The Steps that Led to the Creation of This National Historic Trail 

1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

Latest changes: 2014-05-30 updated links through 2006

The W3R®-US is a coordinating body, so the activities and achievements noted on this page are the mostly the work of the state W3R® organizations or affiliated organizations and individuals, Please give those organizations full credit for doing the work required to accomplish these tasks.

Prior to 1999: CONGRESS AUTHORIZES STUDY OF THE W3R®: Congress passed H.R. 4794, authorizing a study of the W3R®. This bill and a history of earlier efforts (going back to 1925) to commemorate the role of the French Expeditionary force in 1780-83 are on the Expèdition Particulière's Web site:
H.R. 4794 and W3R® history

1999 Dec 16:  FIRST W3R®-US MEETING: Nearly 50 local historians and representatives from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut met at the Washington headquarters in Newburgh, New York to organize the W3R®. The route was almost immediately designated as a Millenium Trail as advocated by the W3R®-US.

2000:  CONGRESS DIRECTS NPS TO STUDY THE W3R®: The U.S. Congress passed PL 106-473 directing the National Park Service (NPS) to make a feasibility study of designating the W3R® as a National Historical Trail as advocated by the W3R®-US.

FIRST W3R®-US WEB SITE: The first Web site focused on the W3R® was established as www.AmRevandFrance.com later changed to www.w3r-us.org).

DAR AND SAR FORM COMMITTEES: The DAR and SAR both established national committees to participate in and provide support for activities related to the W3R®.

2001:  NPS STUDY STARTS: The NPS assembled a research team and held public hearings on the W3R® in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Virginia. Members of state W3R® groups attended these and spoke about the significance of W3R® for their communities.

2001: RESEARCH FOR NEW YORK PUBLISHED: Dr. Robert Selig presented his historical and architectural study of the W3R® in New York.

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2002:  NPS HISTORICAL SYMPOSIUM: The NPS held at at West Point NY a Symposium on the W3R®. An international panel of a scholars discussed the significance of the presence and passage of the French Expeditionary Force along the route before and after the siege and victory at Yorktown. Many members of W3R® state groups attended to learn from the experts.

2003 Apr 8:  NPS STUDY SUPPORTS HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE: The Landmarks Committee of the National Park System (NPS) Advisory Board unanimously recommended that a complete proposal on the W3R® be developed and presented to Congress for final consideration and vote to be a designated a National Historical trail.

2003 Oct 11: W3R®-US REORGANIZES: W3R® leaders met in Wilmington DE and authorized a new organizational structure for the W3R®-US that could raise and expend funds for educational and historical purposes as a chartered corporation with a 501(c)3 tax code designation.

2003 Oct 12: RESEARCH FOR DELAWARE PUBLISHED: Dr. Robert Selig presented his historical and architectural study of the W3R® in Delaware to the state of Delaware and the Delaware Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, who funded the study through a 4:1 matching grant.

2004 June to October:  WALKING THE NORTHERN PART OF THE TRAIL: Lee Patrick Anderson walked about 200 miles of the W3R® in RI and CT to scout out the trail for the feasibility of a full-scale march in 2006 and to look for clues to where the original trail went.
Photo-report on 2004: Walking the W3R®

2005 April:  SIGN DEDICATED IN DELAWARE: The W3R®-Delaware placed an interpretive sign next to the Grand Opera House in Wilmington DE to commemorate the five-month period in 1782-3 when Lauzun's Legion (French) of 550 soldiers were posted in buildings here. The sign was funded by the National Society SAR and the Delaware State Society of the DAR. It was dedicated during the 2005 annual meeting of the W3R®-US.
See the photo-report.

2005 May: DEDICATION OF A MARKER AT MOUNT VERNON:
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) dedicated a new W3R® commemorative sign [Durf McJoynt]

2005 July: 225TH ANNIVERSARY OF LANDING IN NEWPORT RI: Hundreds of people enjoyed the performance of a large body of re-enactors commemorating the 1780 arrival of French General Rochambeau and the French Expeditionary Force. M. Gerard Priet of the France Society SAR spoke about Admiral Ternay, who was in command of the French fleet that brought the French Expeditionary Force to Newport and who died there six months later. 2005 July Photo-report [Durf McJoynt]

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2006:  RESEARCH FOR NEW JERSEY PUBLISHED: Dr. Robert Selig presented his historical and architectural study of the W3R® in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Funding for a similar study in Virginia has been secured. [CT, NY, and DE are done, and a preliminary study of MD has been published. Nothing has yet been done in MA.]

