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Distributed May 30, 2006
Contact Deborah Goldstein


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Brown to Commemorate 225th Anniversary of the March to Yorktown

This summer marks the 225th anniversary of the march to Yorktown, Va., where French and American forces won a decisive victory over British troops, thus bringing an end to the major battles of the American Revolutionary War. The Brown University campus, which was an encampment site for French soldiers in June 1781, will commemorate the anniversary on Saturday, June 17, 2006, with a symposium organized by the John Carter Brown Library and a procession from The College Green to the Rhode Island State House.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Rochambeau Commission, will host a symposium and historical re-enactment on Saturday, June 17, 2006, in commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the historic march to Yorktown, Va. The symposium, titled France and the American Revolution, will be followed by a horse-led procession from The College Green to the Rhode Island State House for a military review and ceremony. The public is invited to take part in the procession.

Arrival of the French

Landing of the French infantry in Rhode Island
This image, one of 12 scenes from the American Revolution printed in Allegemeines historisches Taschenbuch (Berlin: Matthias Christian Sprengel; 1784), was by Daniel Nickolaus Chodowiecki, a well-known Polish engraver. The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University had acquired the book by 1870.


In 1781, American and French armies under the command of Gen. George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau, embarked on a 600-mile march from Rhode Island to Virginia, where they fought and defeated the British on the Yorktown peninsula. The victory ended the major battles of the American Revolutionary War. Prior to the march, Brown University, then named the College of Rhode Island, served as an encampment site for French troops, and the College Edifice, now University Hall, was turned into a military hospital.

“June 1781 was a rare moment in the history of Brown University,” said Norman Fiering, director of the John Carter Brown Library. “The campus itself was the platform for a momentous development, the beginning of the end of British supremacy in the mainland colonies. All students of the Revolution recognize that French help was essential to victory, so we have a chance on June 17 to recognize that alliance, too.”  

Symposium

The France and the American Revolution symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101. The presentations are as follows:

  • 9:15 a.m. – French Policy in the Great Wars of Empire, 1689 to 1815
    Jeremy Black, professor of history at the University of Exeter, will locate Rochambeau’s march to Yorktown within the greater strategy of France’s longstanding conflict with Britain and focus on why the French entered the conflict. Professor John Hattendorf of the Naval War College will moderate.
  • 11 a.m. – From Rhode Island to Yorktown:
    George Washington and the Forging of the Alliance That Won the Revolutionary War
    Edward G. Lengel, associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and associate editor of The Papers of George Washington project, will discuss the development of the Franco-American military relationship and George Washington’s pivotal role in getting the French and American armies to work together efficiently in 1781. Gordon Wood, professor of history at Brown University, will moderate.
  • 1:30 p.m. - Beyond Yorktown: From the American Revolution to the French Revolution with the Veterans of the War of Independence
    Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, American studies professor at Institut Charles V, Université Paris 7 
Denis Diderot, will talk about the role French veterans played in the diffusion of ideas in France and elsewhere in the Atlantic world after hostilities ended. Norman Fiering, director of the John Carter Brown Library, will moderate.

The France and the American Revolution symposium is sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library, the Rhode Island Rochambeau Commission, and the Florence Gould Foundation.

Public Events

Following the symposium, Eagle Scouts and historic militia re-enactors will gather on The College Green for a military review, complete with musket fire, before marching through the streets of Providence to the State House. Gov. Donald Carcieri and François Gauthier, the consul general of France in Boston, are expected to take part in the events, along with officers from the French Embassy in Washington. The public is welcome.

The schedule is as follows:

  • 2:45 p.m. Gathering on The College Green at Brown University;
  • 3-5 p.m. Procession to State House, military review, ceremony;
  • 5-7 p.m. Reception at State House.

The procession will exit Brown University through the left pedestrian door of the Van Wickle Gates and travel the following route:

  • Down College Street;
  • Right on Benefit Street;
  • Left on Angell Street;
  • Right on South Main Street;
  • Left on Park Row;
  • Right onto Francis Street to the State House South Lawn.

The public events, organized by the Rhode Island Rochambeau Commission, are part of the “March to Victory” series of commemorative celebrations along the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) that will culminate in Yorktown in October 2006. For more information about the events, visit http://www.w3r-us.org/.

Related Exhibitions

Two related exhibitions are on display at Brown University in commemoration of the 225th March to Yorktown anniversary.

At the John Carter Brown Library, France and the American Revolution will be on display through Oct. 20, 2006, featuring maps, books and broadsides that relate to the French involvement in the American Revolution. The John Carter Brown Library, on the corner of Brown and George Streets, is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. On Saturday, June 17, the exhibition will be open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The John Hay Library is hosting The French Army in the American Revolution exhibition through Sept. 1, 2006, which features original French army documents, prints and contemporary and modern books. The John Hay Library, 20 Prospect St., is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.

Media Advisory

All media inquiries and access for print, radio and television cameras should be directed to Brown’s Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476 or [email protected]

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