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Page 12 text:
"Stand Your Ground. . .
If They Mean to Have a War,
Let It Begin Here. U
Capt. John Parker
If Capt. John Parker uttered those words as the colonial militia under
his command prepared to meet the British troops at Lexington. Those
words and the painting-Spirit of '76-exemplify the dedication and
determination of the American patriots in their fight for independence.
The colonies had organized to express their grievances in an effort to
resolve the differences within the framework of the Empire. Several of
the colonial legislatures had instructed their delegates to the Con-
tinental Congress in Philadelphia to oppose any move toward in-
dependence. The movement for independence was gaining strength
and following the publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense,
which argued for colonial sovereignty, a resolution was adopted and a
committee of five appointed to draft a declaration of independence.
21 General Washington, who had been appointed commander-in-chief
of American forces by the Second Continental Congress, was a brilliant
military strategist. It was his decision to take his Continentals across
the Delaware River on Christmas night which resulted in the first ma-
jor colonial victory. That victory at Trenton over Hessian mercenaries
gave the ragged army renewed vigor. Supported chiefly through the
printing of Continental currency, the colonial army also went through
the personal fortunes of many American patriots-among them
Washington, Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee and John Adams. These
fortunes were donated to the cause of liberty-a cause supported by
about one-third of the American population which was near 2,000,000
Another one-third remained loyal to the English crown and the
remainder were apathetic. Despite many defeats, the colonies
managed to keep an army in the field as a symbol of American
resistance, to guarantee a negotiated rather than dictated peace.
Page 11 text:
"These Are the Times
That Try Men's Souls . ."
1! Captain John Paul Jones unfurled the first Stars and Stripes
over the ocean when the young nation's banner, containing thir-
teen stars and thirteen stripes, was hoisted aboard the Ranger.
2! From the deck of the captured British vessel Serapis, Capt.
Jones and his crew watched as the American man-of-war,
Bonhomme Richard, sank in victory, September 23, 1779. With
the aid of friendly powers-namely France and Holland-and
the leadership of commanders like Jones, the American fleet
was able to effectively combat Britain's naval supremacy in the
3! General John Stark led the colonial forces to victory at Ben-
nington on August 11, 1777. The victory, along with an
American triumph at Saratoga on October 12 of that year
brought France to the colonies' aid as an ally and was the turn-
ing point of the war.
4! Outside of occupied Boston, colonial patriots organized
themselves into a volunteer militia known as the Minutemen.
On the eve of April 18, 1775, British troops numbering more
than 800 were dispatched from Boston to seize colonial
munitions stored at Concord. Forewarned, Paul Revere and
others spread the alarm and the Redcoats were met by a deter-
mined band of Minutemen at Lexington. It was here that the
famous 'tshot heard round the world" was fired. It is not known
which side fired the first shot of that battle which marked the
opening of outright hostilities and led to open war.
51 The surrender of British troops under the command of
General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown on October 19, 1781,
brought an end to all-out fighting. A few scattered skirmishes
continued for over a year. However, complications of negotia-
tion with England delayed the signing of a peace treaty for
nearly two years. Gfeneral George Washington, commander of
colonial forces, accepted the British surrender at Yorktown and
later presented the captured British flags to the Congress.
Page 13 text:
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". . Give Me Liberty.
or Give Me Death!"
3! Following the victory at Yorktown, Washington refused the offer of
his troops to become king and returned to Philadelphia to aid with the
establishment of a permanent government for the new republicAa
loose alliance of sovereign states held together by the Articles of
Confederation. An envoy composed of Benjamin Franklin, John
Adams and John Jay was sent to negotiate with the British, It was not
until 1783 that the peace agreement, known as the Treaty of Paris, was
signed, guaranteeing the sovereignty of the United States of America.
The Articles of Confederation, despite many weaknesses, served to un-
ity the states until 1787 when a special convention was held at
Independence Hall in Philadelphia to revise them. The meeting was
attended by fifty-five of the most-prominent men of the day. Twentye
nine of the delegates representing a majority of the states met on May
25 and decided to draft an entirely new constitution rather than am-
mend the Articles of Confederation. The meeting then became known
as the Constitutional Convention.
4! The men who assembled for the Constitutional Convention were an
illustrious group with nearly every delegate a person of prominence in
his home state. A large majority favored a strong central government.
After four months of debate, on September 17, 1787, the new constitu-
tion was completed. ln a little more than four months, six states had
ratified the new constitution. Despite the good beginning, the fight for
ratification was bitter and it was not until September 13, 1788, that
the necessary two-thirds majority of the states had approved the docu-
ment and Congress could call for states to choose their electors and
congressmen. Several of the states had ratified the constitution with
the provision that it would be amended. Thus, as one of its first official
acts under the new constitution, the Congress added the first ten
amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Washington was un-
animously elected President and a new nation was launched on a
course of democracy.
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