International Law Before and After the Cold War

Professor Setear

Spring 1999, University of Virginia Law School


The American Revolutionary War


Timelines and Outlines

Greg Feldmeth offers a very short, 17-event timeline of the War itself, from Lexington to Yorktown(From Greg Feldmeth's US History Resources.)

Mr. Feldmeth also provides a laudably concise view of the Revolutionary War in outline form.  (His outline includes some more abstract considerations than does his timeline, as outlines often seem to do in comparison to timelines.)

If you want more detail (and some graphics), try this fairly detailed timeline of the Revolutionary War, including events before and after the conflict itself.  (From The History Place.)


A Variety of Vantage Points

The view from Charlottesville: In political terms, it was the Declaration of Independence that began the American Revolution, and the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that ended it.  As you doubtless know, Charlottesville's own Thomas Jefferson was the primary drafter of the Declaration, and he commented on both the Declaration and the Treaty in his autobiography.   The White House Web site includes a brief biography of Thomas Jefferson, while UVA has an index page to a vast array of materials by or about Jefferson.  (You should visit Monticello in actual, vice virtual, reality, but you're welcome as well to visit the Monticello Web site.)

The view from Paris: While the Declaration in some ways began the war and the Treaty of Paris clearly ended it, the Treaty of Alliance with France probably decided the war.  You may see a copy of Louis the XVI's instructions to his plenipotentiary, as well as the text of the treaty that resulted, here.

The view from London: The Britannia site contains a good deal of information about the top of the British governmental heap, including the King and Prime Minister who most influenced the American Revolution, i.e., George III and Lord North, respectively.  The biography of Lord North, who was Prime Minister from 1770 to 1782, appends a highly compressed timeline of events in the American Revolutionary War.  Biographies of the PMs whose terms surrounded Lord North--including the Second Marquess of Rockingham, who led the Whigs both in 1766 when Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and in 1782 when the British opened post-Yorktown peace negotiations with the colonists--are indexed on this Britannia page, as are biographies of many a king and queen of the Britons.


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A digression

The view from New Haven:  The links above take you to a variety of different sites on the World Wide Web.  The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School is a single site that contains all of the historical documents mentioned above: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance between France and the American colonies, the Treaty of Paris of 1783, and even Jefferson's auto-biography.  The Avalon Project is sometimes especially useful when it groups a variety of documents around a central document, as it does with an index of documents surrounding the Treaty of Paris of 1783.

The Avalon Project site actually contains all sorts of interesting primary documents related in some way to US history, in fact, both with respect to the colonial period and with respect to a wide variety of historical periods.   Indeed, as a source of primary international legal documents, the site is (a) hardly limited strictly to documents to which the US is a party, and (b) invaluable.  See the Home Page of the Project.   (Interestingly, the picture on the home page of the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School is not a picture of the Yale Law School, but rather of another part of the Yale campus.  You could never tell merely this from the Yale Law School's site, however, which seems exclusively obsessed with its ill-lit front doors.  See its "Welcome Page".)

{The Yale Law School, as you may know, has spawned not only the Avalon Project but also Jefferson's partial namesake, William Jefferson Clinton.  You'll be pleased to know that, according to Clinton's biography on the White House Web site, he "continued to work hard" while at Yale.}


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For corrections, comments, and questions, please e-mail John Setear.

This page was last updated on 03/05/99.