The Beginnings of the Revolution

Chapter Six
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six

One Third True Blue

When the Revolutionary War began it was not always easy for the Continental Congress to know who was really for the cause and who was not. John Adams, who later became the second president of the United States of America said it like this, “We are about one third Tories, and one third timid, and one third true blue.”[1] This meant about one third of the population was still loyal to the British King, about one third were neutral to either side , and about a third of the population were committed to forming a new nation through the act of revolution.

There were many incidents similar to that which happened in April 1775, but the battles did not become official until the Colonies proclaimed their independence from the British crown in a document written by the notorious Virginian philosopher and statesman Thomas Jefferson. King George III responded quickly establishing military operations throughout the colonies, but concentrating on the more northern half of the population.

The British began to squelch the colonial minutemen from the start. They continually outmanned and outgunned the typical rebel militia. The British soldiers were well trained and disciplined combatants, and could be very imposing in their “Red Coats” as they entered a community.

The Continental Congress promptly installed George Washington as their Commander in Chief and General of the Colonial troops.  But the troops were thin in rank compared to the British forces, poorly equipped and often underfed. Although there were over 200,000 enlistments during the war, Washington in fact never had more than 8,000 Continental regulars in a single battle. [2]But they were very determined to gain full independence and freedom from Great Britain.

In August of 1776, just two months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence the British won the battle of Long Island and securing the New York Harbor for its sea faring fleet. Even though the Americans would win an occasional battle, the British seemed to be steadily gaining ground. King George had also hired over 8000 German mercenaries to assist his troops in the war effort.

In 1777, the American colonies began to form an alliance with France, England’s long- time adversary, Benjamin Franklin would become the key ambassadorial component to this most valuable relationship. And it would prove to be a very pivotal event that started changing the outcome of the war.

It was late in December of 1777 That George Washington would establish camp for his troops at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It was a bitter cold winter that yielded much hardship on the troops. The Continental Congress had very little funds to work with when it cam to the support of the troops. The experiences of the soldiers and officers and the accounts they produced have given Valley Forge a special place in American history. It was both the nadir of America’s revolutionary hopes and the turning point in the evolution of the Continental army into a formidable force.[3]

The Revolutionary War would continue on until October 19, 1781 when British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown. This act of surrender put an end to any serious hostilities in the Colonies. However, officially the Treaty of Paris was not signed until September 3, 1783. The Revolutionary War had established the thirteen American Colonies as the United States of America.

The new government had much to accomplish so that it could remain such a viable reality. It would take a process lasting over six years so that a constitution could be written and ratified. It was not until 1789 that George Washington was unanimously voted into office as the first President of those United States.

The Revolutionary War was a necessary component of the establishing of the United States of America. But like any other aspects of initiating any new entity there is always great risk and an obvious price to pay.

As we have seen it took decades for the concept and need of independence from England by the Colonies to mature. But when the time was obvious, those colonists and their militia rose to the occasion. Despite their lack of experience and war technology, the colonial militiamen endured over five years of consistent warfare with an army representing a nation with seemingly endless resources and allies.

The psychology of the war and the logistics of the battlefields seemed at times to be overwhelming, but both the people and the troops struggled, endured and prevailed to see the dream of one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

All of the Revolutionary War’s political rhetoric and religious idealism would not go untested. Nor would the interpretation of the founding documents go unquestioned over the next two and a half centuries. The founding fathers knew that the United States would be a developing project of principals, values and goals for as long as this new great republic would endure. And so the door of progress and reevaluation was left open for future leaders to apply as would best suit the needs of the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

[1] McCullough, David G.  John Adams (New York, New York. Simon & Schuster, 2001) p.78

[2] Morris, Richard B. The Making of a Nation (New York, Stonehenge Books, 1963) p.18 

[3] Campbell, Ballard C.  Disasters, Accidents and Crisis in American History (New York, New York. Facts On File Inc., 2008)  p.1778

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