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> Chapter 8 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


Even after Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress did not at first pursue independence. The Congresss most important action was selecting George Washington as military commander.

After further armed clashes, George III formally proclaimed the colonists in rebellion, and Thomas Paines Common Sense finally persuaded Americans to fight for independence as well as liberty. Paine and other leaders promoted the Revolution as an opportunity for self-government by the people, though more conservative republicans wanted to retain political hierarchy without monarchy. Jeffersons Declaration of Independence deepened the meaning of the struggle by proclaiming its foundation in self-evident and universal human rights.

The committed Patriots, only a minority of the American population, had to fight both Loyalist Americans and the British. Loyalists were strongest among conservatives, city-dwellers, and Anglicans (except in Virginia), while Patriots were strongest in New England and among Presbyterians and Congregationalists.

In the first phase of the war, Washington stalemated the British, who botched their plan to quash the rebellion quickly at Saratoga. When the French and others then aided the Americans, the Revolutionary War became a world war.

American fortunes fell badly in 1780 - 1781, but the colonial army in the South held on until Cornwallis stumbled into a French-American trap at Yorktown. Lord Norths ministry collapsed in Britain, and American negotiators achieved an extremely generous settlement from the Whigs.



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