Westward, Ho!: American Exiles

Westward, Ho! : American Exiles

1778 was the year that nearly spelled the doom for the American rebels during the War of Independence. After a meager showing in 1777, the Kingdom of France dragged its heels in interviewing in the conflict alongside the fledgling republic. With General Washington captured at the Battle of Long Island, the war effort in the north eastern colonies began to flounder. While there were other gifted generals in the Continental Army, none could keep the peace like Washington could. Instead, political backstabbing and infighting doomed it. Though France became involved in 1779, it was too late. It seemed the American Dream was dead. Or it was, if not for General George Rogers Clark. General Clark and his men had successfully taken the Illinois Country from the British. South of Illinois Country, frontiersmen carved out lives and settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. As the war turned worse, eight historic counties of western North Carolina left and declared themselves to be “the State of Franklin,” named after Benjamin Franklin. In 1782, as the British were on the verge of victory in the 13 Colonies, patriots turned to the west.

The Patriot March
Part of the American War of Independence

A depiction of Continental soldiers marching through the wilderness into Ohio Country
Date 1782-1790

Location United States, British North America

Also known as The Patriot Walk, The Freedom March, Trail of Tears

Cause American military defeat in the Thirteen Colonies

Participants Unknown number of American veterans, members of the Continental Congress, pro independence colonists

Outcome Continuation of the United States of America, population increase in the Midwest

The Patriot March saw thousands cross the traditional thresholds of their respective colonies into the untamed lands. Daniel Boone, the famed frontiersman, often led caravans of Americans across the treacherous wilderness. Alongside civilians, several important military and political figures escaped to the west, including James Madison, John Jay, Abigail Adams, Patrick Henry, John Sevier, and General Benjamin Lincoln. Many of the leading Patriots found themselves in Louisville, Kentucky. Others went to Fort Vincennes, where General Clark had captured British Governor Henry Hamilton. While British regulars were less common in the interior reaches, Anglo aligned Native American tribes regularly raided American settlements, particularly the Shawnee.

In 1783, with the original 13 now under British occupation, a new capital was needed. Louisville, Kentucky, nestled on the banks of the Ohio River, was a suitable choice to many of the free members of congress. Not wanting the new capital to be named after a foreign leader, the young town was renamed New Philadelphia. In 1785, two years after the founding of the new capital, The United Kingdom finally relented and entered into peace talks with the Americans, not having the political support to continue the war. The principal negotiator for the Americans was John Jay. The Treaty of Paris was signed on August 11th, 1786, which recognized American sovereignty in the lands they now held. The lands around the Great Lakes would remain a bone of contention and unresolved for several years afterwards. As a good will gesture, the British Empire returned the remains of the executed Thomas Jefferson, who had been hung for the crime of treason against the crown. Following the end of the war, the Continental Congress became in favor of drawing up a new legal document to bind them together. The Articles of Confederation, which had been drafted in 1777, were seen as too weak and possibly the reason the United States came so close to being wiped out. Replacing the Articles was The United States Constitution, primarily written by James Madison. At the Constitutional Convention in February, 1787, the United States federal government was split into three branches, an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The head of the executive branch was the President of the United States. The legislative branch was a bicameral organization with two parts; the American Assembly, which had membership determined by population, and the Senate, which saw that each state had equal representation. The first presidential election was held from March to April, the obvious candidate being George Rogers Clark, who was hailed as the savior of the republic. John Jay received the majority of votes for vice president, defeating James Madison and John Adams. George R. Clark would not take office until July 6th, 1787. James Madison would be appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs by Clark while John Adams would be made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

President George Rogers Clark: 1787-1795

Map of North America: 1789
Dark Green = Tennessee
Dark Red = Franklin
Dark Blue = Kentucky
Orange = Ohio
Purple = Illinois
Yellow = Wabash
Pale Blue With Black Dots = Unorganized
Pink = Disputed Lands between United States and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Brown = Spanish Empire
Light Green = British North America
Red = Louisiana (Spanish)​
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First graphic timeline ever... to be honest, the graphics will never be that good as I am greatly, greatly limited by what resources I have at my disposal. This idea was partially inspired by two works of fiction; The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood and Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, which I am currently reading.