Battles & Patriots of the Revolutionary War
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The Battle of Trenton
26 Dec 1776
The Battle of Trenton (Dec. 26, 1776) was a crucial early victory for the American forces in the American Revolution. On Christmas night 1776, Gen. George Washington and about 2,500 Continental soldiers crossed the ice-clogged Delaware River from Pennsylvania; early the next morning they surprised Hessian mercenaries in the British service encamped at Trenton, N.J.By four in the morning there were nine long miles to cover before wintry dawn. There was no smoking or talking or halting or straggling -- surprise was essential on the road that led to sleeping Trenton and its garrison of tough German professionals.
Soaked muskets became useless, but Washington ordered: "Tell General Sullivan to use the bayonet. I am resolved to take Trenton." And for once, bayonets were available. Ice formed on the roads. Men fell in a clatter of equipment, were pried to their feet, and went stumbling on. Overhead the eastern sky began to pale. The columns broke into what a soldier later called a "long trot."
The hundred-odd scattered houses of Trenton lay silent under the storm, and ice glinted on picket fences, orchards, and the hulking stone barracks built to house Royal troops during the old French wars.
On high ground at present Princeton Avenue, Washington appeared with his staff, and threw in Lord Stirling's brigade, spearheaded by George Weedon's 3rd Virginia. Americans under Captain William Washington and Lt. James Monroe cut down the gunners about two Hessian fieldpieces. Arthur St. Claire's brigade was in, and John Stark, leading its right element, "dealt death wherever he found resistance and broke down all opposition before him."
As their firearms dried out, riflemen took aim and muskets began to pop all along the line. Colonel Johann Raul, Commanding Officer of the Hessian troops, still dazed from his holiday celebrations, raged up and down King and Queen streets, bravely trying to rally his men. Then he was down, mortally wounded. Sullivan swung his whole command up from the river to meet St. Claire crashing down from the north, and the remnants of the Trenton garrison downed arms in a dripping, winrty orchard.
The whole affair had lasted less than three-quarters of an hour.
American casualties were light, but the Hessian commander was mortally wounded in the ensuing battle, and more than 900 of his men were captured. Washington also came away with badly needed arms and stores. After their earlier defeats in New York, the Trenton victory restored the Americans' flagging morale.
The Battle of Monmouth
28 Jun 1778
Washington now came on the scene, sharply upbraided Lee, and rallied the troops. The Americans proceeded to repulse two British attacks in heavy hand-to-hand combat. By sundown, the intense heat of the day had taken its toll on both sides, and the British slipped away under cover of darkness. American casualties totaled 69 killed, 161 wounded, and 37 dead of sunstroke. The British reported 147 killed and 170 wounded. Lee was court-martialed for disobeying orders. During the battle, the heroism of the wife of one of the American soldiers who assisted the American forces gave rise to the legend of Molly Pitcher.
It was the last major conflict in the North and the war's biggest one-day battle.
Sir Henry Clinton
In 1776 Clinton unsuccessfully assaulted Sullivans Island at Charleston, S.C., shared in the British victory in the Battle of Long Island, and captured Newport, R.I. When General Howe resigned his command in 1778 Clinton was named to succeed him.
Clinton's first step as commander in chief was to move his headquarters from Philadelphia to New York. In 1779 he shifted his theater of operations to the south, joined Charles Cornwallis and captured Charleston in 1780. On Clinton's return to New York, hostility arose between the two generals (he quarreled constantly with Cornwallis) which may have contributed to Cornwallis's surrender. Clinton resigned in 1781 and returned to England.
In England Clinton sought to vindicate his conduct of the war by publishing his Narrative. In 1790 he reentered the House of Commons and in 1794 was appointed governor of Gibraltar. Clinton died in Cornwall on Dec. 23, 1795, before taking up his post as governor.
Ther Battle of Bunker Hill
~A battle that should never have been fought --
on a hill that should never have been defended.~
A misnamed engagement of the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought between British regulars under Gen. William Howe and New England militiamen under Col. William Prescott and Gen. Israel Putnam on June 17, 1775. The second battle of the war, the British lost 1,150 men, out of 2,500 engaged, and 92 officers -- one in four of the British officers killed in the whole war.
General Gage had decided to seize and fortify Dorchester Heights and Charlestown which, if taken by the Americans, would make Boston quite untenable. When the Americans learned that the British in Boston intended to secure certain heights outside the city, Gen. Artemas Ward, hearing rumors of this, ordered the fortification of Bunker Hill on the Charlestown peninsula. He then decided on 15 June to occupy Bunker Hill, 110 feet high, and, - just behind it - Breed's Hill, 75 feet high, inside Charlestown Neck. From Breed's Hill, small cannon could threaten Boston and its shipping.Howe was ordered by Gage to dislodge them. He succeeded, but only after three frontal attacks up a slope held by accurate sharp-shooters.
It was a cloudless June afternoon. Howe's 20 companies of light infantry and grenadiers, supported by the 43rd and 52nd Foot under Brigadier Robert Pigot, toiled over uneven ground, some of it knee deep in grass. Each man was loaded with full kit of knapsack, blanket and ammunition: a deadweight of 125 pounds. General Howe marched at their head. The British soon launched an attack up the slope. In several hours of bloody fighting the Americans were dislodged, but only after the British lost 228 dead and 826 wounded -- 42 percent of the 2,500 regulars engaged.
THE BATTLE AS SEEN FROM BOSTON"
And now ensued one of the greatest scenes of war that can be conceived. If we look to the heights, Howe's corps ascending the hill in the face of entrenchments and in a very disadvantageous ground was much engaged. To the left the enemy pouring in fresh troops by the thousands over land, and in the arm of the sea our ships and floating batteries cannonading them. Straight before us a large and noble town in one great blaze. The church steeples being of timber were great pyramids of fire above the rest. Behind us the church steeples and heights of our own camp, covered with spectators. The hills around the country covered with spectators. The enemy all in anxious suspense. The roar of cannon, mortars and musketry, the crash of churches, ships upon the stocks and whole streets falling together in ruins to fill the air; the storm of the redoubt . . . filled the eye and the reflection that perhaps defeat was a final loss to the British Empire [of] America to fill the mind, made the whole a picture and a complication of horror and importance beyond anything that ever came to my lot to witness to." General John Burgoyne.....
Bunker Hill was a British victory. But even a few like them would still leave America victorious, as the British commanders knew. As General Clinton admitted, "It was a dear bought victory, another such would have ruined us." It was a battle that should never have been fought on a hill that should never have been defended.
All of Howe's staff officers were killed or wounded on Bunker Hill. Only gradually did Americans begin to see Bunker Hill as a kind of victory. One of the first toreach this conclusion was a young Rhode Island general, Nathanael Greene. "I wish we could sell them another hill at the same price," he said. Today we know that the battle crippled the British army in America and threw it on the defensive for more than a year.
Major General John Burgoyne
Rejoining the army in 1756, Burgoyne served in Europe during the Seven Years' War. He was elected to Parliament in 1761 and achieved prominence in 1772 by demanding an investigation of the East India Company. Appointed Major General in 1772, Burgoyne was sent to Boston, Mass., in May 1775. He witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17 and later returned to England.
In 1776, Burgoyne was named second in command to Sir Guy Carleton for an invasion of New York from Canada. The British captured Crown Point on Lake Champlain, but Burgoyne returned to London in disgust at Carleton's leadership. He persuaded the king and prime minister to let him lead an invasion from Canada. In June 1777, commanding an army of about 7,000, Burgoyne reoccupied Crown Point and on July 6 captured Fort Ticonderoga.
As Burgoyne moved slowly southward, however, disaster overtook him. Col. Barry St. Leger, who was to bring him support from the west, was stopped by the Americans, and Gen. William Howe failed to send him reinforcements from the south. Brought to a virtual standstill, Burgoyne tried twice to break through the American lines at Bemis Heights. Eventually he was forced to surrender to the greatly superior forces of Gen. Horatio Gates at Saratoga on Oct. 17, 1777.
