A Poster Revolution

All students of American history – as well as fans of the hit Broadway show Hamilton – know that the victory at the Battle of Yorktown by a combined French and American force was the turning point of the American Revolution. British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered his troops and ships at Yorktown, Virginia on Oct. 19th, 1781.  Interestingly, Cornwallis himself did not attend the surrender, sending his second-in-command, General Charles O’Hara, in his place.

An historic reenactment of the surrender is captured in this colorful and very large (16 feet wide!) 1893 poster advertising a production of “The Adam Forepaugh Shows” focusing on the American Revolution:

The Adam Forepaugh shows. 1776 Historic scenes and battles of the American revolution. Lord Cornwallis' surrender of the British Army to General Washington, at Yorktown, Oct. 19th, 1781. Poster (chromolithograph), published by Strobridge Litho. Co., 1893. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.55227

The Adam Forepaugh shows. 1776 Historic scenes and battles of the American revolution. Lord Cornwallis’ surrender of the British Army to General Washington, at Yorktown, Oct. 19th, 1781. Poster (chromolithograph), published by Strobridge Litho. Co., 1893. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.55227

The show, unlike Forepaugh’s typical circus acts, focused on “Historic Scenes & Battles of the American Revolution.” In addition to this surrender scene, over 1,000 men, women and children recreated historic events for audiences, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, Paul Revere’s ride and Washington crossing the Delaware. It was Cornwallis’ surrender, however, that signaled the beginning of the end for the British Army.

Happy American Independence Day!

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