About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778–1781

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual author lecture with John Ferlin, author of Winning Independence, a new book about the decisive years of the American Revolutionary War.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

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On Tuesday, July 6, at noon, Zachary M. Schrag will tell us about his new book, The Fires of Philadelphia, a study of anti-immigrant riots in 1844 Philadelphia.

And on Thursday, July 8, at noon, Amy Sohn will discuss The Man Who Hated Women—her new book about anti-vice activist and U.S. Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock.

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In just five days, we will be celebrating our nation’s 245th Independence Day. Each July 4, we recall the bold words of the Declaration of Independence, but we do not always remember that independence was secured only after many years of warfare.

The first official shots were fired in 1775, but the final, decisive battle played out more than six years later. The latter years of the war, when the main theater of operations moved south, are less familiar to us. This “southern strategy” nearly led to success for the British.

The correspondence of George Washington and others, which have been digitized and are freely available through Founders Online, reveals the concerns for the success of the Revolution. In May 1780, Washington wrote: “I assure you every idea you can form of our distresses will fall short of the reality. . . . The Country in general is in such a state of insensibility and indifference to its interest, that I dare not flatter myself with any change for the better.”

In Winning Independence, John Ferling shows us how the decisions on both sides led to ultimate victory for the Americans at Yorktown.

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John Ferling, professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia, has also written extensively on the political and military aspects of the American Revolution and the early republic. In addition to biographies of George Washington and John Adams, he is the author of Almost a Miracle; A Leap in the Dark; and Whirlwind, winner of the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award for the best book on the Revolutionary period. His most recent book is Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe and the Struggle Against the Old Order in America and Europe.

Now let’s hear from John Ferling. Thank you for joining us.