How much do you know about the what happened this month during the American Revolution?
Every month we will update you with the historical events that occurred during this month.
Our focus is on the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, to just after Washington's Presidency (1760 - 1800).
The days are presented in calander day order, by year. So if two events occurred on the same day of the month, the earlier event would be first. Events that could not be identified with specific a day/date, are presented at the beginning of the list.
Please feel free to contact us for additions and/or corrections. To contact us, click here.
British General Thomas Gage, commander of all English military forces in America, asks the New York assembly to make colonists comply with the Quartering Act and house and supply his troops. Also in December, the American boycott of English imports spreads, as over 200 Boston merchants join the movement.
December 7, 1787
Delaware is the first of the nine states needed to ratify the Constitution.
December 11, 1776
Washington takes his troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The next day, over concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia for Baltimore. Among Washington's troops is Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, who now writes "...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 his country: but he that stands it NOW deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
December 12, 1787
Pennsylvania becomes second state to ratify the Constitution.
December 14, 1782
The British evacuate Charleston, South Carolina.
December 15, 1782
In France, strong objections are expressed by the French over the signing of the peace treaty in Paris without America first consulting them. Ben Franklin then soothes their anger with a diplomatic response and prevents a falling out between France and America.
December 16, 1773
About 8000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them Royal Governor Hutchinson has repeated his command not to allow the ships out of the harbor until the tea taxes are paid. That night, the Boston Tea Party occurs as colonial activists disguise themselves as Mohawk Indians then board the ships and dump all 342 containers of tea into the harbor.
December 18, 1787
New Jersey becomes third state to ratify the Constitution.
December 23, 1775
King George III issues a royal proclamation closing the American colonies to all commerce and trade, to take effect in March of 1776. Also in December, Congress is informed that France may offer support in the war against Britain.
December 23, 1783
Following a triumphant journey from New York to Annapolis, George Washington, victorious commander in chief of the American Revolutionary Army, appears before Congress and voluntarily resigns his commission, an event unprecedented in history.
December 23, 1788
Maryland proposes giving a 10 square-mile area along the Potomac River for the establishment of a federal town to be the new seat of the U.S. government.
December 25/26, 1777
At Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, the Continental Army led by Washington sets up winter quarters.
December 26/26, 1776
On Christmas, George Washington takes 2400 of his men and recrosses the Delaware River. Washington then conducts a surprise raid on 1500 British-Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians surrender after an hour with nearly 1000 taken prisoner by Washington who suffers only six wounded (including future president Lt. James Monroe). Washington reoccupies Trenton. The victory provides a much needed boost to the morale of all American Patriots.
December 26, 1779
British Gen. Clinton sets sail from New York with 8000 men and heads for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving there on Feb. 1.
December 26, 1786
Shays assembles 1200 men near Worcester, Mass. and heads toward Springfield. Massachusetts Governor, Bowdoin, then orders mobilization of a 4400 man force.
December 29, 1778
The British begin a major southern campaign with the capture of Savannah, Georgia, followed a month later with the capture of Augusta.
The New York assembly refuses to completely comply with Gen. Gage's request to enforce the Quartering Act.
Violence erupts between members of the Sons of Liberty in New York and 40 British soldiers over the posting of broadsheets by the British. Several men are seriously wounded.
January 1, 1782
Loyalists begin leaving America, heading north to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
January 2, 1788
Georgia becomes fourth state to ratify the Constitution.
January 3, 1777
General George Washington's revolutionary forces defeat British forces near Princeton, New Jersey.
January 9, 1788
Connecticut becomes fifth state to ratify the Constitution.
January 3, 1777
A second victory for Washington as his troops defeat the British at Princeton and drive them back toward New Brunswick. Washington then establishes winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the harsh winter, Washington's army shrinks to about a thousand men as enlistments expire and deserters flee the hardships. By spring, with the arrival of recruits, Washington will have 9000 men.
January 3, 1781
Mutiny among Americans in New Jersey as troops from Pennsylvania set up camp near Princeton and choose their own representatives to negotiate with state officials back in Pennsylvania. The crisis is eventually resolved through negotiations, but over half of the mutineers abandon the army.
January 5, 1776
The assembly of New Hampshire adopts the first American state constitution.
January 5, 1782
The British withdraw from North Carolina.
January 7, 1789
Presidential electors are chosen in the 11 ratifying states, except New York.
January 9, 1776
Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is published in Philadelphia. The 50 page pamphlet is highly critical of King George III and attacks allegiance to Monarchy in principle while providing strong arguments for American independence. It becomes an instant best-seller in America. "We have it in our power to begin the world anew...American shall make a stand, not for herself alone, but for the world," Paine states.
January 11, 1785
Congress relocates to New York City, temporary capital of the U.S.
January 14, 1784
The Treaty of Paris is ratified by Congress. The Revolutionary War officially ends.
January 16, 1786
The Virginia legislature passes Jefferson's Ordinance of Religious Freedom guaranteeing that no man may be forced to attend or support any church or be discriminated against because of his religious preference. This will later serve as the model for the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
January 17, 1781
An American victory at Cowpens, South Carolina, as Gen. Daniel Morgan defeats British Gen. Tarleton.
January 20, 1781
Mutiny among American troops at Pompton, New Jersey. The rebellion is put down seven days later by a 600-man force sent by Gen. Washington. Two of the leaders are then hanged.
January 20, 1783
England signs a preliminary peace treaty with France and Spain.
January 23, 1789
Georgetown University, the first Catholic college in the U.S., is founded by Father John Carroll.
January 26, 1787
Shays' rebels attack the federal arsenal at Springfield but are unsuccessful. Revolutionary War hero, Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, then arrives with reinforcements from Boston to pursue the rebels.