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American History 1--HIST 2111 (OER): Chapter 5: The American Revolution

American Yawp Chapter Summary

In the 1760s, Benjamin Rush, a native of Philadelphia, recounted a visit to Parliament. Upon seeing the King’s throne in the House of Lords, Rush said he “felt as if he walked on sacred ground” with “emotions that I cannot describe.”1 Throughout the eighteenth century, colonists had developed significant emotional ties with both the British monarchy and the British constitution. British subjects enjoyed a degree of liberty unknown in the unlimited monarchies of France and Spain. The British North American colonists had just helped to win a world war and most, like Rush, had never been more proud to be British. And yet, in a little over a decade, those same colonists would declare their independence and break away from the British Empire. Seen from 1763, nothing would have seemed as improbable as the American Revolution. Read the rest of Chapter 5 from the American Yawp.

Things to Consider

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. What problems did the British government face at the conclusion of the French-Indian War in 1763? How would these problems influence how the British dealt with their American colonies after 1763?
  2. American colonists considered themselves loyal British citizens in 1763. In what political and economic ways were the colonies connected to Britain in 1763?
  3. Discuss the Enlightenment and Great Awakening. How did these intellectual and religious movements influence how Americans thought about concepts such as liberty and individualism.
  4. Describe legislation passed by the British parliament between 1765 and 1770 such as the Sugar Act, Currency Act, Declaratory Act and Townshend Acts? What did these acts tax and declare?  
  5. Why did many American colonists disagree with British taxes placed on them between 1765 and 1770? What sorts of ways did they express their displeasure with these taxes?
  6. The American colonies were separate colonies that rarely worked together or same themselves as one entity prior to 1765. How did that change? In what ways did the colonies work together between 1765 and 1776 to oppose British policies?
  7. Describe the Boston Tea Party. What was the British reaction to this event? How did the other American colonies react to what the British did?
  8. How did fighting break in Massachusetts during the spring of 1775 between the Massachusetts militia? What events between the spring of 1775 and summer of 1776 pushed the American colonists to finally declare their independence from Britain?
  9. What sorts of people living in the American colonists were either neutral during the American Revolutionary War or were Loyalists who opposed independence from Britain?
  10. Compare and contrast how the American Revolution affected women, Native Americans and African-Americans, both free and enslaved.
  11. What sorts of political changes occurred in the states during the American Revolution? And what sort of national government did the Articles of Confederation create?
  12. The British had the most powerful navy in the world and a highly trained professional army. Britain sent a huge invasion fleet to New York in the summer of 1776 to squash the American independence movement. Yet by 1781, the British had largely lost the war. What factors accounted for this seemingly unlikely turn of affairs?

Learning Objectives and Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, analyze, and comprehend college level written texts.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of current and historical political systems.
  • Students will be able to recognize differing perspectives and points of view.

Course Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain the causes & consequences of exploration & colonization including issues of trade, cultural diversity, & the origins of the American Revolution.
  • Students will be able to understand the larger historical & intellectual contexts of the American Constitution & Bill of Rights, including Enlightenment ideas & English common law.
  • Students will be able to identify issues pertaining to governmental systems & the evolution of American liberty from the Articles of Confederation to the end of the Age of Jackson.

Videos, Maps and Images


  1. The American colonies in 1775
  2. Population density in the American colonies in 1775
  3. The American colonies in 1775, major cities, regions and the frontier
  4. The American colonies in 1775, major cities, regions and the frontier
  5. Fighting at Lexington and Concord, April 1775
  6. American Revolution, battle of Breed’s Hill
  7. American Revolutionary War, New York and New Jersey campaigns
  8. American Revolutionary War, Southern theater
  9. Washington’s movements, 1781

GHC History Videos

  1. American Revolution, Part I
  2. American Revolution, Part II
  3. Founding Fathers
  4. Disease in the Age of Revolution

Other Videos

  1. Taxes & Smuggling-Prelude to Revolution: Crash Course US History #6
  2. Who Won the American Revolution?: Crash Course US History, #7
  3. Tea, Taxes and the American Revolution: Crash Course World History, #28
  4. Khan Academy: Background and Introduction to the Declaration of Independence


  1. Stamp Act riots
  2. British cartoon of members of the Sons of Liberty tarring and featuring a tax collector
  3. British cartoon of members of the Sons of Liberty tarring and featuring a tax collector, 1774
  4. Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre, 1770
  5. The Boston Tea Party, 1773
  6. Fighting at Lexington and Concord, April 1775
  7. Fighting at Lexington and Concord, 2nd image
  8. King George III
  9. The Continental Congress votes for independence, 1776
  10. Thomas Paine
  11. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and the Declaration of Independence
  12. General George Washington
  13. General George Washington
  14. Washington crossing the Delaware River, Christmas 1776
  15. British surrender at Saratoga, 1777
  16. Washington at Valley Forge, 1777-1778
  17. Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
  18. Washington at Yorktown, 1781
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