American Revolution

Events

The Iron Act

1750

The Iron Act is passed by the English Parliament, limiting the growth of the iron industry in the American colonies to protect the English Iron industry.

The Currency Act

1751

The Currency Act is passed by the English Parliament, banning the issuing of paper money by the New England colonies.

The French and Indian War

1754

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The French and Indian War erupts as a result of disputes over land in the Ohio River Valley. In May, George Washington leads a small group of American colonists to victory over the French, then builds Fort Necessity in the Ohio territory. In July, after being attacked by numerically superior French forces, Washington surrenders the fort and retreats.

Battle the French in the Ohio territory

1755

In February, English General Edward Braddock arrives in Virginia with two regiments of English troops. Gen. Braddock assumes the post of commander in chief of all English forces in America. In April, Gen. Braddock and Lt. Col. George Washington set out with nearly 2000 men to battle the French in the Ohio territory. In July, a force of about 900 French and Indians defeat those English forces. Braddock is mortally wounded. Massachusetts Governor William Shirley then becomes the new commander in chief.

The Seven Year's War

1756 - 1763

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The French and Indian War, known in Europe as the Seven Year's War, ends with the Treaty of Paris. Under the treaty, France gives England all French territory east of the Mississippi River, except New Orleans. The Spanish give up east and west Florida to the English in return for Cuba.

England declares war on France

1756

England declares war on France, as the French and Indian War in the colonies now spreads to Europe.

A devastating defeat occurs for English forces

1758

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In July, a devastating defeat occurs for English forces at Lake George, New York, as nearly two thousand men are lost during a frontal attack against well entrenched French forces at Fort Ticonderoga. French losses are 377. In November, the French abandon Fort Duquesne in the Ohio territory.

Fort Niagara is captured

1759

French Fort Niagara is captured by the English. Also in 1759, war erupts between Cherokee Indians and southern colonists.

George III

1760

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The population of colonists in America reaches 1,500,000. In March, much of Boston is destroyed by a raging fire. In September, Quebec surrenders to the English. In October, George III becomes the new English King.

Pontiac's forces are defeated

1763

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In May, the Ottawa Native Americans under Chief Pontiac begin all-out warfare against the British west of Niagara, destroying several British forts and conducting a siege against the British at Detroit. In August, Pontiac's forces are defeated by the British near Pittsburgh. The siege of Detroit ends in November, but hostilities between the British and Chief Pontiac continue for several years.

The Proclamation of 1763

October 7, 1763

The Proclamation of 1763, signed by King George III of England, prohibits any English settlement west of the Appalachian mountains and requires those already settled in those regions to return east in an attempt to ease tensions with Native Americans.

The English Parliament

1764

The English Parliament passes a measure to reorganize the American customs system to better enforce British trade laws, which have often been ignored in the past. A court is established in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that will have jurisdiction over all of the American colonies in trade matters.

The Rights of the British Colonies

1764

In May, at a town meeting in Boston, James Otis raises the issue of taxation without representation and urges a united response to the recent acts imposed by England. In July, Otis publishes "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved." In August, Boston merchants begin a boycott of British luxury goods.

The Currency Act

1764

The Currency Act prohibits the colonists from issuing any legal tender paper money. This act threatens to destabilize the entire colonial economy of both the industrial North and agricultural South, thus uniting the colonists against it.

The Sugar Act

1764

The Sugar Act is passed by the English Parliament to offset the war debt brought on by the French and Indian War and to help pay for the expenses of running the colonies and newly acquired territories. This act increases the duties on imported sugar and other items such as textiles, coffee, wines and indigo (dye). It doubles the duties on foreign goods reshipped from England to the colonies and also forbids the import of foreign rum and French wines.

The Stamp Act goes into effect

1765

On November 1, most daily business and legal transactions in the colonies cease as the Stamp Act goes into effect with nearly all of the colonists refusing to use the stamps. In New York City, violence breaks out as a mob burns the royal governor in effigy, harasses British troops, then loots houses.

Virginia Resolutions

1765

In May, in Virginia, Patrick Henry presents seven Virginia Resolutions to the House of Burgesses claiming that only the Virginia assembly can legally tax Virginia residents, saying, "If this be treason, make the most of it." Also in May, the first medical school in America is founded, in Philadelphia.

Sons of Liberty

1765

In July, the Sons of Liberty, an underground organization opposed to the Stamp Act, is formed in a number of colonial towns. Its members use violence and intimidation to eventually force all of the British stamp agents to resign and also stop many American merchants from ordering British trade goods.

Thomas Hutchinson

1765

August 26, a mob in Boston attacks the home of Thomas Hutchinson, Chief Justice of Massachusetts, as Hutchinson and his family narrowly escape.

Congress prepares a resolution

1765

In October, the Stamp Act Congress convenes in New York City, with representatives from nine of the colonies. The Congress prepares a resolution to be sent to King George III and the English Parliament. The petition requests the repeal of the Stamp Act and the Acts of 1764. The petition asserts that only colonial legislatures can tax colonial residents and that taxation without representation violates the colonists' basic civil rights.

The Quartering Act

1765

Also in March, the Quartering Act requires colonists to house British troops and supply them with food.

British General Thomas Gage

1765

In December, British General Thomas Gage, commander of all English military forces in America, asks the New York assembly to make colonists comply with the Quartering Act and house and supply his troops. Also in December, the American boycott of English imports spreads, as over 200 Boston merchants join the movement.

Stamp act

March 22,1765

Under the Stamp Act, all printed materials are taxed, including; newspapers, pamphlets, bills, legal documents, licenses, almanacs, dice and playing cards. The American colonists quickly unite in opposition, led by the most influential segments of colonial society - lawyers, publishers, land owners, ship builders and merchants - who are most affected by the Act, which is scheduled to go into effect on November 1.

