Thirteen Colonies > Yorktown



Yorktown was founded in 1691 in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia that was named after the more ancient city of York that was located in Yorkshire in Northern England. It was founded by Thomas Ballard and Joseph Ring primarily as a port for the British colonists to export tobacco back to Europe under the economic policy of mercantilism.

The town is most famous as the site of the siege and subsequent surrender of General Cornwallis to General George Washington and the French Fleet during American Revolutionary Warary War on October 19, 1781. Although the war would last for another year, this British defeat at Yorktown effectively ended the war. Yorktown also figured prominently in the American Civil War (1861–1865), serving as a major port to supply both northern and southern towns, depending upon who held Yorktown at the time. Today, Yorktown is one of three sites of the Historic Triangle, which also includes Jamestown and Williamsburg as important colonial-era settlements. It is the eastern terminus of the Colonial Parkway connecting these locations. Yorktown is also the eastern terminus of the TransAmerica Trail, a bicycle touring route created by the Adventure Cycling Association. One of Yorktown's historic sister cities is Zweibrücken in Germany, based on participation of a unit from there during American Revolutionary Warary War. Yorktown, named for the ancient city of York in Yorkshire, Northern England, was founded in 1691 as a port on the York River for English colonists to export tobacco to Europe. The lawyer Thomas Ballard was the principal founder of the city along with Joseph Ring.[4] It was called "York" until after American Revolutionary Warary War, when the name "Yorktown" came into common use.[5] The town reached the height of its development around 1750, when it had 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people. It was the base of British General Charles Cornwallis during the 1781 siege, which was the last major battle of American Revolutionary Warary War. When waterways were critical to transportation, Yorktown was thought to occupy a strategic location controlling upstream portions of the York River and its tributaries and their access to the Chesapeake Bay. In his Notes on the State of Virginia published in 1781–82, Thomas Jefferson noted that the York River at Yorktown "affords the best harbour in the state for vessels of the largest size. The river there narrows to the width of a mile, and is contained within very high banks, close under which the vessels may ride." [6] The population dropped in Yorktown and other areas of the mostly rural peninsula after the state's capital was relocated from Williamsburg to Richmond on the James River, attracting more development there. In addition, tobacco exhausted the soil, and planters shifted to mixed crops, which required less slave labor. Many generations of younger sons migrated out of the Tidewater area to new lands further west, into the Piedmont and beyond to Kentucky, Tennessee and what became the Northwest Territory. One of Yorktown's sister cities is Zweibrücken, Germany. During American Revolutionary Warary War, the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment was commanded by Comte Christian de Forbach (son of Christian IV, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, and the deputy commander was his brother Philippe Guillaume (later renamed to Wilhelm). This was one of the four regiments that arrived at Newport, Rhode Island with Rochambeau in 1780. It participated on the side of Americans in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.

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