Lot 8
  • 8

American Revolution. Articles of Capitulation

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  • printed broadside
Postscript to the Freeman’s Journal, Oct. 24. How are the Mighty fallen! … This Morning arrived in town col. Tilghman, aid de camp to his excellency general Washington; by whom we have the following official account of the surrender of the army under lord Cornwallis. … [Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Bailey, 24 October 1781]. 

Broadside (16 x 12 3/8 in.; 407 x 315 mm). Printed in four columns, 2 headlines, woodcuts of the arms of Pennsylvania surmounting those of Great Britain (the latter deliberately printed upside down); restoration to the upper right corner, with portions of the date numerals 24 in pen facsimile, lower portion of fourth column neatly clipped away, not affecting text (the clipped portion contained an eight-line advertisement for John Oldden’s store on Second Street, offering sundry goods for sale), some light staining and browning, a few minor restorations or repairs at margins, one horizontal crease when printed, not affecting legibility. Housed in an elaborate red morocco folding-case, with a reproduction of John Trumbull's Surrender of Lord Cornwallis matted to the inside front cover.


Edward Duffield Ingraham (found folded in his set of Henry Lee’s Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States and included in his 1856 sale). Acquisition: William Reese

Catalogue Note

"How are the Mighty fallen!": A very rare Philadelphia broadside announcing the momentous news of Cornwallis’ surrender and the American victory at Yorktown.  Printed just five days after the British surrender— which led directly to the end of the American Revolution—Bailey’s newspaper extra contains the first printing of the Articles of Capitulation.

In April 1781 the Marquis de Lafayette was sent back to Virginia to harass British General William Phillips, who was threatening to break the Continental supply lines that were supporting American General Nathanael Greene’s successful campaign in the Carolinas. When Lord Cornwallis brought his command to the Old Dominion to aid Phillips, Lafayette was able to confine Cornwallis at Yorktown. Lafayette’s position was reinforced on land by generals Washington and Rochambeau and on sea by Admiral de Grasse. After a three-week siege, Cornwallis surrendered, 19 October, to the allied American and French troops; although the final peace would not be signed for nearly two years, for practical purposes the Revolution had succeeded and the United States of America was an independent nation in fact as well as in word.

Tench Tilghman carried the astonishing news to Philadelphia and the present broadside begins by printing George Washington's communication to Congress, 19 October 1781, informing the legislators "that a reduction of the British army under the command of Lord Cornwallis is most happily effected. The unremitted ardour which actuated every officer and soldier in the combined army on this occasion has principally led to this most important event, at an earlier period than my most sanguine hopes had induced me to expect." The broadside then prints an exchange of five letters between Washington and Cornwallis, in the first of which, 17 October, the latter proposes "a cessation of hostilities for twenty four hours … to settle terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester." The Freeman's Journal Postscript concludes with the first printing of the Articles of Capitualtion. The fourteen Articles included provisions that British land troops were prisoners of the joint American and French armies, while the British ships and sailors were prisoners of the French Navy; that the British troops were to ground their arms, although officers were permitted to retain their side arms; that soldiers were to be kept in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; that the general staff could be paroled to Europe; and that proper hospitals were to be furnished for the sick and wounded.

At the surrender ceremony, the British band is said to have played the English ballad "The World Turned Upside Down." Bailey may have had this in mind when he printed the arms of Great Britain upside down at the top of his broadside. Rare: copies have been located only at New-York Historical Society, The New York Public Library, and the American Philosophical Society.