The Declaratory Act

1766

On the same day it repealed the Stamp Act, the English Parliament passes the Declaratory Act stating that the British government has total power to legislate any laws governing the American colonies in all cases whatsoever.

celebrations in the colonies

1766

In April, news of the repeal of the Stamp Act results in celebrations in the colonies and a relaxation of the boycott of imported English trade goods.

King George III signs a bill repealing the Stamp Act

1766

In March, King George III signs a bill repealing the Stamp Act after much debate in the English Parliament, which included an appearance by Ben Franklin arguing for repeal and warning of a possible revolution in the American colonies if the Stamp Act was enforced by the British military.

The New York assembly refuses

1766

In January, the New York assembly refuses to completely comply with Gen. Gage's request to enforce the Quartering Act.

violence breaks out in New York

1766

In August, violence breaks out in New York between British soldiers and armed colonists, including Sons of Liberty members. The violence erupts as a result of the continuing refusal of New York colonists to comply with the Quartering Act. In December, the New York legislature is suspended by the English Crown after once again voting to refuse to comply with the Act.

Townshend Revenue Acts,

1767

in June, The English Parliament passes the Townshend Revenue Acts, imposing a new series of taxes on the colonists to offset the costs of administering and protecting the American colonies. Items taxed include imports such as paper, tea, glass, lead and paints. The Act also establishes a colonial board of customs commissioners in Boston. In October, Bostonians decide to reinstate a boycott of English luxury items.

Townshend Acts are repealed

1768

In July, the governor of Massachusetts dissolves the general court after the legislature defies his order to revoke Adams' circular letter. In August, in Boston and New York, merchants agree to boycott most British goods until the Townshend Acts are repealed. In September, at a town meeting in Boston, residents are urged to arm themselves. Later in September, English warships sail into Boston Harbor, then two regiments of English infantry land in Boston and set up permanent residence to keep order.

a Letter opposing taxation

February 1768

Samuel Adams of Massachusetts writes a Circular Letter opposing taxation without representation and calling for the colonists to unite in their actions against the British government. The letter is sent to assemblies throughout the colonies and also instructs them on the methods the Massachusetts general court is using to oppose the Townshend Acts.

Lord Hillsborough

April 1768

England's Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Hillsborough, orders colonial governors to stop their own assemblies from endorsing Adams' circular letter. Hillsborough also orders the governor of Massachusetts to dissolve the general court if the Massachusetts assembly does not revoke the letter. By month's end, the assemblies of New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey have endorsed the letter.

A British warship sails into Boston

May 1768

a British warship armed with 50 cannons sails into Boston harbor after a call for help from custom commissioners who are constantly being harassed by Boston agitators. In June, a customs official is locked up in the cabin of the Liberty, a sloop owned by John Hancock. Imported wine is then unloaded illegally into Boston without payment of duties. Following this incident, customs officials seize Hancock's sloop. After threats of violence from Bostonians, the customs officials escape to an island off Boston, then request the intervention of British troops.

merchants agree to boycott most British goods

July 1768

the governor of Massachusetts dissolves the general court after the legislature defies his order to revoke Adams' circular letter. In August, in Boston and New York, merchants agree to boycott most British goods until the Townshend Acts are repealed. In September, at a town meeting in Boston, residents are urged to arm themselves. Later in September, English warships sail into Boston Harbor, then two regiments of English infantry land in Boston and set up permanent residence to keep order.

Merchants in Philadelphia join the boycott

March 1769

Merchants in Philadelphia join the boycott of British trade goods. In May, a set of resolutions written by George Mason is presented by George Washington to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The Virginia Resolves oppose taxation without representation, the British opposition to the circular letters, and British plans to possibly send American agitators to England for trial. Ten days later, the Royal governor of Virginia dissolves the House of Burgesses. However, its members meet the next day in a Williamsburg tavern and agree to a boycott of British trade goods, luxury items and slaves.

The boycott spreads

October 1769

The boycott of English goods spreads to New Jersey, Rhode Island, and then North Carolina.

Violence erupts

January 1770

Violence erupts between members of the Sons of Liberty in New York and 40 British soldiers over the posting of broadsheets by the British. Several men are seriously wounded.

The Boston Massacre

March 5, 1770

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The Boston Massacre occurs as a mob harasses British soldiers who then fire their muskets pointblank into the crowd, killing three instantly, mortally wounding two others and injuring six. After the incident, the new Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, at the insistence of Sam Adams, withdraws British troops out of Boston to nearby harbor islands. The captain of the British soldiers, Thomas Preston, is then arrested along with eight of his men and charged with murder.

The Townshend Acts

April 12, 1770

In April, the Townshend Acts are repealed by the British. All duties on imports into the colonies are eliminated except for tea. Also, the Quartering Act is not renewed.

Trial for the British soldiers

October 1770

In October, trial begins for the British soldiers arrested after the Boston Massacre. Colonial lawyers John Adams and Josiah Quincy successfully defend Captain Preston and six of his men, who are acquitted. Two other soldiers are found guilty of manslaughter, branded, then released.

The Schooner

June 1772

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In June, a British customs schooner, the Gaspee, runs aground off Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay. Colonists from Providence row out to the schooner and attack it, set the British crew ashore, then burn the ship. In September, a 500 pound reward is offered by the English Crown for the capture of those colonists, who would then be sent to England for trial. The announcement that they would be sent to England further upsets many American colonists.

Boston town meeting

November 1772

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a Boston town meeting assembles, called by Sam Adams. During the meeting, a 21 member committee of correspondence is appointed to communicate with other towns and colonies. A few weeks later, the town meeting endorses three radical proclamations asserting the rights of the colonies to self-rule.

Virginia House of Burgesses

March 1773

the Virginia House of Burgesses appoints an eleven member committee of correspondence to communicate with the other colonies regarding common complaints against the British. Members of that committee include, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee. Virginia is followed a few months later by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and South Carolina.

