American Revolutionary War

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The American Revolutionary War (1775– 1783), also known as the American War of Independence, began as a war between the Great Britain and the thirteen British colonies ,[1] in North America. It became a global conflict as European powers intervened to further their ambitions and interests. Most notably, France used the opportunity to revenge its losses in The Seven Years War (1754–1763) to Britain. The war was the final consequence of the struggle for political and economic control between the American colonists and the British Monarchy and Parliament.

The catalyst to war began in 1775 when the revolutionaries gained political control of the colonies. Events escalated as each side increasingly was unable or unwilling to find or seek common ground. The intractable positions lead to the first skirmishes in 1775 at Boston. The British response, to militarily crush the rebellion, caused the colonies to declare their independence from Great Britain and established the United States of America in 1776.

The Royal Navy’s control of the sea ensured Britain could project power onto the North American coast and defend the coastal centres it controlled. It failed to win control of the colonies because it did not commit sufficient resources to achieve its military objectives. As the American forces avoided defeat, the new Republic increasingly gained financial and political support to sustain its struggle. When the Republic’s forces achieved a signal victory over a British army at Saratoga in 1777, France openly joined the war in 1778. It was shortly followed by its allies Spain and the Dutch Republic.

French intervention was decisive. French sea-power effectively challenged the British ability to support its armies in North America. French success at the Battle of the Chesapeake directly lead to the loss of a British army at Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 ended the war with recognition of the of the United States.

In the Canon

The events the American Revolutionary War predate the narrative of the Canon but nonetheless serve as context and background for many of the characters and events, particularly for those novels which take place against the War of 1812.

The War and the new American Republic also serves as a foil for O’Brian to comment and contrast elements in the two societies. O’Brian comments favourably on many aspect of the American navy and American society; ship discipline and the practice of volunteer crews are examples.


  1. * Province of Massachusetts Bay,* Province of New Hampshire,* Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,* Connecticut Colony,* Province of New York,* Province of New Jersey,* Province of Pennsylvania,* Delaware Colony,* Province of Maryland,* Colony and Dominion of Virginia,* Province of North Carolina,* Province of South Carolina,* Province of Georgia.

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