A REVOLUTION “AT THE END OF ITS TETHER” FINALLY SUCCEEDS
I was watching the cable TV channel “H2” last night (March 2, 2014), and George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the narrator was saying, all found the American people “vile and loathsome” — because totally unsupportive of their massive efforts to free them. But the Founding Fathers succeeded anyway. Here is how.
Some may be tempted cynically, while reading the below, to see this essay as quaint, superficial and outdated patriotic twaddle, glorifying a much earlier America of 200 years ago that has now blown so far off course since 9/11 that all the talk of Washington, Valley Forge, revolution and freedom seems tiresomely naive. In an age of “Homeland Security,” drones, surveillance cameras, the PATRIOT Act, and body scans, with a nearly omnipotent Jewish lobby calling almost every shot, is the Revolution of 1775-83 even relevant?
Yes, it definitely is, and for three reasons:
1) as shown below, it was won by willpower, by a triumph of the will, back when all the news seemed discouraging,
2) foreign powers joined our struggle for their own separate reasons and proved decisive in final victory; and
3) the only thin thread our entire civilization is hanging on — including the fate, ironically, of our comrades in Britain — is the freedom of speech and freedom of gun ownership that the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights still guarantee — to individuals, groups and computer server owners — and the Revolution, won, gave us the Bill of Rights.
My friend from Perth, Australia, Brendon O’Connell, did three years in prison (January 2011-14) for criticizing the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians. His crime: an argument with two Jewish Lubavitch kids at an orange stand in a supermarket. The two Lubavitch young men told the judge, who was in the Jews’ pocket, they felt traumatized and “threatened.”
All western nations except the United States of America have neither free speech nor have they our access to private guns, whose relevance lies in Thomas Jefferson’s famous dictum that the government should fear the people and not the people the government.
If America had stayed British, there would be hate-speech laws as in the United Kingdom, or its white ex-colonies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand that stayed with the Empire. Any exposï¿½s online of the Holocaust,ï¿½ of the real contents of the Talmud, of the heinous Israeli role in the USS Liberty and 9/11 attacks, and other critical issues, would be landing Americans today in PRISON.
IN FACT, THE ONLY REASON YOU CAN READ THIS NOW IS THAT GEORGE WASHINGTON WON THE REVOLUTION AND THEN SIGNED THE BILL OF RIGHTS.
Forensic reconstruction of Washington, taken from his skull and many descriptions of him, found at the Mount Vernon Museum
If you live in Europe or Canada, you too can read this because servers located in the USA are legally allowed to host this content. Without the American Revolution all Internet servers worldwide would be subject to censorship, and the entire West would be plunged into utter informational darkness.
Yes, the American Revolution is still extremely relevant. Freedom is relevant, truth is relevant and the armed and successful overthrow of tyranny is of the utmost relevance.
Few realize when they see the trappings of American power ï¿½ 100,000-ton aircraft carriers,….
The USS Ronald Reagan leaves Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
….vast football stadiums, skyscrapers, or the majestic US Capitol at night ï¿½ how ï¿½iffyï¿½ the American Revolution was for much of its seven-year duration.
There were countless setbacks, desertions, defections, mishaps, a few mutinies, personal quarrels, financial scandals, mudslinging, and important battles that were lost through amateurish mistakes.
George Washington was the greatest human asset we had.
However, not one of his mosrt fervent admirers — of whom I am one — would call him a “military genius” or even half the general that Frederick the Great of Prussia was, Washington’s older contemporary, or Napoleon, his younger contemporary.
In fact, the brutal truth is that the Virginia planter and surveyor, while competent, diligent, inspirational and diplomatic, won only three of the seven major battles he fought.
And were it not for a young French aristocrat who loved America, freedom, danger, and heroism, who adored George Washington as a father figure and his wonderful old state of Virginia (even giving to a son the first name of ï¿½Georges Washingtonï¿½ and to a daughter the name ï¿½Virginieï¿½) the strange but vital alliance of 1778-81 between the absolutist French monarchy of Louis XVI with the fledgling American republic of Washington would have ended in defeat, disgrace and dozens or hundreds of executions for treason.
