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The 13 American colonies revolted against their British rulers in 1775 The war began on April 19 when British soldiers fired on the Minutemen of Lexington Mass The fighting ended with the surrender of the British at Yorktown on Oct 19 1781 In 1783 Great Britain signed a formal treaty recognizing the independence of the colonies Through the hardships of life in a wild new land the American settlers gained strength and a firm belief in the rights and liberties of the individual man They revolted because England interfered with their trade and industry demanded unjust taxes and sent British troops to compel obedience At first they fought only for their rights After a year of war they fought for a radical change in American life Ever since the beginnings of settlement England and America had been growing apart In 1774 England was still an aristocracy ruled by men born and bred to a high station in life Their society was one of culture and refinement The common people deprived of abundant opportunity at home accepted a position of dependence They regarded hard work deference to superiors and submission to rulers as their way of life But in America things had taken a different turn The tone of society was essentially democratic There were no lords or hereditary offices The Americans did not like to look up to superiors nor were their leaders set apart by privileges of birth and inherited wealth The opportunities of the New World made men enterprising energetic and aggressive Restraints were few custom counted for little and rank for less Between these two societies there could not be much in common With such opposing viewpoints and extreme change in social and economic structure America began to yearn for independence and self-rule and break away from the rule of Imperial Britain The many taxes imposed on the colonies by English leaders also created great conflict between the two sides American colonist
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