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Annapolis and the 240th Anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown – British, American, and French Perspectives – Virtual Event
October 30 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm$20
Join us Saturday, October 30, 2021 from 9:00 AM ET to 12:15 PM ET to learn more about the Surrender of Cornwallis from the British point of view as well as the important role Annapolis played during the War for Independence and its aftermath as the U.S. became an officially independent nation. This is a special 240th Anniversary event organized by Odyssey, a program of Johns Hopkins University, that will analyze the historical significance of the Battle of Yorktown and its aftermath, including how Annapolis connected the Revolution to the Constitution:
The cost is $20.00.
On October 19, 1781, British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Continental Army, effectively ending the military portion of the Revolutionary War, although limited hostilities would continue as the political path to American independence took almost three additional years.
Annapolis played a prominent role in many key events both preceding and following the Battle of Yorktown as an emerging nation struggled to meet the obligations of the subsequent Treaty of Paris.
The city served as the first peacetime capital of the United States, where Congress accepted George Washington’s resignation as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and ratified the Treaty of Paris. Congress also made two crucial appointments: Thomas Jefferson as a trade minister to France and John Jay as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
9:00 -10:30 a.m. Session 1: The Siege of Yorktown
This battle was a critical turning point in the Revolution; it convinced the British it was impossible to retain the American colonies through war. In October 1781, combined French and American forces under General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau surrounded a British army led by Lord Cornwallis, leading to the surrender of over 7,000 soldiers, a major part of a much larger campaign that carried the war as far afield as the West Indies and the English Channel as well as closer to home.
Annapolis served as a crucial staging post for French soldiers camped on the grounds of St. John’s College and was thus an important component of the defeat of the British Empire in America.
Matthew Dziennik, PhD, University of Edinburgh, is an Associate Professor of British and British Imperial History in the Department of History at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and is the author of The Fatal Land: War, Empire, and the Highland Soldier in British America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015). He previously served as a guide at the National Colonial Battlefield Park in Yorktown and is currently working on a book about military recruitment in the British Empire.
10:45 a.m. -12:15 pm – Session 2: The Treaty of Paris
Almost two years after the Siege of Yorktown, the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783. Many believe this treaty simply ended the war, and it did, but it also kicked off a difficult and violent four-year period often overlooked in the history books, where a broke Congress could not meet its domestic or international financial obligations as mandated by the treaty.
After multiple but ultimately futile attempts to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a key meeting in Annapolis that met as Shays’ Rebellion was underway convinced many key founders that the Articles of Confederation must be replaced with an entirely new Constitution. Annapolis as a city—and Maryland as a state—were center stage as the United States struggled to meet its responsibilities as a newly sovereign nation.
Mark Croatti, MA, University of Southern California, is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, teaching courses on the U.S. Constitution, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Mark also serves as a member of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association’s Maryland affiliate.