First Continental Congress
The Committees of Correspondence spread news of the Intolerable Acts. As word spread throughout the 13 colonies, the colonists became more and more angry. As a result on September 5th, 1774, each colony, except Georgia, elected a delegate. A delegate is someone chosen to speak for others. This meeting became known as the First Continental Congress. Delegates wrote a letter to King George III and Parliament asking for representation in Parliament and the removal of the Intolerable Acts. As delegates awaited a response they began to training for war.
Patriot or Loyalist?
As tensions rose, two groups of colonists developed. A patriot was a colonist who opposed British rule. Patriots were also referred to as rebels. Approximately two-fifths of of the colonists became patriots. Many were artisans, merchants, and farmers who's business was hurt by British taxes. Some patriots were lawyers who fought in court to support the unfair taxation of colonists.
A loyalist was a colonist who supported British rule and did not want to declare war against England. Some loyalists were landowners who feared their property would be damaged in the war. Others were governors, who made good money and were appointed by the King. They felt they owed their good fortune to the king and wanted to support him. Many religious leaders were also loyalists. They felt the king had been appointed by god and believed it would be wrong to oppose him.
From 1757-1775 Benjamin Franklin represented the colonies in England. He had not formal vote, as he was not an official representative, but he was able to convince Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act. Unfortunately, he was not able to stop England from passing the Townshend and Intolerable Acts. As a result, he came back to the colonies as a patriot and fought for independence. He was a delegate at the First Continental Congress.
Patrick Henry famously said, "Give me liberty of give me death!" His background as a lawyer helped him write persuasive speeches which moved the colonists toward independence. He was a delegate at the First Continental Congress.
Unlike Benjamin Franklin, who believed he could negotiate with England, Samuel Adams was always a strong patriot. Samuel Adams organized the Sons of Liberty and encouraged the colonists to disobey laws like the Stamp Act. Adams led the Sons of Liberty in the Boston Tea Party.
John Adams was a passionate Patriot. As a lawyer he defended the British soldiers during the Boston Massacre trials. He served on the First Continental Congress. While there, he nominated George Washington to be commander and chief of the Army. Adams had a large influence in getting congress to pass the Declaration of Independence.
Lexington and Concord
April 19, 1775
General Thomas Gage, a British governor or Massachusetts found out that Patriots were storing gun-powder in Concord, Massachusetts. He decided to send soldiers to destroy the supplies. The secret did not last long. Patriots found out. They used lanterns in the tower of Boston's Old North Church to warn the Patriots that the British were coming. Paul Revere and William Dawes also rode out to warn the militia. Militia is a group of ordinary people who train for battle. As Revere and Dawes rode they warned the minutemen. Minutemen were militia with special training to be ready at a moments notice. British soldiers captured Revere in Lexington, but Dawes escaped.
The British soldiers arrived at Lexington. The minutemen were waiting there. The minutemen refused to leave then someone fired a shot. This is known as "the shot heard 'round the world." No one knows who fired the shot. Eight colonists were killed and nine were injured. Only one British solider was hurt.
The British soldiers moved back toward Boston. Patriots from Concord and Boston were waiting to attack. Colonists fought at the Old North Bridge in Concord. More than 250 British soldiers were wounded or killed.
Colonists attacked soldiers the entire way back to Boston. Because of this, the British had to take cover in Charleston.
June 17th, 1775
Patriots heard that the British were going to seize two hills near Boston. These hills could be very important in battle. The Patriots went out in the middle of the night to fortify the hills. Bunker was the larger hill farther from Boston. Breed’s Hill was a smaller hill, closer to Boston and the British forces. When the British realized the two hills were taken, they immediately set out to attack. The Patriots used Bunker Hill as a deterrent and were actually inside Breed’s Hill. Because the Patriots did not have a lot of ammunition, they waited until the British were within several yards to shoot. The British were surprised and retreated. The British reformed their lines and attacked again engaging the Patriots in hand to hand combat. The British eventually won the battle, but many redcoats were killed. The Patriots proved they could fight well.