August 15, 1776

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General Nathaniel Greene informs General George Washington that on the previous evening the Hessian troops had disembarked on Staten Island.  His own troops, busy removing livestock and grain and dismantling mills, were, he felt in excellent spirits and confident of putting up a good fight.  Without doubt, the most ominous information for Washington was the fact that Greene, a most promising General, had fallen victim to raging fever.

An Independent Milita Company, led by Captain Dennis Gauge, while on patrol near Roanoke attacked a British foraging party.   The British were all killed or captured.

George Washington, awaiting events in New York, writes to President of Congress, John Hancock:  “As the situation of the Two Armies must engage the attention of Congress and lead them to expect, that, each returning day will produce some Important Events, This is meant to Inform them that Nothing of Moment has yet cast up. In the Evening of Yesterday there were great movements among their Boats and from the Number that appeared to be passing and repassing about the Narrows, we were Induced to beleive they Intended to land a part of their force upon Long Island, but having no report from Genl Greene, I presume they have not done It.”

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 American History Vacation Packages.

 

August 14, 1776

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Congress today resolves to offer all foreign deserters from the British army a secure refuge, including religious liberty, the investment of the rights, privileges, and immunities of natives, as established by the laws the states and 5 ¼ acres of unapprpriated lands.

In Boston, the city observed the 11th anniversary of the popular resistance which prevented the execution of the Stamp Act in Boston.  The Sons of Liberty erected a pole at the site of the original Liberty Tree.

The HMS Phoenix and Rose anchored in the Hudson River near New York City are boarded by American sailors with plans to set them ablaze.

Abigail Adams writes to John about the sorry state of education at home, and points out that it is important not only to educate the sons, but the daughters as well.  You remark upon the deficiency of Education in your Countrymen. It never I believe was in a worse state, at least for many years. The Colledge is not in the state one could wish, the Schollars complain that their professer in Philosophy is taken of by publick Buisness to their great detriment. In this Town I never saw so great a neglect of Education. The poorer sort of children are wholly neglected, and left to range the Streets without Schools, without Buisness, given up to all Evil. The Town is not as formerly divided into Wards. There is either too much Buisness left upon the hands of a few, or too little care to do it. We daily see the Necessity of a regular Government.—You speak of our Worthy Brother.3 I often lament it that a Man so peculiarly formed for the Education of youth, and so well qualified as he is in many Branches of Litrature, excelling in Philosiphy and the Mathematicks, should not be imployd in some publick Station. I know not the person who would make half so good a Successor to Dr. Winthrope. He has a peculiar easy manner of communicating his Ideas to Youth, and the Goodness of his Heart, and the purity of his morrals without an affected austerity must have a happy Effect upon the minds of Pupils.  If you complain of neglect of Education in sons, What shall I say with regard to daughters, who every day experience the want of it. With regard to the Education of my own children, I find myself soon out of my debth, and destitute and deficient in every part of Education.  I most sincerely wish that some more liberal plan might be laid and executed for the Benefit of the rising Generation, and that our new constitution may be distinguished for Learning and Virtue. If we mean to have Heroes, Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women. The world perhaps would laugh at me, and accuse me of vanity, But you I know have a mind too enlarged and liberal to disregard the Sentiment. If much depends as is allowed upon the early Education of youth and the first principals which are instilld take the deepest root, great benifit must arise from litirary accomplishments in women.”

 

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 American History Vacation Packages.

August 8, 1776

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On board the HMS Eagle, Ambrose Serle, Admiral Howe’s secretary confides in his journal:  “I almost wish that the colonies never existed.  They have weakened our national force; and are now a force turned against us.  They have wated our treasures and laid upon us a heavy debt for their protection, and are plunging us into expenses that keep them under that protection.”

In New York, George Washington becomes alarmed by the rapid expansion of the British forces and seeks desperately to secure additional militia from neighboring states.  “The new levies are so incomplete, the old regiments deficient in their complement, and so much sickness, that we must have an immediate supply of men.”

Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris, as part of the Secret Committee of Correspondence, write the following to Silas Deane:  “With this you will receive the Declaration of the Congress for a final separation from Great Britain. It was the universal demand of the people, justly exasperated by the obstinate perseverance of the Crown in its tyrannical and destructive measures, and the Congress were very unanimous in complying with that demand. You will immediately communicate the piece to the Court of France, and send copies of it to the other Courts of Europe.6 It may be well also to procure a good translation of it into French, and get it published in the gazettes.  It is probable that, in a few days, instructions will be formed in Congress directing you to sound the Court of France on the subject of mutual commerce between her and these States.  It is expected you will send the vessel back as soon as possible, with the fullest intelligence of the state of affairs, and of everything that may affect the interest of the United States. And we desire that she may be armed and prepared for defence in her return, as far as the produce of her cargo will go for that purpose.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Explore American History in our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, and admission to the Graff House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the 2nd National Bank.  Or, learn about George Washington and his lessons of leadership on our Valley Forge Tour.  If it’s the Civil War you love, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.  And, for the history fanatics, check into our American History Vacation Packages.

 

 

August 7, 1776

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The College of New York (formerly King’s College) agreed to turn its telescope over to George Washington for his use “in discovering the arrangements and operations of the enemy.”  Upon viewing the growing strength of the British forces under the Howe brothers, Washington’s aide felt that the “whole world seems leagued against us.  Enemies on every side and no new friends arise.  But our cause is just, and there is a providence which directs and governs all things.”

The American USS Hancock commanded by Captain Wingate Newton, captured the HMS Reward and brought t into port.  The cargo was unloaded including turtles intended for delivery to Lord North.

George Washington writes to a prisoner, Major Christopher French, regarding his request for parole:  “I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your favour of the [22] July int[i]mating your Expectation of Release on the 12th of this Month.  I have considered your Parole, advised with those whose Knowledge & Experience give Weight to their Opinion & otherwise endeavoured to inform myself how far your Construction of it is founded upon Justice, Reason or Usage—I do not find it warranted by either, My Duty therefore obliges me to over rule your Claim as a Matter of right. As a matter of favour, Indulgence is not in my Power, even if your General Line of Conduct as a Prisoner had been unexceptionable.  I have therefore wrote to the Committee of Hartford, sent them a Copy of this Letter & hope you will without Difficulty conform to the Regulations already made with Respect to Prisoners by the General Congress.  It is probable a general Exchange of Prisoners will soon take place, it will then be a Pleasing Part of my Duty to facilitate your Return to your Friends & Connections, as I assure you it is now a painfull one to disappoint you in an Expectation which you seem to have formed in a full Persuasion of being right and in whic⟨h⟩ on Mature Deleberation, I am so unhappy as totally to Differ from You.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Explore American History in our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, and admission to the Graff House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the 2nd National Bank.  Or, learn about George Washington and his lessons of leadership on our Valley Forge Tour.  If it’s the Civil War you love, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.  And, for the history fanatics, check into our American History Vacation Packages.

August 6, 1776

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Congress directs General Philip Schuyler to contact British General John Burgoyne for the purpose of entering a prisoner of war exchange agreement.  By now the members are convinced that Howe will assault New York.

From Port Amboy, Elizabeth, the wife of exiled Governor William Franklin, writes to her father-in-law Benjamin Franklin.  After the outbreak of hostilities, William Franklin’s position had become increasingly perilous.   “At present we only live, as it were, upon Sufferance,” he had written three days after Bunker Hill, “nor is it in our power to mend our Situation.” He managed to hold onto the remnants of his authority longer than most colonial governors, but by the beginning of 1776 the remnants were tatters. In early January he sent a confidential report to Lord George Germain, the new Secretary of State for the American Colonies; the report was intercepted and brought to the local commander of militia, Lord Stirling, who concluded that it endangered the American cause. The Governor’s house was surrounded by soldiers in the middle of the night; his wife was so frightened that he feared for her life. She had no relatives of her own to turn to, and had little support from the Baches and none from her father-in-law. William, distressed as he was for her, stood his ground and held onto office until June. Then, in response to a resolution of Congress urging the establishment of new governments in all the colonies, the New Jersey provincial congress moved to secure his person. On June 19 he was removed from his house, and on the 21st examined before the congress, which recommended that the Continental Congress send him out of the province as soon as possible. On the 26th orders came from Philadelphia to transfer him to Connecticut; he arrived there on July 4, and on giving his parole was lodged in a private house in Wallingford.

