Yesterday, U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Joe Biden (D-DE) introduced legislation that will officially designate the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route as a National Historic Trail. This is the 650-mile trail that French troops, under the command of General Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau took from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia in 1781 during the Revolutionary War. American troops under the command of Commander-in-Chief George Washington joined the French forces outside New York City and on October 17 of that year, the combined armies defeated the British army with the help of a French fleet commanded by Admiral de Grasse. General Cornwallis' surrender that day at Yorktown ended major hostilities in the American Revolutionary War.
The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) bill officially designates the trail which spans nine states from Rhode Island to Virginia, including Delaware. It maps the route and gives administrative authority to the Secretary of the Interior. Additionally, the bill specifies that no land shall be acquired outside of federal lands without the consent of the owner of the land or interest in land.
"This route is a major part of our American history and Delaware played a significant role on the path to victory," said Senator Biden. "After leaving Pennsylvania, the armies marched to Wilmington, Delaware and Elkton, Maryland where the bankrupt Continental Army borrowed from Rochambeau to pay American troops. In a nation that is relatively young, we need to protect and preserve important pieces of our history."
The bill has the support of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Association. In 2000, Rep. John Larson (D-CT) introduced HR 4794 (Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Heritage Act of 2000) to require the Secretary of the Interior to complete a resource study of the W3R route. This study is required for the designation of the trail as a National Historic Route. Senator Biden co-sponsored the original companion bill in the Senate.
The bill will now be referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.