Brief overview of the war
The American Revolutionary War began with "the shot heard 'round the world" in 1775 at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. It ended with the British defeat at Yorktown in 1781. Great Britian recognized the independence of the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Most historians agree that the Stamp Act of 1765 was the law that really started the dispute that led to war. The British House of Commons insisted that it had the right to tax the colonists. The Americans believed otherwise, firmly claiming that as Englishmen they could not be taxed without representation. It did not take long for the stubborn Americans to form a Continental Congress. The famous Boston Tea Party occured in 1773. The British, not to be outdone, dissolved the colonial government in Massachusetts and put the entire colony under the control of General Gage. In 1775 when Gage sent troops out of Boston to seize arms, the famous Minutemen fired on the troops. This battle ignited the war.
After some key American victories in 1777, the French entered the war, greatly aiding the American cause. Spain also aided the rebels. A French naval victory in the Chesapeake Bay forced the British army to surrender at Yorktown in 1781.