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   Chapter 42 1782).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3910

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Stubbornness of George III.]

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1778.]

The European crisis was favorable to the Americans; the British government had hitherto been unable to reduce them; the Germans would furnish no more mercenaries; a strong minority in Parliament opposed the American war; France had declared war in March, 1778, and Spain was about to follow. Proper reinforcements could not be sent to America. The country cried out for Pitt, who had declared himself positively against American independence. The king resolutely refused. "No advantage to this country, no personal danger to myself," said he, "can ever make me address myself to Lord Chatham or to any other branch of the opposition." Pitt died on May 11, and the chance of a statesmanlike policy disappeared. When the French fleet, with four thousand troops, appeared in American waters in July, 1778, Washington formed the hopeful plan of driving the British out of the country. Philadelphia had been abandoned by Clinton, acting under orders of the British government. Only two places were left in the possession of the British,-New York city and Newport, Rhode Island. The combined American and French expedition against Newport was a failure, although, as Washington said, "it would have given the finishing blow to British pretensions of sovereignty over this country."

[Sidenote: The war continued.]

Meanwhile, in England the king was imposing his relentless will upon a ministry tired of the war, and upon the English people. It was the climax of George the Third's effort to escape from the principle of Parliamentary responsibility. "This country," he said, "will never regain a proper tone unless ministers, as in the reign of King William, will not mind now and then being in a minority." In April, 1779, Spain allied herself with France, and the combined fleets of those two powers obtained the mastery of the seas. Paul Jones, with a little fleet under an Ame

rican commission, captured two British men-of-war, almost in sight of the English coast.

[Sidenote: Southern campaign.]

A new plan was formed for an American campaign in 1779. Forces were directed against Georgia and South Carolina,-States in which there were many loyalists. Savannah was taken, Charleston was assailed, and the expedition under Cornwallis penetrated far into North Carolina. Yet at the end of 1780 the British held, besides New York, only the provinces of South Carolina and Georgia. In September, 1780, Benedict Arnold all but delivered to the hands of the enemy the important fortress of West Point. He was weary of the struggle, and anxious to secure his own safety.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Yorktown.]

With renewed spirit the Americans in 1781 took the offensive in the Carolinas under Greene. Cornwallis moved northward to the peninsula of Yorktown. The moment had come. By a rapid movement of Washington's army and the effective cooperation of the French fleet, Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown; and on Oct. 19, 1781, he surrendered, with eight thousand men. It was the first decided victory which Washington had himself gained. It made evident to England the hopelessness of continuing the contest; and in November, 1782, peace was made.

[Sidenote: Reasons for American success.]

The Revolutionary war was successful because the English underestimated the strength of the movement at the beginning, because the English commanders were incapable, and because in the later period, when the British were aroused, their strength was diverted by the dangerous European war. It was gained finally by the firmness and resolution of the people, and that resolution is typified in Washington. His patience and endurance, his ability to hold in check large forces with small armies imperfectly equipped, his power to keep the country up to the support of the war, mark him as one of the world's great military commanders.

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