All Americans have heard the phrase "taxation without representation." It is through this familiar phrase that the seeds of the American revolution were sown.
After Parliament passed The Stamp Act in 1765—which ostensibly required all printed materials produced in the then-colonies to be produced on London-made paper which bore a stamp—colonists took offense to the perceived illegality of Britain imposing taxes on a group of people who did not have a say in the imposition of those taxes. Colonists felt they did not have anyone representing their interests in government.
Well-known historic incidents came in the years that followed. There's the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. The Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773. The Intolerable Acts of 1774. Paul Revere's midnight ride on April 7, 1775. The first skirmishes of the war, at Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775. The Battle of Bunker Hill, July 17, 1775.
These events, among others, led to American patriots declaring independence on July 4, 1776, though it was not until the Treaty of Paris was signed on Sept. 4, 1783 that the United States of America was formally recognized as a sovereign country on the international stage.
If one can assume that what precedes this sentence errs on the side of being common knowledge to the casual fan of American history, what follows is an attempt to explore some of the lesser-known and more obscure facts that helped stitch together the American revolution.
The Continental Congress sought to avoid a full-scale war with Britain and in July 1775 pledged American allegiance to the crown in the Olive Branch Petition. King George III rejected the petition, issuing the Proclamation of Rebellion, a document which charged British officials with the task of using their "utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion" of the colonists.
According to the state of Delaware's website, prior to the revolution, American colonists had the highest standard of living and lowest taxes in the world.
John Adams, who later would become the second President of the United States, was a lawyer who defended the British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre. He got all but two of them off on murder charges.
David Bushnell, an engineer who studied at Yale, created the Turtle submarine in 1776, according to inventors.about.com. The submarine—which descended into water by allowing water in and ascended from water by pumping the water out with a hand pump—was armed with a powder keg which was to be attached to an enemy ship and detonated remotely with a fuse.
On Sept. 7, 1776, the Turtle was used in combat. The attack, carried out by Sergeant Ezra Lee, did not destroy the ship as intended, but did result in causing the British to anchor their ships further off shore.
Deborah Sampson posed as a man, Robert Shurtliff, so that she could fight in the war. Sampson fought for 17 months, was wounded and subsequently honorably discharged.
Three presidents died on July 4th—Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the same day in 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, died on that day in 1831.