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Humanities Libertexts

8.6: Conclusion

  • Page ID
    7917
  • The social unease which led to the American Revolution did not automatically ignite a violent conflict between Great Britain and her American colonies. Many on both sides hoped for a peaceful solution, reconciliation, or amicable agreement that would have addressed the grievances of the colonists while preserving the colonial relationship. This was not to be. Instead, tensions mounted and the quiet plans made by General Gage in Boston to diffuse the situation unintentionally ignited the war at Lexington. The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at first to consider reconciliation and then to move on to form the government of colonies in revolt. They created and sent the Declaration of Independence to Britain, announcing to all the fateful decision to seek true independence and the reasons for it. On the home front, the Congress attempted to create a government that would be able to support an army to fight for independence. George Washington of Virginia became the Commander of the American forces. He faced the challenge of taking men from all over the colonies with diverse backgrounds, few with military experience, and molding them into a fighting army, often without proper weapons, uniforms, or other equipment and supplies. From 1775 to 1781, the two main armies and other smaller forces clashed from Canada to South Carolina, finally ending in Yorktown, Virginia where the main British force under Lord Cornwallis was cornered and forced to surrender to Washington. Although the military conflict was over, the revolution did not officially end until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris. The American Revolution was a time not just of military battles, but also of social upheaval for the civilians, men and women, whites and blacks, both free and slave, and Indians as all together they faced an uncertain future. No colony, no level of society, was left untouched. In the end, the American Revolution led to the founding not just of a new nation, but of a new national model of democracy that would have influence around the world in the centuries to follow.

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