The Tea Act

May 1773

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the Tea Act takes effect. It maintains a threepenny per pound import tax on tea arriving in the colonies, which had already been in effect for six years. It also gives the near bankrupt British East India Company a virtual tea monopoly by allowing it to sell directly to colonial agents, bypassing any middlemen, thus underselling American merchants. The East India Company had successfully lobbied Parliament for such a measure. In September, Parliament authorizes the company to ship half a million pounds of tea to a group of chosen tea agents.

Opposition to the Tea Tax

October 1773

colonists hold a mass meeting in Philadelphia in opposition to the tea tax and the monopoly of the East India Company. A committee then forces British tea agents to resign their positions. In November, a town meeting is held in Boston endorsing the actions taken by Philadelphia colonists. Bostonians then try, but fail, to get their British tea agents to resign. A few weeks later, three ships bearing tea sail into Boston harbor.

Two mass Meetings occur in Boston

November 1773

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two mass meetings occur in Boston over what to do about the tea aboard the three ships now docked in Boston harbor. Colonists decide to send the tea on the ship, Dartmouth, back to England without paying any import duties. The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Hutchinson, is opposed to this and orders harbor officials not to let the ship sail out of the harbor unless the tea taxes have been paid.

The Boston Tea Party

December 1773

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About 8000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them Royal Governor Hutchinson has repeated his command not to allow the ships out of the harbor until the tea taxes are paid. That night, the Boston Tea Party occurs as colonial activists disguise themselves as Mohawk Indians then board the ships and dump all 342 containers of tea into the harbor.

Angry English Parliament

March 1774

an angry English Parliament passes the first of a series of Coercive Acts (called Intolerable Acts by Americans) in response to the rebellion in Massachusetts. The Boston Port Bill effectively shuts down all commercial shipping in Boston harbor until Massachusetts pays the taxes owed on the tea dumped in the harbor and also reimburses the East India Company for the loss of the tea.

General Thomas Gage, arrives in Boston

May 1774

Bostonians at a town meeting call for a boycott of British imports in response to the Boston Port Bill. General Thomas Gage, commander of all British military forces in the colonies, arrives in Boston and replaces Hutchinson as Royal governor, putting Massachusetts under military rule. He is followed by the arrival of four regiments of British troops.

Action against the British

May 1774

colonists in Providence, New York and Philadelphia begin calling for an intercolonial congress to overcome the Coercive Acts and discuss a common course of action against the British.

Coercive Acts

May 1774

The English Parliament enacts the next series of Coercive Acts, which include the Massachusetts Regulating Act and the Government Act virtually ending any self-rule by the colonists there. Instead, the English Crown and the Royal governor assume political power formerly exercised by colonists. Also enacted; the Administration of Justice Act which protects royal officials in Massachusetts from being sued in colonial courts, and the Quebec Act establishing a centralized government in Canada controlled by the Crown and English Parliament. The Quebec Act greatly upsets American colonists by extending the southern boundary of Canada into territories claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia.

Housing for British troops

June 1774


a new version of the 1765 Quartering Act is enacted by the English Parliament requiring all of the American colonies to provide housing for British troops in occupied houses and taverns and in unoccupied buildings. In September, Massachusetts Governor Gage seizes that colony's arsenal of weapons at Charlestown.

Continental Congress

September 1774

the First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia with 56 delegates, representing every colony, except Georgia. Attendants include Patrick Henry, George Washington, Sam Adams and John Hancock.

Opposition to the Coercive Acts

September 1774

the Congress declares its opposition to the Coercive Acts, saying they are "not to be obeyed," and also promotes the formation of local militia units. On October 14, a Declaration and Resolves is adopted that opposes the Coercive Acts, the Quebec Act, and other measure taken by the British that undermine self-rule. The rights of the colonists are asserted, including the rights to "life, liberty and property." On October 20, the Congress adopts the Continental Association in which delegates agree to a boycott of English imports, effect an embargo of exports to Britain, and discontinue the slave trade.

Congress is held

february 1775

in Cambridge, Mass., a provincial congress is held during which John Hancock and Joseph Warren begin defensive preparations for a state of war. February 9, the English Parliament declares Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. March 23, in Virginia, Patrick Henry delivers a speech against British rule, stating, "Give me liberty or give me death!" March 30, the New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King George III, requiring New England colonies to trade exclusively with England and also bans fishing in the North Atlantic.

Governor Gage is ordered to enforce the Coercive Acts

April 1775

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Massachusetts Governor Gage is ordered to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress "open rebellion" among the colonists by all necessary force.

General Gage orders 700 redcoats

April 18, 1775

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Gage orders 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists’ weapons depot.

British forces begin to retreat

April 18,1775

British forces then begin a long retreat from Lexington back to Boston and are harassed and shot at all along the way by farmers and rebels and suffer over 250 casualties. News of the events at Lexington and Concord spreads like wildfire throughout the Colonies.

Paul Revere

April 18, 1775

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That night, Paul Revere and William Dawes are sent from Boston to warn colonists. Revere reaches Lexington about midnight and warns Sam Adams and John Hancock who are hiding out there.

The militiamen

April 18,1775

At dawnabout 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered 'shot heard around the world' begins the American Revolution. A volley of British muskets followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight Americans dead and ten wounded. The British regroup and head for the depot in Concord, destroying the colonists' weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with 14 casualties.

The Provincial Congress orders 13,600 American soldiers to be mobilized

April 23, 1775

The Provincial Congress in Massachusetts orders 13,600 American soldiers to be mobilized. Colonial volunteers from all over New England assemble and head for Boston, then establish camps around the city and begin a year long siege of British-held Boston.

capture of Fort Ticonderoga

May 10, 1775

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American forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold capture Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The fort contains a much needed supply of military equipment including cannons which are then hauled to Boston by ox teams.

