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We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
-Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776
These simple, yet ambitious, words begin the declaration that became the birth certificate of the United States of America-a document that ended any chance that the rebellious colonists and the British king might settle their differences anywhere but on the battlefield. The vastly outnumbered Revolutionaries faced what seemed to be overwhelming obstacles to their independence. Many of their fellow colonists opposed the Rebellion, and others chose neutrality. Great Britain, the most powerful military power in the world at the time, had a large population and almost unlimited resources. The Americans had no united military force, no monetary system, and no governing body to support the newly declared nation. Five years after the founders signed the Declaration of Independence, the Americans accepted the surrender of the main British army in America and two years later signed a peace agreement that recognized the independence of the United States.
The opportunity for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" achieved by the Revolutionary War led to the longest reigning democracy in history. Over the succeeding years, the United States has advanced to the status of the richest country and world's single superpower. Its revolution has served as model to those seeking independence from oppression of all kinds, and the United States remains today a beacon of hope to freedom-loving people everywhere.
Wars can change the course of history. The American Revolution ranks as the most influential conflict of all time. In the thousands of books that have been written about the war since it ended, most authors have focused on combining the divergent political and social issues with battlefield actions. A myriad of others have covered the lives of the individual military and civilian leaders or covered the specific units, battles, or campaigns. Yet, none of these works to date has attempted to rank the war's leaders, battles, and events in terms of their influence on the Revolutionary War itself.
The 100 entries that follow are not necessarily the best, greatest, largest, most powerful, or even the most famous. Rather this list ranks leaders, battles, and events in order of their influence on the war. For the ease of comparison, when one leader, battle, or event refers to another included on the list, the ranking of the referenced entry follows its name, e.g., Nathanael Greene (4), Battle of Bunker Hill (23), and the Boston Massacre (93).