The American Revolution: A Timeline

1776

  • January: colonial governments begin to debate independence
  • January: Crown hires 20,000 mercenaries from German states
  • January 10: publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense
  • March-April: Carroll publishes “CX” articles, calling for full independence and a new, three-branch republican government and constitution to be written ASAP
  • March-June: First American diplomatic mission (Carroll, Carroll, Franklin, and Chase) fails to form alliance with Canada
  • March 5: Americans besiege Boston
  • April 6: SCC declares complete free trade with world (except Britain) and suspends slave trade
  • May 2: French begin lending money to Americans
  • May 10: SCC, under John Adam’s insistence, encourage colonies to write new constitutions
  • May-July: several large colonies begin to declare independence, call on SCC to do the same
  • June 10: SCC creates committee (Jefferson) to write Declaration of Independence
  • June 12: SCC appoints Dickinson to write Articles of Confederation
  • June 24: SCC calls for confiscation of Loyalist property
  • June 28: South Carolinians resist British attempt to take Charlestown
  • July 2: SCC declares full independence as “United Colonies”
  • July 4: SCC adopts Declaration of Independence
  • August 2: SCC signs Declaration of Independence
  • August 27: Washington defeated at Battle of Long Island
  • September 9: SCC replaces “United Colonies” with “United States” in DOI
  • September 15: British take NYC
  • November: Burke and Rockingham openly and formally secede from Parliament
  • December 26: Washington defeats British at Trenton, NJ; takes 1,000 German POWs

1777

  • January 3: Washington defeats British at the Battle of Princeton
  • January 16: Vermont secedes from NY
  • January 16: State of PA ends slavery; implements full universal white male suffrage
  • April 21: SCC declares full sovereignty of each individual state
  • July: Vermont declares all slavery illegal
  • July 23: Brits defeat Washington at Battle of the Brandywine
  • September 25: First attempt to take out Washington in SCC (Thomas Conway)
  • October 7: SCC declares each state to have one vote in SCC
  • October 17: Burgoyne surrenders to Horatio Gates at Saratoga
  • December 18: Washington retreats to Valley Forge; begins long winter there

1778

  • February 6: France and U.S.A. begin to treat as friends; France recognizes American independence, breaks off relations with Britain
  • March 6: South Carolina re-denies Catholics right to vote or hold office
  • March 16: House of Commons repeals all laws against America should America sue for peace.  North knows Britain can’t win; king refuses to back down.
  • April 22: SCC declares no treaty with Britain unless Britain recognizes full American independence
  • May 4: SCC formally ratifies treaty with France
  • May 10: Pitt the Elder dies
  • June: Though only 10 of the 13 states have ratified the Articles, SCC acts as though it is the de facto Constitution
  • July 3: Loyalist/Indian militias massacre frontier families in Wyoming Valley, PA
  • December: Jefferson’s bill for universal public schooling fails in Virginia

1779

  • February 25: George Rogers Clarke captures Vincennes
  • May 10: British capture Norfolk, VA
  • June 21: Spain declares war on Britain; aids Americans indirectly
  • July 15: Americans take Stony Point, NY
  • September 13: President of SCC sends circular letter to each state, calling for a permanent nation rather than a mixing of autonomous states
  • September 23: John Paul Jones leads successful naval battle near coast of England

1780

  • May 12: British capture Charleston
  • August 16: British defeat Americans at Camden, SC
  • September 6: SCC calls on all states to give up western claims to national domain
  • September 25: Benedict Arnold flees to Britain
  • October: Hartford Convention calling for the creation of a nation state; Hamilton and Morris author “Continentalist Letters”
  • October 7: Nathanael Greene victory over British at Kings Mountain, NC

1781

  • January 2: SCC demands that Virginia give all her land to the U.S.
  • January 17: American victory at Cowpens, NC
  • February 12: Spanish forces capture British fort, St. Joseph, present-day Niles, Michigan
  • February 27: last of the states to ratify, Maryland ratifies the Articles
  • March 1: Articles of Confederation become U.S. Constitution
  • May 26: Congress forms first national bank
  • June 11: Congress forms a “Peace Commission” to treat with U.K.
  • October 18: Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown; when North hears the news—”Oh God, it’s all over.”

1782

  • February 27: Parliament ends all offensive war in U.S.
  • March 20: North government collapses; Rockingham-Burke take charge
  • April 12: Parliament desires informal peace talks
  • April 19: Netherlands recognize America
  • June 11: Netherlands loans US $2,000,000.
  • June 20: U.S. adopts Great Seal
  • September: Rockingham dies; Lord Shelburne takes his place
  • November 29: U.S. and U.K. Ambassadors reach agreement, conditional upon France’s agreement

1783

  • March 10: Newburgh discussion of coup
  • March 15: Washington’s Newburgh Address
  • April 11: Congress formally declares end of war with Britain
  • May 2: Washington offers “Sentiments of a Peace Establishment”
  • June 17-24: Soldiers besiege Congress, but all ends peaceably
  • September 23: Peace of Paris negotiations finalized
  • November 25: British evacuate NY
  • December 23: Washington resigns

1784

  • January 14: Congress ratifies Treaty of Paris 
  • November 14: First Episcopal Bishop, Samuel Seabury, named

British Prime Ministers/Governments

  • Thomas Pellam Holles, Duke of Newcastle                       March 1754-November 1756
  • Wm. Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire                                   November 1756-July 1757
  • Thomas Pellam Holles, Duke of Newcastle                       July 1757-May 1762

(William Pitt, the Elder, as Secretary of State)

  • John Stuart, Earl of Bute                                                             May 1762-April 1763
  • George Greenville                                                                          April 1763-July 1765
  • Lord Rockingham                                                                          July 1765-July 1766
  • William Pitt, the Elder                                                                 July 1766-October 1768
  • Augustus Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton                                        October 1768-Jan. 1770
  • Frederick Lord North                                                                   January 1770-March 1782
  • Lord Rockingham                                                                          March -July 1782   

Monarchs

  • George II (1727-1760)
  • George III (1760-1820)

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