Thirteen Colonies > Middle Colonies > Province of New York

Province of New York


The Province of New York played a critical role in the American Revolutionary War due to its strategic location, economic importance, and political influence. It was the site of significant battles and military campaigns and was a focal point for both British and American forces. Here's an overview of New York's involvement in the Revolutionary War:

Political and Social Context:

  1. Diverse Population:

    • New York was one of the most diverse colonies in British America, with a population that included Dutch, English, German, African, and Native American people. This diversity sometimes led to divided loyalties, with both Loyalists and Patriots present.
  2. Political Influence:

    • New York was home to influential leaders like John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Philip Schuyler, who played significant roles in the revolutionary movement and the early United States government.

Strategic Importance:

  1. Geographical Location:
    • New York's location was strategically vital, controlling access to the Hudson River, which was a crucial artery for transportation and communication. Control of New York allowed for the movement of troops and supplies and influenced the overall strategy of both the British and American forces.

Key Events and Battles:

  1. The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga (1775):

    • Early in the war, American forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. The fort's artillery was later transported by Henry Knox to Boston, aiding in the Siege of Boston.
  2. The New York Campaign (1776):

    • One of the largest military operations of the war, the New York Campaign saw British forces, commanded by General Sir William Howe, capturing New York City. Key battles included the Battle of Long Island (August 1776), the Battle of Harlem Heights (September 1776), and the Battle of White Plains (October 1776).
    • The British occupation of New York City lasted until the end of the war, and the city served as the British headquarters in North America.
  3. The Saratoga Campaign (1777):

    • The Battles of Saratoga, comprising the Battle of Freeman's Farm (September 19, 1777) and the Battle of Bemis Heights (October 7, 1777), were decisive American victories. General Horatio Gates's forces defeated British General John Burgoyne, leading to Burgoyne's surrender on October 17, 1777.
    • The American victory at Saratoga was a turning point in the war, convincing France to enter the conflict as an ally of the United States.
  4. The Battle of Fort Stanwix (1777):

    • Also known as the Siege of Fort Schuyler, this battle saw American forces defending the fort against British and Native American attacks. The defense of Fort Stanwix was crucial in disrupting British plans to link their forces in Canada with those in New York City.
  5. The Hudson River Chain:

    • To prevent British ships from advancing up the Hudson River, the Americans installed a massive iron chain across the river at West Point. This defensive measure helped control this vital waterway and was a critical aspect of American strategy.

British Occupation and Challenges:

  1. Loyalist Stronghold:

    • New York City became a stronghold for Loyalists, many of whom fled there for protection. The British used the city as a base for launching operations into the surrounding regions.
  2. Continental Army Encampments:

    • The Continental Army, led by General George Washington, used various locations in New York for encampments and training. The harsh winter at Valley Forge, while technically in Pennsylvania, included many troops from New York.

Aftermath and Impact:

  1. Evacuation Day (1783):

    • The British evacuation of New York City on November 25, 1783, marked the end of British occupation and the war. This day, known as Evacuation Day, was celebrated by New Yorkers as a day of liberation.
  2. Economic and Social Recovery:

    • Post-war, New York City quickly recovered and grew into a major commercial and cultural center. The war had disrupted trade and caused damage, but the city's strategic location facilitated rapid economic recovery.
    • New York became the first capital of the United States under the Constitution, and George Washington was inaugurated as the first President there in 1789.


  1. Influence on the Nation:

    • New York's leaders, including Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, were instrumental in shaping the new nation. The state played a key role in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the development of the federal government.
    • The battles and events that took place in New York, particularly the victory at Saratoga, had lasting impacts on the outcome of the Revolutionary War and the subsequent formation of the United States.
  2. Historical Significance:

    • Many historic sites in New York commemorate its role in the Revolutionary War, including the Saratoga National Historical Park, Fort Ticonderoga, and the Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City.
    • The state's contributions to the war effort and its strategic importance are remembered as critical elements of American history.

New York's involvement in the American Revolutionary War was marked by significant military campaigns, strategic importance, and influential leadership. The state's diverse population and critical location made it a central theater of the conflict, and its contributions were pivotal to the American victory and the establishment of the United States.

Thirteen Colonies


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 19

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