American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783

Overview

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 ...

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American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“'Huzzah!’ for William Fowler. His superb American Crisis brings to life, with great clarity and understanding, one of the least-known, most important chapters in the long struggle for independence, and leaves no doubt of how much, once again, was owed to George Washington for how things turned out.”—David McCullough, author of John Adams, 1776, and The Greater Journey “Bill Fowler is the author of many important works of American history, but with American Crisis he has written the book of his long and distinguished career.  Chronicling one of the least known portions of the American Revolution—the two years between Yorktown and the actual end of the war—he has created a page-turner full of intrigue, drama, and countless unexpected twists.  You will never think of George Washington in quite the same way after reading American Crisis.”—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea and Mayflower    “The Revolutionary War did not end with the Allied victory at Yorktown. Two uncertain and perilous years elapsed before the peace treaty that ended the war finally took effect. At last, there is a book that examines these critical war years in detail. William Fowler’s magnificent American Crisis treats General Washington’s preparations for more war, the woeful American economy, peace negotiations, and the politics of the Continental army. In rich detail and graceful prose, Fowler fleshes out an often forgotten part of the War of Independence, a time that shaped and prepared Washington for the political battles on his horizon.”—John Ferling, author of Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free and several books on George Washington
Library Journal
Fowler (history, Northeastern Univ.; Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754–1763) artfully records the dangerous situation in the United States during the time between Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and the evacuation of British troops from New York two years later. Drawing from a wealth of letters, he describes General Washington's skill as a leader, his humble and respectful character, and his noble motives in fighting to keep the army organized and disciplined. It was imperative to prevent the British from taking advantage of American disorder and weakness caused by low morale that resulted in desertion, threats of mutiny, and power struggles. Fowler also addresses the ineffectiveness of Congress, paralyzed by insolvency amid a fragile and flawed system of government plagued by squabbles and intrigues. The activities and motives of the British officials in America and abroad complete the vivid picture of the realities that imperiled independence and the preservation of liberty after the war. VERDICT This well-documented and highly readable account will engage and enrich scholars and general readers alike.—Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802778086
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 389,039
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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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