PHILADELPHIA was dark and quiet, its residents asleep. Almost no one heard the horse as it clattered spectrally over the empty cobblestone streets just before three o'clock. The rider sought out the home of the president of Congress, Thomas McKean, and awakened him with a start by pounding loudly on his door. Once the rider was shown in, the two men spoke quietly. Visibly moved, McKean immediately sent a servant to deliver word to the town watchman, who patrolled the streets looking for signs of fire or other troubles and on the hour bawling out the correct time. On this night, October 22, 1781, the watchman changed his routine after receiving the urgent message. As he walked the glum streets he cried out his essential news in a happy mixture of his native and newfound tongue: “Basht dree o'clock, und Gorn-wal-lis isht da-ken.”1
Across the city people awakened and listened. None needed a translation, or an explanation, of what they had heard. Some, perhaps, realized that what they had just heard was the rarest of rare things. They had just learned of a great turning point in history, something that some people never experience in the course of a very long lifetime. For all but a handful, such as Grace Galloway in her cheerless apartment, the news was exhilarating. It was what they had longed to hear through all the anxious years of this seemingly endless war.
As soon as Congress received official word of Cornwallis's surrender, it ordered a day of celebration followed by a night of illumination. During that festive day, the members of Congress walked as a body to the Lutheran Church, chosen because it was the largest in the city, and with almost a thousand others worshiped, giving thanks for the victory and praying that it would “prepare the