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[翻译字幕]THE MAKING OF A NATION - Amer 本站原创 更新时间: 2012-12-07         

建国史话 (14):胜利和独立

From VOA Learning English, this is THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

This week in our series, we complete the story of the American Revolution.

The time is December seventeen seventy-six. British General William Howe has decided to stop fighting during the cold winter months. The general is in New York. He has already established control of a few areas near the city, including Trenton and Princeton in New Jersey.

General George Washington and the Continental Army are on the other side of the Delaware River. The Americans are cold and hungry. They have few weapons. Washington knows that if Howe attacks, the British will be able to go all the way to Philadelphia.

"And he's looking at his army which is melting away…”

Historian Gordon Wood says that moment was the low point of the war for George Washington.

"…and he decides to make one great effort on Christmas night and crosses the Delaware in dead of winter — cold, ice — and he crosses it and attacks Trenton, where you have about one thousand Hessians who are kind of overwhelmed and defeated. It's a small tactical victory but a great psychological effect, because it's the first time that Washington's ever actually done something positive, and it really does, I think, change the psychology of the war."
 

Print: "Washington, Crossing the Delaware"

Another result of the victory at Trenton was that more men decided to join the army. It now had ten thousand soldiers. This new Continental Army, however, lost battles during the summer to General Howe's forces near the Chesapeake Bay. And in August seventeen seventy-seven, General Howe captured Philadelphia.

Following these losses, Washington led the army to the nearby area of Pennsylvania called Valley Forge.

"Valley Forge was the camp where George Washington and his army spent a really miserable, miserable winter.”

Alice Kamps is a curator at the National Archives in Washington, where some of the country's most important documents are kept. One of those documents is a letter that George Washington wrote from Valley Forge.

KAMPS: "The men had nothing to wear, they had no blankets, they had very little to eat. Illnesses were rampant. It was a very, very miserable experience for them."

But in the middle of that winter, Washington finds out that France has decided to sign a treaty with the colonists.

"This is fantastic news. This is the kind of news that would make anyone just run about screaming with joy and doing handstands. But Washington is so reserved, and he says that he's received this news with, quote, the most sensible pleasure, unquote."

He also says he is going to wait for the government to approve the treaty before he tells the army.

"The fact that he is not going to announce this news immediately to his army speaks to the fact that he was always, always concerned with doing the right thing and with protocol."

By the spring of seventeen seventy-eight, General Washington and his army were ready to fight again.

General Howe was still in Philadelphia. His behavior as a military leader was sometimes difficult to understand. At times, he was a good commander and a brave soldier. At other times, he stayed in the safety of cities, instead of leading his men in battle.

The next series of important battles in the American Revolution was led by another British general, John Burgoyne. His plan was to capture the Hudson River Valley in New York state and separate New England from the other colonies. Doing this, the British believed, would make it easier to capture the other colonies.

The plan did not succeed. American General Benedict Arnold defeated the British troops in New York. General Burgoyne had expected help from General Howe, but that help never came. Burgoyne was forced to surrender at the town of Saratoga.

The American victory at Saratoga was extremely important. It ended the British plan to separate New England from the other colonies. It also showed European nations that the Americans might be able to win their revolution. This was something that France, especially, had wanted ever since being defeated earlier by the British in the French and Indian War.

The French government had been supplying the Americans secretly through the work of America's minister to France, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was popular with the French people and with French government officials. He helped gain French sympathy for the American cause.

After the American victory at Saratoga, the French decided to enter the war on the American side. The two nations signed military and political treaties. Historian Gordon Wood says this alliance created bigger problems for the British.

"Because, once the French were involved, it turns the thing from counterinsurgency for the British. They're now fighting a world war."

The British immediately sent a message to America's Continental Congress. They offered to go back to a time of better relations. The Americans rejected the British offer. The war would be fought to the end.

In seventeen seventy-nine, Spain entered the war against the British. And the next year, the British were also fighting the Dutch to stop their trade with America.

