some of the wording in the earlier versions was very controversial and alluded to the idea of even,0149

that slavery should be banned, which obviously would not go over well with a lot of the southern slave owners.0155

Nonetheless, we are going to see that this is going to be a very powerful document,0165

and is the official form of communication that does make the formal break of the colonists from the British.0173

Yes, within it, they justify the revolt by blaming the rupture on George III, rather than on parliament.0183

You should read through the entire document.0192

I will just read a little portion of it in the introduction.0194

The unanimous declaration of the 13 United States of America.0200

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people0204

to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.0208

And to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station0212

to which the laws of nature and of nature's god entitle them.0216

A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.0221

It is like the introduction to what the purpose of this declaration of independence.0229

And they also bring in the importance of natural laws and natural rights.0235

We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, very important,0243

that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.0249

Rights that are among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.0253

That to secure these rights, governments is instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.0259

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,0266

it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.0270

And then it goes on.0276

And then, it will get to the point where it starts to list out all of the grievances,0279

and all of the reasons that the colonists are deciding to break free from Great Britain.0285

But a lot of these concepts will be extremely important in laying the foundation for our values throughout U.S. history.0295

And even though at the time you know that all men were not in fact created equal,0305

and that women did not have rights, that slavery was an institution.0310

These ideas were not put into practice at the time.0319

But in many ways, they set the foundation and they created this promise.0322

We will see time and time again, that various groups will go back to this document,0330

and feel inspired to advocate on their own behalf, and look to the government to live up to its ideals.0336

Yes, a very profound document that emphasizes enlightenment ideas,0347

the popular sovereignty consent to the governed, very important concepts.0355

It enumerated, listed all the grievances, and also articulated the idea of individual liberty,0363

and the fundamental responsibility to serve the people.0371

A flawed document in many ways, but we will see that it will be very important and inspirational throughout U.S. history,0376

and a source of our American values, and we will certainly look to fulfill those ideals.0385

I think I have covered this already.0399

Colonists will celebrate the declaration by burning George III in effigy, and toppling statues of the king.0402

Perhaps not the classiest thing to do but they are looking to express their anger,0411

and also celebrate, and show that they are empowered, and willing to overthrow a government that they believe is unjust.0417

These attacks certainly helped to break the ties to the monarch to establish the legitimacy of republican state governments.0425

This is really symbolic in uniting people to stand up to the monarch.0435

We are kind of getting into more of the war.0443

Patriots were in the majority of the 13 mainland colonies.0447

They used control of their local governments to funnel man, money, and supplies to the rebel cause.0454

It was quite difficult because the early government was pretty weak.0461

They did not have a stable centralized government.0465

It was very much a weak confederation and they had limited means.0470

There is no doubt about it that the colonists were at a disadvantage.0478

The loyalist strongholds were limited to Nova Scotia, New York, New Jersey, in certain areas in the south.0482

As you could see, looking at this map here.0488

Native Americans, for the most part, tended to favor the British.0493

Although there are a few exceptions, such as for instance, like the Iroquois for the most part, supporting the British.0499

But there are some of the tribes within the Iroquois confederacy, most of the Oneidas0507

and some of the Tuscorora that ended up actually fighting on behalf of the colonists or the patriots.0513

It is kind of interesting to see that divide.0523

The British military and strategy.0528

Obviously, Britain had a major advantage in terms of funding.0531

Their wealth helped to finance the most powerful navy in the world.0538

They had a standing army of 48,000 Britons, along with thousands of German, what we call Hessian soldiers.0541

These were like mercenaries, they were soldiers for hire.0552

They also had an experienced officer corps in support of thousands of loyalists and Indian tribes, as I have mentioned,0556

such as Cherokees, the 6 Iroquois nations of New York led by pro British Joseph Brandt or Thayendanegea.0562

