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Evacuation Day 25 November 1783

by Gale Thomas Howe-Cornwell

The End of the War

"The End of the War" Howard Pyle's late 19th century drawing of the Continental Army marching into New York

When the British lowered the Grand Union flag of their 13 Colonies at Fort George in New York City, 215 years ago, General Washington proclaimed that the new flag of the United States of America be raised, to end the American Revolution. Congress in its' wisdom had retained the original 13 Red and White stripes with the British Union Jack replaced by a field of Blue containing 13 White Stars. The fighting had ended with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in Virginia, on 19 October 1781 but it took over 2+ years for the last British soldier to leave our shores. Washington had not returned to New York since his retreat in 1776. Now he would attend a Public Dinner at Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street where he would propose 13 Toasts of Hot Butter'd Rum.'

The 13 Official Toasts: To the United States of America, To His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI of France; To the United Netherlands; To the King of Sweden; To the American Army; To the Fleet and Armies of France which have served in America; To the memory of those heroes who have fallen for our freedom; May our country be grateful to her military children; May justice support what courage has gained; To the indicators of the rights of mankind in every quarter of the globe, May America be an asylum to the persecuted of the Earth; May a close union of states guard the temple they have erected to Liberty; May the remembrances of the day be a lesson to princes.

Let all of us drink a toast to Washingtons' 13 Official Toasts. However, I do not recommend Hot Butter'd Rum unless visiting Fraunces Tavern. Amen!