Returning to England, Burgoyne was severely criticized for his capitulation. He entered politics again, briefly, but after 1783 he devoted himself to literary and social life. His first play, Maid of the Oaks (1774), had enjoyed some success, and his last, The Heiress (1786), proved quite popular. Burgoyne died in London on Aug. 4, 1792, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Sir William Howe
~ American Revolution ~
As a Whig, Howe was opposed to British coercion of North America, but he obeyed King George III's orders and went to Boston in time to command the British troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 1775). He replaced Gen. Thomas Gage as commander in America in October 1775. On orders from England, and under pressure from Gen. George Washington's besieging forces, he evacuated Boston in March 1776.After Fort Ticonderoga's big guns were situated on Dorchester Heights, General Howe, with sword drawn (left), knew that his stronghold was doomed. Here, Howe is depicted as personally directing the evacuation of British troops from Boston on March 17, 1776
In early summer, Howe's army was on Staten Island preparing to seize New York City. He occupied the city after defeating Washington in the Battle of Long Island (August 1776). Not counting the siege of Boston, Howe met Washington in four major battles in 14 months. Twice he achieved brilliant victories—at Long Island and at the Brandywine in September 1777. The Battle of White Plains (October 1776) was inconclusive, although Washington abandoned the field, but at Germantown (October 1777) Howe narrowly escaped serious trouble. After this battle, he withdrew to winter quarters in Philadelphia.
Howe's advance from New York toward Philadelphia in the summer of 1777 has been criticized because he took his troops by ship up the Chesapeake Bay when he might have saved nearly a month by going up the Delaware River. Furthermore, because he attacked Philadelphia, Howe has been accused of failing to assist Gen. John Burgoyne in his advance from Canada toward Albany. But this criticism is hardly just, for Howe had no orders to assist Burgoyne.
~ Later Years ~
When Howe, in Philadelphia, received only a small portion of the reinforcements he had requested, he felt that he had lost the king's confidence, and in November 1777 he sought relief from his command. In May 1778 he was replaced by Sir Henry Clinton and returned to England. Howe continued in royal favor, however, and was knighted and made a lieutenant general for his victory in the Battle of Long Island. He became a full general in 1793. When his brother Adm. Lord Richard Howe died in 1799, he succeeded him as 5th Viscount Howe. He had married in 1765 but had no children. He died in Plymouth, England, July 12, 1814.
Howe was an excellent tactician but was somewhat lacking in strategic sense. His great fault was his failure to follow up his successes. Sluggish and indolent by nature, he missed many chances to advance the British cause—for example, his failure to bottle up Washington's army on Manhattan Island, New York, after his victory on Long Island. He was an indulgent commander, popular with his troops, and friendly to all. He may be regarded as a competent but not a great general.
The Boston Tea Party
Samuel Adams -- December 16, 1773
In an atmosphere of continuing suspicion and distrust, each side looked for the worst fromthe other. In 1772 the crown, having earlier declared its right to dismiss colonial judges atits pleasure, stated its intention to pay directly the salaries of governors and judges in Massachusetts. Samuel Adams, for many years a passionate republican, immediately created the intercolonial Committee of Correspondence. Instead of rescinding the remaining Townshend tax and exploring inoffensive methods of aiding the financially troubled British East India Company, Parliament enacted the Tea Act of 1773, designed to allow the company to bypass middlemen and sell directly to American retailers. It was hardly a plot to persuade Americans to drink taxed tea at a low price, but the colonists interpreted it in that fashion.
~ Background ~
In an attempt to transfer part of the cost of colonial administration to the American colonies, the British Parliament had enacted the Stamp Act in 1765 and the Townshend Acts in 1767. Colonial political opposition and economic boycotts eventually forced repeal of these acts, but Parliament left the import duty on tea as a symbol of its authority.
The situation remained comparatively quiet until May 1773, when the faltering East India Company persuaded Parliament that the company's future and the empire's prosperity depended on the disposal of its tea surplus. Because the American tea market had nearly been captured by tea smuggled from Holland, Parliament gave the company a drawback (refund) of the entire shilling-per-pound duty, enabling the company to undersell the smugglers. It was expected that the Americans, faced with a choice between the cheaper company tea and the higher-priced smuggled tea, would buy the cheaper tea, despite the tax. The company would then be saved from bankruptcy, the smugglers would be ruined, and the principle of parliamentary taxation would be upheld.
In September 1773 the company planned to ship 500,000 pounds (227,000 kg) of tea to groups of merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. The plan might have succeeded had not the company been given what amounted to a monopoly over tea distribution in the colonies. The threat of other monopolies alarmed the conservative colonial mercantile elements and united them with the more radical patriots. Merchants agreed not to sell the tea, and the designated tea agents in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston canceled their orders or resigned their commissions.
Revolutionary sentiment mounted . . .
In Boston, however, the tea consignees were friends or relatives of Gov. Thomas Hutchinson, who was determined to uphold the law. The opposition, led by Samuel and John Adams, Josiah Quincy, and John Hancock, was determined to resist Parliamentary supremacy over colonial legislatures.
When the first ship, the Dartmouth, reached Boston with a cargo of tea on Nov. 27, 1773, the Committee of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty prevented owner Francis Rotch from unloading the tea, but they could not force the consignees to reject it. Rotch and the captains of two newly arrived ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, agreed to leave without unloading the tea, but they were denied clearance by Governor Hutchinson.
According to the law, if the tea was not unloaded within 20 days (by December 17), it was to be seized and sold to pay custom duties. Convinced that this procedure would still be payment of unconstitutional taxes, the radical patriots resolved to break the deadlock. On December 14, Rotch was called before a mass meeting and ordered to seek clearance again to sail from Boston. But neither the customs collector nor the governor would grant it.
Everywhere there was opposition to landing the dutied brew, and on December 16th, a crowd of several thousand persons assembled in the Faneuil Hall-Old South Church area and shouted encouragement to about 60 men disguised as Mohawk Indians, who boarded the three ships at Griffin's wharf. With the aid of the ships' crew, the “Indians” tossed 342 chests of tea, valued at £18,000 into Boston Bay. The furious royal government responded to this "Boston Tea Party" by the so-called Intolerable Acts of 1774, practically eliminating self-government in Massachusetts and closing Boston's port
The Battles of Lexington & Concord
The winter of 1774-75 was mild for New England, however the affairs of men met no tempering influences. The Committee of Safety set up by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts (it was given the power to call out the entire militia of the colony), voted that "all kinds of warlike stores be purchased sufficient for an army of 15,000 men," and selected the village of Concord as a suitable depot, far from the reach of British Major General Thomas Gage's raids.
Meanwhile, England decided to show that the civil "arm" of Parliament was as active as the military, and decided to mandate a new Act, called "The Fisheries Bill," which forbid not merely Massachusetts, but all the New England colonies to trade anywhere except in England or the British West Indies. Worse, the entire New England fishing fleet was barred from the North Atlantic fisheries.
The curtains were beginning to open on the American stage of the Revolution.
While the Provincial Congress discreetly shifted to Concord in order to be out of Gage's reach, more military problems would have to be considered. An entire brigade (4,000 troops) had been led out of Boston by Lord Percy on a practice march that swung through Watertown and Cambridge. The Congress at Concord had already resolved that whenever "troops to the Number of Five Hundred shall march out of Boston . . . it ought to be deemed a design to carry into execution by Force the late acts of Parliament . . . and therefore the Military Forces of the Province ought to be assembled and an Army of Observation immediately formed, to act solely on the defensive so long as it can be justified on the Principles of Reason and Self-Preservation and no longer."
