NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center OLLibrary



   30. We left Cornwallis1 Wilmington. He soon set out to invade Virginia, and, May 20, effected a Sketchjunction with General Phillips, who had been ravaging the state. Lafayette2 had two thousand militia, in addition to the troops he had brought from the north. Cornwallis endeavored to bring him to an engagement, but the prudent marquis would not hazard an encounter with the vastly superior Sketchforce of the enemy. For some time the English general employed himself in destroying stores of public and private property, but at length collected his troops at Yorktown, which he began to fortify. He also took possession of Gloucester Point nearly opposite.
   31. Meanwhile Washington had concentrated his own immediate command, and the French under Roechambeau,3 near New York, for an attack upon that city; but this plan was suddenly changed, on learning that a French fleet, under the Count de Grasse, would soon reach the Chesapeake. To destroy Cornwallis now became the object of the American commander, and, September 29, the combined forces appeared before Yorktown. De Grasse had already arrived, and blocked up the James and York Rivers.
Washington concealed his design from Clinton, in New York, till the allied armies were some distance on their way to Virginia. When, however, Sir Henry Clinton divined that Yorktown was the object of attack, hoping to draw away a part of the American forces, he sent the traitor Arnold, with a body of Tories and Hessians, into Connecticut. New London4 was pillaged and burned. Fort Griswold, on the opposite side of the river, was taken by assault, and the commander, Colonel Ledyard, and half the garrison, were butchered in cold blood.5

   1 See p. 142, ¶ 26.      2 See p. 141, ¶ 23.      3 See p. 139, ¶ 19.
    4 ArnoId had been recalled, some months before, from Virginia (see p ¶ 23). It is said that he watched, from a church tower, the burning of New London almost in sight of Norwich, his native place.
   5 After the fort had been carried, a British officer, entering, inquired who commanded. "I did", replied Colonel Ledyard, approaching, and presenting his sword, "but you do now." The officer seized the sword, and plunged it into the brave colonel's bosom. This was the signal for an indiscriminate massacre.

   QUESTIONS. -- 30. What did Cornwallis do after leaving Wilmington? Why did Lafayette avoid all engagement? Where did Cornwallis at length collect his troops? 31. What had Washington done meanwhile? Why did he change his plan? What now became the object of the American commander? 32. Why did Clinton send Arnold into Connecticut? What was done by Arnold's troops?



   33. Yorktown was soon completely invested. The American and French troops numbered sixteen thousand. Cornwallis, with his garrison of less than eight thousand, could not hope to break through this formidable force: there was no escape by land. De Grasse had control of the river: there was no escape by sea. No alternative remained but to capitulate. Accordingly, October 19, the British army surrendered to Washington, the shipping to De Grasse.1


   34. The bombardment began on the evening of October 9, and from that time the besiegers made a continuous advance. Two of the outposts were carried by assault. A hundred pieces of heavy ordnance poured their terrible contents upon the fortifications with such effect as to level them and dismount nearly every gun. Cornwallis now determined to

   1 "The combined army was drawn up in two lines, more than a mile in length. the Americans the right side of the road, the French on the left. About two o'clock the British garrison sallied forth, and passed through with shouldered arms, slow and solemn step, colors eased and drums beating a British march. They were led by General O'Hara, on horseback, who, riding up to General Washington, apologized for the non-appearance of Lord Cornwallis, on account of indisposition." Washington pointed to General Lincoln, who had given up his sword to Cornwallis at Charleston, as the officer appointed to receive the surrender of the British troops. By him they were conducted to a field, where they were to ground their arms.

   QUESTIONS. -- 33. What is said of the investment of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis? 34. Give a more particular account of the siege of Yorktown.



