The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) began as a conflict between Great Britain and her North American colonies. It ended as a global war, pitting European powers against each other in a time of intense imperial rivalry. In the end, the American colonies gained their independence, ruling themselves under the “firm league of friendship” known as the Articles of Confederation. In 1789, the U.S. Constitution – establishing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches - superseded the Articles of Confederation.
Timeline of major American Revolution actions:April 19, 1775
First shots fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. No one knows who fired first – the British troops or the colonists.
May 10, 1775
Second Continental Congress convenes in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall).
July 2, 1776
Second Continental Congress approves the resolution for independence.
October 17, 1777
British General Burgoyne and 6,000 British troops surrender to the Americans at Saratoga, New York.
February 6, 1778
The United States and France enter into an alliance.
May 12, 1780
Fighting shifts south as the British take Charleston, SC, capturing a large patriot army.
March 2, 1781
Articles of Confederation adopted.
October 19, 1781
British General Cornwallis surrenders after American and French forces surround his troops on land and sea.
November 30, 1782
British and American forces sign preliminary Articles of Peace.
September 3, 1783
U.S. and British sign the Treaty of Paris, ending the war and recognizing American independence.
September 17, 1787
Delegates to the Federal (Constitutional) Convention sign the U.S. Constitution.
April 30, 1789
George Washington sworn in as first President of the United States.
Last updated: September 1, 2018