Surrender at Yorktown

'Surrender of Lord Cornwallis' by John Trumbull depicting the British surrender which ended the American Revolutionary War
'Surrender of Lord Cornwallis' by John Trumbull depicting the British surrender which ended the American Revolutionary War

Historical Context

When the British colonial forces were defeated at Yorktown after a month of battle, American independence was essentially guaranteed, and the guns fell silent as the Revolutionary War ended.

The British had been led by Charles Cornwallis, who was backed up by German auxiliary units from the states of Ansbach and Hesse-Kassel. The Americans, commanded by George Washington, were supported by the French. After severely damaging the surrounded British forces in Yorktown, in Virginia, Cornwallis asked for a surrender on October 17, and negotiations were completed on October 19. Cornwallis himself was not present for the surrender ceremony, citing 'illness', but he did sign the document.

With the surrender, some 7,000 British soldiers became prisoners, and American essentially became an independent state. Having lost the last significant battle on the American continent, the British and American governments began to negotiate a final settlement, which concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Under this agreement Britain recognized the United States as an independent country.

Painting Info


Artist: John Trumbull
Location painted: Yorktown, Virginia, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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