SIGNAGE INSTALLED IN RI, NJ, DE: Standard W3R® logo signs were placed along the route in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware. Virginia replaced many of its white-text-on green W3R® wayfinding signs from the bicentennial anniversary (1981).

MANY SIGNS DEDICATED IN CONNECTICUT: The W3R®-Connecticut placed the remainder of its twelve signs at campsites along the W3R® in that state.

2006 Feb 11: DELAWARE SYMPOSIUM ON BLACK PATRIOTS The W3R-Delaware sponsored a symposium on Black Patriots in the Revolution.

2006 May and June: RE-ENACT 225TH: BOY SCOUTS MARCH ACROSS RI: The Boy Scouts of Rhode Island began the commemoration of the march of the allied U.S.-French army from Newport RI to Yorktown with a fifty-mile hike (spread over five weekends) following the original W3R® land route.
Photo-report on Scouts Hike W3R® in RI.

RE-ENACT 225TH: AMERICA'S (680-mile) MARCH TO YORKTOWN (AMtY)
AMtY is a project conceived and planned independently from W3R®-US but supported enthusiastically and partially funded by W3R® supporters. On June 16 three men (the full-route marchers) -- with two support vehicles and drivers -- traveled by boat from Newport to Providence RI (as the French troops did in 1781). After a symposium at Brown University on France and the American Revolution there was a parade to the State House, where Gov. Carcieri reviewed the troops. "America's March to Yorktown" then set out to march 685 miles along the W3R® following the daily schedule of the original march, stopping at the same campsites (or nearby) on the same calendar days as the French Army did in 1781. They were joined by dozens of short-term marchers and were welcomed in dozens of towns along the route, arriving in Yorktown on October 7. The full story, links to the AMtY blogs and photo gallery, W3R photo-reports, and newspaper articles on this march are posted on our 2006 Full-route newsclips page

2006 June 1 to Sept 30 EXHIBITION BY THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNATI The Society of the Cincinnati marked the 225th anniversary of the British surrender at Yorktown — the decisive battle in securing American independence — with an exhibition on Roads to Yorktown from June 1 through September 30, 2006, at Anderson House, the Society's headquarters on Massachusetts Ave. in Washington DC. Thirty rare maps, prints, works of art, artifacts, and manuscripts from the Society's collections chronicle the various paths that the American, French, and British armies and navies followed, eventually leading them to Yorktown. These place that battle (and the American Revolution) in the context of the larger war for empire between Great Britain, France, Spain, and Holland -- a war that raged in the Caribbean for another two years.

2006 June 1 to Oct 20 BROWN UNIV. EXHIBIT AND SYMPOSIUM ON W3R®: Brown University (Providence RI) presented two exhibitions:
France and the American Revolution featured maps, books and broadsides that relate to French involvement in the American Revolution.
The French Army in the American Revolution featured original French army documents, prints and contemporary and modern books

2006 July 4 KIOSK DEDICATED FOR PUBLICIZING THE W3R®: As a pilot project a touch-screen kiosk was installed at the Amtrak Station in Wilmington DE. This station is visited by a million people each year.

2006 July 4 INDEPENDENCE VISITOR CENTER EXHIBIT ON W3R®: Exhibit panels were installed at the Independence Visitor Center in Philadelphia PA. The exhibit will run through 2006 December 31.

2006 July 26: HOUSE AND SENATE PROPOSALS TO MAKE W3R® A NHT: Bills were introduced in both houses of Congress to designate the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route a National Historic Trail, to map the route, and to give administrative authority to the United States Secretary of the Interior. Additionally, the bill specifies that no land shall be acquired outside of federal lands without the consent of the owner of the land or interest in land. These were not acted on before the end of the year, but bills with similar wording were introduced in 2007.

2006 September: A REVOLUTIONARY WEEKEND IN DELAWARE was enjoyed by over a thousand participants. Photoreports on Events. DELAWARE SYMPOSIUM ON BLACK PATRIOTS
FAMILY MUSICAL ON GEORGE WASHINGTON
Billy Lee's Washington is a musical with eighteen songs to show the life of George Washington from childhood to his first inauguration, as seen through the eyes of his slave, Billy Lee. it was performed seven times in Delaware.
A TRIBUTE TO THE FRENCH TROOPS

2006 October 18-20: RE-ENACT 225TH: SIEGE AND SURRENDER AT YORKTOWN: Many W3R® members attended commemoration events in Washington DC and Yorktown VA related to the allied siege and victory at Yorktown 225 years ago. See the photo-report.

