This American Revolution timeline lists important events from the revolutionary period, from 1774 to 1776. This timeline has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an important event for inclusion into this timeline, please contact Alpha History.
March: The first Coercive Act, the Boston Port Act, closes Boston Harbour until the full cost for damaged tea had been repaid.
May: Westminster passes a further two Coercive Acts: the Massachusetts Government Act and the Administration of Justice Act.
June 2nd: The British parliament passes another Quartering Act, requiring colonial assemblies to provide vacant buildings for the housing of British regular soldiers.
June 22nd: The Quebec Act is given royal assent. This legislation expands the province of Quebec and allows its French Catholics to hold office and worship freely. This provokes anti-Catholic outrage in the 13 colonies.
July 18th: Fairfax County, Washington’s home county, adopts the Fairfax Resolves, rejecting claims of absolute British sovereignty over the American colonies.
September: General Thomas Gage, new military governor of Massachusetts, seizes the colony’s gunpowder store.
September 5th: The first Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia to discuss the Coercive Acts and decide on a course of action. A total of 56 delegates from 12 colonies would eventually attend.
September 9th: A county meeting in Suffolk, Massachusetts adopts resolutions calling for British authority to be disregarded and all importation from Britain to cease. The Suffolk Resolves receive prominence in both America and Britain.
September 30th: In London, colonial agent Benjamin Franklin is introduced to Thomas Paine. He encourages Paine to emigrate to North America and provides him with a letter of recommendation.
October 20th: The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Association and agrees to an in principle boycott of British goods.
October 26th: The Continental Congress adjourns, after agreeing to reassemble the following year to review the situation.
November 30th: Thomas Paine arrives in Philadelphia. Critically ill from typhoid fever, he has to be carried off the ship and takes weeks to recover.
February 9th: The British parliament declares Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion.
March 23rd: At a meeting of the Virginia convention in Richmond, Patrick Henry delivers a fiery anti-British speech. According to his biographer William Wirt, during this speech Henry allegedly proclaimed “Give me liberty or give me death!”
April 18th: Paul Revere and other Massachusetts watchmen ride to warn communities of British troop movements.
April 19th: Colonial militiamen skirmish with British troops at Lexington and Concord, with more than 120 men killed on both sides.
April 20th: Thomas Gage, British military governor of Massachusetts, clears the Williamsburg armoury of gunpowder, storing it in a British naval vessel.
April: The Massachusetts assembly, meeting illegally, calls for the enlistment of 13,000 men to lay siege to British-held Boston.
May 10th: The second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia, on the same day that American forces capture the British fort Ticonderoga.
June 8th: After a confrontation with Virginian revolutionaries New York’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, flees to a British naval ship.
June 14th: The Continental Congress formally establishes the Continental Army.
June 15th: The Continental Congress appoints George Washington as commander-in-chief of a newly formed Continental Army.
June 17th: The Battle of Bunker Hill in New York, a costly victory for the British.
July 3rd: George Washington arrives in Massachusetts and assumes command of the Continental Army.
July 5th: Continental Congress passes the ‘Olive Branch petition’, a last attempt to reconcile with England and end the Revolutionary War.
July 6th: Congress issues the Declaration of the Causes and Necessities for Taking up Arms, a document outlining why the colonies had armed themselves against Britain.
August 23rd: King George III issues a proclamation declaring the American colonies to be in a state of rebellion.
October 13th: The Continental Congress orders the formation of an American continental navy and a committee to seek foreign alliances.
October 27th: At the opening of parliament, King George III describes the American rebellion as the work of a “desperate conspiracy” and declares his intention to crush it by force.
December 22nd: King George III signs the Prohibitory Act. This legislation imposes a naval blockade on the American colonies, preventing all incoming and outgoing trade.
January 5th: The New Hampshire assembly drafts and passes a state constitution, the first American state to do so.
January 9th: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense is published and begins to circulate around the American colonies.
April 6th: The Continental Congress declares that all American ports are open to ships from all nations, except Great Britain.
April 12th: North Carolina adopts the Halifax Resolves, authorising its delegates to Congress to vote for independence from Britain – the first colony to do so.
March: South Carolina passes a state constitution.
May: King Louis XVI of France promises secret aid to the Americans, including $1 million in arms and munitions.
May 10th: The Continental Congress adopts John Adams’ resolution that it should begin forming a permanent national government.
June: A British flotilla of 30 warships, 300 supply ships and 40,000 men arrive in New York.
June 29th: Virginia passes a state constitution.
July 2nd: New Jersey passes a state constitution.
July 4th: The Declaration of Independence is adopted by the second Continental Congress, after being drafted by Jefferson and revised by the Congress in full session.
August 29th: The Continental Army suffers an embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Long Island. Washington and his men are forced to retreat to Brooklyn.
September 11th: British commanders meet with an American delegation, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, on Staten Island. The British demand the revocation of the Declaration of Independence; the Americans refuse.
September: Congress appoints Jefferson and Franklin to travel to Europe, for the purpose of signing foreign alliances.
September: Pennsylvania passes a state constitution.
October: Washington suffers a third defeat at the Battle of White Plains, before retreating westward.
November: Maryland passes a state constitution.
December: North Carolina passes a state constitution.
December: The Continental Army moves west to Pennsylvania while Congress also flees Philadelphia for Baltimore.
December: Thomas Paine writes American Crisis, a document later read to American troops.
December 26th: George Washington orders a surprise attack on Hessian troops at Trenton, New Jersey. The attack is successful and leads to the capture of 1,000 prisoners. It marks a turning point in American fortunes.