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The American Revolution AP Vocabulary

Second Continental Congress-(1775-1781)

Representative body of delegates from all thirteen colonies. Drafted the Declaration of Independence and managed the colonial war effort.

Battle of Bunker Hill ( June 17, 1775)

Revolutionary battle near Boston that resulted in more than 1,000 British casualties and fewer than 450 Patriot casualties.

Olive Branch Petition (July 1775)

Conciliatory measure adopted by the Continental Congress, professing American loyalty and seeking an end to the hostilities. King George rejected the petitioned proclaimed the colonies in rebellion.


German troops hired from their princes by George III to aid in putting down the colonial insurrection. This hardened the resolve of American colonists, who resented the use of paid foreign fighters.

Common Sense (1776)

a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine the criticized and convinced many American colonists of the need to break away from Britain

Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)

Formal pronouncement of independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson and approved by Congress. The declaration allowed Americans to appeal for foreign aid and served as an inspiration for later revolutionary movements worldwide.


A colonist who sided with Britain in the American Revolution


A person who supported the colonists during the American Revolution

Battle of Saratoga (October 17, 1777)

Turning point in the war. Gen. Horatio Gates (American) defeated Gen. Burgoyne (British). Convinced the French to help the Americans.

Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775)

British troops planned to destroy American ammunition at Concord. Committee of Safety gathered the Minute men and they fought with the British troops at Lexington (outside Boston).

Model Treaty (1776)

sample treaty drafted by the Continental Congress as a guide for American diplomats. Reflected the Americans' desire to foster commercial partnerships rather than political or military entanglements.

Armed Neutrality (1780)

Loose alliance of nonbelligerent naval powers, organized by Russia's Catherine the Great, to protect neutral trading rights during the war for American independence.


privately owned armed ships authorized by Congress to prey on enemy shipping during the Revolutionary War. Privateers, more numerous than the tiny American Navy, inflicted heavy damages on British ships.

Valley Forge

location in Pennsylvania where the Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-1778 under extremely harsh conditions

Battle of Yorktown (1781)

Last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Cornwallis and his troops were trapped in the Chesapeake Bay by the French fleet. He was sandwiched between the French navy and the American army. He surrendered onOctober 19, 1781.

Treaty of Paris (1783)

This treaty ended the Revolutionary War, recognized the independence of the American colonies, and granted the colonies the territory from the southern border of Canada to the northern border of Florida, and from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River

Committees of Correspondence- (1772 and after)

local committees established across Massachusetts, and later in each of the thirteen colonies, to maintain colonial opposition to British policies through the exchange of letters and pamphlets.

Benedict Arnold (1741-1801)

United States general and traitor in the American Revolution; in 1780 his plan to surrender West Point to the British was foiled

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

American political philosopher and author: he urged an immediate declaration of independence from England in his anonymously and simply written pamphlet, Common Sense.

Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794)

American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain.

Lord Cornwallis (1738-1805)

British general and commander of the British army at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. After the defeat of the British army he was forced to surrender to the Americans, ending the American Revolution.

John Burgoyne (1722-1792)

British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762. He captured Fort Ticonderoga but lost the Battle of Saratoga

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Printer whose success as an author led him to take up politics; he helped draw up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; he played a major role in the American Revolution and negotiated French support for the colonists.

George Washington (1732-1799)

1st President of the United States; commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution

Count de Rochambeau (1738-1805)

French general who led troops against the British Army during the Revolutionary War.

Admiral de Grasse (1722-1788)

Commanded the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, which led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown

Samuel Adams (1722-1803)

American revolutionary who led the agitation that resulted in The Boston Tea Party.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

American statesman: he was member of two Continental Congresses, chairman of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration main author and one of its signers, and the third president of the Untied States.

Robert Livingston

Rising politician who was on the Committee of Five, he mainly observed the process of writing the Declaration of Independence. He was also the U.S. Minister to France from 1801 to 1804. He negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory.

Roger Sherman

Rising politician who was on the Committee of Five, he mainly observed the process of writing the Declaration of Independence.

Crispus Attucks (1723-1770)

He was one of the colonials involved in the Boston Massacre, and when the shooting started, he was the first to die. He became a martyr.

Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834)

French statesman officer who viewed the American Revolution as important to the world: he helped finance the Revolution and served as major general.

General von Steuben (1730-1794)

A Prussian-born military officer who served as inspector general and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army in teaching them the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines.

Nathanael Greene (1742-1786)

A major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. When the war began, Greene was a militia private, the lowest rank possible; he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington's most gifted and dependable officer.

Paul Revere (1735-1818)

American silversmith remembered for his midnight ride (celebrated in a poem by Longfellow) to warn the colonists in Lexington and Concord that British troops were coming

Molly Pitcher (1754-1832)

Heroine of the American Revolution who carried water to soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth Court House and took over her husband's gun when he was overcome by heat

General Howe (1729-1814)

A British army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence. Howe was one of three brothers who enjoyed distinguished military careers.

John Paul Jones (1747-1792)

Revolutionary War naval officer. His ship, the Bonhomme Richard, was sunk in a battle with the British ship Serapis, but he managed to board and gain control of the Serapis.

Joseph Brant (1743-1807)

Mohawk leader who supported the British during the American Revolution.

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