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The Second Continental Congress

Delegates from every colony, except Georgia, met in the State House in Philadelphia three weeks after the Lexington incident. At the meeting, the members agreed to support the war, they approved the Olive Branch Petition and adopted the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms. The meeting consisted of two main groups - moderates and extremists.

Richard Henry Lee

One of the leaders of the extremists who favored complete independence from Britain. He was famous for making the motion for the Declaration of Independence.

Olive Branch Petition

The last conciliatory appeal to the king approved by the second continental congress. It was ignored, which made made it esier to see King George III as evil

Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

Adopted by the second continental congress on July 6, 1775, it proclaimed that the British government had left the American people with only two choices: unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers or resistance by force.


Foreign mercaneries hired by the British to firght against the colonists.

Prohibitory Act

Closed the colonies to all overseas trade and made no concessions to American demands except an offer to pardon repentant rebels. This act was enforced with a naval blockade. It created an economic depression within the colonies and ended all ties of affection with Britain.

Common Sense

Impassioned pamphlet written by Thomas Paine that called for a unicameral legislature. It exposed the folly of reconciliation with Britian, turned colonial anger on the system that allowed a tyrannt (George III) to rule, and stated that the problem with Britain was their lack of a written constitution.

Thomas Paine

Revolutionary propagandist who wrote pamphlets such as "Common Sense."

The Crisis

A series of essays designed to arouse support for the Patriot cause. It was written by Thomas Paine while he served in Washington's army during the campaigns in New Jersey.

The Rights of Man

Written by Thomas Paine on behalf of his active support in the French Revolution.

Edgar Pine-Savage

Painter who depicted the scene in Philadelphia when delegates voted for independence from Great Britain.

Thomas Jefferson

Delegate from Virginia who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

John Locke

Creator of the government contract theory that Thomas Jefferson restated in the Declaration of Independence.


(Loyalists) Those who disapproved of the war and supported Great Britain.

Articles of Confederation

Adopted in November 1777, but not ratified until 1781, it confirmed the weak decentralized system already in operation within the colonies.

Jean Baptiste de Verger

A French officer who served in America during the Revolution. He kept a journal of his experience that was illustrated with watercolors.

Conway Cabal

Plan by some congressmen and army officers to replace Washington as commander in chief (Named after Thomas Conway, one of its alleged leaders who wished to be the commander)

Marquis de Lafayette

Military expert from France who aided Washington in building and holding together an army of fewer than 10,000 men.

Baron von Steuben

Military expert from Prussia who was considered the greates army designer in the world. He aided Washington in the war effort, particularly at Valley Forge.

New England Phase

Phase of the war in which the Britsh and the colonists didn't know if it was really a war. It seemed to be a continuation of things like the Boston Tea Party.

Thomas Gage

English general whose army was beseiged in Boston by American forces after the withdrawal of British forces from Concord and Lexington in April 1775.

Breed's Hill

Actual location of the Battle of Bunker Hill in which the Patriots were forced to retreat, but Britain faced their greatest number of casualties in the Revolution.


Located in Nova Scotia, the British were forced to flee Boston with hundreds of loyalist refugees to come here.

Moore's Creek Bridge

(North Carolina) A band of Patriots crushed an uprising of Loyalists on February 27, 1776, and in the process discouraged a British plan to invade the Southern States.

Richard Montgomery

America who combined his forces with Benedict Arnold's and took command of both. He died in the assault on Quebec.

Benedict Arnold

Second in command after Richard Montgomery who headed through Maine in the winter to reach Quebec.

Mid-Atlantic Phase

1776-early 1778 Phase in which the British were in the best position to win the war. The war became more conventional. Unlike the first phase, the Americans were overmatched in this type of war.

William Howe

British commander who led 32,000 soldiers into New York City. He hoped to awe the Americans into submission, rather than fight them. Some believe he was pro-colonist.

John Burgoyne

Commanded and planned a two-pronged attack along both the Mohawk and the upper Hudson approaches to Albany.

Barry St. Leger

Colonel who was sent by Burgoyne up the St. Lawrence River toward Lake Ontario and the headwaters of the Mohawk. He also commanded a force of Indians and Tories.

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort seized by Burgoyne that contained an enormous store of powder and supplies. It was defended by Philip Schuyler.

Horatio Gates

Put in command of the American forces in the north after Philip Schuyler was removed.

Nicholas Herkimer

Led a Patriot band of German farmers who held off a force of Indians and Tories commanded by St. Leger. They stopped them long enough for Benedict Arnold to arrive with a Continental Army.

John Stark

Bunker Hill veteran who commanded New England militiamen who severly mauled a detachment that Burgoyne had sent out to seek supplies and stopped their advances.

Fort Saratoga

Location where Burgoyne retreated and was surrounded by Gates's men. This was a major turning point of the war because the French became more involved in the war and it inspired the Americans.

Joseph and Mary Brant

Mohawk brother and sister who persuaded their own tribe to contribute to the British cause and attracted the support of the Seneca and Cayuga as well. They played an important role in Burgoyne's unsuccessful campaigns in the North.

Valley Forge

Location where the American army spent a long winter, weak and hungry.

Louis XVI

King of France who was eager to see the British lose a crucial part of its empire. He provided the Americans with much-needed supplies.

Count de Vergennes

Louis XVI's foreign minister

American-French Treaty

On February 6, 1778, France formally recognized the United States as a sovereign nation and laid the groundwork for greatly expanded assistance to the American war effort.

