Thomas Jefferson of Virginia crafts a final document which lays out old grievances and aspirations for a new form of government “of the people”

Between 1773 and 1775 British authorities arbitrarily raise taxes on the colonies to pay for costly wars with France

The feisty John Adams of Massachusetts adds backbone to those who waver during the debates   

A colonial portrait

This congress runs from 1775 to 1776, with Ben Franklin representing Pennsylvania and backing independence

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When Americans dump tea in Boston harbor in 1773 to protest, Britain uses military force to achieve compliance

Meanwhile Captain Aaron Burr joins Benedict Arnold  in a failed attempt to take and hold Montreal and Quebec City

The Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, argues in a pamphlet that the “rights” of British citizens living in America are being violated

Patrick Henry (1736-1799)

Britain’s responds to the Congress by doubling down on its use of military force against the wayward colonists

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The pamphleteer, Thomas Paine, now becomes a powerful voice in convincing the colonists to seek their freedom

On July 4, 1776, the delegates gather at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to sign their brief and announce their new nation to the world

Typical colonial dress during British rule, in this case a “town crier,” a court officer issuing public proclamations

American Revolution - Colonials Dress

John Adams of Massachusetts and his cousin, Samuel Adams,  speak out against this “taxation without representation”

This leads to armed violence in 1775  at Lexington, Mass,  when American minutemen “fire the shot heard round the world” against redcoat troops

Virginia lawyer whose passionate 1775 demand “Give me liberty or give me death” in response to repressive acts by the Crown helps to spark the Declaration of Independence & Revolutionary War. Then 1st Governor of Virginia, 1776-1779. Anti-Federalist who opposes ratification of 1787 Constitution.

At the convention, George Washington, a former officer in the British colonial army, emerges as a leader of those considering independence

Even a staunch Loyalist like George Read of Delaware is sufficiently troubled enough by British actions to appear

A colonial couple in wedding dress

John Jay and his fellow New Yorker, Robert Livingstone, signal their willingness to attend

With open warfare commencing, Washington calls for a Second Continental Congress to debate a final, formal break with the Crown

The British army responds immediately at the Battle of Bunker Hill which temporarily drives the Americans out of Boston

James Madison guides the delegates through the case to be made for separation and for a new government to follow

The First Continental Congress is held at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia

James Madison joins the resistance along with another Virginian, Patrick Henry, whose “give me liberty or give me death” speech rallies support

A town crier

From London, elder statesman, Ben Franklin encourages a convention to discuss the possibility of bold actions

A colonial magistrate

John Hancock (1737-1793) First to sign the Declaration of Independence and a President of the Second Continental Congress