The Perils of Peace
America's Struggle for Survival After YorktowneBook - 2007
A dramatic evaluation of the post-Revolution period offers insight into the instability that threatened the former colonies, citing such factors as the British army's occupation of New York City, the fledgling nation's bankruptcy, and stalled peace efforts. 35,000 first printing.
On October 19, 1781, Great Britain's best army surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown. But the future of the 13 former colonies was far from clear. A 13,000 man British army still occupied New York City, and another 13,000 regulars and armed loyalists were scattered from Canada to Savannah, Georgia. Meanwhile, Congress had declined to a mere 24 members, and the national treasury was empty. The American army had not been paid for years and was on the brink of mutiny.
In Europe, America's only ally, France, teetered on the verge of bankruptcy and was soon reeling from a disastrous naval defeat in the Caribbean. A stubborn George III dismissed Yorktown as a minor defeat and refused to yield an acre of "my dominions" in America. In Paris, Ambassador Benjamin Franklin confronted violent hostility to France among his fellow members of the American peace delegation.
In his riveting new book, Thomas Fleming moves elegantly between the key players in this drama and shows that the outcome we take for granted was far from certain. Not without anguish, General Washington resisted the urgings of many officers to seize power and held the angry army together until peace and independence arrived. With fresh research and masterful storytelling, Fleming breathes new life into this tumultuous but little known period in America's history.
First Yorktown, then America, right? Not so fast. Tens of thousands of British troops still occupied sites from Canada to Georgia, with New York City under their full control. The national treasury was empty and some troops had not been paid for years. Congress was a shadow of its former self, with only 24 active members. The British defeat at Yorktown did not immediately engender a new nation, and in fact some of the most powerful Britons considered it only a temporary setback. Meanwhile, in France, Franklin and his delegation came to blows about how to get the French to come to America's aid when both were on the brink of total financial collapse. Independent scholar Fleming unravels the complexities behind the schoolbook interpretations of what happened and could have happened to diplomats, soldiers, and crowned heads as America, France and Britain sorted out who had actually won the war. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An evaluation of the post-Revolution period offers insight into the instability that threatened the former colonies, citing such factors as the British army's occupation of New York City, the fledgling nation's bankruptcy, and stalled peace efforts.