Episode 333: Experiences of Revolution, Part 2: Disruptions in Yorktown

What was everyday life like during the American War for Independence?

Our Fourth of July series continues with an investigation of how the American War for Independence impacted those who remained on the homefront. As episode 332 explored how the war impacted the lives of people who lived in urban Philadelphia, this episode investigates how the war impacted the lives of people who lived in the more rural setting of Yorktown, Virginia.

This episode is supported by an American Rescue Plan grant to the Omohundro Institute from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

How did people in Yorktown experience everyday life and work amidst the arrival of the British, French, and American armies in the summer of 1781?

We speak with Marcus Nevius, an Associate Professor of History and Africana studies at the University of Rhode Island and author of City of Refuge: Slavery and Petite Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763-1856; Ed Ayers, Historian at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation; and Gretchen Johnson, Farm Site Supervisor and Historical Interpreter at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

What You’ll Discover

  • Why the British shifted their military campaign south
  • Significance of Virginia’s Tidewater region
  • Demographic and geographic details of the Tidewater Region
  • Yorktown’s significance as a trade port in colonial America
  • The significance of tobacco to Yorktown’s economy
  • What the city of Yorktown looked and sounded like in the 18th century
  • Virginia’s free and enslaved population
  • The impact of the War for Independence on Yorktown’s tobacco trade
  • Yorktown’s shift from tobacco to wartime crops
  • The movement of Virginia’s capital from Williamsburg to Richmond
  • Rising tensions within Virginia’s imperial government
  • Lord Dunmore’s “floating town”
  • Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation and its impact
  • Cornwallis’ struggling soldiers
  • Cornwallis’ occupation of Yorktown
  • Yorktown’s exodus of residents
  • Civilians left behind in Yorktown ahead of the siege
  • The joining of American and French forces
  • The arrival of Franco-American forces at Yorktown
  • The Siege of Yorktown
  • The surrender of the British and the end of the American Revolution
  • The devastation of Yorktown

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