Southern Phase

Final phase of the war in which the British relied heavily upon Loyalist support.

George Rogers Clark

Under orders from the state of Virginia, he led a daring expedition over the mountains and captured settlements in the Illinois country from the British and their Indian outlaws.

Lord Cornwallis

British commander in the south who met and crushed a Patriot force under Horatio Gates in Camden, South Carolina.

Henry Clinton

Replaced William Howe as the commander of soldiers now in Philadelphia. He then moved his army to New York.

Nathanael Green

Replaced Gates as general in command of the southern troops. He and his troops caused Cornwallis to abandon the Carolina campaign.


Generals Washington, Rochambeau, and de Grasse caught Cornwallis between land and sea. Cornwallis was forced to surrendur here.

Francois Joseph Paul de Grasse

Admiral who commanded a French fleet in American waters. He helped Washington and Rochambeau force Cornwallis to surrendur at Yorktown. Eventually, a British fleet met and defeated his fleet in the West Indies.

Treaty of Paris

Signed on September 3, 1783, it ended hostilities between Spain and France and granted clear-cut recognition of the independence of the United States.

Charles Carroll

A Maryland statesman and Catholic lay leader who advised American Catholics to support the Patriot cause during the war.

Carl Becker

Author who wrote that a contest of power between radicals and conservatives led to "the demoralization of American politics and society"

Arthur M. Schlesinger

Revisionist author who maintained that colonial merchants, motivated by their own interest in escaping the restrictive policies of British mercantilism, aroused American resistance in the 1760's and 1770's.

Robert E. Brown

Revisionist who argued that most 18th century white Americans shared basic political principles and that the social and economic conflicts the progressives had indentified were not severe. He also suggested that the rhetoric of the Revolution was not propadanda, but a real reflection of the colonists' ideas.

Bernard Bailyn

Post-revisionist author of "The Idealogical Origins of the American Revolution" who argued that a genuine ideology moticated the colonists to act and that the Revolution above all else was a political struggle.

Gary Nash

Post-revisionist author of the "The Urban Crucible" who emphasized the role of growing economic distres in colonial cities in creating a climate in which revolutionary sentiment could flourish.

Chief Dragging Canoe

Led the Cherokee in a series of attacks on outlying white settlements in the summer of 1776 over the land that would become Kentucky.

"noble savages"

Thomas Jefferson's view of the Indians. He meant that Indians were uncivilized in their current state, but redeemable if they were willing to adapt to the norms of white society.

Lord Dunmore's War

The Shawnee Indians in western Virginia attempted to lead an uprising against white settlers moving into the lands that would later be Kentucky. They were defeated by the colonial militia and were forced to cede more land to white settlers.

Abigail Adams

Wife of John Adams who was outspoken on public issues and fiercely defended her husband's policies which she subtley shaped. She asked that he be kinder to women than his ancestors had been.

"camp followers"

Women who flocked to the camps of the Patriot armies to join their male relatives.

Molly Pitcher

Carried pitchers of water to soldiers on the battlefield. She watched her husband fall during one encounter and immediately took his place at a field gun.

Judith Sargent Murray

One of the leading essayists in the 18th century, who wrote that women's minds were as good as men's and that girls as well as boys deserved access to education. She argued that mothers needed to know how to read and write to teach their children.

Marybeth Norton

Author of Liberty's Daughters, who believed that women gained respect of their husbands out of the Revolution.

Benjamin Rush

Voiced support for the education of women and for other feminist reforms.


Means made in America


System in which the political power comes from the people

"Wolf by the ears"

In maintaining slavery, Thomas Jefferson said Americans were holding this. However unappealing it was to hold on to it, letting go would be even worse.

Ordinance of 1784

Based on a proposal by Thomas Jefferson, it divided the western territory into ten self-governing districts, each of which could petition congress for statehood when its population equalled the number of free inhabitants of the smallest existing state.

Ordinance of 1785

created a system for surveying and selling the land of the Northwest territory. It divided the land into six mile by six mile townships. The land was sold for $1.00 per acre.

Ordinance of 1787

Abandoned the ten districts established in the Ordinance of 1784 and created a single Northwest territory out of the lands North of the Ohio. The Northwest territory could then become three to five states.

Alexander McGillivray

Negotiated a treaty with the federal government settling the dispute between the Creek and the white settlers for a time.

Little Turtle

Led the Miami confederacy in its wars with the US in what is now Ohio and Indiana in the early 1790's. he was defeated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Anthony Wayne

Defeated Little Turtle at the Battle of Fallen Timbers

Battle of Fallen Timbers

battle fought between Little Turtle and Anthony Wayne in which Little Turtle was finally defeated. It resulted in the Treat of Greenville.

Treaty of Greenville

Signed by Little Turtle, it ceded a lot of territory, but it was the first time the US government acknowledged lefal ownership of Indian lands.

Robert Morris

Banker who was the head of the Articles of Confederation treasury

Alexander Hamilton

Fought with Washington. He believed that the Articles of Confederation was flawed and needed to be rewritten.

James Madison

Called for a 5% tariff on all goods imported to the US (a Continental Outpost) It was rejected twice by Congress

Daniel Shays

Revolutionary War veteran who demanded paper money, tax relief, a moratorium on debts, the removal of the state capital from Boston to the interior, and the abolition of imprisonment for debt. He organized his followers into a military force and led Shay's Rebellion.

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