American Revolution Timeline

Leaders of the Continental Congress, John Adams, Morris, Hamilton, Jefferson, by A. Tholey

Leaders of the Continental Congress, John Adams, Morris, Hamilton, Jefferson, by A. Tholey

June 7, 1776 – Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presents a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from Britain. Congress decides to postpone its decision on this until July.

June 8, 1776 – Patriot attempt to take British position in Three Rivers, Canada failed.

June 11, 1776 – Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Committee members are Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin FranklinJohn Adams, Roger Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson is chosen by the committee to prepare the first draft of the declaration, which he completes in one day.

June 28, 1776 – Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is ready and is presented to  Congress, with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

June 28, 1776 – At Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, British naval attack failed when the palmetto logs held against the bombardment.

June-July, 1776 – A massive British war fleet arrives in New York Harbor consisting of 30 battleships with 1200 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships, under the command of General William Howe and his brother Admiral Lord Richard Howe.

July 1, 1776 – Incited by British royal agents, the Cherokee attacked along the entire southern frontier.

July 2, 1776 – Twelve of 13 colonial delegations (New York abstains) vote in support of Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence.

Declaration of Independence by Arthur Szyk

Declaration of Independence by Arthur Szyk

July 4, 1776 – The Congress formally endorses Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration, with copies to be sent to all of the colonies.

July 12, 1776 – As a show of force, two British frigates sail up the Hudson River blasting their guns. Peace feelers are then extended to the Americans. At the request of the British, General George Washington meets with General William Howe’s representatives in New York and listens to vague offers of clemency for the American rebels. Washington politely declines before he leaves.

July 15, 1776 – At Lyndley’s Fort, South Carolina, Patriots defended against attack by Indians and the British dressed as Indians.

August 1, 1776 – At Seneca, South Carolina, Americans are ambushed by Cherokee Indians. Patriot forces saved by a mounted charge.

August 10, 1776 – Cherokee Indians defeated by Andrew Pickens at Tugaloo River, South Carolina.

August, 1776 – In the Ring Fight in South Carolina, 200 Cherokee Indians attacked Andrew Pickens and 25 militia. From a circle, firing in turn, the patriots held off attackers until a rescue force arrived.

August 12, 1776 – Colonel David Williamson and Andrew Pickens defeated a large Cherokee war party and burned the Indian town near Tamassee, South Carolina.

August 27, 1776 – George Washington’s army defeated is defeated but, escaped by night in the fog at Long Island, New York.

Battle of Long Island, New York

The Battle of Long Island, New York by Virtue and Co. Click for prints & products.

August 27-29, 1776 – General William Howe leads 15,000 soldiers against Washington’s army in the Battle of Long Island, New York. Washington, outnumbered two to one, suffers a severe defeat as his army is outflanked and scatters. The Americans retreat to Brooklyn Heights, facing possible capture by the British or even total surrender.

September 11, 1776 – A peace conference is held on Staten Island, New York with British Admiral, Lord Richard Howe, meeting American representatives including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The conference fails, however, as Howe demands the colonists revoke the Declaration of Independence.

September 16, 1776 – After evacuating New York City, Washington’s army repulses a British attack during the Battle of Harlem Heights in upper Manhattan, New York. Several days later, fire engulfs New York City and destroys over 300 buildings.

September 19, 1776 – Colonel David Williamson’s patriots were attacked by Cherokee south of Franklin, North Carolina in a gorge known as the Black Hole. Americans eventually cleared the pass.

September 22, 1776 – After he is caught spying on British troops on Long Island, New York, Nathan Hale is executed without a trial, his last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

September 26, 1776 – Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane to negotiate treaties with European governments. Franklin and Deane then travel to France seeking financial and military aid.

October 11, 1776 – With makeshift boats on Lake Champlain, Benedict Arnold engaged a British squadron. Arnold was defeated but delayed the British until it was too close to winter to continue their campaign.

Yankee Doodle, 1776

Yankee Doodle, A.M. Williard, 1776.

October 28, 1776 – After evacuating his main forces from Manhattan, George Washington’s army suffers heavy casualties in the Battle of White Plains, New York from General William Howe’s forces. General George Washington then retreats westward.

November 16, 1776 – American commander surrendered Fort Washington, New York to the Hessians.

November 20, 1776 – Lord Charles Cornwallis captured Fort Lee, New Jersey. Nathanael Greene abandoned the position.

December 6, 1776 – The naval base at Newport, Rhode Island is captured by the British.

December 11, 1776 – General George Washington takes his troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

December 12, 1776 – With concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia for Baltimore, Maryland.

December 26, 1776 – General George Washington re-crosses the Delaware River and conducts a surprise raid on a Hessian brigade and defeated it. Known as the Battle of Trenton.


January 3, 1777 – A second victory for General George Washington as his troops defeat the British at Princeton and drive them back toward New Brunswick.

Winter, 1777 – General George Washington establishes winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the harsh winter, Washington’s army shrinks to about a thousand men as enlistments die and deserters flee the hardships. By spring, with the arrival of recruits, Washington will have 9,000 men.

March 12, 1777 – The Continental Congress returns to Philadelphia from Baltimore after Washington’s successes against the British in New Jersey.

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