When we think of the birth of our nation the date July 4, 1776 comes to mind. That is the date that the founding fathers penned their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, formalizing the festivities with Britain. Five years of dismal failure, war, and finally victory, still lay ahead to prove we were serious about that document.
What many do not know, is that was not the end but only the very beginning. It would not be until October 19, 1881 that the British would formally capitulate. Many times in those five years, the Declaration of Independence almost became a footnote in history. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure,” so said Thomas Jefferson. The American tree of liberty was well watered. It began to poke its first branches from the ground on this date.
On the fields of Yorktown, the finale began on October 6, 1781 and concluded on October 19 two weeks later. We defeated the British at last. The guns went silent on the morning of October 17, 1781.
In a great act of school playground antics General Cornwallis, the commander of all British forces in the United States, refused to surrender in person to George Washington, feinting illness. While this was disgraceful behavior on his part, you would find it difficult not to have wounded pride in this situation. A former subordinate with an army of farmers defeated Cornwallis, one of the great military minds of his time. They somehow managed to rout the greatest army in the world. He wrote many of the books the enemy was using.
Thus, the second in command, General O’Hara, stood before an assembly of American and French officers to surrender Cornwallis’ sword. The sword first offered to a French General, became insult number two. The French general pointed to Washington who would not accept the sword from a second, as it was Cornwallis’ duty. A second to Washington received the sword. It was over.
When the British Prime Minister Lord North heard the news, he said, “Oh God! It is all over!” I would beg to differ with Lord North. For the United States of America, it had only just begun.
Trackback from your site.