The French now sent gunpowder, soldiers, officers and ships to the Americans. However, neither the Americans nor the British made much progress in the war for the next two years.

By seventeen eighty, the British had moved their military forces to the American South. They quickly gained control of South Carolina and Georgia. But the Americans prevented them from taking control of North Carolina. After that, the British commander moved his troops to Yorktown, Virginia.

The commander's name was Lord Charles Cornwallis. Both he and George Washington had about eight thousand troops when they met near Yorktown. Cornwallis was expecting more troops to arrive on British ships.

What he did not know was that French ships were on their way to Yorktown, too. Their commander was Admiral Francois Comte de Grasse. De Grasse met some of the British ships that Cornwallis was expecting, and defeated them. The French ships then moved into the Chesapeake Bay, near Yorktown.

The Americans and the French began attacking the British with cannons. Then they fought the British soldiers hand-to-hand. Cornwallis knew he had no chance to win without more troops. He surrendered to George Washington on October seventeenth, seventeen eighty-one.

The war was over. American and French forces had captured or killed half of the British troops in America. The surviving troops left Yorktown playing a popular British song called "The World Turned Upside Down."

(MUSIC: “The World Turned Upside Down”)

How were the Americans able to defeat the most powerful nation in the world? Historians give several reasons:

The Americans were fighting at home, while the British had to bring troops and supplies from across the ocean. British officers made mistakes, especially General William Howe. His slowness to take action at the start of the war made it possible for the Americans to survive two difficult winters.

Historian Gordon Wood at Brown University in Rhode Island says the British also thought more colonists would support them.

"When Burgoyne comes down the Hudson Valley he starts out with an army of ten thousand or so, and he has to hack his way through the woods, and he keeps losing troops to small militia. He counted on more loyalist support than there was. And I think the British miscalculated terribly on that point."

Another reason the Americans won was the help they received from the French. Also, the British public had stopped supporting the long and costly war.

Finally, America might not have won without the leadership of George Washington. He never gave up hope.

The peace treaty ending the American Revolution was signed in Paris in seventeen eighty-three. The independence of the United States was recognized. Western and northern borders were set.

The thirteen colonies were free. Now, they had to become one nation. That will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.voanews.cn. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.
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This was program #14

1776年12月,英军司令威廉·豪决定,寒冬腊月,暂停战斗。当时,威廉·豪将军驻扎在纽约市,周围的一些地区都在他的控制之下,包括新泽西的特伦顿和普林斯顿。与此同时,乔治·华盛顿将军统帅的大陆军驻扎在德拉瓦河对岸。大陆军士兵饥寒交迫,缺少武器和弹药。

华盛顿心里明白,一旦威廉·豪将军发起进攻,英军就会直捣费城。这样一来,纽约和费城这两座美国最重要的城市就会落入英军的手中。华盛顿因此决定主动出击。他的计划是,派遣三股部队分批横渡德拉瓦河,在特伦顿会师后攻打普林斯顿和新不伦瑞克。华盛顿将军计划圣诞节的第二天--12月26号行动,给敌人一个措手不及。

圣诞之夜,两千四百名大陆军将士坐着小船,横渡冰冻的德拉瓦河,不过时间比华盛顿将军预想的多出了四个小时。尽管天色已经大亮,但是大陆军抵达特伦顿的时候,还是让驻守在那里的黑山雇佣军大吃一惊。他们躲进楼里藏身,美军动用大炮,迫使敌人投降。大陆军一举夺取了特伦顿。几天后,华盛顿押着战俘在费城游街。

特伦顿一战的胜利改变了美国人对独立战争的看法。这场战役前,大陆军在纽约惨遭失败,大家开始对华盛顿将军失去信心。特伦顿一战士气大振。大陆会议增加了华盛顿的权力,让独立战争继续下去。同时,更多的人愿意参战,大陆军增加到一万人。然而,第二年夏天,大陆军在切萨皮克湾附近还是败在了英军的手下。1777年8月,费城失陷。

