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"America Secedes from the Empire, 1775-1783"

George Washington

Virginian who was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and President of the Constitutional Convention. Later became the first President. Founding Father.

William Howe

British general who commanded forces at Bunker Hill and took leisurely the mission to capture General Washington's forces.

Nathanael Greene

Patriot General who was victorious in the Carolina Campaign in 1781 by using "exhaustion" techniques. The "Fighting Quaker." Cleared most of the British presence in the South.

Benedict Arnold

General who began the Revolutionary War fighting with the Americans but defected to the British. Remembered as an example of betrayal and has an ambiguous legacy.

John Burgoyne

British general responsible for the surrender to the Americans at Saratoga. He was poorly received back in Britain.

Charles Cornwallis

British general who surrendered to American and French forces at Yorktown in 1781. Ended most hostility in North America.

Thomas Paine

British author, among many other things, who wrote "Common Sense." Significant in contributing to the Patriot cause.

Barry St. Leger

British colonel who led a western force during the British Saratoga campaign. Contributed to Britain's downfall in the war.

George Rogers Clark

American general who captured the Northwest Territory from the British. Arguably responsible for the American Northwest Territory.

Richard Henry Lee

Virginian statesman who proposed the idea of American independence from Britain that led to the Declaration of Independence.

Horatio Gates

American general (former British soldier) who led the Americans at Saratoga and forced General Burgoyne to surrender.

John Paul Jones

Scotsman who led America's small navy in the Revolutionary War. While not very significant at the time, Jones set the foundation for America's navy.

Thomas Jefferson

Virginian statesman. Wrote the Declaration of Independence. Founding Father. Democratic-Republican (Father). Third President. Elite planter.

Marquis de Lafayette

French general in the American Revolution who was a key figure in American-French relations and brilliantly led the Continental Army.

Admiral de Grasse

French admiral who led the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, which led to the British surrender at Yorktown.

Patrick Henry

Virginian who vocally led the Patriot cause. Anti-federalist. Republican exponent.

Comte de Rochambeau

Commander-in-Chief of the French Expeditionary Force that aided the Continental Army.

John Jay

American political who was the first Chief Justice. Federalist. Founding Father, Ambassador to Spain and France during the American Revolution.


soldiers of nations not engaged in a conflict who participate in the conflict for private gain. Mercenaries from Germany fought against the Americans in the American Revolution.

natural rights

rights that are inalienable, self-evident, and universal. They are not contingent upon a religion or government.


practice of hiring individuals to fight in a conflict and attack shipping. American privateering proved an asset in the Revolutionary War.

Second Continental Congress

de facto government of the colonies during the American Revolution. Managed the war effort, adopted the Declaration of Independence, and led the colonies to independence.

Common Sense

pamphlet written by Thomas Paine that heavily contributed to undecided American opinion of independence and increased Patriot feelings in America.

Declaration of Independence

document written by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress in which the thirteen colonies declared themselves sovereign and free from British rule and listed grievances against George III.


Loyalists were American colonists who remained in favor of British rule and loyal to crown. Persecuted by Patriots, supported by redcoats. Tories were British political commentators who supported monarchism and Anglicanism/Catholicism ("God, King and Country")


Patriots were Americans who advocated independence from Britain. Criticized by redcoats and loyalists. Whigs were British political commentators who opposed monarchism and absolute rule and supported nonconformist Protestants, abolition, suffrage, and supremacy of Parliament.

Treaty of Paris of 1783

treaty written by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay that ended the Revolutionary War.

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