In 1765, growing constitutional and political differences had strained the relationship between Great Britain and its American colonies leading to protests and boycotts, culminating in 1773 when the Sons of Liberty destroyed a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor. Britain responded by closing the harbour and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts. Their response was to to establish a shadow government and wrest control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress (with the exception of Georgia) to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that effectively seized power. Show less British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in Concord led to open combat and a British defeat on April 19, 1775. Militia forces then besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776, and Congress appointed George Washington to command the Continental Army. In 1777, the British launched an invasion from Quebec intended to isolate the New England Colonies, but Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, leaving Burgoyne to be decisively defeated at Saratoga in October. This defeat had dramatic consequences with France declaring alliance with with the Americans and entering the war in 1778. The British mounted a Southern strategy which hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, but too few came forward and they suffered reversals at King's Mountain and Cowpens. Retreating to Yorktown and intending an evacuation, a decisive French naval victory deprived them of escape. A Franco-American army then besieged the British army and, with no sign of relief, they surrendered in October 1781.
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