Road to Revolution

Friday, June 21, 2024 - Thursday, August 6, 2026
West Rotunda Gallery
Annotated map of the British Colonies in North America
Annotated Map of the British Colonies in North America with the Roads, Distances, Limits and Extent of the Settlements, ca. 1775.
Records of Boundary and Claims Commissions and Arbitrations  View in National Archives Catalog



Road to Revolution is a rotating exhibition series highlighting National Archives records that document major milestones and critical historical context to the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Augmenting the well-known sequence of events in the two years preceding July 4, 1776, are displays that focus on the diverse experiences and perspectives for members of the Founding generation whose stories are less well known—including Native Americans, free and enslaved African Americans, and women. 

Collectively Road to Revolution reveals that the journey from colonial resistance and rebellion to American revolution and independence is not composed of a single narrative but a story of many intersecting (and diverging) paths in the universal pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. 





His Majesty's Instructions to all the Governours in his Provinces in America

Political Cartoon of the Alternative of Williamsburg, detail Military Commission of Chief Okana-Stote
June 21-August 28, 2024 August 29-October 30, 2024 October 31, 2024-January 29, 2025

Roots of Rebellion

The origins of the American Revolution can be traced to another conflictthe Seven Years' War. Colonial resistance emerged in response to new imperial policies related to western lands and eastern taxes (and trade) as Parliament grappled to administer its vastly expanded empire.




First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress convened to discuss united resistance to the Coercive Acts and issued a Declaration of Rights and the Articles of Association. Recognizing that unity would be essential to forcing a repeal of the so-called "Intolerable Acts," the Continental Association formed local committees to put economic pressure on Parliamentand on their neighborsto submit to patriotic boycotts.

Native Americans and the American Revolution

The American Revolution aligned and divided Native American communities just as it did British North American colonists. The stories presented reveal that whether Native Americans sided with the Rebels, Redcoats, neither, or both, the actions of tribes and their leaders were primarily motivated by a desire to preserve their land and autonomy.


Additional Online Resources:



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Road to Revolution is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the generous support of Comcast Corporation and Microsoft Corporation.


Featured Image:  "The First Blow for Liberty. Battle of Lexington, April 1775. Copy of print by A. H. Ritchie after F.O.C. Darley" (detail, colorized) National Archives, John K. Hillers Collection View in National Archives Catalog

Friday, June 21, 2024 - Thursday, August 6, 2026