2006 Oct: MT. VERNON EXHIBIT RELATED TO W3R®: The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association organized a traveling exhibition, "Lafayette and Washington", to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette. It focuses on the close "father-son" relationship between George Washington and Lafayette. It was shown at Mt Vernon until 2007 Aug, then Lafayette College in PA to 2007 Oct, then at the New York Historical Society (Manhattan NY) to 2008 early Feb.

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2007 March:   HOUSE AND SENATE RE-PROPOSE TO MAKE W3R® A NHT: New bills were introduced in both houses of Congress to designate the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route a National Historic Trail, to map the route, and to give administrative authority to the United States Secretary of the Interior. The bill specifies that no land shall be acquired outside of federal lands without the consent of the owner of the land or interest in land.

2007 April: NPS PUBLISHES REPORT AFFIRMING VALUE AS NHT: The final report and recommendations on the W3R® from the National Park Service were published by the Government Printing Office. The NPS posted a Web page asking for and providing a form for public comments.

2007 April: W3R®-US TESTIFIES AT SENATE HEARING: The Senate Subcommittee on National Parks (of the Committee for Energy and Resources) held a Legislative Hearing on S.686. Kim Burdick, chair of the W3R®-US, presented testimony on behalf of the W3R®-US.

2007 July: COMMEMORATION OF 225TH OF LANDING IN NEWPORT: First public use of the W3R® Commons at www.w3r-commons.org, (funded by a grant from the National Park Service) with separate areas for a blog, a calendar, and discussion forums.

2007 Sep 01: COMMEMORATION OF 225TH OF REVIEW OF ALLIED ARMIES: The W3R®-PA arranged for commemorations of the 225th anniversary of the allied army parade in review for the Continental Congress eleven months after the victory at Yorktown. Living historians portraying Ben Franklin, George Washington, Rochambeau, and Lafayette gave brief talks to the crowds that gathered to view two parades involving several fife and drum corps and several units of Continental Army soldiers with some French allies). The first parade passed Independence Hall in Philadelphia in the morning. The second passed through the Historic District of Chester in the afternoon.

2007 Oct 30: W3R®-US TESTIFIES AT HOUSE HEARING: The House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (of the Committee on Natural Resources) held a Legislative Hearing on H.R.1286. James M. Johnson, Vice Chair for Regional Coordination of the W3R®-US, presented testimony on behalf of the W3R®-US.

2007 Dec 14: COMMEMORATE 200TH OF DEATH OF ROCHAMBEAU: The W3R®-PA commemorated the 200th anniversary of the death of Gen. Rochambeau with a symposium at the NcNeil Center for Early American Studies (Univ. of Pennsylvania). NcNeil Director Dr. Dan Richter introduced a panel of speakers: Mark Lloyd (Director of the Univ. PA Archives), Dr. Fred Beutler (Deputy Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives), Dr. Robert Selig (National Park Service Project Historian), Dr. Lynn Miller (author), Dr. Wayne Bodle (Indiana Univ. of PA). After the panel Prof. Jonathan Dull (Yale Univ.) presented the keynote address on "France and the American Revolution -- The Russian Connection".

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2008 Feb 16: WASHINGTON AND ROCHAMBEAU -- PARALLEL CAREERS?   was the title of a talk presented to a joint SAR/DAR meeting in Philadelphia on the occasion of Washington's Birthday.

2008 April 17: THE ROCHAMBEAU FAMILY VISITS PHILADELPHIA The W3R®-PA arranged guided tours for Bertrand de Rocahambeau and his family -- French descendants of General Rochambeau -- through Independence Hall, the Constitution Center, and several other historic sites.

2008 April 28: LAFAYETTE: CITIZEN OF TWO WORLDS (end date) -- was a six-month exhibit to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Lafayette’s birth. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University (Ithaca NY) displayed items from its extensive Lafayette Collection, the largest of its kind outside of France.
The online exhibition was still on the Web in 2009 Feb.

2008 May 30: 7TH-GRADE CLASS CREATES AND DEDICATES HISTORIC MARKER In Yorktown NY a 7th-grade American history class led a cosortium of organizations and living historians in dedicating an historic marker which the students had researched and designed to commemorate the French army's 1781 and 1782 encampments there.