George Washington general and commander

May 10, 1775

The Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia, with John Hancock elected as its president. The Congress places the colonies in a state of defense. On June 15, the Congress unanimously votes to appoint George Washington general and commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army

Bunker Hill

June 17, 1775

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The first major fight between British and American troops occurs at Boston in the Battle of Bunker Hill. American troops are dug in along the high ground of Breed's Hill (the actual location) and are attacked by a frontal assault of over 2000 British soldiers who storm up the hill. The Americans are ordered not to fire until they can see "the whites of their eyes." As the British get within 15 paces, the Americans let loose a deadly volley of musket fire and halt the British advance. The British then regroup and attack 30 minutes later with the same result. A third attack, however, succeeds as the Americans run out of ammunition and are left only with bayonets and stones to defend themselves. The British succeed in taking the hill, but at a loss of half their force, over a thousand casualties, with the Americans losing about 400, including important colonial leader, General Joseph Warren.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

July 3, 1775

At Cambridge, Massachusetts, George Washington takes command of the Continental Army which now has about 17,000 men.

Congress adopts the Olive Branch

July 5, 1775

The Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition which expresses hope for a reconciliation with Britain, appealing directly to the King for help in achieving this. In August, King George III refuses even to look at the petition and instead issues a proclamation declaring the Americans to be in a state of open rebellion.

Declaration on the Causes

July 6, 1775

The Continental Congress issues a Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms detailing the colonists' reasons for fighting the British and states the Americans are "resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves."

The American Navy is established

November 28, 1775

The American Navy is established by Congress. The next day, Congress appoints a secret committee to seek help from European nations.

King George III issues a royal proclamation

December 23, 1775

King George III issues a royal proclamation closing the American colonies to all commerce and trade, to take effect in March of 1776. Also in December, Congress is informed that France may offer support in the war against Britain.

the first American state constitution

January 5, 1776

The assembly of New Hampshire adopts the first American state constitution.

Common Sense

January 9, 1776

Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is published in Philadelphia. The 50 page pamphlet is highly critical of King George III and attacks allegiance to Monarchy in principle while providing strong arguments for American independence. It becomes an instant best-seller in America. "We have it in our power to begin the world anew...American shall make a stand, not for herself alone, but for the world," Paine states.

Dorchester Heights

March 4, 1776

American forces capture Dorchester Heights which overlooks Boston harbor. Captured British artillery from Fort Ticonderoga is placed on the heights to enforce the siege against the British in Boston. The British evacuate Boston and set sail for Halifax. George Washington then rushes to New York to set up defenses, anticipating the British plan to invade New York City.

colonial shipping ports open to all traffic except the British

April 6, 1776

The Continental Congress declares colonial shipping ports open to all traffic except the British. The Congress had already authorized privateer raids on British ships and also advised disarming all Americans loyal to England.

vote for independence from Britain

April 12, 1776

The North Carolina assembly is the first to empower its delegates in the Continental Congress to vote for independence from Britain.

King Louis XVI of France commits one million dollars

May 2, 1776

The American revolutionaries get the much needed foreign support they had been hoping for. King Louis XVI of France commits one million dollars in arms and munitions. Spain then also promises support.

provincial governments

May 10, 1776

The Continental Congress authorizes each of the 13 colonies to form local (provincial) governments.

A massive British war fleet arrives

June, 1776

A massive British war fleet arrives in New York Harbor consisting of 30 battleships with 1200 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships, under the command of General William Howe and his brother Admiral Lord Richard Howe.

Calling for America to declare its independence from Britain

June 7, 1776

Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presents a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from Britain. Congress decides to postpone its decision on this until July. On June 11, Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Committee members are Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson is chosen by the committee to prepare the first draft of the declaration, which he completes in one day. Just seventeen days later, June 28, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence is ready and is presented to the Congress, with changes made by Adams and Franklin. On July 2, twelve of thirteen colonial delegations (New York abstains) vote in support of Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress formally endorses Jefferson's Declaration, with copies to be sent to all of the colonies. The actual signing of the document occurs on August 2, as most of the 55 members of Congress place their names on the parchment copy.

Fort Moultrie

June 28, 1776

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In South Carolina, American forces at successfully defend Charleston against a British naval attack and inflict heavy damage on the fleet.

The statue of King George III

July 9, 1776

The Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in New York in front of George Washington and his troops. In reaction to what had been read, soldiers and citizens went to Bowling Green, a park in Manhattan, where a lead statue of King George III on horseback stood. The mob of people pulled down the statue, and later the lead was melted down to make musket balls, or bullets for use in the war for independence. (3) Careful records were kept, and it is known that 42, 088 bullets were made.

Two British frigates sail up the Hudson River

July 12, 1776

As a show of force, two British frigates sail up the Hudson River blasting their guns. Peace feelers are then extended to the Americans. At the request of the British, Gen. Washington meets with Howe's representatives in New York and listens to vague offers of clemency for the American rebels. Washington politely declines, then leaves.

The Battle of Long Island

August 27, 1776

Gen. Howe leads 15,000 soldiers against Washington's army in the Battle of Long Island. Washington, outnumbered two to one, suffers a severe defeat as his army is outflanked and scatters. The Americans retreat to Brooklyn Heights, facing possible capture by the British or even total surrender.

The crossing

August 29, 1776

But at night, the Americans cross the East River in small boats and escape to Manhattan, then evacuate New York City and retreat up through Manhattan Island to Harlem Heights. Washington now changes tactics, avoiding large scale battles with the British by a series of retreats.

A peace conference is held

September 11, 1776

A peace conference is held on Staten Island with British Admiral, Lord Richard Howe, meeting American representatives including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The conference fails as Howe demands the colonists revoke the Declaration of Independence.