The Marquis de Lafayette
(For while Scots or Irish could revolt against England with some or much justification, since they had been conquered or put into Britain against their will, there was no doubt that Great Britain herself — her government, money, ships and people — had indeed established “the 13 colonies” out of nothing.
On paper, the Founding Fathers therefore were alltraitors who sought by bloodshed to overthrow theirlegitimate government. And the Boston Tea Party, while girded in a patriotic halo today, was the destruction of millions of dollars of British product (tea from India); today it would be called terrorism.)
The Marquis de Lafayette visits with General Washington at his home of Mount Vernon, Virginiaon the eastern porch, with a view of the Potomac River. Martha Washington is seated to the right.
But for this one idealistic young man of twenty, Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, a a young man of the highest nobility in every sense, George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson would have swung at the end of a rope as disgraced traitors, joining dozens of failed Scottish, Irish and English rebels against England in oblivion.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon from the west. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hancock and other Founding Fathers were self-made millionaires with fortunes to lose — and their lives — if the Revolution failed.
General Arnold (below), brilliant, dynamic, skilled at war, and genuinely angry over the behavior of Congress, also had an infamous weakness for money — and offered in September 1780 to surrender the American-held West Point, a key point on the Hudson River in upstate New York, to the British for what today would be $400,000. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_Arnold)He then became a brigadier general in the British Army and immediately began attacking his former brothers-in-arms from Connecticut to Virginia, even burning down New Haven.
In fact, in 1781, the young Marquis de Lafayette, leading Virginia troops entrusted to him by Washington, actually helped rescue Thomas Jefferson from being captured by the hated traitor Benedict Arnold, who had changed sides, furious at what he perceived as 1) American ingratitude (Arnold had received lifelong wounds from several battles, and had also spent a great deal of his own money promoting the Revolution, but felt completely unappreciated,) and 2) political and military incompetence. The enraged Arnold had turned his huge talents into fighting the very Revolution he once had so aided.
Yes, the American Revolution was a very iffy thing for seven long years. Washington made his share of mistakes, including trusting Benedict Arnold with two huge assignments despite many complaints about his character. (Later the British and Canadians came to agree with the outraged American opinion of him.) In fact, in 1781, the year of the final American victory (though peace negotiations stretched out to 1783), things actually looked very gloomy until they very suddenly turned around — due to massive French help in warships, troops and cash, and both mighty Spain and fierce Holland going to war at sea with the Royal Navy.
Various passages from historian Samuel Eliot’s once renowned 1856 history of the USA, entitled Manual of United States History from 1492 to 1850….
1) From Eliot, p238, describing the year 1778, and note especially the ending, with Washington himself protesting a Congress angry at an army bleeding and dying in the field to protect said Congress and win.
George Washington at age 47, based on a forensic reconstruction that is shown at Mount Vernon. He had blue eyes and auburn hair.
2) Eliot, p240
Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, was born in 1757 in the heart of France to an exceptionally warlike family. The du Motiers were guided for centuries by the Latin dynastic motto ï¿½cur non?,ï¿½ meaning ï¿½Why not?ï¿½ (The rank of nobility called ï¿½marquis,ï¿½ like that of count, denotes a member of the high military nobility who is entrusted with defending a border province, a ï¿½march,ï¿½ that must prepare for invasion. Austria was a ï¿½marchï¿½ of Germany facing Hungary, and so was Brandenburg a ï¿½march,ï¿½ but facing Poland.) Du Motier’s family history recalls the medieval division of society: some ï¿½laborant, orant, pugnant,ï¿½meaningï¿½some labor [peasants], some pray [clergy and monks], and some fight [nobles and kings].ï¿½ (This tripartite social order seems to have been the rule even back in Indo-European or ï¿½Aryanï¿½ times four thousand years ago.)
Coat of arms of France under the Bourbon dynasty
Family tree of 700 years of ancestors of Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette. (Click to enlarge. The Motier coat of arms is upper-right.)
According to legend, one ancestor of Gilbert du Motier recovered in Jerusalem the ï¿½Crown of Thornsï¿½ of Christ during the 6th Crusade (1228). Another of the Marquis’ ancestors was a “Marshal of France.” Gilbert de La Fayette III (the name was spelled both ï¿½de-la-Fayetteï¿½ and ï¿½de-Lafayetteï¿½) was the military leader of Joan of Arc’s army in Orlï¿½ans in 1428, and this victorious French siege turned the tide in the Hundred Years War.
