American Revolution Quiz



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Establishing the US:

American Revolution

  • The American Revolution was a political and ideological revolution in British America between 1765 and 1791.
  • The Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War, gaining independence from the British Crown.
  • The United States was established as the first nation-state founded on Enlightenment principles of constitutionalism and liberal democracy.
  • The Americans objected to being taxed by the Parliament of Great Britain, which led to colonial protest and the meeting of representatives from several colonies at the Stamp Act Congress.
  • The Continental Congress declared British King George III a tyrant who trampled the colonists' rights as Englishmen, and they pronounced the colonies free and independent states on July 4, 1776.
  • The British captured New York City and its strategic harbor in the summer of 1776.
  • The Continental Army captured a British army at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, and France then entered the war as an ally of the United States.
  • The British Royal Navy blockaded ports and held New York City for the duration of the war, but they failed to destroy Washington's forces.
  • Finally, a combined American and French force captured Cornwallis' army at Yorktown in the fall of 1781, effectively ending the war.
  • The Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, formally ending the conflict and confirming the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire.
  • Among the significant results of the American victory were American independence and the end of British mercantilism in America, opening up worldwide trade for the United States.
  • The United States adopted the United States Constitution, replacing the weak wartime Confederation and establishing a comparatively strong national government structured as a federal republic.


  • From the start of English colonization of the Americas, the English government pursued a policy of mercantilism.

  • Following the parliamentarian victory in the English Civil War, the first mercantilist legislation was passed.

  • In 1651, the Rump Parliament passed the first of the Navigation Acts, intended to both improve England's trade ties with its colonies and to address Dutch domination of the trans-Atlantic trade at the time.

  • King Philip's War was fought from 1675 to 1678 between the New England colonies and a handful of indigenous tribes.

  • In 1764 Parliament passed the Sugar Act, decreasing the existing customs duties on sugar and molasses but providing stricter measures of enforcement and collection.

  • Parliament finally passed the Stamp Act in March 1765, which imposed direct taxes on the colonies for the first time.The American Revolution: Timeline and Key Events

  • In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which imposed taxes on printed materials, and the Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and feed British soldiers.

  • Colonists protested the taxes, arguing that they were unjust and violated their rights as British citizens.

  • In 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but passed the Declaratory Act, asserting the right to make laws for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever."

  • In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which placed duties on various goods and established a Board of Customs in Boston to enforce trade regulations.

  • Colonists objected to the taxes and organized boycotts of British goods, but the boycotts were less effective than previous ones.

  • In 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred, in which British soldiers fired on a crowd of colonists, killing five.

  • In 1773, colonists protested the Tea Act, which lowered the price of taxed tea and appointed consignees to sell it, by dumping tea into Boston Harbor in what became known as the Boston Tea Party.

  • In 1774, the British passed the Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston, restricted town meetings, and allowed British troops to be quartered in colonists' homes without permission.

  • In response, colonists held Provincial Congresses and formed militias, culminating in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775.

  • The Second Continental Congress was formed in May 1775 and issued the Olive Branch Petition, which was rejected by King George III.

  • The Continental Army was formed, and George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief.

  • The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781, forming a new government structure.

  • The British returned in force in 1776, capturing New York City and pushing the Continental Army into Pennsylvania, but Washington's surprise attack at Trenton and Princeton gave the Patriots a boost.

  • In 1777, the British sent an invasion force to New York to isolate New England, but the British army in New York City went to Philadelphia instead, capturing it from Washington, while the invasion force became trapped in northern New York and was defeated at Saratoga.

  • France entered the war on the side of the Patriots in 1778, which helped to turn the tide of the war.

  • The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which Britain recognized the independence of the United States.The American Revolution: Key Points

  • The British treated captured American soldiers as prisoners of war, while the British maltreated the prisoners whom they held, resulting in more deaths to American prisoners of war than from combat operations.

  • France became the first foreign nation to officially recognize the Declaration of Independence, and the Spanish and Dutch later became allies of the French, forcing the British to fight a global war without major allies.

  • The British strategy in America concentrated on a campaign in the southern states, where they captured Savannah and Charleston, but the British had to fight their way north into North Carolina and Virginia with a severely weakened army.

  • The British surrendered their second invading army of the war under a siege by the combined French and Continental armies commanded by Washington at Yorktown in 1781.

  • Congress and the American states had no end of difficulty financing the war, while the British had relatively little difficulty financing their war.

  • The US obtained all the land east of the Mississippi River, including southern Canada, but Spain took control of Florida from the British, and the British largely abandoned their indigenous allies.

  • Losing the war and the Thirteen Colonies was a shock to Britain, and the defeat heightened dissension and escalated political antagonism to the King's ministers.

  • The war ended in 1783 and was followed by a period of prosperity, but the national government had no money either to pay the war debts owed to European nations and the private banks, or to pay Americans who had been given millions of dollars of promissory notes for supplies during the war.

  • The Constitution was ratified in 1788, after a fierce debate in the states over the proposed new government.

  • The national government owed $40┬ámillion and state governments owed $25┬ámillion to Americans who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the Patriot forces.

  • In 1790, Congress combined the remaining state debts with the foreign and domestic debts into one national debt totaling $80┬ámillion at the recommendation of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

  • Everyone received face value for wartime certificates, so that the national honor was preserved, and the United States Bill of Rights guaranteed many of the inalienable rights that formed a foundation for the revolution.

  • The American Revolution revealed the limitations of Britain's fiscal-military state when they suddenly faced powerful enemies with no allies, and they were dependent on extended and vulnerable transatlantic lines of communication.Ideology and factions shaped the American Revolution, with varying loyalties and allegiances among the population of the Thirteen States. The American Enlightenment, with its emphasis on natural law and individualism, was a precursor to the Revolution. John Locke's theories on natural rights and the social contract influenced the political thinking of the American Patriots. Republicanism, with its emphasis on representation and basic civil rights, was a key value for the Founding Fathers. Protestant Dissenters and the Great Awakening played a role in shaping Revolutionary ideas and motivating people to fight against tyranny. Class played a role in the factions of Patriots and Loyalists, with most yeomen farmers, craftsmen, and small merchants joining the Patriot cause for political equality. King George III was a key figure in the Revolution, believing he was defending Britain's constitution against usurpers. Patriots, also known as Revolutionaries, were united in their rejection of monarchy and aristocracy and their emphasis on civic virtue. Loyalists, also known as Tories or King's men, constituted about 15 to 20 percent of the white population and never controlled territory unless the British Army occupied it. Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense contributed significantly to spreading the ideas of republicanism and liberalism and bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Great Britain. The Revolution became a personal issue for King George III, with his growing belief that British leniency would be taken as weakness by the Americans.


Test your knowledge about the establishment of the United States with this quiz on the American Revolution. From the origins of English colonization to the adoption of the United States Constitution, this quiz covers the key events, timelines, and key points of the American Revolution. See how much you know about the causes, ideologies, factions, and significant figures of this political and ideological revolution that transformed British America into the first nation-state founded on Enlightenment principles of constitutionalism and liberal democracy.

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