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Liberty - The American Revolution - 2/6

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Liberty - The American Revolution
Episode Two

Blows Must Decide 1774-1776

The revolutionary era began in 1763, when the French military threat to British North American colonies ended. Adopting the policy that the colonies should pay an increased proportion of the costs associated with keeping them in the Empire, Britain imposed a series of taxes followed by other laws intended to demonstrate British authority that proved extremely unpopular. Because the colonies lacked elected representation in the governing British Parliament many colonists considered the laws to be illegitimate and a violation of their rights as Englishmen. Additionally, British mercantilist policies benefiting the home country resulted in trade restrictions, which limited the growth of the American economy and artificially constrained colonial merchants' earning potential. In 1772, Patriot groups began to create committees of correspondence, which would lead to their own Provincial Congress in most of the colonies. In the course of two years, the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents rejected the Parliament and effectively replaced the British ruling apparatus in the former colonies, culminating in 1774 with the unifying First Continental Congress.

In response to Patriot protests in Boston over Parliament's attempts to assert authority, the British sent combat troops. Consequently, the colonies mobilized their militias, and fighting broke out in 1775. First ostensibly loyal to King George III, Congress' repeated pleas for royal intervention with Parliament on their behalf only resulted in the states being declared "in rebellion", and Congress traitors. In 1776, representatives from each of the original thirteen independent states voted unanimously to adopt a Declaration of Independence, which now rejected the British monarchy in addition to its Parliament. The Declaration established the United States, which was originally governed as a loose confederation through a representative government selected by state legislatures (see Second Continental Congress).

The Americans formed an alliance with France in 1778 that evened the military and naval strengths, later bringing Spain and the Dutch Republic into the conflict by their own alliance with France. Although Loyalists were estimated to comprise 15-20% of the population,[2] throughout the war the Patriots generally controlled 80-90% of the territory; the British could hold only a few coastal cities for any extended period of time. Two main British armies surrendered to the Continental Army, at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781, amounting to victory in the war for the United States. The Second Continental Congress transitioned to the Congress of the Confederation with the ratification of the Articles of Confederation earlier in 1781. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 was ratified by this new national government, and ended British claims to any of the thirteen states.

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