By Karen Holt, the Historic Examiner
The state of the United States today is one of hyper-inflation and high debt, much of which is held by foreign countries. The public and political citizenry are strongly polarized in their train of thought; along with extreme skepticism and suspicion being elevated towards foreigners on our shores and their governments back home. A war continues which seems impossible to end with a clear-cut victory or in an honorable manner. Top this with Congressional approval rates tanking at a rapid rate and it seems the United States faces the worst moments of its existence; or does it?
Was there ever a time in the history of this country when the scenario just described occurred before? Though the prior paragraph serves to describe the United States of 2012, the scenario does have a historic twin. Grab your history books, turn to the chapter on post-Yorktown America and let’s begin.
The year is 1781. The American-French victory over England at Yorktown has now occurred. Though the Battle of Yorktown is referred to by some as the closing chapter of the American Revolution, it was not the end of hostilities for the American patriots. In actuality, hostilities continued after the Battle of Yorktown for another two years. During this time, a larger number of men died during the fighting than the number who died in the first year of the war.
If this was not bad enough, there was also no guarantee the new country would remain either united together, or independent of Great Britain. As Commander in Chief, General George Washington most likely spent many sleepless nights filled with concern the war-weary citizens would now regard all said and done. Add to that the incompetent attitudes of Congress and it is highly unlikely even the best sleeping aid of that time would allow the slumber-deprived leader the rest he longed to enjoy.
Though the Americans won the battle, embers of the war continued to smolder in the hearts of both the American patriots and the British troops which remained on American soil while ships belonging to the British Navy continued to block many of the colonial ports. Add to this the fact loyalists and angry Indians continued to pillage and raid the colonists and it is easy to see post-Yorktown America was not a land of peace and contentment.
Another thing to consider was the fact enemies of the nation were not easily recognized, due to the fact they did not all wear red coats. They came in a wide variety of styles, just like they do today; many of which were in Congress and other leadership roles. While Benjamin Franklin was on a mission as Ambassador to France in an effort to secure additional aide from the French, Arthur Lee and the Adams cousins, John and Samuel, undercut his efforts.
Congress also dealt with problems involving the Articles of Confederation, forerunner of the Constitution. Unlike the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation did not give Congress the power to tax, thus Congress could not generate the necessary funds to feed, clothe and arm the military. There was also no money to pay the men who had served as officers and enlistees for a number of years.
As with today, both fear and excitement reigned during that tumultuous time. Though the years of war during the American Revolution were nerve wracking and uncertain for the united colonies doing battle with the world’s greatest superpower of that day, the Battle of Yorktown served to change the perspective of the fragile victory in another direction. Between Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the hazy interim bore an even greater danger towards the fledgling republic.
The next six years witnessed the young country struggle with the task of governing itself and undergo yet another revolution of sorts in 1789. Following the adoption of the Constitution, a new federal government was created. Though it was stronger than many of the Founding Fathers had desired it be, the government created by the Constitution has withstood the test of time and created opportunities for those fortunate enough to call this beautiful land home.
For those who seek a ray of hope in these days of perplexity and turmoil, we need only examine our history to know if we stay true to God and the Constitution, following the examples our Founding Fathers set forth for us, the United States will prevail and remain the shining light on the hill she were placed here to be.
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“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.” John Hancock