cross the river, and attempt to retreat by way of Gloucester, hoping to break through a body of French stationed in the rear of that place, and reach New York; but a storm arose on the night of the 16th, -- the time appointed for the attempted escape, and dispersed his boats, after one division had crossed the river. During the siege the English lost between five and six hundred men, the allies about three hundred. Five days after the surrender of Cornwallis, Sir Henry, Clinton made his appearance off the Capes of Virginia, with a reënforcement of seven thousand men; but receiving intelligence of his lordship's fate, he returned to New York.
At the news of this victory exultation broke forth from one extremity of the country to the other. To the unanimous acclaim of the people Congress joined the authority of its resolves. It addressed thanks to the officers and soldiers, and went in procession to church to offer thanks to God for the recent triumph. The 13th of December was appointed as a day of national thanksgiving.
   36. Events of 1782 and 1783. -- The surrender of Cornwallis may be considered as substantially closing the war: occasional skirmishes alone indicated its continuance. New York, Charleston, and Savannah were the only places of importance still held by the enemy.
Soon after the capture of Cornwallis, a part of the French army reëmbarked, Count de Grasse sailed for the West Indies. Count Rochambeau cantoned his army, for the winter, in Virginia; and the main body of the Americans returned to their former position near the Hudson. Difficulties with the Indians continued about a year longer -- with the Creeks and Cherokees on the frontiers of Georgia and South Carolina, and with other tribes on the Ohio.
   37. The people of England had grown tired of the war, and the following spring Parliament took measures for putting an end to it. The command of his majesty's forces in America was taken from Sir Henry Clinton, and given to Sir Guy Carleton, who was instructed to promote the wishes of Great Britain for an accommodation with the United States.1
   38. Commissioners2 on the part of the United States were appointed to meet others on the part of England at Paris, where, November 30, 1782, provisional articles of peace were signed.

   1 In accordance with these instructions. Carleton endeavored to open a correspondence with Congress: but that body would enter into no negotiations except in concert with France.
   2 The commissioners on the part of the United States were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson did not serve. On the part of England, Richard Oswald signed the provisional articles, David Hartley the definitive treaty.

   QUESTIONS. -- What is said of the attempt to succor Cornwallis? 35. Effect of news of this victory? 36. How may the surrender of Cornwallis be regarded? What were the only important places held by the enemy? -- What is said of the French army? Of the Americans? Of difficulties with the Indians? 37. What was done by Parliament to put an end to the war in America? -- What endeavor did Carleton make? 38. When were the provisional articles of peace signed, and when was the definitive treaty signed?



The definitive treaty was signed, September 3, 1783, and at the same time Great Britain concluded treaties Sketchwith France and Spain. The independence of the United States was acknowledged. The boundaries assigned were, on the east and north, essentially the same as at present; on the West, the Mississippi; on the South, Florida, which then extended west to the Mississippi, having, at that river, parallel 31o for its northern limit. Florida was reconveyed to Spain.1
The cessation of hostilities was formally proclaimed to the army, April 19, 1783, the eighth anniversary of the battle of Lexington. New York was evacuated by the British November 25, 1783, a day still celebrated in that city as Evacuation Day. Savannah and Charleston bad been evacuated the previous year, the former in July, the latter in December. Arrangements had already been made for the exchange of prisoners. During the war the English treated with the most revolting cruelty the Americans they had captured. They kept them in unwholesome prisons, or in crowded, filthy, ill-ventilated prison ships, where thousands of them died from want of air, exercise, and proper food.
   40. The 3d of November was assigned for disbanding the army2 of the United States. On the day previous Washington issued his farewell orders, and bade an affectionate adieu to the soldiers who had fought and bled by his side. Soon after,

   1 see p. 12, § III., ¶ 1; p. 13. ¶¶ 3,4; p. 68, ¶ 1; p 80, ¶ 4; p. 94. ¶ 13; p. 162, ¶ 15, and note 5
   2 The disbanding of the army involved considerations of the deepest interest. Thousands were to be thrown out of service -- and what could they do? Neither officers nor soldiers, for a long time, had received any pay; and the state of the public finances rendered present payment impossible. In December, the officers in camp at Newburg, in behalf of the army sent a memorial to Congress, representing the hardships of the case, and proposing that a specific sum should be given them for the money actually due, and in commutation of the half-pay for life, which Congress had promised to officers who should serve to the end of the war. The winter passed away, and Congress had taken no satisfactory action upon the memorial. In this state of the case, March 10 1783, a very exciting appeal was made to the officers, in an anonymous letter, afterwards avowed by Major John Armstrong at that time an aide-de-camp to General Gates. The writer recommended measures of redress or a refusal to disband. It was an artful and eloquent address and but for the firmness and prudence of Washington would have had its designed effect. The influence of that great man, however, prevailed. The officers decided, at a meeting which Washington called, and at which Gates presided that they would do nothing which should tend to sully the glory they had acquired in their country's service. The subject was again taken up in Congress, and happily adjusted. Many of the officers at one time doubted that the states would ever be able to form an efficient government, and at their instigation Colonel Lewis Nicola wrote to Washington, urging the establishment of a monarchy, and offering him the crown. Washington indignantly repelled the offer.
The states had furnished during the war the following number of soldiers for the regular army, reckoned in annual terms of service (from Nile's Register, July 31, 1830):--

New Hampshire,


Delaware ,






Rhode Island,



26, 678



North Carolina,


New York,


South Carolina,


New Jersey,








   QUESTIONS. -- With what other nations did Great Britain conclude treaties? What boundaries were assigned to the United States by this treaty? 40. When was the cessation of hostilities proclaimed to the army? When was New York evacuated? When Savannah? When Charleston? What is said of the treatment of prisoners by the English? 41. What date was assigned for disbanding the army? What is said of Washington's farewell to his soldiers?



in New York, he took a final leave of his officers, greatly endeared to him by common sufferings and dangers. December 23, he appeared in the hall of Congress, at Annapolis, and resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States.