Washington's army repulses a British attack

September 16, 1776

After evacuating New York City, Washington's army repulses a British attack during the Battle of Harlem Heights in upper Manhattan. Several days later, fire engulfs New York City and destroys over 300 buildings.

Nathan Hale is executed

September 22, 1776

After he is caught spying on British troops on Long Island, Nathan Hale is executed without a trial, his last words, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

seeking financial and military aid

September 26, 1776

Congress appoints Jefferson, Franklin and Silas Deane to negotiate treaties with European governments. Franklin and Deane then travel to France seeking financial and military aid.

A big defeat

October 11, 1776

A big defeat for the inexperienced American Navy on Lake Champlain at the hands of a British fleet of 87 gunships. In the 7 hour Battle of Valcour Bay most of the American flotilla of 83 gunships is crippled with the remaining ships destroyed in a second engagement two days later.

The Battle of White Plains

October 28, 1776

After evacuating his main forces from Manhattan, Washington's army suffers heavy casualties in the Battle of White Plains from Gen. Howe's forces. Washington then retreats westward.

victories for the British

November, 1776

More victories for the British as Fort Washington on Manhattan and its precious stores of over 100 cannon, thousands of muskets and cartridges is captured by Gen. Howe. The Americans also lose Fort Lee in New Jersey to Gen. Cornwallis. Washington's army suffers 3000 casualties in the two defeats. Gen. Washington abandons the New York area and moves his forces further westward toward the Delaware River. Cornwallis now pursues him.

Newport, Rhode Island

December 6, 1776

The naval base at , is captured by the British.

Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia

December 11, 1776

Washington takes his troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The next day, over concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia for Baltimore.

Among Washington's troops is Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, who now writes "...These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it NOW deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

A surprise raid

December 26, 1776

Washington then conducts a surprise raid on 1500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey.

The Hessians surrender

December 26, 1776

The Hessians surrender after an hour with nearly 1000 taken prisoner by Washington who suffers only six wounded (including future president Lt. James Monroe). Washington reoccupies Trenton. The victory provides a much needed boost to the morale of all American Patriots.

Washington recrosses the Delaware

December 26, 1776

On Christmas, George Washington takes 2400 of his men and recrosses the Delaware River.

Morristown

January 3, 1777

A second victory for Washington as his troops defeat the British at Princeton and drive them back toward New Brunswick. Washington then establishes winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the harsh winter, Washington's army shrinks to about a thousand men as enlistments expire and deserters flee the hardships. By spring, with the arrival of recruits, Washington will have 9000 men.

Congress returns

March 12, 1777

The Continental Congress returns to Philadelphia from Baltimore after Washington's successes against the British in New Jersey.

Ridgefield

April 27, 1777

American troops under Benedict Arnold defeat the British at Ridgefield, Connecticut.

John Paul Jones

June 14, 1777

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The flag of the United States consisting of 13 stars and 13 white and red stripes is mandated by Congress; John Paul Jones is chosen by Congress to captain the 18 gun vessel Ranger with his mission to raid coastal towns of England.

Gen. John Burgoyne

June 17, 1777

A British force of 7700 men under Gen. John Burgoyne invades from Canada, sailing down Lake Champlain toward Albany, planning to link up with Gen. Howe who will come north from New York City, thus cutting off New England from the rest of the colonies.

Burgoyne's troops stun the Americans

July 6, 1777

Gen. Burgoyne's troops stun the Americans with the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. Its military supplies are greatly needed by Washington's forces. The loss of the fort is a tremendous blow to American morale.

capture of Philadelphia

July 23, 1777

British Gen. Howe, with 15,000 men, sets sail from New York for Chesapeake Bay to capture Philadelphia, instead of sailing north to meet up with Gen. Burgoyne.

Marquis de Lafayette

July 27, 1777

Marquis de Lafayette, a 19 year old French aristocrat, arrives in Philadelphia and volunteers to serve without pay. Congress appoints him as a major general in the Continental Army. Lafayette will become one of Gen. Washington's most trusted aides.

Burgoyne reaches the Hudson

August 1, 1777

Gen. Burgoyne reaches the Hudson after a grueling month spent crossing 23 miles of wilderness separating the southern tip of Lake Champlain from the northern tip of the Hudson River.

Tthe Battle of Bennington

August 16, 1777

In the Battle of Bennington, militiamen from Vermont, aided by Massachusetts troops, wipe out a detachment of 800 German Hessians sent by Gen. Burgoyne to seize horses.

Chesapeake Bay

August 25, 1777

British Gen. Howe disembarks at Chesapeake Bay with his troops.

The Battle of Brandywine Creek

September 9, 1777 - September 11, 1777

In the Battle of Brandywine Creek, Gen. Washington and the main American Army of 10,500 men are driven back toward Philadelphia by Gen. Howe's British troops. Both sides suffer heavy losses. Congress then leaves Philadelphia and resettles in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

British forces occupy Philadelphia

September 26, 1777

British forces under Gen. Howe occupy Philadelphia. Congress then relocates to York, Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Saratoga

October 7, 1777

The Battle of Saratoga results in the first major American victory of the Revolutionary War as Gen. Horatio Gates and Gen. Benedict Arnold defeat Gen. Burgoyne, inflicting 600 British casualties. American losses are only 150.

Gen. Burgoyne and his army surrender

October 17, 1777

Gen. Burgoyne and his entire army of 5700 men surrender to the Americans led by Gen. Gates. The British are then marched to Boston, placed on ships and sent back to England after swearing not serve again in the war against America. News of the American victory at Saratoga soon travels to Europe and boosts support of the American cause. In Paris the victory is celebrated as if it had been a French victory. Ben Franklin is received by the French Royal Court. France then recognizes the independence of America.