British General Thomas Gage was in an increasingly awkward position. He had his mission -- enforcement of the Acts of Parliament and pacification of Massachusetts. If, in Parliamentary minds, he had ample military means to carry out what was ordered, each proposed course of action must have brought into Gage's mind the increasingly swift massing of armed militia which had followed every show of force. Yet something had to be done or awkward questions would be asked in London.
On April 15th, 1775, Major General Thomas Gage decided to send a column of seven hundred troops (two hundred over the magic number that the Concord Congress had set) to Concord under the command of Lt. Col. Francis Smith and his second, Major John Pitcairn. Gage had no intention of tolerating anything approaching a repetition of the action at Fort William and Mary. Learning that the depot in Concord held a growing store of gunpowder and arms, he sent these soldiers twenty miles from Boston to seize the military supplies. On the evening of the 18th, Dr. Joeseph Warren, President of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, sent Paul Revere and other messengers to Lexington twarn patriots there.When Colonel Smith moved into the countryside to collect these arms and munitions gathered by the patriot militia, hostilities erupted at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Soon afterward, militia contingents from places throughout New England took up positions outside Boston, putting the city under siege.Paul Revere did not make it to his destination when sent to warn his countrymen that the British were coming.
Captured and briefly detained, he was forced to walk home as the Redcoats retained
his horse for His Majesty's service when they detained him.
Commanding the British troops was Major John Pitcairn (left) who marched his soldiers all night, arriving at Lexington at dawn. There he found a line of minute men drawn up on the village green commanded by Captain John Parker. The British halted and the Major shouted, "Disperse, ye rebels, disperse!"
For the men of the Lexington militia, the first muster of the morning had come just after Paul Revere' midnight warning. Captain John Parker had taken command of the few score who had turned out on Lexington Green and waited with them during the night. Parker and his men had decided that they would let the soldiers pass through Lexington. Most of the stores of munitions and gunpowder that were formerly hidden in Concord had now been dispersed to other sites and hidden away. Let the British regulars come and march around all they liked.
As daylight approached, a scout with the militia by the name of Thaddeus Bowman had come thundering over the hill from the direction of Cambridge. When Bowman checked in with Parker, he reported that not only were the British regulars approaching Lexington, they were almost 1,000 strong and only a few miles away. They would arrive in less than an hour. Parker had the militia line up smartly in a wide, double rank (this would give the illusion of being more than they were). Looking off in the distance, Parker noticed that some of the town's villagers had gathered at the church, the Buckman Tavern, and off to his right and to the rear, a cluster of them watched from behind the shield of a granite and stone fence.
"There appeared a number of the King's troops, about a thousand as I thought, at the distance of about sixty or seventy yards from us, huzzaing, and on a quick pace towards us ...."
John Robbins, Militiaman
Captain Parker had come to expect a certain reaction based on past experiences in similar confrontations with militia and the regulars. On not one occasion, ever, had British regulars fired upon any militia in any similar circumstance. A militia that had stood firm had always carried the day. The British would invariably yield rather than fight. British grenadiers confronting and killing his compatriots was not an idea that sat with much comfort. The two forces would brush, and then the regulars would march on to Concord. Captain Parker did not expect the script to change this morning on Lexington Green.
The script did change, however, and as Parker calmly surveyed the scene, the British began to accelerate their pace and advanced in the direction of the militia. Not wanting to expose his men in the open, Parker ordered the militia to disperse and scatter. Incredibly, Parker saw a broad line of 30 men moving forward towards them -- running, with muskets ready and bayonets attached, gleaming in the morning sunlight. In the distance he heard the leader of the charge, a Royal Marine, his sabre raised over his head, yell,
"Damn them, we will have them!"
The militia continued to drift away from the formation. Weapons still in hand, they headed for the granite fence behind them looking for protection. Another order from one of the advancing regulars to the militia was heard to cry,
"Lay down your arms, you damned rebels!"
Then, suddenly, out of the cacophony of yelling and troop movement came an unmistakable sound ----a shot! From behind a stone wall a shot rang out -- no one has ever discovered who first fired
"the shot heard 'round the world"
The trigger that had lain cocked and ready in Massachusetts for decades -- had finally been pulled. Acting without orders, the British troops immediately began to fire. Then, just as quickly, they formed up into ranks and began firing combined volleys at the spread out militia. Major Pitcairn rode among his men trying to signal them to stop firing. But nothing could stop them now. Their muskets empty, they ran at the militia with bayonets fixed. Finally, Colonel Smith ordered a drummer boy to sound a cease-fire. The drum brought the troops around, and under the angry supervision of their commanding officers, they reluctanly came to order. Drawing his officers aside, Colonel Smith reminded them of their mission and what they were sent here to do.
As the British marched away from Lexington and on to Concord, they left in their wake eight militia dead and nine wounded. The skirmish had lasted but a few minutes. But in those few minutes, the life of every Lexington family, and eventually that of every American colonist, had forevermore been changed.CONCORD and the BRITISH RETREAT Due to a false report about the possible arrival of British troops at Lexington ten days earlier, one of Concord's leading citizens and commander of the Middlesex militia, Colonel James Barrett, had been busy transporting munitions and arms (and what they could) by wagon to the towns of Acton, Stow (north and west of Concord), and Sudbury (south and west of Concord). He even disassembled some of the cannon and buried them in furrows on his own farm. It made no difference. Concord remained a considerable arsenal by any military standards. They had hidden a lot. According to the notebooks of Barrett, 20,000 pounds of musket balls and cartridges, 50 reams of cartridge paper, 318 barrels of flour, 17,000 pounds of salt fish and 35,000 pounds of rice lay hidden throughout the community. There is no doubt that Massachusetts was getting ready to wage war.
Dr. Samuel Prescott, a dedicated Son of Liberty, rode into Concord at approximately 2:30am, April 19th, with the news that the regulars were marching from Boston, and were bound for Concord. Only Lexington stood in their path. Barrett knew he would most likely have to lead his men into battle, or give up everything hidden among a score of houses and farms, including his own.
Meanwhile, the British continued the 6 miles to Concord.
Concord's two minuteman companies and two militia companies were mustered in front of Wright's Tavern. From nearby Lincoln, another comapny of minutemen who brought rumor of gunfire at Lexington, joined in as well. A horseman by the name of Reuben Brown ( a Concord saddlemaker ) returned from Lexington with an eyewitness account of the first British volley, which had sent him galloping back to Concord. He reported to Barrett that the regulars were probabaly firing ball, although he was not really sure. It was a momentous report. Powder would have frightened, but ball was intended to kill.
Barrett decided to seize the high ground and sent most of his men onto a long ridge that commanded the road leading into Concord. Hoping to give the approaching British a show of force, he sent another company down the road toward Lexington, hoping this might persuade the British to turn back to Boston. However, Colonel Smith was in no mood to be intimidated. He had his orders from General Gage, and he meant to carry them out. By 8am Colonel Smith and his regulars were in the center of Concord. He ordered his grenadiers to
begin seaching houses and barns for gunpowder and other munitions. He sent one company to guard the South Bridge, and seven companies to guard the North Bridge that crossed over the Concord River. Four of these companies then proceeded on to Colonel Barrett's farm two miles away. Analyzing the scene before him, Barrett saw no reason to attack. The British would find no arsenal of powder and arms. They would soon disengage and proceed back to Boston. Besides, the Brisith commander was surely aware that he would soon be surrounded by 6,000 minutemen and militia in a wide circle between Concord and Boston.In the courthouse, the grenadiers finally made one of their few finds - some cannon mounts and other equipment which they set ablaze. Looking from the ridge above the town, a pale column of smoke rose over the trees caught the eyes of Lieutenant Joseph Hosmer, Colonel Barrett's second in command and acting adjutant of the Concord regiment. Turning to Barrett he exclaimed, "Will you let them burn the town down?" The militia loaded their muskets. The move would require them to cross the North Bridge, which at the time was being guarded by three companies of regulars totaling 120 men. Barrett had 400 militia behind him and thought that by advancing on the bridge, the regulars, facing such an overwhelming force, would turn and fall back to allow the Americans to proceed on into Concord. Under the current rules of engagement, the British would not fire unless the Americans fired first. Barrett ordered the Acton militia, under the command of Captain Isaac Davis and along with Major Buttrick, to advance his company to the bridge in a long, snaking column, two men abreast. Barrett cautioned them to be sure not to fire first. As the Americans approached the bridge, the stunned British at first did nothing. When their commanding officer, Captain Walter Laurie, realized the situation, he had his men retreat to the opposite side of the river and massed them around a narrow span. They had to hold the bridge or the four companies that had marched to Barrett's farm would be cut off.
