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The British Surrender at Yorktown, 1781

Framed size  17 1/4 x 21 1/4

Frame size 2 3/4

Yorktown, the scene of Washington's greatest triumph and the end of the American Revolution. When the defeated Redcoats marched from Yorktown to lay down their arms, the world truly was turned upside down - forever.

 

George Washington finished his second term as the first President of the United States in 1797. Weary of the political infighting surrounding the presidency, he longed for the peace of retirement to his beloved Mount Vernon. Unfortunately, his solitude lasted less than three years as he died on December 14, 1799 at age 67.

The British Surrender at Yorktown, 1781

In the summer of 1781, after six years of war, the American Army was struggling. The British occupied New York City. A second British army lead by General Lord Cornwallis ravaged the South - capturing Charleston, Richmond, and apparently was heading for the Chesapeake Bay. Mutiny plagued the American army in New York and New Jersey.

There was a glimmer of hope, however. The French, allied with the Americans since 1778, had landed six thousand troops in Rhode Island while the French fleet gathered in the Caribbean preparing to do battle with the British. General George Washington and the French

commander, Comte de Rochambeau, met in May 1781 to plan their strategy. Washington wanted to attack the British in New York City. Rochambeau, fearful of attacking such a well fortified position and lacking confidence in the Continental Army's abilities, recommended marching south to battle Cornwallis in Virginia. Washington finally acquiesced to the French position and on August 22, the two armies began their march from White Plains, New York to Virginia arriving in early September. As the combined American and French armies marched south, a battle between the French and British fleets in the Chesapeake Bay sealed the fate of General Cornwallis and his British troops at Yorktown. In the period from September 5 - 9, the French surprised the British fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake forcing the British navy to retreat to New York, leaving General Cornwallis stranded.

After a five-day bombardment, the combined American and French forces attacked and overwhelmed Cornwallis's fortified position on the night of October 14. The British commander was left with no choice but to surrender, which he did on October 19. News of the surrender reached England on November 25 sending shock waves through the British government. Although King George III wanted to continue the battle, the surrender forced Prime Minister Lord North to resign in March 1782. His replacement began the peace process that culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September 1783 granting independence to the American colonies.

1st President of the United States

Vice President: John Adams

Born: February 22, 1732, Pope's Creek, Virginia

Nickname: "Father of His Country"

Education: The equivalent of an elementary school education

Religion: Episcopalian

Marriage: January 6, 1759, to Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802)

Children: None

Career: Soldier, Planter

Political Party: Federalist

Writings: Writings (39 vols., 1931-1944), ed. by John C. Fitzpatrick

Died: December 14, 1799, Mount Vernon, Virginia

Buried: Family vault, Mount Vernon, Virginia

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