Joan, a 19-year-old peasant girl, leads the charge at the siege of Orleans — and persists despite taking an arrow in the neck. The actual battle commander was Gilbert de La Fayette.
Gilbert’s great-grandfather was the Count de La Riviï¿½re, a lieutenant general in the Royal Armï¿½es. Lafayette’s uncle Jacques-Roch died fighting the Austrians and left the marquis title to Lafayette’s father. The father in turn, struck by a cannonball at the Battle of Minden in Westphalia, Germany, died in 1759 when Gilbert was a toddler of two. But thus Lafayette became the Lord of Chavaniac. and when his mother and her father both died in April of 1770 — Gilbert was 12 ï¿½ he began to receive an income of 25,000 livres. La livre, from the old French-Latin word for ï¿½pound,ï¿½ was a pound of solid silver….. and so 25,000 livres were worth about $13 million today. Upon the death of an uncle, the 12-year-old Lafayette inherited a further yearly income of 120,000 livres (about $65 million).
The young Lord of Chavaniac and Marquis de Lafayette was then guided to manhood by his paternal grandmother, Mme de Chavaniac. When he married a rich countess, her dowry brought another 400,000 livres to the estate ($211 million in annual income), and this arranged marriage gradually turned into a deep marital love.
Years later, when Gilbert was captured in battle and imprisoned by the Prussians and then the Austrians for five years ï¿½ 1792-95 ï¿½ his devoted wife joined him in his misery in 1795 and died thereafter from the conditions. The United States then exercised pressure for the release of the widower, who had won the love of the American people for his services in our Revolution.
Eliot, p268, on the reception by the American people of Lafayette in 1783 — after the seven-year-long Revolution — partly thanks to him — had been won.
His wife had been imprisoned by Jacobin forces, which had taken over the French Revolution, for years and had seen her mother, grandmother and sister all leave in a wagon for the guillotine. Her husband had sought a constitutional monarchy with good public order for France, not the Illuminati nightmare of the Terror.
Returning to the life of the young Marquis, he studied at one of the finest high schools in Paris, then joined the French Army like his forebears. In August 1775, the 18-year-old Captain du Motier hears at a dinner the visiting Duke of Gloucester, the brother of King George of England, mock the Americans and their ï¿½uprising,ï¿½ and decides on the spot to join the Americans. (He had been stung by Queen Marie Antoinette laughing at the court of Versailles at his dancing skills and various abuses he found incompatible with his growing belief in political and religious liberty.) He disobeys a direct order of the French king to not go to America, buys his own 200-ton ship, La Victoire, and a 30-man crew, sets sail on April 26, 1777, then evades both French and British fleets looking for him in the Caribbean (France does not yet want war with Britain, and Britain wants no war with France while it is fighting America), and after seven weeks arrives in June 1777 in Georgetown, South Carolina. He demands that his French companions take an oath with him: ï¿½vaincre ou pï¿½rir,ï¿½ win (the American Revolution) ï¿½ or perish.
As Samuel Eliot writes, on page 233:
September 11 is a somber date in American history…. and it proved to be so for Gilbert du Motier as well, the day a British bullet went into his leg and the Americans suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania. We certainly all know about the events of September 11 in the year 2001.
But on September 11 of the year 1941 Franklin Roosevelt began building the Pentagon to carry out his war plans (ordering also that it violate Virginia laws mandating segregated dining facilities and bathrooms). FDR also ordered on that day the US Navy to begin depth-charging German submarines (Germany was NOT at war with the US, its submarines were of course avoiding the Americans — supposedly neutral — and the German U-boats were hunting only the British, who had declared war on them in September 1939. This incredibly provocative order was given by Roosevelt almost three months before Pearl Harbor.)
September 11 of the year 1777 was another bad day for America. The Battle of Brandywine, outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, turned into a near-route for the Americans, because General Washington, not immune from mistakes, had not keep his right flank strong. Confusion broke out, a friendly-fire incident happened and General Thomas Howe of Britain drove the Americans back.
