Although the colonists were angry with the British for increased taxes and interference, most still felt some loyalty to the Crown. Originally, many Americans wanted to remain part of the British Empire, with more freedom. That view changed quickly when they realized King George wasn’t interested in compromise.
The British began to worry about the colonists’ strength and stockpile of weapons.
In April, 1775, General Gage sent 700 redcoats from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts to seize weapons and arrest Patriot leaders, such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott rode on horseback from Boston to Concord to warn the Patriots that the “British were coming.”
At dawn on April 19, 1775, church bells rang as an alarm that British troops had arrived. Minutemen arrived, prepared for battle. The British fired on the Minutemen, killing eight Americans at Lexington.
The British marched on to Concord, where Minutemen fought them fiercely and drove them back.
The British retreated, with the Minutemen shooting at them all the way back to Boston. 273 British and 95 Americans died. The Revolutionary War had begun.
The Second Continental Congress sent a document called the Olive Branch Petition to Parliament. This document detailed the things Americans were unhappy about and asked for a solution. King George responded by sending 20,000 troops to America. He said that the rebels must be put to death.
1. Compromise: an agreement in which all sides get something they want
2. Stockpile: a large collection of gathered materials, usually reserved for emergency use
3. Minutemen: Americans who had been trained and prepared to be ready in a minute to fight
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Paul Revere really make a midnight ride?
Answer: On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere did ride from Boston to warn the Patriots in Lexington and Concord. He and William Dawes were captured by British officers before they arrived. A young doctor, Samuel Prescott, actually rode all the way to Concord to deliver the message. The incident was mostly forgotten until American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” 80 years later.
Visit NPR to hear Paul Revere’s Ride read by historian, Jayne Triber.
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