She wrote as follows:  Honored Sir, Your Favor by my Son I received Safe, and should have done myself the Honor of answering it by the first Post after, but I have been of late much Indisposed. I am infinitely obliged to you for the 60: Dollars, and as soon as Mr: Pettit Settles his Account with me3 I will punctually repay you.

My Troubles do Indeed lie heavy on my Mind, and tho’ many People may Suffer Still more than I do, yet that does not lessen the Weight of mine, which are really more than so weak a Frame is able to Support. I will not Disstress you by enumerating all my Afflictions, but allow me Dear Sir, to mention, that it is greatly in your Power to Relieve them. Suppose that Mr. Franklin would Sign a Parole not dishonorable to himself, and Satisfactory to Governor Trumbull, why may he not be permitted to return into this Province and to his Family? Many of the Officers that have been taken during the War has had that Indulgence shewn them, and why should it be denied to him? His private Affairs are unsettled, his Family Disstressd and he is living very uncomfortably, and at a great expence, which he can very illy afford at present. Consider my Dear and Honored Sir, that I am now pleading the Cause of your Son, and my Beloved Husband. If I have Said, or done anything wrong I beg to be forgiven. I am with great Respect Honored Sir Your Dutifull and affectionate Daughter”

Franklin ignored her request, and never helped secure the release of his son.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Explore American History in our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, and admission to the Graff House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the 2nd National Bank.  Or, learn about George Washington and his lessons of leadership on our Valley Forge Tour.  If it’s the Civil War you love, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.  And, for the history fanatics, check into our American History Vacation Packages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 4, 1776

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Colonel Joseph Reed in New York, an astute member of Washington’s staff, observes to a friend that although Admiral Howe spoke convincingly of “peace and accommodation,” his written communications fail to disclose any “serious intention of relinquishing one iota of their despotic claim over this country.”  He also reveals that Washington had considered an attack on Staten Island where the British troops were garrisoned but a lack of men and boats forced him to abandon the idea.

During July and August the entire frontier from Virginia to Georgia was thrown into turmoil by Indian attacks instigated by British agents.  Colonel Andrew Williamnson reports to President Rutledge that the state militia has fought its way out of an Indian ambush and on the following day crossed the Kenowee River to destroy four Indian towns.

An anonymous citizen complains to George Washington about his bad treatment by the army:  “My House is forcibly entered & posessed by officers and Soldiers without my Consent, to the number of 60 or 70. . . . From A barrack, my House is now become A mere Hospital Noise & Disturbance day and night, reign in every part—The two Halls below are occupied by the rude hand of Insolence the Doors nailed, & I am at last reduced to such narrow limits that the next Encroachment must consign myself & family to the Fields, & Mr Clarkes Estate to every waste.” One wonders what redress the anonymous citizen can expect if he does not give Washington his name:

John Adams writes to Nathaniel Greene about regional differences within the army:  “The New England Collonells, you observe, are jealous, that southern Officers are treated with more Attention than they, because Several of the Southern Collonells have been made Generals, but not one of them.”  After discussing some of the specific cases involving who had been promoted and who not, Adams goes on to discuss his perception of the difference between the two regions:  “Military Characters in the southern Colonies, are few—they have never known much of War and it is not easy to make a People Warlike who have never been so. All the Encouragement, and every Incentive therefore, which can be given with Justice ought to be given, in order to excite an Ambition among them, for military Honours.”  Just what characteristics do we want in our officers?  “A General Officer, ought to be a Gentleman of Letters, and General Knowledge, a Man of Address and Knowledge of the World. He should carry with him Authority, and Command. There are among the New England Officers, Gentlemen who are equal to all this… It is not every Piece of Wood that will do, to make a Mercury. And Bravery alone, is not a Sufficient Qualification for a General Officer. Name me a New England Collonell of whose real Qualifications, I can Speak with Confidence, who is intituled to Promotion by succession and If I do not get him made a General Officer, I will join the N. E. Collonells, and outclamour the loudest of them in their Jealousy.  nay I will go further!There is a real difficulty, attending this subject, which I know not how to get over. Pray help me. I believe, there would be no Difficulty in obtaining Advancement for some of the N. E. Collonells here. But by promoting them over the Heads of So many, there would be a Difficulty in the Army. Poor Massachusetts will fare the worst.”