The Articles of Confederation

November 15, 1777

Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation as the government of the new United States of America, pending ratification by the individual states. Under the Articles, Congress is the sole authority of the new national government.

Valley Forge

December 17, 1777

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At Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, the Continental Army led by Washington sets up winter quarters.

Two treaties in Paris

February 6, 1778

American and French representatives sign two treaties in Paris: a Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance. France now officially recognizes the United States and will soon become the major supplier of military supplies to Washington's army. Both countries pledge to fight until American independence is won, with neither country concluding any truce with Britain without the other's consent, and guarantee each other's possessions in America against all other powers.

The American struggle for independence is thus enlarged and will soon become a world war. After British vessels fire on French ships, the two nations declare war. Spain will enter in 1779 as an ally of France. The following year, Britain will declare war on the Dutch who have been engaging in profitable trade with the French and Americans. In addition to the war in America, the British will have to fight in the Mediterranean, Africa, India, the West Indies, and on the high seas. All the while facing possible invasion of England itself by the French.

Baron von Steuben arrives

February 23, 1778

Baron von Steuben of Prussia arrives at Valley Forge to join the Continental Army. He then begins much needed training and drilling of Washington's troops, now suffering from poor morale resulting from cold, hunger, disease, low supplies and desertions over the long, harsh winter.

A Peace Commission

March 16, 1778

A Peace Commission is created by the British Parliament to negotiate with the Americans. The commission then travels to Philadelphia where its offers granting all of the American demands, except independence, are rejected by Congress.

General Henry Clinton

May 8, 1778

British General Henry Clinton replaces Gen. Howe as commander of all British forces in the American colonies.

Cobleskill, New York

May 30, 1778

A campaign of terror against American frontier settlements, instigated by the British, begins as 300 Iroquois Indians burn Cobleskill, New York.

Clinton withdraws from Philadelphia

June 18, 1778

Fearing a blockade by French ships, British Gen. Clinton withdraws his troops from Philadelphia and marches across New Jersey toward New York City. Americans then re-occupy Philadelphia.

Washington sends troops

June 19, 1778

Washington sends troops from Valley Forge to intercept Gen. Clinton.

Monmouth

June 27, 1778 - June 28, 1778

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The Battle of Monmouth occurs in New Jersey as Washington's troops and Gen. Clinton's troops fight to a standoff. On hearing that American Gen. Charles Lee had ordered a retreat, Gen. Washington becomes furious. Gen. Clinton then continues on toward New York.

Congress returns once again to Philadelphia

July 2, 1778

A massacre of American settlers

July 3, 1778

British Loyalists and Indians massacre American settlers in the Wyoming Valley of northern Pennsylvania.

West Point

July 8, 1778

Gen. Washington sets up headquarters at West Point, New York.

France declares war against Britain

July 10, 1778

A damaged French fleet

August 8, 1778

American land forces and French ships attempt to conduct a combined siege against Newport, Rhode Island. But bad weather and delays of the land troops result in failure. The weather-damaged French fleet then sails to Boston for repairs.

A representative in France

September 14, 1778

Ben Franklin is appointed to be the American diplomatic representative in France.

Cherry Valley, New York

November 11, 1778

At Cherry Valley, New York, Loyalists and Indians massacre over 40 American settlers.

A major southern campaign

December 29, 1778

The British begin a major southern campaign with the capture of Savannah, Georgia, followed a month later with the capture of Augusta.

American troops attack Indian villages

April 1, 1779 - April 30, 1779

In retaliation for Indian raids on colonial settlements, American troops from North Carolina and Virginia attack Chickamauga Indian villages in Tennessee.

Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia

May 10, 1779

British troops burn Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia.

Toward West Point.

June 1, 1779

British Gen. Clinton takes 6000 men up the Hudson toward West Point.

Spain declares war on England

June 16, 1779

Spain declares war on England, but does not make an alliance with the American revolutionary forces.

Raid of coastal towns

July 5, 1779 - July 11, 1779

Loyalists raid coastal towns in Connecticut, burning Fairfield, Norwalk and ships in New Haven harbor.

Castine, Maine.

July 10, 1779

Naval ships from Massachusetts are destroyed by the British while attempting to take the Loyalist stronghold of Castine, Maine.

A peace plan

August 14, 1779

A peace plan is approved by Congress which stipulates independence, complete British evacuation of America and free navigation on the Mississippi River.

Elmira, New York

August 29, 1779

American forces defeat the combined Indian and Loyalist forces at Elmira, New York. Following the victory, American troops head northwest and destroy nearly 40 Cayuga and Seneca Indian villages in retaliation for the campaign of terror against American settlers.

A major defeat

Sept. 3, 1779 - Oct. 28, 1779

Americans suffer a major defeat while attacking the British at Savannah, Georgia. Among the 800 American and Allied casualties is Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland. British losses are only 140.

John Paul Jones fights a desperate battle

September 23, 1779

Off the coast of England, John Paul Jones fights a desperate battle with a British frigate. When the British demand his surrender, Jones responds, "I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones then captures the frigate before his own ship sinks.

Adams is appointed by Congress

September 27, 1779

John Adams is appointed by Congress to negotiate peace with England.

Washington sets up at Morristown

October 17, 1779

Washington sets up winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, where his troops will suffer another harsh winter without desperately needed supplies, resulting in low morale, desertions and attempts at mutiny.

Clinton sets sail

December 26, 1779

British Gen. Clinton sets sail from New York with 8000 men and heads for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving there on Feb. 1.

Washington sends reinforcements

April 8, 1780

The British attack begins against Charleston as warships sail past the cannons of Fort Moultrie and enter Charleston harbor. Washington sends reinforcements.

Fort Moultrie at Charleston

May 6, 1780

The British capture Fort Moultrie at Charleston, South Carolina.

