British abandon Philadelphia - HISTORY
Year
1778

British abandon Philadelphia

On this day in 1778, after almost nine months of occupation, 15,000 British troops under General Sir Henry Clinton evacuate Philadelphia, the former U.S. capital.

The British had captured Philadelphia on September 26, 1777, following General George Washington’s defeats at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of the Clouds. British General William Howe had made Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress, the focus of his campaign, but the Patriot government had deprived him of the decisive victory he hoped for by moving its operations to the more secure site of York one week before the city was taken.

While Howe and the British officer corps spent the winter enjoying the luxury of Philadelphia’s finest homes, the Continental Army froze and suffered appalling deprivation at Valley Forge.  Fortunately for the Patriots, an infusion of capable European strategists, including the Prussian Baron von Steuben; the Frenchmen Marquis de Lafayette and Johann, Baron de Kalb; and Poles Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir, Count Pulaski, aided Washington in the creation of a well-drilled, professional force capable of fighting the British.

The British position in Philadelphia became untenable after France’s entrance into the war on the side of the Americans. To avoid the French fleet, General Clinton was forced to lead his British-Hessian force to New York City by land. Loyalists in the city sailed down the Delaware River to escape the Patriots, who returned to Philadelphia the day after the British departure. U.S. General Benedict Arnold, who led the force that reclaimed the city without bloodshed, was appointed military governor. On June 24, the Continental Congress returned to the city from its temporary quarters at York, Pennsylvania.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo

At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.The Corsica-born Napoleon, one of the greatest military strategists in history, rapidly rose in the ranks of the French ...read more

First American woman in space

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. Aboard the shuttle was Dr. Sally Ride, who as a mission specialist became the first American woman to travel into space. During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist ...read more

War of 1812 begins

The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been ...read more

Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich

On this day in 1940, Benito Mussolini arrives in Munich with his foreign minister, Count Ciano, to discuss immediate plans with the Fuhrer, and doesn’t like what he hears.Embarrassed over the late entry of Italy in the war against the Allies, and its rather tepid performance ...read more

Westmoreland requests more troops

Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Vietnam, sends a new troop request to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Westmoreland stated that he needed 542,588 troops for the war in Vietnam in 1967–an increase of 111,588 men to the number already serving there. In the ...read more

Arnold Palmer wins U.S. Open

On June 18, 1960, Arnold Palmer shoots a 65 to win the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado. It was the best final round in U.S. Open history.Palmer, from Ligonier, Pennsylvania was the son of a golf pro at the Latrobe Country Club in nearby Latrobe. His ...read more

Alexander Murray departs for the Yukon

Planning to build a fort for trading furs with the local Indians, Alexander Murray leads a heavily armed party into the Yukon River region of North America.By 1847, Murray was already an experienced fur trader and wilderness explorer. A native of Scotland, he emigrated to the ...read more

The Monterey Pop Festival reaches its climax

By the time they got to Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who and the Grateful Dead were established superstars—heroes to the roughly half a million worshipful fans who trekked up to Max Yasgur’s farm to see them in the summer of 1969. Yet just two years earlier, they ...read more

Novelist Gail Godwin is born

On this day in 1937, Gail Godwin is born in Birmingham, Alabama.Godwin’s father abandoned his family when Gail was very young. The family lived with Godwin’s grandmother in Asheville, North Carolina, while Gail’s mother worked as a teacher, newspaper reporter, and fiction writer. ...read more

Film critic Roger Ebert born

On this day in 1942, Roger Ebert, who will become famous as the movie critic who used his thumbs to pass judgment on Hollywood’s latest offerings on his long-running TV show, is born in Urbana, Illinois.While a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the ...read more

Mysterious crash at Heathrow

On this day in 1972, a Trident jetliner crashes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport in London, killing 118 people. The official cause of this accident remains unknown, but it may have happened simply because the plane was carrying too much weight. As the summer of 1972 ...read more

Carter and Brezhnev sign the SALT-II treaty

During a summit meeting in Vienna, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT-II agreement dealing with limitations and guidelines for nuclear weapons. The treaty, which never formally went into effect, proved to be one of the most controversial ...read more