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The American Revolution: From British Subjects to US Citizens

England’s refusal to grant American colonists fair representation led to war – and a new nation.

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Long before there was a United States of America, explorers from Europe came and started colonies. By the 1700s, the eastern part of the land was controlled by 13 British colonies. For a long time, the 13 colonies were allowed to rule themselves. Later on, England started making new laws and taxes, and the colonists protested against the rules. Eventually, war broke out, and the American Revolution began.

Legislation Without Representation

The colonists started to dislike British rule because their lives were affected by choices made in England, but the colonists did not have any say in these laws and taxes. People living in the colonies were not represented in the British Parliament, where laws were made.

For most of the 1600s, the British didn’t make any rules for the colonies. The problem came when England began passing new laws and taxes to take money from the colonies.

The British government thought it owned the colonies, but the colonists didn’t want to pay extra money to a king who lived far away and did little to help them.

As the British passed more laws and taxes, the colonists protested more. Most colonists didn’t want war – they just wanted a say in the laws that governed them.

War and Independence

Anger between the British and the colonists got worse over time, and eventually they grew into a war. The first battles of the Revolutionary War were at Lexington and Concord in 1775 – and the colonists hadn’t even declared independence yet!

On July 5, 1775, representatives from each colony passed the Olive Branch Petition to try to make peace with England. Before the petition reached King George III, the king declared that the colonists were rebels. He asked other countries for help in defeating them.

On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies officially declared independence. This allowed them to form alliances with other countries, like Spain and France. These foreign countries helped the colonists fight off the British. In 1782, Britain decided to give the colonists independence. The 1783 Treaty of Paris made it official, and the United States was free of British rule.

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