Stories from PA History
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The American Revolution, 1765-1783
During the American Revolution, war raged on Pennsylvania's borders as well as in its southeast. As Americans fought for independence, Pennsylvania underwent its own "internal revolution," ratifying a radical state constitution, abolishing slavery, and struggling with internal divisions among loyalists, pacificists, patriots, and its Scots-Irish and German residents.

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Overview: The American Revolution, 1765-1783
Chapter One: Revolutionary Politics
Chapter Two: Economics of Revolution
Chapter Three: War in Pennsylvania
Chapter Four: Border Wars

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Dickinson College (John Dickinson, American Revolution) (Cumberland) marker icon "Common Sense" (Philadelphia)
marker icon Benjamin Franklin [American Revolution] (Philadelphia) marker icon First Presbyterian Church (Cumberland)
marker icon Free African Society [American Revolution] (Philadelphia) marker icon George Taylor (Northampton)
marker icon James Smith (York) marker icon John Morton (Delaware)
marker icon John Penn's Home (Philadelphia) marker icon Lancaster County Courthouse (Lancaster)
marker icon Provincial Courthouse (York) marker icon Thomas Mifflin (Berks)
marker icon Timothy Matlack (Montgomery)

Lesson Plans for this Story
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Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776
icon full text The Declaration of Independence, 1776
icon full text The Articles of Confederation, 1777

1763 Pontiac's Rebellion begins with attack on Fort Detroit
1763 Crown "Proclamation Line" prohibits settlement west of Alleghenies.
1763 Paxton Boys destroy the Indian village of Conestoga and murder its inhabitants, including those who sought refuge in Lancaster, then march on Philadelphia.
1763 Treaty of Paris formally ends the Seven Years' War; French cede Canada to British and Louisiana to Spanish
1765 Parliament passes Stamp Act to collect revenues on printed material on stamped paper.
1765 Stamp Act Congress meets in New York City. Emergence of Pennsylvania's John Dickinson as leading spokesman for colonial grievances.
1766 Stamp Act repealed. Declaratory Act asserts Parliament's right to regulate colonies in "all cases whatsoever."
1767 Townshend Acts impose duties on a variety of colonial consumer products.
1767 Farmer's Letters by John Dickinson plays an important role in mobilizing Americans against the Townsend Acts.
1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix modifies the Proclamation Line of 1763 in western Pennsylvania.
1769 - 1771 Early clashes in Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley between New England and Pennsylvania land claimants open era of "Yankee-Pennamite Wars."
1773 Tea Act gives East India company monopoly on tea trade to Americas.
1774 Benjamin Franklin humiliated in hearing before Parliament over American crisis.
1774 - English Parliament passes the Intolerable Acts in response to the Boston Tea Party.
1774 (First) Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia to consider response to Intolerable Acts Passes "Continental Association" to enforce boycotts.
1775 Fighting breaks out between Redcoats and New England militia near Boston.
1775 Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia to address crisis.
1775 Congress forms Continental Army and "adopts" New England militias. Chooses George Washington commander-in-chief.
1775 Battle of Bunker Hill
1776 In Pennsylvania Assembly elections, opponents of Independence gain seats.
1776 Congress adopts John Adams resolution inviting colonies to overthrow colonial governments inadequate to "exigencies" of situation; i.e., Pennsylvania.
1776 - Orchestrated campaign intimidates Pennsylvania Assembly into adjournment.
1776 Provincial convention meets in Philadelphia to write new state constitution.
1776 American defeat in Battle of Long Island begins period of military reversals.
1776 - 1777 Trenton-Princeton offensive by rebels blocks British advance.
1777 Army invades Pennsylvania via Chesapeake Bay and captures Philadelphia.
1777 Philadelphia, Congress stops briefly in Lancaster before moving on to York.
1777 - 1778 Congress and the Pennsylvania Assembly reside in York. There Congress drafts the Articles of Confederation in November, 1777.
1777 - 1778 "Valley Forge Winter"
1778 Franklin and others negotiate "Treaties of Alliance" with French, who enter war on American side in March. French forces sail to America.
1778 Massacre of Connecticut soldiers at the Battle of Wyoming results in flight of settlers from the Wyoming Valley, and call for military campaign to drive the Iroquois out of northeastern Pennsylvania
1779 General John Sullivan's campaign breaks Iroquois Confederation control of northeastern Pennsylvania.
1779 A mob of militiamen and radical Constitutionalists marches on James Wilson's home at Third and Walnut Streets in protest of war profiteering.
1779 The Pennsylvania Assembly divests the Penn family of their unsold lands for a compensation of 130,000 pounds.
1780 Pennsylvania legislature passes "Act for Emancipation" to gradually end slavery in the state. Begins demise of slavery in northern states.
1780 Benedict Arnold treason conspiracy with Major John Andre revealed.
1781 During worst winter of the Revolutionary War, 2,400 Pennsylvania troops revolt in Continental camp in Morristown New Jersey, and march toward Philadelphia.
1781 Maryland ratifies Articles of Confederation, which take effect on March 1.
1781 General Cornwallis surrenders force at Yorktown, Virginia, effectively ending major fighting in North America.
1782 Parliament votes to discontinue offensive operations in America. Peace talks begin informally in April, formally on September 27.
1782 Death of Col. William Crawford escalates calls from removal of Native Americans from western Pennsylvania.
1783 Mutinous Pennsylvania troops surround Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) to press for back pay. Congress moves to Princeton and later Annapolis.
1783 Paris Peace Treaty formally ends war and confirms Independence.
1784 Six Nations cede land claims in Pennsylvania at second Treaty of Fort Stanwix. Ohio tribes reject the treaty
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