The Americans advanced. The British raised their muskets. The Americans marched onto the bridge.
With their guns pointed down and toward the river, several British soldiers fired warning shots.
The American kept coming.
Suddenly, an instant later, a full volley was fired at the head of the American column. Captain Issac Davis was killed instantly with a bullet in his heart. Beside him, Abner Hosmer went down with a bullet to the head. Four other men were wounded. The Americans stared in disbelief. "Goddamn it," one man shouted, "they're firing ball!"
Major Buttrick shouted, "Fire fellow soldiers, for God's sake fire!"As they returned to Boston, the British were under constant assault from Massachusetts militiamen, who inflicted 273 casualties.
The curtains had finally opened . . . The stage was set . . .
The American Revolution had begun.
~ ~ ~ ~
Kew, 1st July, 1775
"Your letter accompanying those received from Major Pitcairn is just arrived: that officer's conduct seems
highly praiseworthy. I am of his opinion that when once these rebels have felt a smart blow, they will submit;
and no situation can ever change my fixed resolution, either to bring the colonies to a due obedience
to the legislature of the mother country or to cast them off!"
Letter from King George III to Lord Sandwich
An official courier for the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence, Revere arrived in Lexington shortly before another rider, William Dawes, and warned John Hancock and Samuel Adams to escape. Revere then started for Concord accompanied by Dawes and Samuel Prescott but was halted by a British patrol. Only Prescott reached Concord. Revere's exploit was celebrated in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous (but generally inaccurate) poem, "Paul Revere's Ride" (1863).
In the above portrait, Paul Revere holds an unfinished silver teapot painted by John Singleton Copley around 1765. The energetic, colorful Revere organized a network of more than 60 fellow artisans that formed the secret heart of Boston's Revolutionary movement.
His father, Apollos Rivoire (or De Rivoire), was a Huguenot who had gone to Boston while still a boy as a refugee from religious persecution in France. Apprenticed to the silversmith John Coney, Apollos had married Deborah Hitchbourn (Hitchborn), and he gradually Anglicized his name as Paul Revere. As an independent silversmith, the elder Revere had become a man of substance by the time his son Paul was born, in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 1, 1735.
Young Paul learned the trade of silversmith in his father's shop, and probably attended the North Writing (or Grammar) School while serving his apprenticeship. In 1756 he enlisted for the unsuccessful expedition against the French post at Crown Point, serving as second lieutenant. A few months after his return, in the summer of 1757, he married Sarah ("Sary") Orne, by whom he was to have eight children.
Revere is remembered as much as a craftsman as he is as a patriot. His anti-British engravings of episodes such as the Boston Massacre were effective propaganda. He cast musket balls and cannon during the war and designed and printed the first Continental currency. After the war he became one of New England's leading silversmiths and a pioneer in the production of copper plating in America.
Wartime Services ~ It was in the spring of 1775 that Revere made the famous ride described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that placed him among the immortals of the American national tradition. Gen. Thomas Gage, the British military governor of Massachusetts, had decided to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were at Lexington, and to confiscate the military supplies stored by the Whigs at Concord.On Sunday, April 16, four days before the projected Gage expedition, Revere rode out to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams, and sent word to the Whigs at Concord to hide the stores. At this time he arranged to signal the patriots by showing two lanterns in Boston's North Church steeple if the British moved by sea or one if by land.On the night of Tuesday, April 18, Revere and William Dawes rode out, Dawes by way of Boston Neck and Revere by way of Charlestown, to alert the countryside that the British troops would move the next morning. Revere arrived in Lexington about half an hour before Dawes, and Hancock and Adams fled to Woburn. Revere, Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott started for Concord, but Dawes and Revere were stopped by a British patrol; Prescott got through. Revere was released by the British and returned to Lexington to help in saving John Hancock's trunk and papers.
During the first years of the war, Revere served as a messenger for the Committee of Safety, with headquarters at Cambridge. He was then commissioned by the Provincial Congress to manufacture gunpowder. He also designed and printed the first issue of Continental money, and made the first official seal for the colonies and the state seal for Massachusetts. After the reoccupation of Boston in 1776, he again took up his old trade. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel and was placed in command of Castle William (Castle Island) in Boston Harbor. Meanwhile he had begun to cast cannon for the American Army.
~ Postwar Years ~
"Sary" Revere died on May 3, 1773, and Revere married Rachel Walker on October 10. They had eight children. After the war he went into merchandising and, later, bell casting, but silversmithing, with the assistance of his son, continued to be his most dependable and rewarding business. Presently, at the age of 65, he learned how to roll sheet copper and furnished the new sheeting for the dome of the Massachusetts State House and other public buildings, as well as for the hulls of ships in the young American Navy including the Constitution, for which he had earlier furnished bolts, spikes, braces, and other fittings.
Paul Revere's outstanding characteristic was the versatility of his craftsmanship; his reputation as an artist in the working of silver is hardly less great or enduring than his fame as a patriot. For him, that famous ride to Lexington was hardly more than an exciting incident that was, in fact, shared by William Dawes. Because of its dramatic nature, however, it is for the ride that he is most popularly remembered by succeeding generations.
~ Anti-British Activist ~
When tension developed between the colonies and the mother country after the end of the Seven Years' War (1756%u20131763), Paul Revere emerged as one of the leaders of the group of artisans who identified themselves with the critics of the policies of the mother country. As a Mason he had already come to be associated with James Otis, Joseph Warren, and other libertarians. He now became a member of various Whig groups, organized and unorganized, such as the Sons of Liberty the North End Caucus, and the Long Room Club. He was probably a witness of, although not certainly a participant in, the Stamp Act riots and the looting of Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's house.
Meanwhile, although his fame as a silversmith steadily mounted, business fell off for several years, and Revere turned to other trades to supplement his income. He did copper engraving, although his skill as a draftsman was woefully inadequate, drew political cartoons for the Whig polemicists, published music, and even went in for dentistry, a craft that he soon dropped. He was not only one of the most versatile and outstanding artisans of Boston; he was also an active political leader.
He observed the coming of the customs commissioners and the British troops to Boston in 1768, and published a series of engravings that commemorated the latter event. When the so-called Boston Massacre took place in 1770, he published a famous drawing of the scene that doubtless aroused as much resentment against the British troops as the event itself.
In the years between 1770 and 1773, Revere became an express (mounted messenger) for the Whig patriots of Boston. At the time of the arrival of the tea ships in the autumn of 1773, he rode out to warn the committees of correspondence of the other ports along the coast not to permit the ships to land their cargoes. A little later, after he himself had been one of the "Indians" in the Boston Tea Party, he rode to Pennsylvania for the Boston committee to carry the news of the party to the committees of New York and Philadelphia.
~ Common Sense ~
In writing the pamphlet, Paine was encouraged by the Philadelphia physician and patriot Benjamin Rush. Rush read the manuscript, secured Benjamin Franklin's comments, suggested the title, and arranged for anonymous publication by Robert Bell of Philadelphia. Common Sense was an immediate success. Paine estimated that not less than 100,000 copies were run off and boasted that the pamphlet's popularity was “beyond anything since the invention of printing.” Rush noted that its effect on Americans was “sudden and extensive.” It was “read by public men, repeated in clubs, spouted in schools.”
