Joshua KacichFinal Draft American RevolutionNovember 28, 2017 The colonists needed motivation many different times throughout the Revolutionary War.
With George Washington as commander-in-chief, he found many ways to provide it. They were fighting the British who were believed to have the strongest army in the world. The colonists only had a militia and the Continental Congress never had enough money to buy supplies for their forces. Despite this, the colonists kept fighting to try and become independent. “However, it should be noted that only about one-third of the colonists supported the rebellion. One-third of the population supported Great Britain and the other third were considered neutral.”(source 1) “No one event was the actual cause of the revolution. It was, instead, a series of events that led to the war.
“(source 1) The Navigation Act was the first act passed in 1651 making sure that only British ships could get in and out of the colonial harbors. This law made the colonists angry, because the ships that went into the colonies were being taxed. The only way around the taxes was to try to smuggle goods into the colonies. The colonists were angered by this, but most of them felt that there was no need to try to stop Britain from enforcing this act. Then in 1754, the Seven Year War began, which is also known as the French and Indian War. The British realized that if they stopped taxing the colonists, the colonists might help fight in the war.
Many colonists decided they would help, and George Washington was one that helped fight in the war. That is where he gained his experience. Britain won the war in 1763, but they had a lot of war debt to pay off because they suspended their tax collection on the colonists. Winning the war also allowed the colonists to live on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains. Later in 1763, after many colonists had moved to live on the western side of the mountains, Pontiac’s rebellion broke out. Pontiac urged Native American tribes to unite and to speak out against the British for allowing colonists to live there. So, Parliament passed the Proclamation of 1763 making it illegal for the colonists to settle on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains. Additionally, anybody who had moved to the western side had to go back to the eastern side.
This proclamation upset the colonists, and many of them disobeyed. “The Sugar Act increased already considerable taxes on molasses and restricted certain export goods to Britain alone.”(source 1) The colonists were furious, because they felt that Britain should not be allowed to tax them. “Feeling underrepresented, overtaxed, and unable to engage in free trade, the colonists turned to the phrase, “No Taxation Without Representation.”(source 1) In 1765, the Quartering Acts were passed, which forced the colonists to have British soldiers live in their houses. The reason for the act, was that the British needed to have a place for their soldiers to stay, because the barracks were full. Instead of paying to build more barracks, the British forced the colonists to allow their troops to live in their houses. Then, after all of this, the British decided to pass the Stamp Act later in 1765.
The colonists before felt that they were being taxed for no valid reason. However, in the Stamp Act, the British were putting a stamp on papers, playing cards, documents, and even licenses. They were taxing those items, because of the stamp. Also, it would be impossible to smuggle those goods into the colonies without getting caught, because the British would see that there was no stamp on the items. This angered the colonists even more. The British listened to the colonists about the lack of representation.
The British repealed the Stamp Act on March 18, 1766. Although the Stamp Act was repealed, the Declaratory Act was enforced at the same time. The Declaratory Act stated that the colonies form of government had no power at all. This made the colonists extremely mad because they were British, and they knew that the people living in Britain were not being treated like this. Next, the Townshend Acts were passed in 1769. This added a tax on glass lead, paints, paper, and tea. On March 5, 1770, angry colonists threw snowballs at British Soldiers, and as a result, the Boston Massacre happened, which killed five colonists and zero soldiers.
Charges were pressed against the soldiers that fired shots. The colonists were angry, because after that, for any decision regarding a soldier being charged the trial had to be held in Britain. Then in 1773, the Tea Act was passed, and the colonists decided they were not going to let the British Parliament keep treating them like this.
The colonists refused to buy the tea. In retaliation, “on the night of December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in the Boston harbor and threw 342 chests of tea overboard.”(source 2) This event became known as the Boston Tea Party.
After the Tea Party, all of the colonists refused to pay for the tea that they dumped into the ocean, so Britain passed the Intolerable Acts. The Intolerable Acts allowed the British Soldiers to check the colonists’ houses. If the soldiers deemed anything in the house was illegal, that colonist would be imprisoned. These acts motivated colonists to fight against the British. As a result, the Continental Congress declared for independence, but the actual Declaration of Independence was not written until a year later. Later, the war started with the battles of Lexington and Concord. The British planned make the colonial militia surrender right as the war started. The British had heard rumors that the gunpowder was being stored in Concord, and these rumors were true.
The colonial militia, in an effort to stop the British marched towards where the British were staying. At the same time, the British were also marching towards Concord. Both armies met halfway in a place called Lexington. The British defeated the colonists and the colonial militia was ready for them to march into Concord.
