The American Revolutionary War began this date in 1775 in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts between Great Britain and thirteen of its North American Colonies that, after the onset of the war, declared independence as the United States of America.
The war represented the culmination of increasing philosophical and political differences between Great Britain and its American colonies, resulting in armed conflict between Patriots and the royal authority against which they increasingly resisted. This resistance became particularly widespread in the New England Colonies. Patriot protests escalated into boycotts and on December 16, 1773, Massachusetts members of the Patriot group Sons of Liberty destroyed a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor in an event that became known as the Boston Tea Party. The British government retaliated by closing the port of Boston and enacting punitive measures against Massachusetts, including the dissolution of its charter and the prohibition of its traditional, democratic town meetings.
The Massachusetts colonists established a shadow government that removed control of the province from the Crown outside of Boston. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, and established committees and conventions that effectively seized power. On July 2, 1776, Congress formally voted for independence, issuing its Declaration on July 4th.
France and Spain had been covertly providing the colonists with weapons, ammunition, and other supplies since April 1776, and France formally entered the war in 1778, signing a military alliance that recognized the independence of the United States. Giving up on the North, the British decided to salvage its former colonies in the South. British forces under Charles Cornwallis seized Georgia and South Carolina, capturing an American army at Charleston, South Carolina. The strategy depended upon an uprising of large numbers of armed Loyalists, but too few came forward. In 1779, Spain joined the war as an ally of France, intending to capture Gibraltar and British colonies in the Caribbean. Britain declared war on the Dutch Republic in 1780.
In 1781, after suffering two decisive defeats, Cornwallis retreated to Virginia, intending on evacuation. A decisive French naval victory in September deprived the British of an escape route. A joint Franco-American force laid siege to the British forces at Yorktown. With no sign of relief and the situation untenable, Cornwallis surrendered in October, and some 8,000 soldiers were taken prisoner.
Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tory majority in Parliament, and the defeat at Yorktown gave the Whigs the upper hand. In early 1782, they voted to end all offensive operations in North America, but the war against France and Spain continued for another year where Britain won decisive defeats over both the following year. Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded roughly by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west. While French involvement proved decisive for the cause of American independence, they made only minor territorial gains and were beset with massive financial debts. Spain acquired Britain’s Florida colonies and the island of Minorca, but failed in its primary aim of recovering Gibraltar. The Dutch lost on all counts and were compelled to cede some territory to the British. (from Wikipedia)