sorely tried

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Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect

President Washington’s far-visioned policy of neutrality was sorely tried by the British. For ten long years, they had been retaining the chain of northern frontier posts on U.S. soil, all in defiance of the peace treaty of 1783. The London government was reluctant to abandon the lucrative fur trade in the Great Lakes region and also hoped to build up an Indian buffer state to contain the ambitious Americans.

The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey

How can I interpret “sorely tried” here?
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