Americans celebrate their independence from British rule every July Fourth. Celebrations typically include fireworks, parades and parties. While the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was a seminal moment in both American and world history, the following are some notable events that took place in the years preceding 1776 and helped to shape the country now known as the United States of America.
1765: The passage of the Stamp Act marked the first major form of taxation on British colonists living in what is now America. The act imposed taxes on printed materials to help offset the costs of British troops in the colonies and replenish British debts. Colonists were upset that they had no say in how taxes were levied or how the money would be spent.
1767: After repealing the Stamp Act, Britain imposed the Townshend Acts, a series of taxes on various British goods, including tea. Again, colonists were outraged, spurring a boycott on British goods.
1770: The Boston Massacre involved a crowd of colonists and a collection of British soldiers. The soldiers opened fire on the crowd, killing five and wounding six others. This incident helped increase anti-British sentiments in the colonies.
1773: A few years after the Boston Massacre, colonists boarded British ships in the Boston harbor and threw the tea into the sea as protest against the Tea Act. Known as the Boston Tea Party, this event proved a catalyst for revolution.
1774: After the Intolerable Acts aimed to punish colonists for the Boston Tea Party, delegates from 12 of the original 13 colonies met illegally to form the First Continental Congress. They convened to discuss plans for dealing with various British offenses. Congress also developed political statements against the British and urged people to boycott British goods. The first president of this Congress was Payton Randolph. John Hancock was appointed president the following year after the monarchy ignored the first Congress’ petition.
1775: The British governor of Massachusetts sent several hundred British troops to seize military supplies from the colonists at Concord. When the colonists discovered the plan, they sent their own militia to intercept the forces at Lexington. The British would win at Lexington but were defeated at Concord. Throughout 1775, many other clashes between colonists and British troops took place, eventually culminating in an event that would forever change American history.
1776: On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which formally proclaimed American colonies independent from Britain. However, Britain was not willing to bend to colonists’ wishes.
1776-1783: Several battles took place during this time period, including Moore’s Creek Bridge, Sullivan’s Island and Fort Washington. France was brought into the war in 1777. A successful sea-and-land campaign of American and French armies led to the surrender of British troops at Yorktown.
1783: Nearly two decades after colonists began voicing their displeasure with British laws, the American Revolution formally ended on Sept. 3, 1783, with the Treaty of Paris. The British Empire accepted defeat and recognized the independence of the United States of America.