Everywhere, it aroused debate about monarchy, the origin of government, English constitutional ideas, and independence. John Adams, although himself a strong proponent of independence, assailed the governmental principles of Common Sense as either “honest ignorance or knavish hypocrisy” and wrote his own Thoughts on Government (1776) in rebuttal.
Common Sense traces the origin of government to a human desire to restrain lawlessness. But government can be diverted to corrupt purposes by the people who created it. Therefore, the simpler the government, the easier it is for the people to discover its weakness and make the necessary adjustments.
In Britain “it is wholly owing to the … people, and not to the constitution of the government, that the crown is not as oppressive … as in Turkey.” The monarchy, Paine asserted, had corrupted virtue, impoverished the nation, weakened the voice of Parliament, and poisoned people's minds. The “royal brute of Britain” had usurped the rightful place of law.
Paine argued that the political connection with England was both unnatural and harmful to Americans. Reconciliation would only cause “more calamities. … It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power.” In short, the welfare of America, as well as its destiny, in Paine's view, demanded steps toward immediate independence.
Author: John A. Schutz
University of Southern California
~ The Crisis ~
The first and most famous of the pamphlets, originally published as an article in the Pennsylvania Journal on Dec. 19, 1776, begins with the famous sentence “These are the times that try men's souls.” It was written during Washington's retreat across the Delaware and by order of the commander was read to groups of his dispirited and suffering soldiers. Its opening sentence was adopted as the watchword of the advance on Trenton, and it is believed to have inspired much of the courage that won that victory.
The 13th pamphlet, published on April 19, 1783, bears the title Thoughts on the Peace, and Probable Advantages thereof. It opens with the words “The times that tried men's souls are over.”
~ Navigation Acts ~
The English had passed navigation acts as early as 1381, but the policy commonly associated with the term began in the period of Oliver Cromwell with the object of reducing Dutch maritime supremacy and strengthening British shipping and commerce. The Navigation Act of 1651 required all products of America, Asia, and Africa to be imported into England and its possessions in ships manned predominantly by English subjects; European produce could be imported into England only in English ships or those of the country of origin.
The Navigation Act of 1660 prohibited all foreign ships from trade between England and its colonies and restricted that trade to English-built and English-owned vessels with an English captain and a crew that was 75 percent English. It also enumerated certain commodities, such as sugar, tobacco, and dyes, that the colonies could export only to England or to another British colony.
The Staple Act of 1663 forbade the shipping of European goods to the colonies except through England or Wales, and additional acts in 1673 and 1696 tried to plug various loopholes and provide stricter enforcement.
After the restoration of Charles II, a new act was passed in 1661 largely repeating the earlier act, but denying to the Channel Islands, Scotland, and, by an act of 1671, Ireland, the privileges of the act. The acts were meant to encourage English navigation, to increase the supply of English seamen, to favor the export of English products, to favor the import of raw materials needed for English industry or consumption, and to maintain a balance of English exports over English imports. They also were intended to ensure the dependence of the colonies, Scotland (until the Union of 1907) and Ireland on England.
The effect of these navigation acts has been controversial. They did not destroy Dutch trade, but led to several Anglo-Dutch wars. They may for a time have contributed to uniting the British Empire, but they were factors in the eventual separation of the American colonies and of Ireland. They were, however, continued with little change until after the American Revolution, although occasionally exceptions were made by orders in council.
The United States navigation policy, in reaction to the British Navigation Acts from which the colonists had suffered, at first favored “the most perfect equality and reciprocity” as manifested in several treaties. After the Constitution was adopted, however, Congress enacted a law in 1789 discriminating on tonnage dues and customs rates in favor of American vessels and giving such vessels a virtual monopoly of the coasting trade. Only U.S.-built vessels owned by American citizens and commanded by American masters could register as American vessels and gain these advantages.
Originally aimed at excluding the Dutch from the profits of English trade and often passed as much at the instigation of English merchants as from deliberate government policy, the Navigation Acts incorporated basic mercantilist assumptions that the volume of world trade was fixed and that colonies existed for the benefit of the parent country. The acts eventually aroused much hostility in the American colonies, where they were a target of the agitation before the American Revolution. They were finally repealed in 1849 after Britain had espoused the policy of Free Trade.
Authors: Quincy Wright, University of Chicago; Ronald W. McGranahan (contributing).
Bibliography: Dickerson, O. M., The Navigation Acts and the American Revolution (1951; repr. 1974); Harper, L. A., The English Navigation Laws (1939; repr. 1964); Lewis, A., and Runyan, T., European Naval and Maritime History (1986).
~ Albany Congress ~
The congress was called by the British crown to effect ways of improving the common defense of the colonies on the eve of the French and Indian War. It was also aimed at conciliating the Indians, with whom the French in America were actively seeking alliances.
Commissioners from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland met at Albany, N.Y., in June 1754, with representatives of the six nations of the Iroquois. Agreements, most of them not lasting, were concluded.
The historic work of the congress lay in the delegates' advocacy of a colonial union, which they agreed was essential to the preservation of the colonies. Benjamin Franklin a delegate, drafted a model constitution called the “Albany Plan of Union.”
Franklin's draft was a farseeing proposal to distribute power between a central colonial government and the governments of the member colonies. The central government was to consist of a president-general chosen by the crown, and a congress chosen by the separate colonial assemblies. This government would deal with problems of war and peace, taxation, defense, westward expansion, and trade—subject to a presidential veto. Representation was to be apportioned according to the size of each colony's contribution to the central treasury.
Many of Franklin's ideas were later embodied in the Articles of Confederation and the federal Constitution, but the plan was too far in advance of its time. Not a single colony ratified it. The colonists thought it conceded too much power to the central government, and the crown regarded it as too democratic.
~ The Loyalists ~
The population of the American colonies in the Revolutionary period was divided politically into three groups: rebels (patriots) or Whigs, neutralists, and loyalists. The loyalists opposed independence and its maintenance by force, although the majority of them disapproved of the onerous British legislation. Many leading loyalists originally were noted Whigs, such as Daniel Dulany of Maryland, who wrote a pamphlet opposing the Stamp Act in 1765. The loyalists differed with the Whigs primarily over methods of opposition, holding that constitutional protest was preferable to the anarchy that would accompany rebellion.
Although the incidence of loyalism was greatest among crown officials, Anglican clergy, social and economic elites, and cultural minorities, the king's friends came from all racial, religious, ethnic, economic, class, and occupational groups. Some, like Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania, were Whig-Loyalists who opposed British policies but also rejected secession from the empire. Sometimes families were divided; Benjamin Franklin's son William was a Loyalist. Vested interest, temperament, or political philosophy could separate Patriot from Loyalist.
As much as the Patriots did, the Loyalists put their lives, fortunes, and honor on the line during the Revolution. Besides those who served in the regular British Army, some 19,000 men fought in over 40 Loyalist units, the largest of which was Cortlandt Skinner's New Jersey Volunteers. Refugees gathered in British-occupied New York City, where the Board of Associated Loyalists, headed by William Franklin, helped direct military activities. During the war crown supporters suffered physical abuse, ostracism, disenfranchisement, confiscation of property, imprisonment, banishment, even death. However, only 4,118 Loyalists requested compensation from Britain's Royal Claims Commission after the war, receiving a total of about 3,000,000 pounds.
The Revolution forced approximately 100,000 persons, 2.4 percent of the population (compared with 0.5 percent in the French Revolution), into exile.
Because the loyalists posed a serious threat to the revolution, the states passed a variety of laws to curb them, including acts of banishment and confiscation. In the course of this upheaval, a vast amount of property was taken. Loyalists also suffered everything from social ostracism to tarring and feathering and even murder.
