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An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. Thomas Paine
An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.  Thomas Paine

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One autumn day in 1781, a single drummer ascended to the top of a wall of a bombarded fortress and began to play. It was the signal for parley, and ultimately for surrender. The fortress was in Yorktown, Virginia, and the losers were the British. After weeks of shelling, and pitched fighting in the battlefield, General Cornwallis had no choice. Any chance of escape by sea was cut off by the circling French navy, and the American rebels had ammunition to spare.

Two days of negotiations later, the British surrendered on October 19th. General Cornwallis, probably unable to face the truth that he’d been outmaneuvered by colonist rebels, pleaded illness and did not appear. His second-in-command, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara, appeared in his stead. Even he had difficulty admitting defeat to the Americans, and tried to give his sword to the commanding French officer present, General Comte de Rochambeau. Rochambeau refused it, demanding the sword be presented to General George Washington. Washington, however, also refused the sword since it was not Cornwallis offering it. Finally O’Hara presented the sword to Washington’s second-in-command, Benjamin Lincoln.

8,000 British and Hessian soldiers surrendered that day, some of them reportedly weeping as they threw down their arms, and the British drummers played a song called “The World Turn’d Upside Down”. They were more right than they knew. After such a victory, and capture of such a large force, America was finally in a position to begin negotiations with Great Britain for the end of the war. The Treaty of Paris didn’t happen until two years later, in 1783, but Yorktown was the last major battle of the Revolution and is considered the final British defeat. Against all odds, a backwards rural colony had overcome the most powerful empire in the world. A new age, of republican government and constitutional limits to power, was about to begin. Celebrate our victory by picking up this free sticker along with your purchase.