When British troops evacuated New York in 1783, they lofted the Union Jack atop a flagpole in Battery Park, Manhattan—then greased the pole so Americans couldn't climb up and take it down. Eventually, Americans had to saw divots in the pole and use a ladder to replace the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes. This fanciful drawing was created 100 years later, on the centennial of "Evacuation Day."

Illustration courtesy Library of Congress

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    On November 25, 1783, the last British soldiers withdrew from (evacuated) the new nation of the United States. More than 20,000 British “Loyalists” had already been evacuated, and the last soldiers departed at about noon from New York Harbor for what are now the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, Canada.
     
    Evacuees changed the human geography of their adopted homelands. Thousands of evacuees were “Black Loyalists,” for instance—enslaved African Americans who fought for the British in exchange for their freedom. Black Loyalists were evacuated to both Canada and England, and many eventually became leaders of the African nation of Sierra Leone.  
     
    Other evacuees remained in Canada, where the majority of European Canadians spoke French. The thousands of English-speaking former Americans helped create the new Canadian province of New Brunswick.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adopt Verb

    to take over or nurture an idea or responsibility as if it were one's own.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    depart Verb

    to leave.

    evacuate Verb

    to leave or remove from a dangerous place.

    eventually Adverb

    at some point in the future.

    exchange Noun

    process of trading or changing one thing for another.

    grease Noun

    fatty or oily material, usually melted animal fat.

    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    human geography Noun

    the study of the way human communities and systems interact with their environment.

    independent Adjective

    free from influence, threat, or support.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    province Noun

    division of a country larger than a town or county.

    Encyclopedic Entry: province
    remain Verb

    to continue or stay in the same position.

    Revolutionary War Noun

    (1775-1783) conflict between Great Britain and the colonies that became the United States. Also called the American War of Independence.

    slave Noun

    person who is owned by another person or group of people.

    soldier Noun

    person who serves in a military.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.

    violence Noun

    acts that cause physical harm to another person.