By the peace treaty of 1783, Congress recommended that the 13 United States allow the loyalists 12 months in which to return and obtain restitution for their losses. Further confiscation was to cease. However, confiscation and persecution often continued. Most loyalists could not gain redress, and many found it too risky to return home. Some particularly flagrant loyalists, such as Galloway, never were permitted reentry. Nevertheless, by 1790 antiloyalist legislation was a thing of the past.
Meanwhile the British government continued, at great expense, to indemnify many loyalists with pensions and compensation for confiscated property. Assistance was given to those relocating in the West Indies and Canada. Some fortunate émigrés found jobs in the British armed forces, the church, and government service.
The migration of some 40,000 loyalists into what remained of British North America virtually created English-speaking Canada by reinforcing the meager population of Nova Scotia and populating new regions that became the provinces of New Brunswick and Ontario. These émigrés supplied the backbone of Canadian resistance to the American invasion during the War of 1812. Loyalist migration started a new era in the Bahamas and had important consequences in Jamaica and some other West Indian islands. The bulk of the loyalists, however, remained in the United States and tried to live down the past. A few of them ultimately had successful political careers, usually as Federalist office holders.
The effect of the loyalists on later American history can only be guessed. The loss of 80,000 citizens has been termed a disaster comparable to the expulsion of the Huguenots from 17th century France, weakening artistic endeavor, robbing the country of a native conservatism and of diplomatic and political talent, and strengthening traditions of violence and intolerance. On the other hand, some have viewed the exodus positively as removing a barrier to American democracy.
For the most part the loyalists were soon forgotten. Rapidly a myth arose to the effect that, apart from a few wicked traitors, like Benedict Arnold, the American Revolution had been a unanimous movement. More recently, a newer historical focus has come to consider the revolution a civil war and pays serious attention to the loyalist role and plight.
The United Empire Loyalists, a hereditary organization created by the Canadian government in 1789 to honor those who rallied to the crown before the peace of 1783, remains today the Loyalist counterpart to the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution.
Authors: Wallace Brown, University of New Brunswick; Ronald W. McGranahan (contributing).
Bibliography: Allen, R., ed., The Loyal Americans (1983); Brown, W., The King's Friends (1965); Calhoon, R. C., The Loyalists in Revolutionary America (1973) and The Loyalist Perception and Other Essays (1989); Colley, L., In Defense of Oligarchy (1982).
~ The French Alliance ~
Vergennes, however, was not willing to risk war with Britain until he was sure that the Americans had the ability to continue the fight and the commitment to eschew reconciliation with George III. Gates's victory at Saratoga, combined with rumors that Britain would offer America major concessions in return for peace, finally pushed France over the brink. Formal treaties of commerce and alliance were signed by American and French diplomats on Feb. 6, 1778.
France became the first nation to recognize the infant country; it renounced all claims to North America east of the Mississippi River and agreed with the United States that neither would lay down its arms until American independence was guaranteed. Already Spain, a French ally, was giving America modest aid. It declared war on Britain in 1779, but without joining the United States in a formal alliance.
~ Sons of Liberty ~
Although representing a cross section of society, the Sons of Liberty were mostly tradesmen, laborers, and shopkeepers. Besides transmitting intelligence to other chapters, local members resisted implementation of the Stamp Act by persuasion, pressure, or violence. In some places, notably New York and Connecticut, the group also functioned as a paramilitary association. The organization disbanded after repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766; thereafter sons of liberty became a generic term applied to persons or groups who supported the independence movement.
Bibliography: Maier, Pauline, From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776 (1972); Walsh, Richard, Charleston's Sons of Liberty: A Study of the Artisans (1959).
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones (1747%u20131792), American Revolutionary War naval hero, often called the "Father of the American Navy," was born in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright county, Scotland, on July 6, 1747.As the strains of "The Star Spangles Banner" died, Secretary of the Navy Charles J. Bonaparte rose, walked to the lecturn, and began to speak. "We have met to honor the memory of that man who gave our Navy its earliest traditions of heroism and victory." With these words, the Secretary began his introduction of the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, at commemorative ceremonies and entombment exercises held in honor of John Paul Jones at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.Named John Paul, he inherited from his parents, John Paul, Sr., and Jean McDuff, the independence of the Scottish Lowlander and the fighting instincts of the Highlander. When only 12 years old, he sailed as a shipboy on a merchantman to Virginia, where his older brother William was in business. "America," he was to declare, "has been my favorite country from the age of thirteen when I first saw it."Jones passed 20 months in obscurity in America, chiefly in Fredericksburg, Va. A tradition assumes he changed his name during this period from John Paul to Paul Jones and John Paul Jones in gratitude to two brothers, Willie and Allen Jones of North Carolina. But no authentic record proves that he ever met either of them or that they served him in any way. What is known with certainty is that Joseph Hewes, shipowner and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was his greatest early benefactor. Jones was among the foremost in service at the founding of the Continental Navy. He was commissioned in December 1775 as the first lieutenant on the frigate Alfred, on which he hoisted the Continental flag, the old Grand Union.
As captain of the sloop of war Providence and as commander of both the Alfred and the Providence, he captured valuable British merchantmen and destroyed important fisheries and many vessels. His skill in harrying the enemy was widely noted, and in February 1777, the Marine Committee directed its secretary, Robert Morris, to place the Continental fleet in his hands. But the jealousy of others thwarted these orders.
Superseded by many officers, he became, unfairly, the 18th captain in naval rank. But John Hancock, president of Congress, as well as Robert Morris recognized his abilities. Accordingly, on June 14, 1777, he received the command of the new sloop of war Ranger, one of the first naval vessels to fly the Stars and Stripes, and sailed to France.
Jones sailed the Ranger to the very shores of England, and tried to burn the shipping at Whitehaven. At Saint Mary's Isle he attempted, unsuccessfully, to take the earl of Selkirk as a hostage for the exchange of prisoners. On April 24, 1778, he captured the Drake, the first victory of a Continental vessel over a British warship.
Upon his return to the French port of Brest, Jones was eager to undertake more ambitious enterprises in larger ships. At every turn, however, he found political and naval intrigues, both French and American. The ship he eventually received (a merchantman renamed the Bonhomme Richard in honor of Benjamin Franklin), was old and slow, armed with 42 guns, and ill suited to fight or escape.
Off Flamborough Head, however, the Richard pursued and challenged to battle two British ships of war%u2014the Serapis, carrying 50 guns, and the Countess of Scarborough, with 22 guns. In the grim struggle on Sept. 23, 1779, Jones had to fight not only against the superior crew, armament, speed, and maneuvering ability of the Serapis, as well as the Countess of Scarborough, but also against a grave and almost fatal accident. Two of the six old 18-pounders of the Richard burst at their first broadside and killed or wounded many men. It became imperative for Jones to outwit Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis.
An initial attempt to board the British frigate and win by sheer desperate fighting failed. In a second effort he managed to lock the two ships together. The Serapis was beating in one of the Richard's sides and blowing out the other. Most of the guns of the American ship were broken and silenced. The Richard with its dry old timbers was afire again and again, and the water in the hold rose ominously. A gunner, crediting a report that Jones had been killed, called to offer surrender of the Richard, and Pearson loudly responded, "Do you ask for quarter?" Jones then made his memorable reply, emphasizing it by hurling his two pistols at the head of the gunner:
"I have not yet begun to fight!"
A grenade thrown from the Richard caused a disastrous explosion of ammunition on board the Serapis. After three and one-half hours of heroic battle in full moonlight, the Serapis struck its flag. Then Jones and his crew boarded the British ship and saw the Bonhomme Richard sink, stern uppermost and with its colors flying.Jones escaped in the Serapis to Holland, accompanied by the captured Countess of Scarborough. He later went to Paris, where he was acclaimed by the populace, honored by the king, and feted and lionized by society. His dalliance in the French capital, his verse writing, and several romantic attachments made an unusual interlude in Jones's career.
