The Perils of Peace provides a comprehensive and fascinating look at the pivotal years after Yorktown on which the fate of the newly formed United States hung While many assume the war simply ended after Yorktown it took another two years for the British to surrender and this time of peace nearly proved to be the undoing of the United States From a demoralized American army that could not seek battle with the enemy to a broke United States treasury that could not buy basic supplies nor raise the requisite taxes to pay the interest on the debt the country stood paralyzed to fall As states became mini fiefdoms under various local governors and the army begin to foment revolts those that we call founding fathers stepped forward to master the chaos.What this book does better than many that come before it, is to show what was happening on both sides of the oceans The European theater was pivotal during these times especially the military action at Gibraltar In addition to the military actions the author pays a lot of attention to domestic British affairs and international diplomacy With the fall of the North ministry after Yorktown and the rise of the successive coalitions a greater emphasis for peace is made even with some glaringly dangerous concessions are offered fortunately for the British those are not acted on.This book is detailed, well researched and holds the readers interest It reads as if it was a diplomatic thriller and times you just can t wait to see the next development It is truly historical writing at its best and what you expect from Thomas Fleming Overall a highly recommend read. The story of a period usually skipped over in the history books is here told as a thrilling political pageturner Rather than a smooth progress from Yorktown to the Treaty of Paris, the American patriots faced bankruptcy, diplomatic intrigue and incipient mutiny Franklin s eagerness to negotiate a separate peace was unseemly, the states refused to raise money for Congress to pay its debts, the Continental Army was dismissed unpaid except with paper, and Congress was forced by angry soldiers to flee to Princeton Although the new nation held together for the time being, the book shows that the divisions between Federalists and Republicans were sown even before the end of the war between a continentally minded faction in favor of federal finance and power, and a states rights True Whig faction that feared the former were aiming at raising a new, grasping national elite The common soldiery were unimpressed with the new political class their exertions had raised up, and the independent USA embarked on its internationally recognized career in a spirit of suspicion and dissension. I was expecting a book concerning the history of the United States between the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 to or through the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Articles of Confederation years Rather it covered the years from the victory at Yorktown in 1781 until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 Many people expected Yorktown to be the end of the war instead, there were twoyears of fighting which don t show up in our history books The troops were unpaid and not supplied The Continental Congress consisted of second or third rate people, not the heroes of 1776 The national government was bankrupt, unable to get the states to pay any taxes, and forced to beg bigger and bigger loans from Europe American diplomats were sent to France to assist the peace process, and made it difficult for the only Europe knowledgeable delegate, Benjamin Franklin, to get anything accomplished The only thing that saved the United States was that the English government, after six years of war, was itself in total disarray The author has done a very good job weaving together the pieces of the story into an interesting narrative. Read the Full Review and More The late but unforgotten Thomas Fleming has provided us with a unique look at the final years and aftermath of the American Revolution an epilogue so to say, but one that could have played out remarkably negative for the American Cause as he goes on to prove Full of mishaps by politicians, poor cases in judgment and protocol by leading diplomats of the time, and time sensitive negotiations and meetings that could have stalemated and prolonged British occupation in the newly formed United States The Perils of Peace is outstanding in showing the twists and discussions that took place after Yorktown in 1781, to the eventual signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.Focusing on the financial difficulties and political pandering and polarization that was beginning to overtake the young republic, Fleming does a fantastic job in explaining how pivotal certain key events were in holding the United States together from early disruption He follows Benjamin Franklin in the European theater using all of his wit, fame, experience, and prestige as a renowned diplomat to try to separately negotiate a peace with the British meanwhile his counterparts are either blundering with foreign dignitaries or figuratively stabbing him in the back with their letters to various congressional members at home The American army is in disarray as troops