American Revolution

The following notes will help you prepare for questions about the American Revolution on the AP U.S. History Exam.

  • In 1763, the French and Indian War came to an end but tension between the colonists and Great Britain increased. Great Britain believed that the colonists should take on some of the burden of the war debt since the war was fought to keep France and the Native Americans from overtaking the land.

  • This led to a series of laws and taxes that colonists believed to be unfair, especially since they had no representation in Parliament. Calls for independence from Great Britain increased.

Sugar Act (1764) : raised taxes on foreign refined sugar to try to increase the profits of British sugar growers

Stamp Act (1765) : issued a tax on all printed materials and documents; targeted the colonists most likely to use paper such as writers and lawyers

Quartering Act (1765) : colonists were required to provide housing for British soldiers

Townshend Acts (1767) : a series of acts that were intended to restrict the ability of colonists to engage in foreign trade

Tea Act (1773) : lowered the tax on tea for the East India Tea Company, a British company; intended to create a monopoly on tea for Great Britain

Coercive Acts (1774) : Great Britain's response to the Boston Tea Party, including closing Boston Harbor.

Boston Massacre : riot initiated by colonists that resulted in the deaths of 5 unarmed colonists when British soldiers opened fire

Boston Tea Party : colonists disguised as Native Americans went onboard three British ships, carrying East India Tea, and dumped the tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act

Declaration of Independence : document declaring the intention of the 13 colonies to break away and form their own nation; written in 1776, after the war began when the colonists believed that their grievances were not adequately addressed


Lexington and Concord : first battles of the Revolutionary War, April 1775

Battle of Saratoga : decisive victory for the Continental Army over the British in 1777; convinced France to join the war against the British

Battle of Yorktown : Joint forces from the Continental Army and France defeat the British, leading to the surrender of the British

Valley Forge : Continental Army camp in the winter of 1777-1778; the troops made it through a difficult winter and came out a more efficient army


Samuel Adams : an organizer of the resistance movement against the British

Charles Cornwallis : British general, member of Parliament, present at the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown

Patrick Henry : politician and patriot known for the "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech

Thomas Jefferson : primary author of the Declaration of Independence; third president of the United States

loyalists : colonists who remained loyal to the Crown; also called Tories

minutemen : patriots who were ready to fight on short notice

Thomas Paine : author of Common Sense, which helped convince many colonists to support the revolution for independence

patriots : colonists who supported independence

Sons of Liberty : colonists who resisted British rule and called for independence

George Washington : Commander of the Continental Army; 1st president of the U.S.

Phyllis Wheatley : First African American to be published in America

Related Links:
American Revolution Quiz
AP US History Quizzes
AP US History Notes
American Revolution Quiz
American Revolution Facts
The Revolutionary War Quiz
Revolutionary War Timeline
Antebellum America
Civil War