Jones returned to America in February 1781 in the Ariel. Congress passed resolutions in his honor, recommended the award of a gold medal, and gave him command of the ship of the line America, which, in essence, conferred the rank of rear admiral. The war ending soon, he urged, "In time of peace %u2026 prepare %u2026 for war."
The prospect of service in the Russian Navy as a rear admiral now arose. Jones asserted that he would never renounce the glorious title of citizen of the United States. But men no less astute than Thomas Jefferson and George Washington seemed to think that employment in Russia, in the absence of any at home, would qualify him, in case of need, for still higher professional duties.
Arriving in Russia in April 1788, Jones was given command of a squadron in the Black Sea for a campaign against the Turks. Jones's grim dedication to his professional duties resulted in victories scarcely less daring and strategic than those in the American Revolution. It was primarily his operations that saved Kherson and the Crimea and decided the successful outcome of the war.
While he won the battles, however, his colleagues usurped the honors. "The first duty of a gentleman is to respect his own character," he wrote in explanation of his aloofness from the deceit that surrounded him. "I saw that I must conquer or die," he stated on his early recognition of the ineptitude as well as the villainy to which he was exposed. The intrigue against him grew, both professional and personal, including a baseless charge of moral turpitude, and Jones left Russia for France. Becoming progressively ill in Paris, Jones died there on July 18, 1792.
Moral courage inspired by reverence for his country, physical boldness derived from a nature inured from youth to hardship and danger, and zeal for perfection in his profession were the qualities that combined to raise Jones from obscurity to international eminence. He was outstanding among his fellow officers for never losing a ship. He was unequaled by any of them for vision and resourcefulness, and his urgent recommendations for an unmatched American Navy showed remarkable foresight and devotion. After lying for a hundred years in an unmarked Paris grave, his remains were moved in 1906 to the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Jones' life paralleled that of the Continental Navy. Both rose from humble origins, appeared briefly on the world scene, and then passed with few mourners. Jones gave to it some of its brightest moments, including the capture of the two largest Royal Navy ships to strike their flags to Americans during the Revolution. He always made the most of the limited resources available to him. In the battle against Serapis, he left a legacy of dauntless courage and unconquerable persistence in the most desperate of circumstances. Every fighting service needs a tradition of refusal to surrender in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. "It was [John Paul Jones] who... created the spirit of my country's infant Navy." wrote a mid-nineteenth-century naval officer.This was the dominant image of Jones during a century when naval officers, in particular, shared his great sense of personal honor. The era of Jacksonian Democracy found much to admire in the rise of a Scot's gardener's son to glory in the Continental Navy and to flag rank in the Imperial Russian Navy
At the start of the twentieth century when the U.S. Navy took its place among leaders of the world, the image of Jones held by the general public and by naval officers began to change. The Navy's rising professionalism led it to value Jones not simply as a courageous leader in time of battle but as a complete naval officer. Jones understood the basics of his vocation. His grasp of naval architecture was demonstrated by his supervision of the construction of the Ranger and the America, the virtual reconstruction of the Bonhomme Richard, and alterations to the masts and rigging of almost every ship he commanded.
His victories were not won by courage and superior tactics alone, but were the result of careful preparation. His letters and actions show the respect he had for his subordinates, though he often failed to give enough credit to the officers who served under him.
His desire to establish boards to evaluate officers for promotion were visionary for his time. His proposals for a fleet of evolution and naval academies predated the establishment of such institutions in the United States by over a half a century. Consequently, quotations from his writings, sometimes imaginary, appeared on the fitness report forms of the Navy's Bureau of Personnel and on examination books at the U.S. Naval Academy in the early twentieth century.
Jones' strategic ideals were equally sound. As clearly as anyone, he understood the limitation of the Continental Navy and advocated operations congruent with its capabilities. The need for French assistance in ejecting the British army from America was apparent to Jones. It is not sjurprising that Admiral DeGrasse's biographer credits Jones with suggesting the strategy that ultimately brought victory at Yorktown.
That he was a man of talent cannot be denied, nor can his patriotism. His disappointments in terms of recognition and command rivaled those of Benedict Arnold but their reactions differed sharply. Jones' reputation rests on his exploits of 1778 and 1779, when he took the war to the British people and stengthened American morale at times when it was sinking. Sadly, he was never destined to test his talents on a broad scale. With the end of the war, America thought it no longer needed a navy and thus had no use for Jones as a naval officer.
But Jones never fully adapted to peace. His success as a diplomat was no compensation for his disappointment when his plans for an American navy were rejected. Throughout the Revolution, he had remained optimistic, convinced that the Continental Navy, no matter how low its fortunes, could win respect from Europe for the new United States. That he sought personal fame at the same time is not surprising. His pursuit of glory as a reward for self-sacrifice and service to the nation was fully in keeping with the spirit of the time.
In the end, John Paul Jones's legacy rests not so much on what he accomplished as on how he did it.
As the inscription on his tomb reads:
"He Gave to Our Navy Its Earliest Traditions of Heroism and Victory."
His remains are entombed beneath the United States Naval Academy Chapel's Rotunda, Annapolis, Maryland, where United States Marines guard his crypt 24 hours a day.
James Armistead Lafayette
Trying desperately to raise four hundred laborers, teamsters, and badly needed cavalry mounts, Lafayette had advised General Washington that "nothing but a treaty of alliance with the Negroes can find us dragoon Horses [because] it is by this means the enemy have so formidable a Cavalry." And it was during this period, with Cornwallis still formidable and the Americans badly in need of intelligence as to his strength and strategy, that James Armistead sought his master's permission to join Lafayette.
His owner consenting, Armistead enlisted and served the future hero of the French Revolution so effectively that after the war the general was to state that his spying activities were "industriously collected and more faithfully delivered." Armistead had carried out important commissions so effectively that the general recommended him as worthy of "every reward his situation could admit of."
The brevity of Lafayette's testimonial understated his intelligent agent's resourcefulness. Taking advantage of British eagerness for Negro aid, Armistead had risked his life by pretending to supply Cornwallis with information damaging to the Americans -- a bit of playacting so perfectly performed that not until the defeated Cornwallis encountered him in Lafayette's headquarters was the black man's true loyalty and identity revealed.
The rest is irony. In 1786, Armistead, who by now expressed his continuing admiration for the marquis by calling himself James Armistead Lafayette, was rewarded for his services to the Revolution by being emancipated at the expense of the General Assembly of Virginia. In 1818, still free, but little changed in circumstance, the old ex-spy successfully petitioned the state for relief, acquiring after thirty years a veteran's pension.
The essential incongruity of his position was, however, unchanged. Although a recognized veteran of the Revolution and a free man, he was not a citizen. He had, nevertheless, emerged somewhat from the shadow in which he had stood in earlier years. And in 1824, during Lafayette's visit to Virginia, Armistead's now aging features were to share once more the general's glory.
John B. Martin, an artist as skilled in delineating a revolutionary veteran who was an ex-slave and spy as one who became chief justice of the Supreme Court (John Marshall), painted Armistead's portrait. Proud and dignified, he appears with his highly individualized features forcefully drawn, a dark, ruggedly handsome man looking out at the viewer with quizzical expression. He wears a white neckcloth, his blue military coat bearing no medals is simply adorned with bright buttons embossed with the American eagle. Asserting an individual identity earned at the repeated risk of his life, James Armistead Lafayette affirmed an unshakable faith in the ideal democracy. His portrait now hangs in the Valentine Museum at Richmond, Virginia.
Ethan Allen, (1738-89), patriot of the American Revolution, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and champion of statehood for Vermont.
