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American Revolution

Learn about the major historic sites of the American Revolution.

On June 17, 1775, the first major battle of the American Revolution took place on Breed Hill in Boston. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
On June 17, 1775, the first major battle of the American Revolution took place on Breed Hill in Boston.

A response to a number of tax acts imposed by the British monarchy, the American Revolution became a way for American colonists to show England that taxation without representation would no longer be tolerated. Dissent and discontent fueled the country's rebellion against Britain and resulted in the Boston Tea Party, shots fired at Lexington and Concord and the creation of America's most enduring document, the U.S. Constitution. Today, evidence of the American Revolution remains palpable through the many artifacts people can experience in historic American cities.

Lexington and Concord

"The British are coming! The British are coming!" This was Paul Revere's cry as he rode into Lexington to warn patriots of advancing British troops. Approximately 700 troops had orders to destroy a weapons hold in Lexington just outside Boston to prevent an uprising. As the outnumbered Minutemen awaited reinforcements, hiding behind walls and in underbrush, a single shot rang out. Whether the shot was fired from a British musket or an American rifle is lost to history. What is known, however, is that the shot signaled the beginning of a conflict between the British crown and her colonies.

The first battles of Lexington and Concord are reenacted each year on their anniversaries, and tourists are invited to participate in such activities as tours down the Minuteman Trail, which marks significant Civil War sites over its five and a half miles. Lexington's historical society maintains many tourist attractions, including monuments and other landmarks that always prove popular with Civil War buffs. Visitors to Lexington and Concord can tour revolutionary period sites and re-live the past through landmarks, historical parks and tours such as the Liberty Ride Tour, a 90-minute narrated tour that takes visitors through many significant historical sites.

Minute Man National Park in Concord, Massachusetts, covers the site of the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. It was here that the foundation of American ideals on liberty and freedom first found their voice. The park tells a visual story when guests view the infamous bridge, the graves of the British soldiers and a Minuteman statue.

Bunker Hill, Boston

On June 17, 1775, the first major battle of the American Revolution took place on Breed Hill. Although Bunker Hill is more closely associated with the legend of the battle, it was Breed Hill where patriot Minutemen fought the supposedly superior British troops. A monument to the battle sits on the site today, offering an encompassing view of the land where much fighting occurred. Bunker Hill is just one of the many stops visitors to Boston should consider making. The town is host to a number of historic sites and stories. Guided tours, metal markers, the home of Paul Revere, the patriots meeting house and many other original buildings of the era give visitors a glimpse of history.

The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau provides information on all there is to see and do in Boston.

Valley Forge

Beginning in the bitter winter of 1777 (December 1777 to June 1778), just outside Philadelphia, over two thousand men lost their lives to disease as they waited out the weather and defended America from the British. Under George Washington's guidance, the Continental Army spent six months in the encampment at Valley Forge. While there, they constructed living quarters, made tools, conducted army training and dealt with clothing shortages and food rations. At Valley Forge, the American army found its strength and determination to endure and succeed.

Today, the site is a national park that is open to the public throughout the year. Washington's headquarters, a memorial chapel, Varnum's quarters and a picnic area are open to visitors (although individuals should call ahead to ensure sites are not undergoing rehabilitation). The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau provides information to area events including special programs at Valley Forge and information on the Greater Valley Forge Picnic and Sports Complex.

Princeton and Trenton

The battles at Princeton and Trenton, although devastating to the patriots, proved a turning point in the Revolutionary War. News of the bloody fighting reached the British shore, and a desire to win the war at all costs began to fade. Washington fought at both Princeton and Trenton and both towns remain standing today.

The town of Trenton offers visitors several museums, as well as a monument commemorating the battle. At Princeton, visitors can view a number of historic houses, take a walk on the grounds of the University or simply shop in one of the country's oldest towns.


October 19, 1781, was the date of the battle at Yorktown, where British troops under Cornwallis surrendered to the Continental Army and its leader, George Washington. Today the site is home to Colonial National Historic Park, where tour guides walk visitors though the turbulent past. On site is the Yorktown Cemetery, home to fallen soldiers from several wars. Yorktown marks the end of the Revolutionary War, when the British bowed to the Americans' determination to fight for their freedoms.

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