2008 June: SENATE W3R® BILL INCORPORATED INTO AN OMNIBUS BILL: S.686 was incorporated into an omnibus bill, S.3213, Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008.

2008 July 02: SEVERAL LEGISLATURES HONOR THE ALLIANCE The U.S. Congress, the Pennsylvania House and Senate, and several other legislative bodies adopted resolutions commemorating 225th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

2008 July 10: HOUSE W3R® BILL ADOPTED The U.S. House of Representatives debated, amended, and passed H.R.1286, designating the W3R® a National Historic Trail.

2008 Aug: LAFAYETTE AND WASHINGTON (end date) -- The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association organized this traveling exhibit to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette. It focuses on the close "father-son" relationship between George Washington and Lafayette. Over a two-year period it wasshown at Mt Vernon, Lafayette College in PA, and the New York Historical Society (Manhattan NY). .
Description of the exhibit still on the Web in 2009 Feb.

2008 Sep 03: COMMEMORATION OF 225TH OF TREATY OF PEACE: Several international organizations (SAR, Society of Cincinnati, DAR) combined efforts to have a week-long celebration (with several hundred participants) in Paris of the signing of peace treaties between the allies -- U.S., France, and Spain --- and Great Britain. Smaller commemorations were organized in a number of cities along the W3R® in the U.S. At Philadelphia the festivities included the rededication of a plaque commemorating the encampment of Rochambeau's forces, a symposium on "The Treaty of Paris and Its Impact on Pennsylvania", and a parade (with thirteen nits) and wreath-layings at both Washington Square (Philadelphia) and Valley Forge to honor the sacrifices made by allied patriots.

2008 Oct 19: W3R®-USA MARCHES AT YORKTOWN The W3R® organization celebrated its fifth anniversary in April and in October provided a parade contingent in the annual Yorktown Day parade. Several W3R® leaders received major recognitions this month: Kim Burdick (DE), Nicole Yancey (VA), and Win Carroll (PA).

2008 Dec 31: 110th CONGRESS' DESIGNATION EFFORT EXPIRES Enactment into law requires passage of a parallel resolution by the Senate as well as Presidential agreement and signature. Although S.3213 was approved for consideration by the full Senate several major national crises took precedence over action on that bill, so the effort to achieve designation by the 110th Congress expired as its term ended early in January 2009.

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2009 Jan 07,08: SENATE AND HOUSE W3R® BILLS RE-INTRODUCED:  In the Senate the W3R® provisions of the 2008 bill were re-introduced in S.22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. In the House the provisions of H.R.1286 were re-introduced as H.R.328.

2009 Jan 15: SENATE W3R® BILL ADOPTED The U.S. Senate (in consideration of the extensive discussions of the provisions in 2008) voted to "fast-track" the bill and passed S.22, in which SEC 5204 designates the W3R® as a National Historic Trail.


The W3R®-USA or its affiliates have now
  • completed searches in six states for documents related to the French Expeditionary Force and its activities in the United states during 1780-83
  • published historical summaries of those documents, along with information on existing buildings that were present along the route ot at campsites in 1781-83.
  • posted National Park Service maps of the historic march routes in all states
  • published one state tour guide (CT)
  • supported work on the National Park Service studies (significance, feasibility, recommendations)
  • posted drafts of auto tourism routes along the W3R® for all states
  • placed many wayfinding signs to mark the route and interpretive signs to tell the story
  • used several modes of communication to inform the public: lectures, talks, exhibits, brochures, Web site, interpretive signs, booklets
  • gained experience in working with affiliates to develop local and multi-state activities along the route
  • engaged in a broad range of activities to engage the public
  • posted photo-reports of events and videos of lectures
  • supplied articles and talks that reached hundreds of thousands of supporters in our affiliated organizations
We shall continue to work with local, state, and national agencies and organizations to extend public awareness and use of this international historic resource.

States => MARICT NYNJPA DEMD/DCVA
Doc Survey ReportnoIPYesYes YesYesYesIPIP
Historical Homes ReportnoIPYesYes YesYesYessomeIP
Route MarkersnoYesYesno fewnoYesnoYes
Tourism Brochure and MapnonoYesno nonoYesnono
Draft Auto RouteYesYesYesYes YesYesYesYesYes
Draft Bicycle Tournononono nonoYesnono
Draft Walking TournoYesnono nonoYesnono
Interpretive Signsnosomemanymany nofewfewfewmany
Speakers Bureaunononono nonoYesYesYes
Public Events with AffiliatesnoYesYesYes noYesYesYesYes

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