Why did the Native Americans decide to fight on behalf of the British?0577

They were promised that their land would be protected.0583

Brandt also remained loyal during the war and fought numerous battles,0587

and was crucial as a leader to help with the Native Americans in their fights against the colonists.0592

By 1779, many Indian villages were burned.0603

Brandt along with his Mohawks, were forced to retreat to Canada.0608

Limited success there.0615

The American army, definitely from the onset, looks like they had a major disadvantage.0618

They were economically and militarily weak.0625

They had no central government to raise revenues for the new continental army that was commanded by George Washington.0629

They had substantially fewer numbers, about 18,000 poorly trained recruits, were hastily assembled in Virginia and in New England.0638

They did not have formal uniforms.0648

The women are going to have to get involved and sew many uniforms.0653

They are going to do their part in this total war effort.0658

During the winter months, the army regrouped while the British halted their campaign.0664

And ultimately, we will see that the approach was really defensive and cautionary.0669

They could not be too arrogant because they were at a disadvantage and they had to doubly make sure that they could stay in the war.0675

One of the tactics that the Americans used is they try to draw the British away from the seacoast while keeping the continental army intact.0685

They relied on guerilla tactics in this war of attrition.0695

And ultimately, because the American colonists did have a lot of heart, and people were willing to sacrifice,0699

they did have good morale throughout, many times or many stages of the war,0709

that this did become a very much a psychological war.0717

They tried to chip away at the British morale.0721

Tremendous sacrifice for this war effort and that will end up being a huge strength for the Americans.0727

More about the British, some of the major generals, we are going to highlight here.0737

General Howe actually opposed the coercive and hoped for compromise.0741

He was not overly aggressive and was hoping this would come to a quick conclusion.0748

However, that is not what happened.0754

He did want to win this surrender and not destroy the Americans from the onset.0756

But many military tactician and historians would say that he underestimated the American forces,0762

and this backfired because the war became drawn out.0769

Lord North wanted to exploit the Americans weaknesses by invading New York City under the direction of General William Howe,0778

and isolate the radical patriots in New England and the colonies to the south.0785

We will see that despite the fact that the colonists will win a few key battles early on,0791

we will see the British easily defeated the Americans in the battle of Long Island,0800

and they forced their retreat in August of 1776.0805

We will also see in December 25 that under, in 1776, General Washington and0814

the U.S. troops surprised attack the British and Hessian soldiers in Trenton New Jersey.0823

They ultimately forced their surrender.0831

That was a huge win for the Americans.0833

A little later in January of 1777, the continental army won a small victory at nearby Princeton.0837

Here is a map to show you some of the major American victories, as well as British victories,0846

here in the Middle Atlantic States, and mainly in the Middle Atlantic states.0853

This has a close up in downstate New York and in Long Island, as well as New Jersey here.0860

Kind of getting into some of the social history.0872

African-Americans played a crucial role in the revolutionary war.0876

We will see that in many ways they are kind of caught up in this conflict and in many ways,0882

became pawns in this game between the colonists and the British.0888

They fought on both sides.0893

Although, predominately on the loyalist side, over 100,000 African-Americans escaped, died,0895

or were killed during the American Revolution.0904

In the south, the majority of African-Americans were enslaved during the war,0909

but the number of free blacks dramatically increase after the war, from 60,000 in 1790 to about 110,000 10 years later.0915

Although, this was still only about 11% of the African American population.0925

You may also remember from the previous lesson that Lord Dunmore also will try to utilize many African slaves in the south,0931

and promised them freedom.0946

But that does not become a reality for many.0948

It is really a promise that is not kept.0953

Women will also play an important role.0957

They will participate in boycott of the British goods.0960

There is a famous Edenton ladies tea party cartoon that was actually a British cartoon0965

that was a satire of American involvement and the ladies involvement in these boycotts.0971

I will show you that in the next slide.0979

But this is where the British are poking fun at the audacity of American women to become politically involved.0981

As staying in the private sphere, it was really a social expectation for this time.0991

