The Year Was 1776

Flowers and flagThe year was 1776 and the American Revolution was just over eight months old. It had begun 19 April 1775 with “the shot heard ‘round the world,” and despite attempts by both sides to reach a peaceful solution, the war would continue.

Battles that year would include:

  • The Siege of Boston, July 1775-March 1776
  • Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, 27 February 1776
  • The Battle for New York, July-August 1776
  • The Battle of Valcour Bay, 11 October 1776
  • Washington’s Retreat through New Jersey, 1776
  • The Battle of Trenton, December 1776

For more information on these battles and more, see

In June, the Congressional Congress met and Thomas Jefferson was given the task of drafting a declaration of independence from British rule. On July 4th, a final version was approved by the Congress, although it wasn’t signed until later that year.

In January another publication had come out that caused quite a stir. Thomas Paine published Common Sense–a pamphlet addressed “To the Inhabitants of America,” which is credited with swaying public opinion in favor of breaking ties with Great Britain. It was the most widely-read publication in the colonies at that time.

Later that year, traveling with George Washington’s army during some of the most disheartening days of the war, Paine’s pen would inspire again with An American Crisis, which opened with the immortal quote,

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

1776 fell during a decade when great strides were being made in England in the field of spinning, with the introduction of James Hargreave’s “spinning jenny” and Richard Arkwright’s spinning frame and carding engine. Arkwright went on to build successful textile factories that would use a new steam engine, recently developed by James Watt and Matthew Boulton. To learn more about spinning and textiles, see the series of articles by Patricia Law Hatcher in the Library.

Also in 1776, James Cook began his final voyage in search of the Northwest passage aboard the Resolution.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in the midst of his career composing music that would live on centuries later. 

A printer-friendly version of this article can be found in the Library.

2 thoughts on “The Year Was 1776

  1. Thank you for all your work. These articles have added immeasurably to my knowledge of what my ancestors experienced as they lived through these events. I look forward to many more.

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