May 29, 1777

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In the opening move of the campaign of 1777, General George Washington’s army marches from Morristown, New Jersey to Middle Brook Valley.

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter to George Washington:  “Count Pulawski of Poland, an Officer famous throughout Europe for his Bravery and Conduct in Defence of the Liberties of his Country against the three great invading Powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia, will have the Honour of delivering this into your Excellency’s Hands. The Court here have encouraged and promoted his Voyage, from an Opinion that he may be highly useful in our Service. Mr. Deane has written so fully concerning him, that I need not enlarge: and only add my Wishes that he may find in our Armies under your Excelly. Occasions of distinguishing himself.”

Of the many services Franklin gave to his country, his record of referring individuals from other countries here to help with the cause was exceptional, and included luminaries such as “The Baron” Von Steubon and Thomas Paine.  His referral of Pulaski was another striking example.  Pulaski would fight heroically in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, but was killed in the Seige of Savannah.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

 

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January 12, 1777

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Benjamin Franklin writes to his friend, Mary Hewson, and notes the new clothing style he is sporting in order to impress the French with the honest republicanism of his country:  “My dear dear Polley – Figure to yourself an old Man with grey Hair appearing under a Martin Fur Cap, among the Powder’d Heads of Paris.  It is this odd Figure that salutes you; with Handfuls of Blessings on you and your dear little ones.”

Meanwhile, George Washington writes to congress about his concerns over the treatment by the British of American prisoners:  “I have your several Favors of the 7th and 9th instant. Complaints of the usage of the prisoners both in the land and Sea Service have been the subjects of many of my Letters to Lord and General Howe, but all the Satisfaction or Answer, that I could ever obtain, was, that the Reports were groundless. However upon the Authority of Capt. Gambles relation, and the miserable emaciated Countenances of those poor Creatures who have lately been released, I shall take the Liberty of remonstrating sharply to his Lordship and the General, and let them know in very plain terms, that if their rule of Conduct towards our prisoners is not altered, we shall be obliged, however disagreeable it may be, to make retaliation.  I think your plan of appointing Agents to attend the prisoners would answer many good purposes, that particularly of seeing them regularly and honestly supplied with whatever their Allowance may be. And then any Accounts of ill Usage coming thrô them, would be so authentic, that we might safely proceed to take such measures towards their prisoners as would be fully justifiable.”

To John Hancock, President of the Congress, Washington writes concerning his attempts to trade prisoners with the British in order to obtain the release of Charles Lee:  “I am honored with yours of the 6th inclosing several Resolves of Congress respecting an Exchange to be proposed between General Lee and the Hessian Feild Officers taken at Trenton. Colo. Rall died the day after the Action and we left one of the Majors so ill of his Wounds, that I am in doubt of his recovery. I can however make an Offer of all that remain, in exchange for Genl Lee, except one, who you order to be proposed by Colo. Allen.  If the offer is rejected by Genl Howe, I shall think myself then at liberty to remonstrate to him on his treatment of Genl Lee. If he will not exchange him, he should at least admit him to his Parole, as we have ever done their prisoners who have fallen into our Hands.  I understand from undoubted Authority, that they intend to try the General by a Court Martial, as a deserter from their Service, pretending that his Resignation was never accepted of. But I shall inform General Howe that if any such Step is taken, under so shallow and illegal a pretext, and their Sentence should extend either to affect his Life or Liberty, that they may depend upon the most severe and adequate Retaliation upon our part.”   It was not until years after Lee’s death that evidence was recovered showing his aid to the British during his time as prisoner .

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours, including the best tour regarding the crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton in existence!  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

January 1, 1777

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Hessian prisoners taken at Trenton are marched through the streets of Philadelphia.

General Charles Cornwallis, who had been about to leave for England, rode 50 miles from New York to take command at Princeton, NJ.  The total troops there numbered 8,000; General Washington at Trenton commanded 5,000 troops.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Benjamin Franklin was appointed commissioner to Spain, in addition to his duties in France.

General Washington authorized inoculation of the entire army against smallpox.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours, including the best tour regarding the crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton in existence!  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

December 20, 1776

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Benjamin Franklin arrives in Versailles and writes the following letter to Silas Deane, who is already there:  “Finding myself too much fatigu’d to proceed to Paris this Evening, and not knowing whether you have receiv’d my Letter wherein I requested you to provide me a Lodging, I have concluded to remain here to-night. If you are in Paris, I hope to hear from you to-morrow Morning before I set out, which will hardly be till about Noon.”