打了败仗的华盛顿将军,带领大陆军来到附近的福吉谷安营扎寨,打算在那儿过冬。当时,大陆军狼狈不堪,一半人没有鞋子、衣服和毛毯不说,食物也十分短缺。士兵们自己动手,用木头盖起房屋,但还是挡不住刺骨的严寒。很多人死于天花和伤寒。华盛顿将军和他手下的将领们从附近地区找来粮食,帮助士兵挺过了这个冬天。到1778年春暖花开的时候,他们已经恢复了元气。

威廉·豪将军一直呆在费城。历史学家说,这位英军统帅实在让人难以捉摸。有的时候,他是一名非常出色的指挥官,是英勇善战的斗士;而有的时候,他又躲在安全的城市里,不肯主动出击。不过,威廉·豪将军没有参与独立战争中接下来的几场重大战役。

英军的另外一位将领约翰·伯戈因打算抢占纽约州的哈得逊河谷,把新英格兰和其他殖民地分隔开来。他相信,这样一来,攻打其他殖民地就会容易得多。然而,这一计划没有成功。大陆军的阿诺德将军在纽约打败了英军。伯戈因将军本来希望得到威廉·豪的支援,但是没有等到,最后被迫在萨拉托加投降。

这次胜利至关重要,不仅粉碎了英军将新英格兰和其他殖民地分隔开来的企图,而且向其它欧洲国家显示,美国真有可能打赢这场独立战争。对于在法印战争中败给英军的法国来说,这正是他们希望看到的。法国政府一直通过美国驻法使节本杰明·富兰克林向美国提供物资。富兰克林很受法国人民和法国政府的喜爱,争取到了法国对独立战争的同情。

萨拉托加战役结束后,法国决定参战。法国政府宣布承认美国的独立。两国签署了军事和政治协议。法国和英国再次成为敌对国。英国立即向美国大陆会议提议,愿意将双方的关系恢复到1763年的样子。这一提议遭到了美国的拒绝,他们决心将独立战争进行到底。1779年,西班牙也站到了美国一边。1780年,为了防止荷兰人跟美国做生意,英国和荷兰开战。

法国不断向美国输送弹药、士兵、军官和船只,但是在接下来的两年时间里,交战双方势均力敌,难分上下。到1780年的时候,英军转移到了美国南方。他们迅速控制了南卡罗来纳和乔治亚,大陆军奋力抵抗,才没让北卡罗来纳陷落。

英军将领康华里随即率领英军向维吉尼亚的约克镇前进。两军对阵时,康华里和华盛顿手里都有大约八千人的部队。康华里以为会有英国援军从水路赶来接应,但是他没有想到,英国的运兵船早就在半路上被法国船只击败,法国船只已经开进了约克镇附近的切萨皮克湾。

美国和法国军队联合对英军发起炮击,随后又跟英军展开肉搏战。康华里知道,如果没有援军,他就没有丝毫希望。1781年10月17号,康华里投降,北美独立战争宣告结束。一半英军被美国和法国部队打死或俘虏,活下来的人唱着著名的歌曲《这世界完全颠倒了过来》(The World is Turned Upside Down)离开约克镇。

美国是如何战胜英国这个当时世界上最强大的国家的呢?历史学家认为,原因有以下几个:第一,美国人是在自己家里打仗,而英军却是远渡重洋;第二,英军将领犯了很多错误,特别是威廉·豪将军在战争初期行动迟缓,让大陆军渡过了两个严冬。第三,美国得到了法国的帮助,而英国民众却对这场耗费巨大的持久战怨声载道。最后,历史学家认为,如果没有乔治·华盛顿的英明领导,美国可能不会打赢这场战争。华盛顿将军诚实、勇敢,对美国的胜利坚信不移,他从始至终从来没有对胜利失去过信心。

英国和美国1783年在法国巴黎正式签署了停战协议,承认美国独立,并确定了美国西部和北部的边境线。由此,北美的十三个殖民地正式独立,它们接下来的任务是如何融合为一个国家。