American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783

American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783

William M. Fowler Jr.

Language: English

Pages: 231


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Most people believe the American Revolution ended in October, 1781, after the battle of Yorktown; in fact the war continued for two more traumatic years. During that time, the Revolution came closer to being lost than at any time in the previous half dozen. The British still held New York, Savannah, Wilmington, and Charleston; the Royal Navy controlled the seas; the states--despite having signed the Articles of Confederation earlier that year--retained their individual sovereignty and, largely bankrupt themselves, refused to send any money in the new nation's interest; members of Congress were in constant disagreement; and the Continental army was on the verge of mutiny.

William Fowler's An American Crisis chronicles these tumultuous and dramatic two years, from Yorktown until the British left New York in November 1783. At their heart was the remarkable speech Gen. George Washington gave to his troops evcamped north of New York in Newburgh, quelling a brewing rebellion that could have overturned the nascent government.

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246–80; Calvin Jillson and Rick K. Wilson, Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination, and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774–1789 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 91–131. 10 Silas Deane, “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” Pennsylvania Packet, December 5, 1778. 11 Adams to William Tudor, February 4, 1817, in The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, 1856), 10:241–42. 12 Rakove, The Beginnings of National Politics, pp.

1188. 72 Townshend to Carleton, October 27, 1782, DAR, 21:155. Chapter Six 1 Clagdon to Gates, March 10, 1782, HGP, reel 13. 2 Lincoln to Knox, August 7, 1782, BLP, reel 9. 3 Quoted in David B. Mattern, Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995), p. 129; E. Wayne Carp, To Starve the Army at Pleasure: Continental Army Administration and American Political Culture, 1775–1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,1984), p. 209.

present. Unlike his father, young Franklin had joined the American cause and was employed by his grandfather as secretary to the American commission. Having finished the business, the Americans were anxious to dispatch the treaty to Philadelphia, but before they could do so they needed to inform their French allies of the signing and explain to them why they had ignored Congress’s instructions and excluded them from the negotiation. They chose Benjamin Franklin for the mission. Paris was

receive, should Congress have a national revenue, Morris was trying to buy time and cultivate their support. It was an extraordinary gamble. Two days later, January 17, Morris invited McDougall, Ogden, and Brooks to his home for a private meeting.50 In an oblique reference to the Havana gold he told them that he “had taken Measures to obtain a Sum of Money for the Purpose of … [the army’s] Pay [but] those measures are not yet ripe.”51 If all went well, troops and noncommissioned officers would

release of the men in their charge. Not willing to bear the unnecessary expense of keeping the men in service, the Pennsylvania authorities, following the policy set down by both Congress and the commander in chief, ordered the men furloughed. Like every other furloughed soldier, the Pennsylvanians expected pay and got none. On the morning of June 16 a delegation of noncommissioned officers informed their commander, Colonel Richard Butler, that they were marching to Philadelphia to demand

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