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Michael Li @mcpli
, 12 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Today is Evacuation Day - the day in 1783 that the British handed NYC over to the Americans at the end of the Revolution.

The famous painting below depicts Washington and his troops passing St Paul’s Chapel on Broadway (still there!) 1/
Evacuation Day used to be celebrated each year as a holiday, but over time gradually got replaced by Thanksgiving. 2/
As with many things American, its actual story is at once both colorful and complex. The colorful parts are fairly well known - for example, how Washington’s entry into the city was delayed by a British flag that continued to fly at the tip of lower Manhattan. 3/
The departing British had nailed the Union Jack to the flag pole and then greased the pole. A young sergeant John Van Arsdale finally managed to climbed the pole and yanked down the flag to the cheers of the crowd. 4/
And then there are the “13 toasts” given at the celebratory dinner that Washington and his officers celebrated at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan (like St Paul’s Chapel in the first tweet also still there!) 5/
Some of the toasts are antiquated sounding today. But others, like #11, still resonate. 6/
But now the complexities of the story - the biggest of which was what would happen to slaves who had fled to British lines during the war and in some cases had served with British forces. 7/
Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander in NYC, said that he intended to evacuate the former slaves along with other loyalists when British forces departed. 8/
Washington objected, claiming that evacuating escaped slaves would violate provisions of the Treaty of Paris that provided, “carrying away any Negroes or other property of American inhabitants.” 9/
In the end, Carleton had his way - though promising that if it turned out that the evacuation of escaped slaves was improper, the British would pay compensation. 10/
Remarkably, details about the escaped slaves evacuated by the British were recorded in the ‘Book of Negroes,’ which also survives. Among the people in it is one Harry Washington, a slave of, you guessed it, George Washington.… 11/
So, in short, in one story, the same people are both heroes and villains - ah, America! 12/
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