AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 8 - Chapter Eight: America...

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Chapter Eight: America Secedes From the Empire (1775 - 1783) Congress Drafts George Washington Bloodshed at Lexington and Concord as a clear call to arms. About 20,000 minutemen swarmed around Boston to coop up the outnumbered redcoats. The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia the next month on May 10, 1775. This time all 13 colonies were represented. Still, there was no real sentiment for independence – they merely wanted to continue fighting to persuade Parliament to consent to a redress of grievances. In hope of this, they drafted new appeals to the British people and king – which were ultimately rejected. Anticipating this rejection, the Congress also adopted measures to raise money and to create an army and navy. The Congress also selected George Washington to head the hastily improvised army in Boston. Washington, then 43, had never risen above the rank of a colonel in the militia. His largest command had numbered only 2000 men, and that had been some 20 years earlier. However, Washington was gifted with outstanding powers of leadership and immense strength of character, radiating patience, courage, self- discipline, and justice. He was a great moral force rather than a great military mind. People instinctively trusted him. Washington insisted on serving without pay. The Congress' selection of Washington was largely political. Americans in other sections were beginning to distrust the large New England army and prudence suggested a commander from Virginia, the largest and most populous of the colonies. Bunker Hill and Hessian Hirelings While the Americans were affirming their loyalty to the king and voicing their desire to patch up difficulties, they were also shooting down royal soldiers. This curious war of inconsistency was fought for 14 long months (from April 1775 to July 1776) before the fateful plunge to independence was taken. In May 1775 a tiny America force, under Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allan , surprised and captured the British garrisons at Ticonderoga and Crown Point . A priceless store of gunpowder and artillery for the siege of Boston was secured. In June 1775 the colonists seized a hill, now known as Bunker's Hill (actually Breed's Hill), from which they menaced the enemy in Boston. The British, instead of flanking the Americans, launched a costly frontal attack with 3000 men. Sharpshooter Americans, numbering 1500 and strongly entrenched, mowed down the advancing redcoats. But the American supply of gunpowder gave out and they were forced to retreat. Even at this late date, in July 1775, the Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition , which professed American loyalty to the crown and begged the king to prevent further hostilities. But after Bunker Hill bloodshed, King George III killed any hope of reconciliation.
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2010 for the course AMER HIST 45213 taught by Professor Platt during the Spring '10 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 8 - Chapter Eight: America...

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