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
Thomas Fleming moves elegantly between the key players in this
riveting drama and shows that the outcome we take for granted was
far from certain. With fresh research and masterful storytelling,
Fleming breathes new life into this tumultuous but little known
period in America's history.
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