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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
War of American Independence

(also known as the American Revolution, 1775–81)
The war by which Britain's colonies in *America became the independent United States of America. Since their foundation the colonies had not been taxed from Britain nor had they sent representatives to parliament in London, but parliament imposed a tax on sugar (or molasses) in 1764 and on legal documents and newspapers in 1765 – leading to the slogan in the colonies 'no taxation without representation'. After much protest these taxes were repealed, but a new tax on tea, introduced in 1773, led directly to the *Boston Tea Party. Britain responded to this insubordination in Massachusetts by closing the port of Boston and sending in troops, thus sparking off the revolution.

Armed hostilities began on 19 April 1775. British troops on the way to seize a depot of colonial ammunition at *Concord were confronted by a small party of minutemen (militiamen, or part-time soldiers). It is not known which side fired 'the shot heard round the world', in Ralph Waldo Emerson's phrase, but eight Americans died at *Lexington and there was a larger battle at Concord later in the day.

George *Washington became commander-in-chief of the colonial forces in June 1775. He suffered reverses when the British under William Howe captured New York in 1776 and for a few months in 1777–8 occupied Philadelphia, the colonial capital, where the Declaration of Independence had been issued on 4 July 1776. But the tide was about to turn. On 17 October 1777 an entire British army under John Burgoyne surrendered to Horatio Gates at Saratoga in the state of New York – a British defeat of profound political consequences, for it persuaded France to recognize the independence of the colonies and to send troops and ships.

The final event of the war was in the peninsula of Yorktown on the coast of Virginia, where Washington with the support of a French army and a French fleet besieged Lord Cornwallis. He surrendered on 19 October 1781, but disengagement elsewhere took some time. The British did not finally leave New York city until 25 November 1783, though the treaty recognizing the independence of the new country had been signed in Paris on September 3 of that year.

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