You could see that the revolution was an opportunity for women to advocate and to contest that role,0997

and to become more involved and empowered, and to be heard and to take an active role.1005

That is really important.1012

That is a theme throughout a lot of wars in U.S. history and in world history as well.1013

During times of war, we will oftentimes see women stepping up and being heads of the household, making decisions.1019

That has an empowering effect on them politically, where many women will say that,1027

if they participate in the war and I did my bit, I should be rewarded and treated as an equal.1036

I should have equal political rights and be able to have a voice, that is really important.1045

They were women like Molly Pitcher who also played an important role even in the military.1050

Anyway, as I was mentioning, politics was viewed to be an improper sphere for women.1059

But the revolution will definitely provide an opportunity for women to contest this idea.1065

In fact, the famous Abigail Adams was very outspoken about this.1072

She and John Adams were known for writing to each other quite a bit, especially when he was on the road,1079

and participating in the first and second Continental Congress.1088

There was a really interesting exchange that I would like to share very briefly here.1094

This is from Abigail, and they called each other friend.1099

This is actually in response to the Declaration of Independence.1104

Dearest friend, in the new laws which you will be writing, please remember the ladies.1111

Do not put unlimited power in the hands of husbands.1116

Remember, all men will be tyrants if you gave them a chance.1119

If you do not pay attention to the ladies, then you cannot expect us to obey laws in which we do not have voice or representation.1123

John's response, well, we were warned that our struggle with England is going to let everyone lose.1132

Children are going to become disobedient.1140

Students will overthrow their teachers.1142

Negros and Indians will become insolent to their masters.1145

But now I see a new tribe, more numerous and powerful than all the others, is beginning to rebel.1149

You should make sure that you read this because it is a wonderful exchange.1157

She even goes on to talk about the relationship between husbands and wives,1164

and how this needs to be more of a partnership and not a patriarchal type of relationship.1171

It is a wonderful example of how women started to advocate for women's rights.1180

There were also groups like the Ladies Association, the first nationwide women's organization.1191

The founder was Esther De Berdt Reed.1196

This helped raise money for Washington's army and was also known as Washington sewing circle.1200

There was the reality that the soldiers needed clothes, they needed uniforms mended, and so forth.1208

That is extremely important.1217

This was the Edenton tea party, this was a British cartoon1221

that was supposed to poke fun at American women participating in a boycott and getting politically involved.1228

That is why the images look a bit distorted, and you can even see a man kind of making the moves on this woman here.1238

It is supposed to be a satire, satirizing the 51 patriotic ladies of Edenton North Carolina,1246

in their attempt to endorse the non importation association resolution of 1774.1255

The depiction is that they are ugly and foolish.1262

That is ultimately, supposed to be very indicative of the colonists.1269

Then the next slide here, kind of coming back to the war,1278

we will see that the war is going to continue and drag out.1284

The American colonists are going to have hard times during the winter, especially with the horrible elements.1291

During the winter of 1777 to 1778, we will see that Philadelphia was occupied by the British under General William Howe.1299

This ended up being a low point for the Americans.1312

The British enjoyed their stay, while Washington's army suffered near starvation at Valley Forge which was outside of Philadelphia.1319

It was a grim situation.1332

They lack supplies, people were deserting, and they were running out of funds.1333

Morale was really low.1339

We will also see during that time that Washington is going to put pressure on Benjamin Franklin to reach out to the French for support.1341

And that is going to be really crucial for the Americans to be able to win this war.1352

This is another famous piece of art during the time period, Thomas Jeffery’s,1358

after George Heap, an east prospect of the city of Philadelphia.1363

Philadelphia which was the site of both Continental Congresses,1372

was one of the most urban advanced cities in America in the 18th century.1377

During the winter of 1777 to 1778, it was occupied under General William Howe.1382

Ultimately, this engraving was one of the few authentic portraits of American city before the revolution.1389

