today in cornwall


October 19th 1781: Cornwallis surrenders

On this day in 1781 in Yorktown, Virginia, during the American Revolutionary War, British commander Cornwallis formally surrendered to George Washington. The American War of Independence began in 1775 with American victory at the battles of Lexington and Concord. The war was the culmination of mounting tensions between American colonists and Great Britian, fuelled by incidents such as the Boston Masacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773. In 1776, America issued its Declaration of Independence, listing grievances against the British crown, and American colonists fought for several more years to secure this freedom. Cornwallis’s surrender ended the Siege of Yorktown, marking a decisive victory for the American forces and their French allies. Yorktown was the last major battle of the war, as Cornwallis’s surrender led to the opening of peace negotiations. The Treaty of Paris was reached in 1783, which ended the war between Britain and the United States and recognised American independence.


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Burgoyne Surrenders at Saratoga (1777) / Cornwallis Surrenders at Yorktown (1781)

17 October 1777 / 1781

Today marks the dual anniversaries of two major British surrenders during the American War for Independence.

On 17 October 1777 General John Burgoyne’s surrender ended the Saratoga Campaign. His surrender provided a much needed morale boost to the American troops and was a factor in the French decision to enter the war on America’s side.

On 17 October 1781 Lord Charles Cornwallis waved the white flag, bringing a close to the Siege of Yorktown. Formal terms of surrender were then negotiated and the articles of capitulation were signed on 19 October. The British defeat at Yorktown brought an effective end to the war, leading the two sides to enter negotiations which eventually resulted in the Treaty of Paris.