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Happy Fourth of July! I hope your holiday plans include watching a
parade or (safely) enjoying fireworks—and, of course, researching
your American Revolution-era ancestors.
The Continental Congress voted July 2, 1776—more than a year after the Revolutionary
War broke out—to declare independence from Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson was selected
to compose a Declaration of Independence, which was ratified July 4 (that original
manuscript has been lost). A copy was sent to the printing shop of John Dunlap, who
produced 200 broadsides overnight.
Public readings took place across the Colonies starting July 8 in Philadelphia. Most
signatories signed the Declaration of independence Aug. 2; this document is on
display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Whether your revolutionary relatives were Founding Fathers or members of the Continental
army—or, as was usually the case for women, kept the home front warm—they helped forge
a new nation. Most enlisted men were between ages 16 and 60, but younger and older
men also served.
On the other hand, maybe your family didn’t think a split with England was such a
good idea and remained Loyalists,
or even fought with British or Hessian troops.
The British offered some African-American slaves—now called Black
Loyalists—freedom in exchange for military service.
See these free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles for advice and resources to help you
research your American Revolution genealogy.
War Web resources
- Revolutionary War Loyalists
Best Web Sites for Military Research
Elsewhere on the web, check out these Revolutionary War genealogy and history websites:
Park Service: Revolutionary War (a “capsule” history that links to a timeline,
bios of important figures, historic sites and more)
The American Revolutionary War (background
and lists of battles, campaigns, leaders, regiments and POW camps)
PBS Rediscovering George
Revolutionary War soldier indexes
- Revolutionary War Loyalist History and Genealogy
Revolutionary War Records at Fold3.com (get free access
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications
Ohio’s Revolutionary War Veterans
Maine Genealogy: Revolutionary
War Pension Rolls (Look for similar searchable indexes on the website for the
state archives where your ancestor served.)
the American Revolution Genealogical Research System
Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783