The Americans at Brandywine — brave, but defeated by British skill, valor and experience
(His brother, Admiral Howe, commanded the Royal Navy squadrons attacking the 13 states.) The then American capital of Philadelphia humiliatingly fell to the ï¿½Redcoatsï¿½ for nine long months, and the young Marquis, then 20, but a major general in the Continental Army, was shot in the leg. However, he heroically organized an orderly retreat so the bulk of Washington’s army was not annihilated, a fate which would have ended the Revolution right there. Not bad for a twenty-year-old in his first military outing.
Washington had taken an instant liking to the young man when he first arrived as a volunteer. But the General cautioned him that though he too had the rank of general, and American diplomat Silas Deane (more on him below) had arranged for Captain du Motier to be appointed as a major general at age 20, the Americans would not like taking orders from such a young man, Washington gently said, nor from a foreigner and aristocrat. He offered to the disappointed young marquis initially to be ï¿½a friend and fatherï¿½ to him, letting him travel with and be his aide. Washington saw Lafayette’s value as symbolic and morale-boosting, just as his ancestor, ironically, the Marshal of France du Motier had seen the presence of the young female Joan of Arc in 1428, 349 years earlier.
But both Joan and Gilbert became capable, popular, inspirational warriors and commanders. In any case, the then 45-year-old, six-foot-three Washington did indeed become a father figure to the 20-year-old Gilbert. The Virginian never could father sons or daughters himself, whereas his wife Martha ï¿½ Lafayette once observed that she loved “her husband madlyï¿½ — had born four children to her first husband, Daniel Custis, before he died.
Lafayette, 20, leads a charge at Brandywine. He paid his way to America and served for free for five years.
Morale-boosting was certainly the order of the day for both Washington and the nation after the defeat at Brandywine. Washington had already been thrown out of New York City in August of 1776, one month after the dramatic Declaration of Independence, by the relentless British general Howe, and now in August of the following year, 1777, George Washington had lost the largest city in the 13 independent states, Philadelphia, the ï¿½American capitalï¿½ to boot and the location where the Declaration of Independence had been proclaimed.
When the Americans reconquered their capital, Washington made Benedict Arnold its military governor. Arnold then began dating a Loyalist (pro-British) woman named Peggy Shippen, living in a mansion and enriching himself… In 1779 Arnold entered into contact with a friend of William Franklin, the last colonial (British-appointed) governor of New Jersey and the son of Benjamin Franklin, also pro-British to his father’s lasting shock, about switching sides… In August 1780 Washington compounded his error by giving Arnold command of West Point as well as the entire Hudson River from Albany down to NYC, and Arnold agreed treacherously to accept 20,000 British pounds ï¿½ $400,000 today ï¿½ to surrender West Point to British general Clinton. West Point on the Hudson controlled this major river and had a huge chain stretched from it across to the other side to block British warships.)
In December 1780, under orders from his new British master, Clinton, Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,600 troops into Virginia, where he captured Richmond, the capital of that state, by surprise and then went on a rampage through Virginia, destroying supply houses, foundries, and mills. This activity brought Virginia’s militia out, and Arnold eventually retreated to Portsmouth to either be evacuated or reinforced. The pursuing American army included the Marquis de Lafayette, who was under orders from Washington to hang Arnold summarily if he was captured.
(In August of the next year, 1778 (every August was bad) the then major American port of Newport, Rhode Island was lost, with the American furious that the French fleet, in their eyes, had abandoned them. But the French had their own grounds for complaint about the Rhode Islanders and other militia. When the French fleet sailed into Boston for repairs there was nearly a riot against the French, and tempers flared on both sides. Lafayette, who had risked everything to get to, and fight for, America and to cement a Franco-American alliance, was deeply hurt.
It had been a long nine months. Building a winter camp at Valley Forge for the winter of 1777-78 not far from the British-held ï¿½Philly,ï¿½ Washington wrote the Continental Congress he hadno food, pay, medicine or shoes for his men, and added bitterly that he was being defamed as a coward in the newspapers because, lacking everything, he was refusing to give Howe battle. Of the 11,000 hungry, beaten American soldiers who entered Valley Forge, 2,000 died of disease, malnutrition and the overall psychological effects of defeat, bad morale and no pay to send to their families in a country economically racked by war.
Truly, as Thomas Paine had written,
ï¿½These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.ï¿½
Washington wrote that ï¿½the states are nominating officers not fit to be shoeblacks,ï¿½ and that the militias are ï¿½a destructive, expensive and disorderly mob.ï¿½ (Eliot, p231.) The Congress, terrified the war would be lost and they all hang, ordered on December 27, 1776 thatWashington should exercise dictatorial power and take whatever he needed for his army, if the people would not sell it to him at a far price and that he could arrest anyone ï¿½disaffected from the American cause.ï¿½ (Eliot, p232)
Baron von Steuben [pronounced SHTOY-ben]
The two gigantic saviors of the American cause were in fact the two European aristocrats, the Marquis de Lafayette and Baron Friedrich von Steuben of Germany (a fine officer who for all his idealism, wealth, success, fame and noble name never married or even dated women, and likely was asexual or a closet — or inactive — homosexual. See Wikipedia).
The Prussian officer came to Valley Forge to teach the bayonet, camp and field hygiene, discipline, marching and pride to the demoralized Americans. With the better hygiene, morale and combat skills taught by the German baron (see my article here: Of German Blood Pt.1), soon the Americans were beating British professional warriors in battle.
The marquis meanwhile was desperately writing back home to France that Washington was an outstanding leader, the Americans could win with French help, and that King Louis XVI should ally their country with the Americans against the dangerous common enemy of Britain.
When on May 6, 1778 it was officially announced that France had declared war on England and become a US ally, a thousand jubilant American soldiers shot their long rifles in the air in a massive gunpowder salute. Martha Washington took part in the campï¿½s May 6 celebration. Soon after the thunderous feu de joie, General Washington and his wife received other officers under a large marquee fashioned from dozens of officersï¿½ tents. General Washington was said to have worn ï¿½a countenance of uncommon delight and satisfaction.ï¿½
But while the Marquis de Lafayette had played a huge role in arranging this alliance, as a high-ranked French aristocrat known to the King of France as a member of an impeccable military family, and as a personal friend of Washington, many others were involved in the desperate efforts to get the Americans a powerful ally. Ben Franklin as US ambassador to France did yeoman work.
But Silas Deane got the alliance with France really going, yet was branded a traitor, and died tragically in poverty in England.
Silas Deane took an active part in the movements in Connecticut preceding the War of Independence, was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1772, and from 1774 to 1776 was a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress.
Early in 1776, he was sent to France by Congress in a semi-official capacity, as a secret agent to induce the French government to lend its financial aid to the colonies. Subsequently he became, with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, one of the regularly accredited commissioners to France from Congress.
On arriving in Paris, Deane at once opened negotiations with the Count de Vergennes, who was the French foreign minister.
Charles Gravier, Count de Vergennes, who nearly bankrupted France to aid American independence so Britain would not dominate the world and eventually conquer France (which it still legally claimed in the 1700s). The French financial crisis, caused by massive financial aid to the desperate Americans, led to the French Revolution, and thus to the death on the guillotine of the very king who had aided the USA, Louis XVI, and 40,000 of his nobles. The Marquis de Lafayette himself nearly lost his life to the guillotine for seeking a moderate path for the French Revolution and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy for France instead of the Jacobin nightmare of endless massacres and executions.
Deane organised shipment of many shiploads of arms and munitions of war to America helping finance the extremely important Battle of Ticonderoga, a decisive American victory. He also enlisted the services of a number of continental soldiers of fortune, among whom were Lafayette, Baron Johann de Kalb, Thomas Conway, Casimir Pulaski, and Baron von Steuben.Many of these officers soon became unpopular once they reached America for a variety of reasons. As Deane had signed the contracts hiring them, he was given the blame by politicians in Philadelphia.
His carelessness in keeping account of his receipts and expenditures, and the differences between himself and Arthur Lee regarding the contracts with Beaumarchais, eventually led to his recall and replacement by John Adams as US Ambassador to France on November 21, 1777. Deane was expected to face charges based on Lee’s complaints and on having promised the foreign officers commissions outranking American officers. Before returning to America, however, he signed on February 6, 1778 the treaties of amity and commerce and of alliance with France, which he and the other commissioners had successfully negotiated.
