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An American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783by William M Jr Fowler
Synopses & Reviews
Many believe the American Revolution ended in October 1781, after Lord Cornwallis surrendered his British army at Yorktown. In fact, the war effectively continued for two more traumatic years. During that time, the American Revolution came as close to being lost as at any time since it began. In American Crisis, the distinguished historian William M. Fowler Jr. vividly chronicles this critical, rarely documented period through the eyes of those who lived and influenced it. He skillfully reveals the internal and personal tensions that paralyzed both the British government and Congress, antagonized loyalists and patriots still reeling from the years of conflict, and roiled the army from its leadership through the ranks-culminating in George Washington's legendary address to his officers on March 15, 1783, which may well have prevented the army from marching on Congress. Bringing original insight and fascinating perspective to the events and forces through which our independence was preserved, American Crisis fills an important gap in our understanding of the revolutionary period in America.
"Vivid descriptions of personalities from all camps and a spellbinding narrative prove that in the hands of accomplished author and academic Fowler (Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America), history need not be dull. He thrusts readers into the center of political and military machinations after Cornwallis's 1781 defeat at Yorktown. The British still held some major cities; George III asserted he would abdicate rather than grant American independence; peace and a stable American government were not assured outcomes. But Congress had no funds to pay the army; members favoring a stronger national government encouraged the officer corps, 'the only viable national institution,' to agitate for their pay. Highlighting George Washington's pivotal role, Fowler relates events leading to Washington's unannounced and unprecedented appearance at a general meeting of officers in 1783, which aborted moves toward mutiny. Those present reaffirmed their allegiance to Congress and country, preserving the army's respect for civilian authority. Even readers familiar with details like the establishment of a republic in Vermont and its flirtations with Canada will find fresh insights in this superb chronicle. 8 pages of b&w photos; 2 maps. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
About the Author
William M. Fowler Jr. is Distinguished Professor of History at Northeastern University in Boston. Prior to that, for eight years he was director of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He is the author of Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763; Jack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815; The Baron of Beacon Hill: A Biography of John Hancock; and Samuel Adams: Radical Puritan. He lives in Reading, Massachusetts.
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