The worst American defeat

May 12, 1780

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurs as the British capture Charleston and its 5400-man garrison (the entire southern American Army) along with four ships and a military arsenal. British losses are only 225.

Two leaders are hanged

May 25, 1780

After a severe winter, Gen. Washington faces a serious threat of mutiny at his winter camp in Morristown, New Jersey. Two Continental regiments conduct an armed march through the camp and demand immediate payment of salary (overdue by 5 months) and full rations. Troops from Pennsylvania put down the rebellion. Two leaders of the protest are then hanged.

A new Massachusetts constitution

June 11, 1780

A new Massachusetts constitution is endorsed asserting "all men are born free and equal," which includes black slaves.

Gen. Horatio Gates

June 13, 1780

Gen. Horatio Gates is commissioned by Congress to command the Southern Army.

Springfield, New Jersey

June 23, 1780

American forces defeat the British in the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey.

French soldiers arrive

July 11, 1780

6000 French soldiers under Count de Rochambeau arrive at Newport, Rhode Island. They will remain there for nearly a year, blockaded by the British fleet.

Benedict Arnold is appointed commander of West Point

August 3, 1780

Benedict Arnold is appointed commander of West Point. Unknown to the Americans, he has been secretly collaborating with British Gen. Clinton since May of 1779 by supplying information on Gen. Washington's tactics.

A defeat for the Americans in South Carolina

August 16, 1780

A big defeat for the Americans in South Carolina as forces under Gen. Gates are defeated by troops of Gen. Charles Cornwallis, resulting in 900 Americans killed and 1000 captured.

A defeat at Fishing Creek

August 18, 1780

An American defeat at Fishing Creek, South Carolina, opens a route for Gen Cornwallis to invade North Carolina.

A British major civilian clothing is captured near Tarrytown

September 23, 1780

A British major in civilian clothing is captured near Tarrytown, New York. He is found to be carrying plans indicating Benedict Arnold intends to turn traitor and surrender West Point. Two days later, Arnold hears of the spy's capture and flees West Point to the British ship Vulture on the Hudson. He is later named a brigadier general in the British Army and will fight the Americans.

Cornwallis abandons his invasion

October 7, 1780

Gen. Cornwallis abandons his invasion of North Carolina after Americans capture his reinforcements, a Loyalist force of 1000 men.

Gen. Nathanael Greene

October 14, 1780

Gen. Nathanael Greene, Washington's most able and trusted General, is named as the new commander of the Southern Army, replacing Gen. Gates. Greene then begins a strategy of rallying popular support and wearing down the British by leading Gen. Cornwallis on a six month chase through the back woods of South Carolina into North Carolina into Virginia then back into North Carolina. The British, low on supplies, are forced to steal from any Americans they encounter, thus enraging them.

Mutiny among Americans

January 3, 1781

Mutiny among Americans in New Jersey as troops from Pennsylvania set up camp near Princeton and choose their own representatives to negotiate with state officials back in Pennsylvania. The crisis is eventually resolved through negotiations, but over half of the mutineers abandon the army.

Cowpens

January 17, 1781

An American victory at Cowpens, South Carolina, as Gen. Daniel Morgan defeats British Gen. Tarleton.

Mutiny among American troops

January 20, 1781

Mutiny among American troops at Pompton, New Jersey. The rebellion is put down seven days later by a 600-man force sent by Gen. Washington. Two of the leaders are then hanged.

Guilford Courthouse

March 15, 1781

Forces under Gen. Cornwallis suffer heavy losses in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. As a result, Cornwallis abandons plans to conquer the Carolinas and retreats to Wilmington, then begins a campaign to conquer Virginia with an army of 7500 men.

A war council

May 21, 1781

Gen. Washington and French Gen. Rochambeau meet in Connecticut for a war council. Gen Rochambeau reluctantly agrees to Washington's plan for a joint French naval and American ground attack on New York.

Jefferson narrowly escapes

June 4, 1781

Thomas Jefferson narrowly escapes capture by the British at Charlottesville, Virginia.

A combined force

June 10, 1781

American troops under Marquis de Lafayette, Gen. Anthony Wayne and Baron von Steuben begin to form a combined force in Virginia to oppose British forces under Benedict Arnold and Gen. Cornwallis.

A Peace Commission

June 11, 1781

Congress appoints a Peace Commission comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Henry Laurens. The commission supplements John Adams as the sole negotiator with the British.

Slaves in Williamsburg, Virginia, rebel and burn several buildings

July 20, 1781

Yorktown, Virginia

August 1, 1781

After several months of chasing Gen. Greene's army without much success, Gen. Cornwallis and his 10,000 tired soldiers arrive to seek rest at the small port of Yorktown, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay. He then establishes a base to communicate by sea with Gen. Clinton's forces in New York.

Washington abruptly changes plans

August 14, 1781

Gen. Washington abruptly changes plans and abandons the attack on New York in favor of Yorktown after receiving a letter from French Admiral Count de Grasse indicating his entire 29-ship French fleet with 3000 soldiers is now heading for the Chesapeake Bay near Cornwallis. Gen. Washington then coordinates with Gen. Rochambeau to rush their best troops south to Virginia to destroy the British position in Yorktown.

American troops cut Cornwallis off from any retreat by land

August 30, 1781

Count de Grasse's French fleet arrives off Yorktown, Virginia. De Grasse then lands troops near Yorktown, linking with Lafayette's American troops to cut Cornwallis off from any retreat by land.

The troops of Washington and Rochambeau arrive at Philadelphia.

September 1, 1781

The troops of Washington and Rochambeau arrive at Philadelphia.