As a mark of approval for Deane’s conduct in Paris, the French government agreed that he should travel back to the United States aboard a warship carrying out the first French ambassador to the United States. Louis XVI presented Deane with a portrait framed with diamonds and both Vergennes and Franklin wrote letters commending Deane.
Deane reached Philadelphia on July 14, 1778, the second anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. In America, Deane was defended by John Jay and John Adams in 1778 in along and bitter dispute before Congress, whose requests for copies of his receipts and disbursements were refused by France; since France had not officially made alliance with the Thirteen Colonies until February 6, 1778, they felt that any such evidence of their prior involvement with the Americans would be a diplomatic embarrassment. Deane in turn thenagitated for a diplomatic break with France and questioned the integrity of members of Congress who disagreed with him.
He was finally allowed to return to Paris in 1781 to settle his affairs and attempt to find copies of the disputed records, but his differences with various French officials, coupled with the publication in Rivington’s Royal Gazette in British-held New York of private letters to his brother in which he repudiated the Revolution as hopeless and suggested a rapprochement with Britain, led to his being barred from entry and branded a traitor at home.
Deane eventually settled in the Netherlands until after the treaty of peace of 1783 between Britain and the US had been signed, after which he lived in England in a state of poverty. He published his defence in a book, An Address to the Free and Independent Citizens of the United States of North America (Hartford, Conn., and London, 1784).
In 1789 Deane planned to set sail back to America to try to recoup his lost fortune but mysteriously took ill and died on September 23 of that year before his ship set sail. Some historians argue that he was poisoned by Edward Bancroft, an American double agent working for the British who had been employed by both John Adams and Silas Deane for gathering intelligence during the Revolutionary War and may have felt threatened by a potential testimony from Deane to the American Congress. As it turns out Silas Deane was never found guilty of Arthur Lee’s accusations. His granddaughter Philura, through her husband, pressed his case before Congress, and about fifty years after his death his family was eventually paid $37,000 in 1841, about $700,000 today, on the ground that a former audit was “ex parte,erroneous, and a gross injustice to Silas Deane.”
Arthur Lee (1740 ï¿½ 1792) had a less tragic but also bumpy career as a US diplomat to Paris. He did not appreciate the extravagant lifestyle of Benjamin Franklin, and told Sam Adams he would never be a good negotiator between a free people and a tyrant.
Later, in Paris, after helping to negotiate the Treaty of Alliance (1778) with France, he fell out with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. He persuaded Congress to recall Deane to America, but he was himself recalled soon afterward.
As for Benedict Arnold, despite his many successes as a general fighting for the Americans, he was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress while other officers claimed credit for some of his accomplishments. Adversaries in military and political circles brought charges of corruption or other malfeasance, but most often he was acquitted in formal inquiries. Congress investigated his accounts and found he was indebted to Congress after spending much of his own money on the war effort. Frustrated and bitter, Arnold decided to change sides in 1779, and opened secret negotiations with the British.ï¿½.
As for the Marquis de Lafayette, he sailed back to France in 1778 so the alliance, signed in February, would keep going smoothly, even after the debacle of the Battle of Rhode Island — when the French (with some justification) abandoned the Americans at Newport. The king gave Gilbert a royal slap on the wrist for having disobeyed his order to not leave for America three years earlier — ten days of house arrest with his beloved wife Adrienne.
After the Franco-American victory of October 19, 1781 at Yorktown……
The French names of various generals all over the battlefield (left, center and upper-right) reveal the massive French role in the final victory, arranged by Lafayette, Ben Franklin, Arthur Lee and the maligned and tragic Silas Deane.
The key factor was however the French ships of Admiral de Grasse behind the British forces’ backs. There was no escape by sea for Cornwallis’s troops to Royal Navy vessels if they lost a land battle, and the French naval gunfire from those ships was in a position to decimate the British tents, headquarters and positions. The previous naval Battle of the Chesapeake (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Chesapeake) of September 5, 1781 (five weeks earlier) was thus the most important and most underrated naval victory in world history. It won decisively the American Revolution, leading to the rise of an American superpower and depriving the British Empire of by far its richest, most populous colonies. (Canada, by comparison, is too northerly and cold — and Australia too southerly, water-poor and hot, in fact mostly desert — to support very large populations. The thirteen British-American colonies, called once “the jewel in the crown of the British Empire” became instead the nucleus of a huge nation with six times the population of Britain itself, ten times that of Canada and twenty times that of Australia.