   The next morning he left Annapolis, and hastened to his home at Mount Vernon, a private citizen of the country whose liberties he had secured, bearing with him the love, devotion, and gratitude of his countrymen, and the admiration of the world.

Horz. bar



   1. THE war of the Revolution was now closed. The colonies were free and independent; but it soon became apparent that the central government did not possess the requisite power, under the Articles of Confederation,1 Sketchto administer the affairs of the nation. In May, 1787, delegates from all the states, except Rhode Island, convened in Philadelphia, and framed a constitution,2 which was submitted to the several states, with the condition that in the states adopting it, it should go into effect after its adoption by nine states.

   1 See p. 128, ¶ 25.    2 See Appendix, p. 8.

   QUESTIONS. -- What is said of Washington's farewell to his officers? Of the resignation of his commission? What more is said of Washington? Chap. III. 1. What soon became apparent? When, where, and for what purpose did a convention assemble? What states were represented? What was framed by this convention? When was the new constitution to go into effect?



   2. By the Articles of Confederation, Congress had power to declare war and to contract debts. It had already contracted debts to a vast amount,1 but it had no power to pay its debts. It could not raise money by taxation. It could advise the states to pay their respective shares of the national liabilities, but it could do no more. Some of the states attempted, in accordance with the advice of Congress, to bear their proportions of the public burdens, and to support their credit. This, in Massachusetts, produced, in the winter of 1786-7, the Sketchoutbreak called Shays's Insurrection, from its leader, Daniel Shays, formerly a captain in the continental army. In the western counties the courts of law were closed by armed mobs, the object being to prevent legal measures for the collection of debts and taxes. To suppress the insurrection, the governor called out four thousand militia, to serve under the command of General Lincoln. The insurgents were soon dispersed. Fourteen of the ringleaders were found guilty of treason and condemned to death, but all were ultimately pardoned.
   3. Virginia advised a convention of delegates from the states, to meet at Annapolis, in September, 1786, to establish a better system of commercial regulations. Only five states were represented, and the convention adjourned, after having recommended that another convention be called to revise the Articles of Confederation. Accordingly, the next May a convention, in which all the states but Rhode Island were represented, met in the State House2 in Philadelphia. This assembly was composed of the ablest men of the nation. General Washington, one of the delegates from Virginia, was chosen president. It was soon perceived that a mere revision of the Articles of Confederation would not suffice, and the convention addressed itself to the task of preparing a constitution. The convention came near dissolving without accomplishing its purpose; but at length the spirit of mutual compromise and concession prevailed, and after a session of four months, the instrument was adopted, and signed September 17.3
   4. The new constitution met with a strong opposition. Many thought it gave too much power to the central government. The people were quickly divided into two parties, the Federalists, the supporters of the constitution, and the Anti-Federalists, its opponents. The opposition to it called forth an able defence, in a series of papers called the Federalist,

   1 It is not possible to ascertain with certainty the expense of the Revolutionary War. It has been estimated to have mounted, in speicie, to about $135,000,000. But the advances made from the treasury were principally in a paper medium, called continental money and which, in a short time, depreciated (see p. 136, 11, and note 3). These advances have been estimated to have amounted to near $360,000,000, in nominal value. Part of the continental money was funded at an immense depreciation, part of It became worthless in the hands of its holders.
2 See p. 119, ¶ 2.      3 See Appendix, p. 15.

   QUESTIONS. -- 2. What is said of the power of Congress under the Articles of Confederation? How was Shays's insurrection produced? How suppressed? 3. For what purpose did Virginia advise a convention to meet at Annapolis? What did this convention recommend'? How was the assembly which met at Philadelphia composed? Its president? In what spirit was the new constitution agreed upon? After how long a session? 4. How were the people divided in regard to the new constitution? Names of its supporters and its opponents? What series of papers was written in defence of the constitution? By whom written?
   13 *

Previous Page Button
Appendix Button
Contents Button
Pronouncing Index Button
Next Page Button

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller