DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN
JOHN FISKE summed up the prevailing impression of the government of the Confederation in the title to his volume, The Critical Period of American History."The period of five years," says Fiske, "following the peace of 1783 was the most critical moment in all the history of the American people. The dangers from which we were saved in 1788 were even greater than were the dangers from which we were saved in 1865." Perhaps the plight of the Confederation was not so desperate as he would have us believe, but it was desperate enough. Two incidents occurring between the signing of the preliminary terms of peace and the definitive treaty reveal the danger in which the country stood. The main body of continental troops made up of militiamen and short-term volunteers -- always prone to mutinous conduct -- was collected at Newburg on the Hudson, watching the British in New York.