This American Revolution timeline lists important events from the revolutionary period, from 1777 to 1781. 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.
January 3rd: A further victory for Washington, albeit a minor one, as a small regiment of British troops is defeated at Princeton.
February 5th: Georgia passes a state constitution.
April 20th: New York passes a state constitution.
June 13th: A young French nobleman, Marquis de Lafayette, arrives in America, seeking a volunteer commission with the Continental Army.
June 14th: The first United States national flag, containing 13 stars and 13 stripes, is formally approved by Congress.
July 31st: Congress grants Lafayette a commission as a major general in the Continental Army.
September 11th: The Continental Army is defeated by forces under General Howe at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania. Now in danger from British forces, the Congress flees Philadelphia to Lancaster.
October 17th: The Continental Army emerges victorious over General Burgoyne’s forces at the Battle of Saratoga. It is the most significant American victory in the Revolutionary War to date.
November 15th: Congress passes the Articles of Confederation as a framework for government. The Articles are sent to the 13 states for ratification, however this process will be long and laborious.
December 19th: The Continental Army begins its winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
February 6th: France recognises the United States and signs treaties of trade and military alliance.
February 23rd: Prussian military officer Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge to assist Washington with training the Continental Army.
March 16th: The British parliament forms a peace commission, which travels to America and meets with members of Congress. The British offer to meet all American demands provided the Americans revoke their independence. This is rejected.
May: A wave of Native American raids against American frontier settlements, encouraged by the British, begin.
July 2nd: Congress returns to Philadelphia.
July 10th: France formally declares war on Britain, following an attack on a French ship by British vessels.
September 14th: Congress appoints Benjamin Franklin to act as America’s diplomatic representative in France.
December: The British begin a campaign in the southern states of America, capturing Savannah, Georgia.
June 16th: Spain declares war on England but does not commit forces to the fighting in America.
September: Congress appoints John Adams to negotiate peace with Britain.
May: A mutiny in the Continental Army as hundreds of men demand rations and payment of salary that is five months overdue.
June: Massachusetts adopts its own state constitution, declaring that “all men are born free and equal”.
August 3rd: General Benedict Arnold is appointed commander of American forces at West Point. He is already in secret negotiations with the British.
September 25th: The discovery of papers identifying him as a spy forces Benedict Arnold to defend to the British army, where he is commissioned as a brigadier general.
January 27th: A significant mutiny among Continental Army soldiers in New Jersey is put down by Washington. Several of the ringleaders are hanged.
March 1st: The Articles of Confederation go into effect, after being ratified by all 13 states. The ratification process has taken almost three and a half years.
June 11th: Congress forms a peace committee to consider negotiations with the British. Among the members of the committee are Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.
September 28th: Washington’s Continental Army and French forces under Rochambeau lay siege to the British in Yorktown, Virginia.
October 19th: Unable to be relieved or reinforced by either land or sea, Lord Cornwallis surrenders British forces at Yorktown. This marks the last significant battle of the Revolutionary War.
January: Loyalists begin fleeing America, heading north to the Canadian provinces, south to British colonies in the Caribbean or across the Atlantic to Britain.
February 27th: The British parliament votes to discontinue further military activities in America.
March 20th: British prime minister Lord North resigns. His successor, Lord Rockingham, orders his diplomats to begin peace negotiations with the Americans.
May: The Virginia state legislature passes a Manumission Law, allowing for Virginians to voluntary free their slaves (this had previously been illegal).
April 16th: The headquarters of the Continental Army are moved to Newburgh, New York.
April 19th: John Adams secures Dutch recognition of the United States.
April: Peace negotiations between British and American delegates begin in Paris.
November: The last significant fighting of the Revolutionary War, between American forces, Loyalist militias and natives.
February: the Treaty of Paris formally ends the war. Spain, Denmark, Russia and Sweden recognise the United States.
March 10th: The Newburgh Conspiracy begins with an anonymous note to American officers, encouraging them to take action against Congress over unpaid salaries.
March 15th: Washington meets with his discontented officers and eases tensions with an impassioned speech.
May 13th: Revolutionary War officers form the Society of Cincinnati, with George Washington as their inaugural president. Membership is restricted to officers and their first born sons.
April 3rd: American delegates sign a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Sweden.
April 26th: A further 7,000 Loyalists sail north to Canada.
June: The majority of the Continental Army is demobilised and disbanded.
June 17th: In Philadelphia, the Confederation Congress is besieged by ex-soldiers, protesting unpaid salaries. The soldiers are dispersed a week later.
June 24th: Congress relocates from Philadelphia to Princeton.
July 8th: Massachusetts’ Supreme Court abolishes slavery there.
October 7th: The Virginian state assembly grants freedom to all slaves who fought in the Continental Army.
November 25th: The last British troops leave New York.
December 23rd: General George Washington visits Congress and voluntarily resigns his commission as commander-in-chief.