In Baltimore, Maryland, Congress meets and acts to improve the quarters in which prisoners are held and to provide provisins and clothing.  They also ask General William Howe concerning the conditions under which General Charles Lee is held in New York.

The British frigate HMS Pearl captures the Continental Navy brig USS Lexington.

Adam Stephen writes to his friend Thomas Jefferson:  “The Enemy like locusts Sweep the Jerseys with the Besom of destruction. They to the disgrace of a Civilisd Nation Ravish the fair Sex, from the Age of Ten to Seventy. The Tories are Baneful in pointing out the friends to the American Cause, and giving Notice of every Motion we make.The Enemy have made greater progress than they themselves expected owing to the Weakness of our Counsels and our Attempt to mantain The Forts Washington and Lee.Our Salvation under Heaven, depends on our Raising an Army Speedily. Every lover of Liberty should with Spirit promote the Recruiting Service.Genl. Lee had the misfortune to be taken prisoner to the 13th Inst. He had Saunterd about three miles and a half from his Army -lodged the night before at a house recommended to him by a Colo. Vanhorn, a person in the Enemys Service, who is appointed to Sign pardons on the peoples Submission; and Stayd at the place untill ten O’Clock on the 13th, when 50 light horsemen Supposd to be detachd by Advice of Vanhorn, came to the house and carryd him off. He had thirteen men of a Guard but they were Stragling and Absent except three.By accounts from Old France of Octob 1st. That Nation is on the Eve of a War with England.I expect that we shall have hot Work as soon as the Delawar is frozen over.If we lose Philadelphia and let it Stand, it will go near to Ruin us. They will open the port, give great prices for Wheat and flour and Seduce the Body of the People.Three of Mr. Aliens Sons, and Jo. Galloway are with the Enemy in Trenton. A Frigate went in pursuit of the Reprisal Capt. Wicks with Franklin on Board; Must they not have had Intelligence from a member of Congress? Would it not be adviseable to open the doors of Congress and have the Debates in publick? Let the Secret Business be done, by a Committee, or the Boards of Admiralty and War; after the plan has been Settled by Committees of the Whole house in Secret. We Should then have a better Chance of distinguishd [distinguishing] the Spirited from the Languid Members.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

December 7, 1776

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Commodore Lambert Wicks in USS Reprisal with Benjamin Franklin aboard arrives in Nantz, France, on this day.  Wrotes Stacy Schiff in A Great Imrpvisation:  Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, “Franklin knew that his name had been a passport in France for years.  As early as 1769 friends reported that they wre welcomed everywhere with open arms on his account; distinction was the best recommendation a man could claim in Paris.  It introduced where titles failed.  If Franklin knew he was vilified in London as the insidious ‘chief of the rebels’ he would have known too the effect of that epitaph on his stock in France.  Nowhere was his compound status as emblem, as thinker, as chief rebel on better display…  ‘You know that Dr. Franklin’s troops have been defeated by those of the King of England.  Alas!  Philosophers are beaten everywhere.  Reason and liberty are poorly received in this world,” wrote Voltaire.  And Franklin’s symbolic power only increased as he crossed the ocean.  Unwittingly, Congress sent France a sort of walking statue of liberty.”

Congressional President John Hancock writes the four New England states urging troops be sent to reinforce General Schuuyler in northern New York.

In Tapppan, New York, a force of Tories and British marauders known as “cowboys” pillatged the town.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

November 25, 1776

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British Colonel Guy Johnson, Indian Superintendent in New York, reports to Lord Germain in England that the Indians have kept their promises to him of last year and that he had sent an officer in disguise to the Six Nations.

In New York, William Franklin writes in a letter to his wife in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, regarding their son going to Paris with his father, Benjamin, “if the old gentleman has taken the boy with him, I hope it is only to put him in some foreign university, which he seemed anxious to do when he spoke to me last about his education.”  William and Benjamin are at odds, since William has chosen to support the British in the conflict.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

The Constitution Podcast, Episode 4

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The story of the Constitution is the story of the people who brought it about.  Hear about James Otis, Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and all of those who brought about the longest existing national Constitution in the world.

Hear how Benjamin Franklin changed from being a loyal, if argumentative, subject into a revolutionary with Episode 4!