The colonial militia miraculously defeated the British so they had to retreat without any gunpowder. Then on June 17, 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill broke out. It was the first battle located in Charleston and was fought on Breed’s hill. The colonial militia was able to put up a fight against the British Regulars. Eventually, the British won, but this battle motivated the colonists to fight in the revolution, and write the Declaration of Independence. Also, on June 19, the Continental Congress appointed George Washington the commander-in- chief of the colonial militia. He was chosen because of his prior war experience since he had fought in the Seven Year War.
Charles Cornwallis, the British commander-in-chief, had also fought in the Seven Year War. After the Battle of Bunker Hill, the colonists had lost many battles, and it started to become clear that they had almost no chance of winning the war. George Washington knew that the colonists in his army had the option to leave at the end of 1776.
He knew that most of them would because they had no motivation to continue to fight. He had to do something so he planned a surprise attack on December 26, 1776. This surprise attack was going to be on the German Mercenaries. Washington had his troops march into Trenton. They had to do so without getting caught, so they crossed a river and marched through the snow. They did all of this on Christmas night, and then in the morning the colonists went in and killed almost all of the Mercenaries. None of Washington’s troops died.
His plan to motivate the colonists had worked. Many of the troops decided to stay continue to fight in the war because they were now confident. Not only did the colonists continue to fight, they started to win some battles going into 1777. It started on January 2 when they won another battle in Trenton. Then the colonists were able to win the Battle of Princeton. This battle drove the British out of New Jersey.
In other colonies they seemed to be losing every battle they fought. That all changed when the British took on the colonists at Saratoga. Benedict Arnold led the colonists in Saratoga on September 19. The colonists had lost the battle, but they had proved that they could fight against the British. A colonial militia had taken on 8,000 British troops and almost beat them.
This was the most troops that the British had sent to a battle to this point. The colonists were motivated to keep fighting when the French thought the colonists had a chance to win the war. The French were going to help the colonists.
Then, another battle broke out. This battle was also at Saratoga, and this time the rest of the British troops were defeated and forced to surrender. After that battle, the Spanish had also decided that they would help the colonists win the war. After this battle, Benedict Arnold thought that he deserved more recognition for what he did so he decided to work for the British in exchange for money.
When Washington had found out what Arnold was doing, he was already a General for the British. Arnold was a traitor to the colonists. After all of that, the British beat the colonists to take over Philadelphia. Washington could have decided to go to the south for the winter, but he wanted to stay at Valley Forge to keep an eye on the British to make sure they were not planning any attacks. Marquis de Lafayette came and trained the soldiers how to march and do things in unison. He had turned the militia into an actual army. The soldiers were taught to be really tough men. This is what was going on in the North.
In the South, the colonists were using the guerrilla warfare battle strategy, which means to shoot and then run away and hide. This strategy was working out really well for the colonists. The British still felt confident that they would be able to win most of the battles in the South because that is where all of the loyalists lived.
This strategy worked out really well for the colonists until they lost the Battle of Charleston. The colonists were humiliated in the battle and were forced to surrender. On top of this, the British decided to make the colonists surrender their weapons. When Washington heard about this, he became enraged. To motivate them, he told his army that he will get the British back and make them do the same thing. In the South, the colonists were pushing the British farther north to Yorktown. There, Cornwallis had a plan to try and end the war by getting many troops in by sea and then using them to overcome the colonists. Washington’s plan was to have his troops slowly creep up towards the British, forcing them to go to the Chesapeake Bay.
There, the French ships would block the bay keeping the British troops from getting in and out of Yorktown. Washington’s plan had worked. Cornwallis was forced to surrender. Washington had made 10,000 British troops surrender on October 19, 1781. He decided that it was time to make the British hand over their weapons to the colonists, like they made the colonists do in Charleston.
Not only did Washington make them give the colonists their weapons, he turned it into a giant ceremony. British troops were to march between all of the colonists and French troops. Then, once they marched past all of the troops, they had to drop their weapons on the ground, and many furious soldiers slammed their weapons to the ground and broke them. None of the British troops looked at any members of the Continental Army so Lafayette ordered his band to play Yankee Doodle so that the British would look at the colonists; it was very disrespectful. Cornwallis was very ill so he did not attend the ceremony. He had his second-in-command surrender his sword to the colonists.
He decided he did not want to give Washington his sword, so he went to Lafayette and made him go surrender the sword to Washington. This ceremony was the last major event in the American Revolution. Even though they surrendered in Yorktown, the war was not officially over. The battle of Yorktown ended all of the major battles.
Then in 1783, the British finally admitted to losing the war, and the Treaty of Paris was signed between the new nation, the United States of America and Great Britain. A separate treaty was signed between the French and British, and the Spanish and British granting them the return of the land they owned before the Seven Year War. The American Revolution had ended after eight years.
Washington had done enough to motivate his troops to keep fighting until the war was over and independence was gained.