are not getting paid their due, with constant threats of mutiny and disbandment as they cope with a virtually bankrupt Congress, and State governments that are in uproar of excessive Federal Taxes and consequently paying forthan their shareCan we pay them punctually asked Arthur Middleton of South Carolina The answer, of course, was almost certainly no Middleton also feared it would be considered a sign of weakness that we can not or will not fill up our armies with our own people If the idea was adopted, Middleton thought it should be attributed to or blamed on General Washington Congress should have nothing to do with it After two months of vacillation, the politicians forwarded the proposal to the superintendent of finance and secretary of war, leaving the final decision to them To no one s surprise, they did nothing.High Ranking military officials such as Washington were aware of the army s discontent, and had to constantly be aware of the continuing presence of Great Britain s might on American land and waters with an alleged hunger to continue the war until finally Lord North and his administration s eventual downfall This all is put into perspective from both sides of the Atlantic, with Britain and France s foreign ministers feeling the frustrations and neglect from their own politicians at home, as well as dealing with crises including such engagements as Gibraltar and depleting funds and resources from their contribution to the Revolutionary War effort Fleming has written a fabulous history that s indeed true to its title, leaving the reader fulfilled and aware of the difficulties that span far beyond the physical side of the war effort Over thirty different illustrations are provided, each with a short but descriptive accompanying summary. What a great book This is such an important yet not well known part of our history This is a great book to read with After Yorktown by Glickstein which cover the same time period but from the military standpoint This succeeds because even though it is a history, it makes you feel the emotion of the moment Must read An excellent book outlining the early history of America The financial struggle and political differences of the founders are laid out against the continued hostility of the British after Yorktown The author also lays out how the American Independence fueled reform in France, Britain, and Ireland by example, the embarrassment of royalty, and the financial strain put on the countries to hold onto other territories while waging war to support or fight the colonies Independence You ll even learn a little about how muchthe American people fought the government on Federal Taxation Every State had to agree to a tax before it could be instituted Perhaps, most importantly, it shows just how important Washington giving up the Presidency was to uniting a nation and gaining the respect of the European Empires. ImpressiveIn school they never taught how fraught with drama and insecurity the end of the Revolutionary War was This book goes on to great detail but is very readable. On October , , Great Britain S Best Army Surrendered To General George Washington At Yorktown But The Future Of TheFormer Colonies Was Far From Clear A , Man British Army Still Occupied New York City, And Another , Regulars And Armed Loyalists Were Scattered From Canada To Savannah, Georgia Meanwhile, Congress Had Declined To A MereMembers, And The National Treasury Was Empty The American Army Had Not Been Paid For Years And Was On The Brink Of MutinyIn Europe, America S Only Ally, France, Teetered On The Verge Of Bankruptcy And Was Soon Reeling From A Disastrous Naval Defeat In The Caribbean A Stubborn George III Dismissed Yorktown As A Minor Defeat And Refused To Yield An Acre Of My Dominions In America In Paris, Ambassador Benjamin Franklin Confronted Violent Hostility To France Among His Fellow Members Of The American Peace DelegationIn His Riveting New Book, Thomas Fleming Moves Elegantly Between The Key Players In This Drama And Shows That The Outcome We Take For Granted Was Far From Certain Not Without Anguish, General Washington Resisted The Urgings Of Many Officers To Seize Power And Held The Angry Army Together Until Peace And Independence Arrived With Fresh Research And Masterful Storytelling, Fleming Breathes New Life Into This Tumultuous But Little Known Period In America S History A lot of insight into a forgotten and dark period for our country and reinforces how much we owe to George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Some bits of information about this period new to me, but they are not all that well connected Some too casual and biased attitudes towards some figures Overall, not a terrible book, but I don t quite care for author s style.
Thomas J Fleming was an historian and historical novelist, with a special interest in the American Revolution He was born in 1927 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of a World War I hero who was a leader in Jersey City politics for three decades Before her marriage, his mother, Katherine Dolan Fleming, was a teacher in the Jersey City Public School System.After graduating from St Peter s Prep
- 368 pages
- The Perils of Peace
- Thomas J. Fleming
- 04 September 2019 Thomas J. Fleming