In summer of 1776, George Washington suffered many crushing defeats, and lost 90 percent of the army under his command. British and Hessian forces recovered much of three colonies in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. By late November, thousands of Americans took an oath of allegiance to George III. Leaders on both sides believed that the American cause had failed. On Christmas night in 1776 Washington and a remnant of the Continental Army made a last desperate effort. They crossed the Delaware River in a howling nor'easter, and captured the Hessian garrison at Trenton. In a winter campaign that followed they defeated British troops in many small engagements, revived the fortunes of the Revolution, rallied Americans to the Patriot Cause, and attracted others to its support. Frederick the Great called their victory "the most brilliant of any recorded in the annals of military achievement." The great question is how they did it. David Fischer will suggest an answer, building on his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Washington's Crossing.
David Hackett Fischer
Currently professor of history at Brandeis University, David Hackett Fischer won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2004 book Washington’s Crossing,
which used Washington’s dramatic crossing of the Delaware River on
Christmas night in 1776 as a focal point to portray the spirit of the
American Revolution. He employs a similar approach in his earlier work Paul Revere’s Ride
to convey the anxieties and uncertainties of the coming of the war.
“The American Revolution,” he writes, is a “series of contingent
happenings, shaped by the choices of individual actors within the
context of large cultural processes.” American history is a history of
“hard choices,” a message he believes is for our benefit today. Dr.
Fischer became an honorary member of the New Jersey Society of the
Cincinnati in 2006.