On the morning of October 17, 1781, an officer emerged from the British lines holding a white handkerchief
As October began, Gen. Charles Cornwallis and his army of 8,000 redcoats and Hessians knew they were in deep trouble. In late August, after a summer filled with conflicting instructions, they had been ordered to establish a naval base on the Chesapeake.
The bell is old and it is badly cracked and it has not been rung for years, nor will it ever be rung again. But although it is quite useless from a practical standpoint, it is perhaps the most prized possession we have.
Courageous and resourceful, the Marquis was bred for better things than defeat at the hands of rebellious provincials.
In war the final defeat is the one that counts. Yet there are wars and wars, and only rarely do historians conclude that a particular surrender was not only a cessation of fighting but a watershed marking the end of one epoch and the start of another.
Dean Acheson (1893-1971) was an attorney and statesman who served as Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953 under President Harry Truman. A key architect of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, Acheson stressed the importance of multilateral organizations in the fight against totalitarianism. Prior to his service in the Truman Administration, Acheson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, worked at Washington law firm Covington & Burling, and served as Undersecretary of the Treasury for one year under President Franklin Roosevelt.
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002) was a historian and professor who wrote on military history, presidential history, and American expansion and foreign policy. Ambrose has been praised for his biographies of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and for helping to galvanize interest in World War II.
Elizabeth Becker is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books. Her history When The War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge won accolades from the Robert F. Kennedy book award, while her recent biography of female conflict journalists You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War won the 2022 Sperber Book Prize and Harvard’s Goldsmith Book Prize. She is also the author of America’s Vietnam War: A Narrative History for young adults.
David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition at Yale University. Recently, Blight has written A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation, and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, which won the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize.
Douglas Brinkley, a distinguished professor of history at Rice University and Contributing Editor of American Heritage, has written more than 20 books, most recently The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (Harper 2009) and The Reagan Diaries (HarperCollins 2007).
Brinkley earned his B.A from Ohio State University University in 1982, and his Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1989.