A major naval battle

September 5, 1781 - September 8, 1781

Off Yorktown, a major naval battle between the French fleet of de Grasse and the outnumbered British fleet of Adm. Thomas Graves results in a victory for de Grasse. The British fleet retreats to New York for reinforcements, leaving the French fleet in control of the Chesapeake. The French fleet establishes a blockade, cutting Cornwallis off from any retreat by sea. French naval reinforcements then arrive from Newport.

New London, Connecticut

September 6, 1781

Benedict Arnold's troops loot and burn the port of New London, Connecticut.

Up the Chesapeake Bay

September 14, 1781 - September 24, 1781

De Grasse sends his ships up the Chesapeake Bay to transport the armies of Washington and Rochambeau to Yorktown.

The siege of Yorktown

September 28, 1781

Gen. Washington, with a combined Allied army of 17,000 men, begins the siege of Yorktown. French cannons bombard Gen. Cornwallis and his 9000 men day and night while the Allied lines slowly advance and encircle them. British supplies run dangerously low.

The British send out a flag of truce

October 17, 1781

As Yorktown is about to be taken, the British send out a flag of truce. Gen. Washington and Gen. Cornwallis then work out terms of surrender.

The British army marches out in formation

October 19, 1781

As their band plays the tune, "The world turned upside down," the British army marches out in formation and surrenders at Yorktown. Hopes for a British victory in the war against America are dashed. In the English Parliament, there will soon be calls to bring this long costly war to an end.

British reinforcements turn back

October 24, 1781

7000 British reinforcements under Gen. Clinton arrive at Chesapeake Bay but turn back on hearing of the surrender at Yorktown.

Loyalists begin leaving America

January 1, 1782

Loyalists begin leaving America, heading north to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The British withdraw from North Carolina.

January 5, 1782

In England, the House of Commons votes against further war in America

February 27, 1782

Parliament empowers the King

March 5, 1782

The British Parliament empowers the King to negotiate peace with the United States.

The American militiamen

March 7, 1782

American militiamen massacre 96 Delaware Indians in Ohio in retaliation for Indian raids conducted by other tribes.

British Prime Minister, Lord North, resigns

March 20, 1782

British Prime Minister, Lord North, resigns, succeeded two days later by Lord Rockingham who seeks immediate negotiations with the American peace commissioners.

Sir Guy Carleton becomes the new commander

April 4, 1782

Sir Guy Carleton becomes the new commander of British forces in America, replacing Gen. Clinton. Carleton will implement the new British policy of ending hostilities and withdraw British troops from America.

Peace talks begin in Paris

April 12, 1782

Peace talks begin in Paris between Ben Franklin and Richard Oswald of Britain.

Newburgh, New York

April 16, 1782

Gen. Washington establishes American army headquarters at Newburgh, New York.

The Dutch recognize the United States of America

April 19, 1782

The Dutch recognize the United States of America as a result of negotiations conducted in the Netherlands by John Adams.

The British evacuate Savannah, Georgia

June 11, 1782

Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States of America

June 20, 1782

Loyalist and Indian forces attack

August 19, 1782

Loyalist and Indian forces attack and defeat American settlers near Lexington, Kentucky.

Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant

August 25, 1782

Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant conducts raids on settlements in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

The last fighting

August 27, 1782

The last fighting of the Revolutionary War between Americans and British occurs with a skirmish in South Carolina along the Combahee River.

The final battle

November 10, 1782

The final battle of the Revolutionary War occurs as Americans retaliate against Loyalist and Indian forces by attacking a Shawnee Indian village in the Ohio territory.

A preliminary peace treaty

November 30, 1782

A preliminary peace treaty is signed in Paris. Terms include recognition of American independence and the boundaries of the United States, along with British withdrawal from America.

The British evacuate Charleston, South Carolina

December 14, 1782

strong objections are expressed

December 15, 1782

In France, strong objections are expressed by the French over the signing of the peace treaty in Paris without America first consulting them. Ben Franklin then soothes their anger with a diplomatic response and prevents a falling out between France and America.

England signs a preliminary peace treaty with France and Spain

January 20, 1783

Spain recognizes the United States of America

February 3, 1783

Spain recognizes the United States of America, followed later by Sweden, Denmark and Russia.

England officially declares an end to hostilities in America

February 4, 1783

anonymous letters

March 10, 1783

An anonymous letter circulates among Washington's senior officers camped at Newburgh, New York. The letter calls for an unauthorized meeting and urges the officers to defy the authority of the new U.S. national government (Congress) for its failure to honor past promises to the Continental Army. The next day, Gen. Washington forbids the unauthorized meeting and instead suggests a regular meeting to be held on March 15. A second anonymous letter then appears and is circulated. This letter falsely claims Washington himself sympathizes with the rebellious officers.

Washington talks them out of a rebellion

March 15, 1783

General Washington gathers his officers and talks them out of a rebellion against the authority of Congress, and in effect preserves the American democracy.

Congress officially declares an end to the Revolutionary War

April 11, 1783

Loyalists set sail

April 26, 1783

7000 Loyalists set sail from New York for Canada, bringing a total of 100,000 Loyalists who have now fled America.

The main part of the Continental Army disbands.

June 13, 1783

Princeton, New Jersey

June 24, 1783

To avoid protests from angry and unpaid war veterans, Congress leaves Philadelphia and relocates to Princeton, New Jersey.

Treaty of Paris

September 3, 1783

The Treaty of Paris is signed by the United States and Great Britain. Congress will ratify the treaty on January 14, 1784.

Washington delivers his farewell

November 2, 1783

George Washington delivers his farewell address to his army. The next day, remaining troops are discharged.

Washington enters Manhattan as the last British troops leave.

November 25, 1783

Congress meets in Annapolis, Maryland.

November 26, 1783

George Washington resigns his commission

December 23, 1783


Following a triumphant journey from New York to Annapolis, George Washington, victorious commander in chief of the American Revolutionary Army, appears before Congress and voluntarily resigns his commission, an event unprecedented in history.