Allen was born on January 21, 1738, in Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1769 he moved to the region known as the New Hampshire Grants, comprising present-day Vermont. After settling in Bennington, he became prominently involved in the struggle between New York and New Hampshire for control of the region.
Following rejection by the New York authorities of an appeal that the region be established as a separate province, Allen organized a volunteer militia, called the Green Mountain Boys, to resist and evict proponents of the New York cause. He was thereupon declared an outlaw by the royal governor of New York. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Allen and his force offered their services against the British.
On orders from the Connecticut legislature, he, the Connecticut soldier Benedict Arnold, and a contingent of the Green Mountain Boys captured Fort Ticonderoga early in the morning of May 10, 1775. Allen demanded surrender from the British commander "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress." Subsequently, as a member of the army of General Philip John Schuyler, he rendered valuable service in the American military expedition against Canada.
He was taken prisoner near Montréal in September 1775 and held in confinement until exchanged in 1778. Following his release by the British, he returned to his home and was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army and major general of militia. In 1778 Allen appeared before the Continental Congress in behalf of a claim by Vermont for recognition as an independent state. With his brother Ira Allen and other Vermonters he devoted most of his time thereafter to the territorial dispute. He negotiated with the governor of Canada between 1780 and 1783, ostensibly to establish Vermont as a British province.
On the basis of this activity he was charged with treason, but, because the negotiations were demonstrably intended to force action on the Vermont case by the Continental Congress, the charge was never substantiated. He wrote a Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity (1779). Allen died in Burlington, Vermont, on February 12, 1789.
The Green Mountain Boys was a name applied to a group of soldiers from Vermont who fought in the American Revolution (1775-1783). They took their name from the Green Mountains in Vermont. In 1775, on the verge of war, the Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, with reinforcements from Massachusetts and Connecticut, seized British-held forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain in New York. In 1777 they helped win the Battle of Bennington in Vermont.
The Green Mountain Boys were originally organized by Allen before the revolution to oppose the claims of the New York government to Vermont territory. They repeatedly harassed New Yorkers and, after the war, declared Vermont an independent republic. When New York relinquished its claims to the land, Vermont applied for statehood and in 1791 became the 14th state.
Joseph Plumb Martin of Connecticut saw her in action. In his war memoir he wrote: "While in the act of reaching for a cartridge, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else."
According to one version of the story, Mary was presented to General George Washington after the battle, and he praised her courage. For decades American artillerymen offered a toast to Mary:
" . . . Drunk in a beverage richer
and stronger than was poured that day
From Molly Pitcher's pitcher."
For many years it was believed she was born Mary Ludwig and that she had married John Casper Hayes in Carlisle, Pa. Her identification with Mary Ludwig was later challenged in favor of another Mary who married William Hays.After her husband's death in 1789, she married George MacAuley. In 1822 the Pennsylvania legislature passed an act “for the relief of Molly McKolly, for her services during the revolutionary war.” She was awarded $40 and the same amount was to be paid to her annually during her lifetime. She died in Carlisle on Jan. 22, 1832 and is buried beside the Molly Pitcher monument in Carlisle, Pa.
Peter Salem & Trumbull Stamp
Salem had been sold by Belknap to Major Lawson Buckminster, who freed Salem. Salem became one of the Minutemen heroes of the American Revolutionary War. On April 19, 1775, he fought at Concord, Massachusetts. A week later, he enlisted in Colonel Nixon's Fifth Massachusetts Regiment. He served in Captain Drury's company and fought with Drury at the Battle of Bunker Hill. At dawn on June 17, 1775, General William Howe ordered fire on the Americans' fortifications, but this did not end in victory. Howe struck again at the central redoubt and was again repulsed. With reinforcements, he struck the third time and drove the Americans northward across Bunker Hill. The Colonials had 400 dead and wounded men; the British lost more than
1,000. Salem was credited with the shot that killed Major John Pitcairn.
Salem re-enlisted in 1776 and fought at Saratoga and Stony Point. General George Washington forbade blacks from soldiering. After Virginia' s governor, Lord Dunmore, freed slaves to serve the British, Washington reversed his own orders, and in January 1776, Salem re-enlisted. After the war, Salem built a cabin near Leicester, Massachusetts, and worked as a cane weaver. He died in the Framingham poorhouse.
In 1882 Framingham erected a monument in his honor.
Salem Poor Stamp
Born: between 1747-58,
The stamp was issued May 25, 1975, (with back printing under the gum) to celebrate the American Bicentennial.
Salem Poor was a free Negro, having been born free. He had a wife, but left her in Andover, Massachusetts, when he went off to war to fight for the Revolution. He enlisted under Captain Benjamin Ames in Colonel Fryes' regiment. He fought at Bunker Hill, as did Peter Salem. As Salem was credited with shooting down Major John Pitcairn, Poor was credited with eliminating Lieutenant Colonel James Abercrombie.
Poor's valor and intrepidness at the Battle of Bunker Hill caused 14 officers, including Colonel William Prescott, to cite him with heroism and thus petition the General Court of Massachusetts: "The Reward due to so great and Distinguisht a Caracter. The Subscribers begg leave to Report to your Honble. House (Which We do in justice to the Caracter of so Brave a man) that under Our Own observation,
We declare that A Negro Man Called Salem Poor of Col. Fryes Regiment, Capt. Ames. Company in the late Battle of Charleston, behaved like an Experienced Officer, as Well as an Excellent Soldier, to Set forth Particulars of his Conduct would be Tedious, We Would Only begg leave to say in the Person of this sd. Negro Centers a Brave & gallant Soldier."
Such brief accounts from revolutionary rolls, such as the Massachusetts Archives at the Statehouse in Boston, reflect the remarkable character of such men as Poor and Peter Salem. Like Peter Salem, Poor also enlisted and re- enlisted according to the mandates and remands of General Washington and Lord Dunmore. Records show that Poor served at Valley Forge and White Plains.
What became of him is unknown. The conduct of most Negroes was little recorded, and their later lives were completely ignored. Any rewards Poor may have received went unrecorded.
"These are the times that try men's souls."
This simple quotation from Founding Father Thomas Paine's The Crisis not only describes the beginnings of the American Revolution, but also the life of Paine himself. Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but also brought him great criticism. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral.
On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father, a corseter, had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. The young Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, now age 19, Paine went to sea. This adventure didn't last too long, and by 1768 he found himself as an excise (tax) officer in England. Thomas didn't exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from his post twice in four years, but as an inkling of what was to come, he published The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772), arguing for a pay raise for officers. In 1774, by happenstance, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped him emigrate to Philadelphia.
His career turned to journalism while in Philadelphia, and suddenly, Thomas Paine became very important. In 1776, he published Common Sense, a strong defense of American Independence from England. He joined the Continental Army and wasn't a success as a soldier, but he produced The Crisis (1776-83), which helped inspire the Army. This pamphlet was so popular that as a percentage of the population, it was read by or read to more people than today watch the Super Bowl.
But, instead of continuing to help the Revolutionary cause, he returned to Europe and pursued other ventures, including working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge. In 1791-92, he wrote The Rights of Man in response to criticism of the French Revolution. This work caused Paine to be labeled an outlaw in England for his anti-monarchist views. He would have been arrested, but he fled for France to join the National Convention.
By 1793, he was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During his imprisonment, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, The Age of Reason (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of James Monroe, then U.S. Minister to France. Paine remained in France until 1802 when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to his religious views. Derided by the public and abandoned by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York City.
He is buried at St Mary's church in Finchley
'shot heard around the world'
At dawn on April 19 about 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen stand face to face on Lexington Green with the British advance guard. An unordered 'shot heard around the world' begins the American Revolution.
A volley of British muskets followed by a charge with bayonets leaves eight Americans dead and ten wounded. The British regroup and head for the depot in Concord, destroying the colonists' weapons and supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, a British platoon is attacked by militiamen, with 14 casualties.