Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
The period 1765-1788 saw great changes in North America. The 13 eastern colonies demanded democratic government, and went to war against Britain in 1775. In 1776 they issued a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, and in 1781 the British command surrendered the fight.
The people who had settled in North America valued personal freedom. Many of them had left Europe because of their strong religious or political views. They protested when the British government imposed taxes on them without consulting the local governing bodies of the colonies.
Taxes paid on imported goods were very unpopular. In 1773, colonists disguised as American Indians boarded an English ship in Boston Harbor and threw its cargo of highly taxed tea overboard. This became known as the Boston Tea Party.
British troops, including German mercenaries, were supported by colonial loyalists. The rebellious Patriots formed a Continental Army after 1775, defeating the British at Saratoga Springs in 1777. The French sent 6,000 troops to fight the British.
In 1774, Patriots convened the first in a series of Continental Congresses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to coordinate their struggle against the British. The 1776 Congress issued a Declaration of Independence, laying down its principles of freedom. A full United States government was founded in 1788.
The 1776 Declaration of Independence was issued in Philadelphia, in the name of John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. It was written by Thomas Jefferson, who later became the third US president. It declared that “all men are created equal” and have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These ringing words inspired revolutionaries around the world.