The British fleet’s return to New York City in tatters set off a flurry of panic amongst the Loyalist population. The news of the defeat was also not received well in London. King George III wrote (even before learning of Cornwallis’s surrender) that
“….after the knowledge of the defeat of our fleet … I nearly think the Empire ruined.”
The French naval success had left them firmly in control of Chesapeake Bay, completing the encirclement of Cornwallis. It was not until 23 September that Graves and Clinton learned that the French fleet in the Chesapeake numbered a huge 36 ships. This news came from a dispatch sneaked out by Cornwallis on the 17 September, accompanied by a plea for help: “If you cannot relieve me very soon, you must be prepared to hear the worst.” Two days after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, General Washington acknowledged to Admiral de Grasse the importance of his role in the victory: “You will have observed that, whatever efforts are made by the land armies, [your French] navy must have the casting vote in the present contest.”
Two years after Yorktown, the British, after much debate, finally announced they had given up. Shortly thereafter, on April 19, 1783, General George Washington announced the cessation of all hostilities, exactly eight years after American farmers, Minutemen and other militia first faced off against British regulars at Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts.
The battle of Concord Bridge, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. The war erupted after the American militia saw smoke pouring out of their village. The British had discovered there American guns, bullets, cannons and food, and were burning wagons containing them. Thinking incorrectly the British were burning the town, the furious Americans opened accurate fire — farmers, lawyers, druggists, teachers and teenage boys — against trained professionals. The British began a disastrous 30-mile retreat.
When the Brits lost at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, they really lost heart as well. It was now America PLUS France, Spain and Holland at war with them.
And the Brits understood by 1781 that the whole country, the fledgling USA, now hated them and that after seven years of war all they controlled was some admittedly major seaports on the coast. But all the countryside and the mountains belonged to the armed “rebels,” who could just retreat further west even if beaten. (Ireland, another country that periodically rebelled against the British Empire, on the other hand, was an island that the Royal Navy could cut off from the world.) London finally understood that to re-enslave a huge, armed continent that hated them would be impossible, especially once the Spanish, Dutch and French got involved against them as well. (Russia under Catherine the Great also began leaning pro-American.)
The conclusion for our times? We too cand and shall win — by the same kind of tenacity, by expecting reverses and quarrels, even expecting some betrayal, by never giving up, and by getting foreigners to help our nation, foreigners who hate Jewashington for their own separate, different reasons from ours. In the end, though I object to many things about the current behavior of both the Muslims and the Chinese, they may be useful to us as allies against the Jewashington usurpers — just as Spain, France and Holland all declared war on Britain in the 1770s, not at all to aid our freedom struggle, but for their own reason, which was a desire to reduce the British threat TO THEMSELVES.
To end this essay, here is another passage from Samuel Eliot on how dire things were — in both reality and in the mind of George Washington — just a few short months before the crushing, FINAL Franco-American victory at Yorktown that ended the war.
Forensic reconstruction of George Washington’s face toward the end of the Revolution. At Valley Forge, in 1777, to quell a mutiny over a lack of food, pay, shoes and medicine, the general had begun reading some points he had jotted down on an envelope, appealing to his officers and men not to quit. His hair going white, his hands trembling, he took out small reading glasses his men had never seen. Washington said: “Forgive me, gentlemen but my eyes have grown weary in the service of my country.”
The officers wept — and the talk of mutiny ended.
But in 1781 the crises came back. As Eliot wrote on page 258:
In conclusion: pessimism is human, but optimism divine. Those who plan, think and work without relenting will rejoice when the sun shines down on their glorious day of victory. The American Revolution proves the fact that one must never give up.
Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, who had sailed 3,000 miles to fight for the freedom of another country, disobeying his king’s direct royal order, confessed to General George Washington in December 1777, after six months stateside, that he was initially shocked by the lack of ardor for the freedom struggle of most Americans. (Eliot, p
Generals Washington and Lafayette pass by a sentry standing in wind and snow at Valley Forge in December 1777, when all seemed hopeless. Within a few weeks, in February 1778, France had signed an alliance with America, Lafayette returned to France to strengthen it — and within two years the war was over.