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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > November 2018 > The American Revolutionary War

The American Revolutionary War

What began as a tax dispute between Britain and its 13 North American colonies rapidly blossomed into an eight-year war that involved all the major European powers and led to the formation of the United States. Jonny Wilkes guides us through this era-defining conflict in five key moments


Taxation, tea and trade combined to create the tinder for war

The events, dates, names and personalities of the American Revolutionary War are remembered not as a matter of history in the US, but as the identity of the country and its people. Over eight years, the North American colonies broke away from Britain and built a new nation on the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet when war began in 1775, independence was far from the overarching intention.

Boston was a lively fishing and shipping port during the colonial era

In 1763, Britain emerged victorious from a war against France – fought partly on American soil side-by-side with the colonists – with territorial gains but a tremendous debt. Britain looked to the 13 colonies of North America for money, taking the unprecedented action of imposing taxes, demanding exclusivity of trade and forbidding westward settlement into Native American lands. This ignited resentment amongst the colonists, who saw taxes as an attack on their rights as subjects of the British Crown, arguing that they had no obligation to pay a parliament in which they had no voice. “No taxation without representation,” became their rallying cry.

Sam Adams, a Boston native, argued that it was pointless for the colonies to be governed from thousands of leagues away
The Boston Massacre served as the perfect anti-British propaganda for the Patriots

The heartland of resistance was Boston, capital of Massachusetts: a flourishing city of merchants, manufacturers and entrepreneurs. While their loyalty to the Crown was not in doubt, Bostonians were reliant on trade and so vociferously opposed the Stamp Act, which essentially taxed all documents, and the indirect taxes placed on imported goods like glass, lead, paints, paper and tea by the Townshend Acts.

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About History Revealed

When faced with an obstacle as imposing as the Great Wall of China, most attackers would be forced to admit defeat. Not Genghis Khan. He simply went around it and invaded China by the back door. And that's not the end of his tale - we explore how the nomadic pauper created the largest contiguous land empire in the whole of human history. Plus: The spectacular falling out between Henry II and Saint Thomas Becket, how World War I birthed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, five key moments in the American Revolutionary War, and more.