Holidays Podcasts Revolutionary History

Evacuation Day: The Forgotten Holiday of the American Revolution

For decades New Yorkers celebrated Evacuation Day every November 25, a holiday marking the 1783 departure of British forces from a city they had occupied for several years.

The events of that departure — that evacuation — inspired annual celebrations of patriotism, unity and a bit of rowdiness. Evacuation Day was celebrated well until the late 19th century. But then, gradually, the party sort of petered out…..

Of course Americans may know late November for another historically themed holiday – Thanksgiving, a New England-oriented celebration that eventually took the place of Evacuation Day on the American calendar. But we are here to tell you listener – you should celebrate both!

Greg and Tom tell the story of the British’s final years in their former colonies, now in victory known as the United States, and their final moments within New York City, their last remaining haven. The city was in shambles and the gradual handover was truly messy.

And then, on November 25, 1783, George Washington rode into town, basically traveling from tavern to tavern on his way down to the newly freed city. The Bowery Boys chart his course (down the Bowery of course) and make note of a few unusual events — wild parties, angry women with brooms and one very lucky tailor.

PLUS: Where and how you can celebrate Evacuation Day today!


John Van Arsdale successfully takes down the British flag.

Multiple depictions of Washington’s entry into New York City exist. It was embraced as a major moment in early American history.

Washington’s Grand Entry into New York, November 25, 1783 by Alphonse Bigot
George Washington, Evacuation of New York, by John Trumbull, 1790, New York City Hall


After listening to this week’s show on Evacuation Day, head back to our back catalog to listen to episodes with similar theme:


After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence / Don Glickstein

American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783 / William Fowler

Evacuation Day / James Riker

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn / Robert P. Watson

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 / Edwin G Burrows and Mike Wallace

Hercules Mulligan / Michael J. O’Brien

In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown / Nathaniel Philbrick

The Perils of PeaceAmerica’s Struggle for Survival After Yorktown / Thomas Fleming

To Save the People from Themselves: The Emergence of American Judicial Review and the Transformation of Constitutions / Robert J Steinfeld

“A Tory-eye View of the Evacuation of New York” / Robert Ernst

“An Unusable Past: Urban Elites, New York City’s Evacuation Day, and the Transformations of Memory Culture” / Clifton Hood

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