A very important view of Philadelphia during the 1700’s.1400

The turning points.1408

The British tried to isolate New England with the help of General Burgoyne, the Iroquois, and General Howe,1411

had his own goal to attack Philadelphia, is where the Continental Congress was.1417

But the Continental Congress fled to the interior.1423

After some tactical mistakes, General Gates, Burgoyne, British troops surrendered at Saratoga.1425

And that is going to be a key win for the Americans because that is going to help justify the cause, that there is a chance.1433

The French will be convinced to invest in the cause and to defeat the British with the Americans.1448

Yes, that proved to be the turning point of war,1459

since patriots captured more than 5,000 British troops and their equipment.1461

As I was just saying, ensured the success of American diplomats who were in Paris at the time, seeking a military alliance with France.1467

In the south, the British tried to exploit racial divisions but that was not always successful.1478

By 1779, Georgia and South Carolina were controlled by the British.1485

But the tide turned, when the Dutch also declared war against Britain.1490

All those previous imperial rivals of Great Britain's drove them to help the Americans.1497

The Marquis De Lafayette from France also was going to be a key player and important contributor to the American Revolution.1505

He convinced Louis XVI to send French troops to America.1515

He will also help to train a lot of the American troops.1523

This is going to come at time when the Americans desperately need to have fresh blood and resources, and so forth.1528

This is going to be definitive.1537

Eventually, the British surrendered at Yorktown in October of 1781.1540

The Americans, against all odds, ultimately, with the help of, especially the French,1548

but also other foreign powers, will be able to successfully defeat their mother country Great Britain,1554

and become an independent country.1564

They are going to establish a republic.1567

This was a huge cause for a celebration, and ultimately will lead to a new American experiment1571

that will definitely bring a lot new challenges and aspirations.1580

The end of the war officially is concluded with the Treaty of Paris that was signed on September 1783.1589

Britain recognized the independence of its seaboard colonies and relinquished claims to land south of the great lakes.1599

The end of the revolutionary war.1608

This map will show you that, although this does include some of the land sessions, a little bit later.1611

All of this territory will ultimately become the new United States of America.1620

Ultimately, the British are going to leave this region.1627

We will see that the British will linger in these areas, just south of the great lakes,1631

even though they were officially supposed to vacate them.1638

We will get into that next time in one of the upcoming lessons.1643

With that, let us get into the questions.1651

Example 1, multiple choice.1657

I long to hear that you have declared independency,1660

In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make,1663

I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.1667

Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands, Abigail Adams.1675

Does this sound familiar?1683

What news does Abigail Adams hope to hear from her husband?1686

Women should continue to play the role as helpmates.1691

American should continue to embrace patriarchal customs.1695

Women should be recognized as equal under the law.1699

Or slaves should be emancipated.1703

The answer.1707

Next example, which of the following is true?1719

The revolution had no effect on the social role of women.1721

Women did not play a significant role in the evolution,1726

so men did not believe they should be treated equally.1729

Women began to challenge the idea during and after the revolution, that women did not belong in the public sphere.1732

Women were treated as equals as a result of the revolution.1739

The answer.1744

Let us move on.1751

These are also multiple choice questions.1753

This is called the Horse America throwing his master.1757

Based on the cartoon, what is the message of the artist?1768

Slaves had successfully become emancipated from their slave masters.1772

The Americans had successfully defeated the tyrannical rule of Britain.1776

The British had defeated king mob or General Washington defeated General Burgoyne.1780

The answer.1787

Based on the cartoon, who is on the horse?1797

Was it Washington, George III, General Howe, or Benedict Arnold?1801

The answer.1808

And lastly, which of the following groups or individuals would have been most less likely to agree with the message of the cartoon?1812

Tories, loyalists, John Dickinson, the Sons of Liberty?1820

The answer is the Sons of Liberty.1829

With that, I hoped you learned a lot about the American Revolution.1835

And thank you for watching