Meanwhile, Nathaniel Greene writes from Long Island:  “Col. Hand Reports 21 Sail seen off last Evening, Eight arrivd at the Hook this morning and thirteen coming in.The Enemies Guard Boats pattroled much higher up the Bay than usual last Night.  I apprehend a couple of Guard Boats are necessary to Pattrole from Red to Yellow Hook across the Bay leading to Rappelyeas Mills, providing there are Boats to spare.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Explore American History in our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, and admission to the Graff House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the 2nd National Bank.  Or, learn about George Washington and his lessons of leadership on our Valley Forge Tour.  If it’s the Civil War you love, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.  And, for the history fanatics, check into our American History Vacation Packages.

 

July 25, 1776

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Congress is in the midst of discussing the first draft of John Dickinson’sArticles of Confederation.”  Among other things, they discuss the boundaries of the thirteen states.  Thomas Jefferson believed all Indian lands should be immediately bought and that Congress should in no way fix borders.  Others, Samuel Chase and James Wilson among them, disagreed, setting the stage for later debate.

John Adams, concerned about his family and their smallpox inoculations, requests permission to resign his post and to return home.  “I find myself, under a Necessity of applying to the Honourable the general Court for Leave to return home. I have attended here, So long and So constantly, that I feel myself necessitated to ask this Favour, on Account of my Health, as well as on many other Accounts.  I beg Leave to propose to the Honourable Court an Alteration in their Plan of Delegation in Congress, which it appears to me, would be more agreable to the Health, and Convenience of the Members and much more conducive to the public Good, than the present. No Gentleman can possibly attend to an incessant Round of thinking, Speaking, and writing, upon the most intricate, as well as important Concerns of human Society, from one End of the Year to another, without Injury both to his mental and bodily Strength. I would therefore humbly propose, that the Honourable Court would be pleased to appoint Nine Members to attend in Congress, Three or Five at a Time. In this Case, four, or Six, might be at home, at a Time, and every Member might be relieved, once in three or four Months. In this Way, you would always have Members in Congress, who would have in their Minds, a compleat Chain of the Proceedings here as well as in the General Court, both Kinds of which Knowledge, are necessary, for a proper Conduct here. In this Way, the Lives and Health, and indeed the sound Minds of the Delegates here, would be in less Danger than they are at present, and, in my humble Opinion the public Business would be much better done.  This Proposal, however, is only Submitted to the Consideration of that Honourable Body, whose Sole Right it is to judge of it.  For myself, I must intreat the General Court to give me Leave to resign, and immediately to appoint Some other Gentleman in my Room. The Consideration of my own Health, and the Circumstances of my Family and private Affairs would have little Weight with me, if the Sacrifice of these was necessary for the Public: But it is not, because those Parts of the Business of Congress, for which, (if for any) I have any Qualifications, being now nearly compleated, and the Business that remains, being chiefly military and commercial, of which I know very little, there are Multitudes of Gentlemen in the Province, much fitter for the public Service here, than I am.”

George Washington, finding himself spending hours every day attending to official correspondence, requests assistance from Congress.  “Disagreeable as it is to me, and unpleasing as it may be to Congress to multiply Officers, I find myself under the unavoidable necessity of asking an Increase of my Aid de Camps—The augmentation of my Command—the Increase of my Correspondance—the Orders to give—the Instructions to draw, cut out more business than I am able to execute in time, with propriety. The business of so many different departments centering with me, & by me to be handed on to Congress for their information, added to the Intercourse I am obliged to keep up with the adjacent States and incidental occurrences, all of which requiring confidential (& not hack) writers to execute, renders it impossible in the present state of things for my family to discharge the several duties expected of me with that precission and dispatch that I could wish—what will it be then when we come into a more active Scene, and I am called upon from twenty different places perhaps at the same Instant?  Congress will do me the justice to believe, I hope, that it is not my Inclination or wish to run the Continent to any unnecessary expence. and those who better know me, will not suspect that shew, and parade can have any Influence on my Mind in this Instance. A Conviction of the necessity of it, for the regular discharge of the trust reposed in me is the Governing motive for the application, and as such is Submitted to Congress.”  It will not be until he is joined by young Alexander Hamilton that Washington finds somebody who he trusts enough to turn his official correspondences over to.

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