A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 8: “America Secedes from the Empire”
~ 1775 – 1783 ~
Congress Drafts George Washington
After the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775, about 20,000 Minutemen swarmed
around Boston, where they outnumbered the British.
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, with no real intention of
independence, merely a desire to continue fighting in the hope that the king and Parliament would
consent to a redress of grievances.
It sent another list of grievances to Parliament.
It also adopted measures to raise money for an army and a navy.
It also selected George Washington to command the army.
George had never risen above the rank of colonel, and his largest command had
only been of 1200 men, but he was a tall figure who looked like a leader, and thus,
was a moral boost to troops.
He radiated patience, courage, self-discipline, and a sense of justice, and though he
insisted on working without pay, he did keep a careful expense account amounting
to more than $100,00.
Bunker Hill and Hessian Hirelings
In the first year, the war was one of consistency, as the colonists maintained their loyalty while still
shooting at the king’s men.
In May 1775, a tiny American force led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, surprised and captured
the British garrisons at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
In June 1775, the colonials seized Bunker Hill (before known as Breed’s Hill).
Instead of flanking them, the Redcoats launched a frontal attack, and the heavily entrenched
colonial sharpshooters mowed them down until meager gunpowder supplies ran out and
they were forced to retreat.
After Bunker Hill, George III slammed the door for all hope of reconciliation and declared the colonies
to be in open rebellion, a treasonous affair.
The King also hired many German mercenaries, called Hessians, who, because they were lured by
booty and not duty, had large numbers desert and remained in America to become respectful citizens.
The Abortive Conquest of Canada
In October 1775, the British burned Falmouth (Portland), Maine.
The colonists decided that invading Canada would add a 14
colony and deprive Britain of a valuable
base for striking at the colonies in revolt.
Also, the French-Canadians would support the Americans because they supposedly were
bitter about Britain’s taking over of their land.
General Richard Montgomery captured Montreal.
At Quebec, he was joined by the bedraggled army of General Benedict Arnold.
On the last day of 1775, in the assault of Quebec, Montgomery was killed and Arnold was
wounded in one leg, and the whole campaign collapsed as the men retreated up the St.
Lawrence River, reversing the way Montgomery had come.