November 11, 1776

Mount Vernon May 2, 2011 045

Congress orders the Board of War to confer with the Council of Safety for Pennsylvania on plans to defend Philadelphia should it be attacked by General Howe.

The Maryland Convention orders that copies of the new Constitution be sent to all the counties.  The Maryland Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature, with the Senators elected by an Electoral College method, only property owners could vote, office holders had to have property too.

George Washington writes to John Hancock about his twin concerns of the British Army in New York and the fact that his own army is nearing dissolution, as the bulk of the men are nearing their termination dates.  “I have only time to acknowledge the honor of your Letter of the 5th Instt and Its Several Inclosures, and to inform you, that agreable to the Resolves of Congress I shall use every measure in my power that the moving & present confused State of the Army will admit of, for to appoint Officers for recruiting. You will have been advised before this of the arrival of Commissioners from the Massachusets. Others have come from Connecticut, but from the present appearance of things, we seem but little, if any nearer levying an Army. I had anticipated the Resolve respecting the Militia, by writing to the Eastern States & to the Jersey by the advice of my Genl Officers, and from a consciousness of the necessity of getting in a Number of Men if possible, to keep up the appearance of an Army.  How my applications will succeed, the event must determine. I have little or no reason to expect, that the Militia now here will remain a day longer than the Time they first engaged for. I have recommended their Stay & requested it in Genl Orders—Genl Lincoln & the Massachusets Commissrs, are using their Interest with those from that State, but as far as I can judge, we cannot rely on their Staying.  I left White Plains about 11 OClock Yesterday all peace then. The Enemy appeared to be preparing for their expedition to Jersey according to every Information. What their designs are, or Whether their present conduct is not a feint, I can not determine. the Maryland & Virginia Troops under Lord Stirling have crossed the River as have part of those from the Jersey, the remainder are now embarking. The Troops judged necessary to Secure the Several Posts through the Highlands have also got up. I am going to examine the Passes, and direct such Works as may appear necessary, after which and making the best disposition I can of things in this Quarter, I intend to proceed to Jersey which I expect to do to morrow.  The Assemblies of Massachusets & Connecticut to induce their Men more readily to engage in the Service, have voted an Advance pay of Twenty Shillings  Month in addition to that allowed by the Congress to Privates. It may perhaps be the means of their levying the Quotas exacted from them sooner than they could otherwise be raised, but I am of Opinion a more fatal & mistaken policy could not have entered their Councils, or One more detrimental to the Genl cause. The Influence of the Vote will become Continental and materially affect the other States in making up their Levies. If they could do It, I am certain when the Troops come to act together, that Jealousy, impatience & mutiny would necessarily arise. a different pay cannot exist in the same Army. the reasons are obvious & experience has proved their force in the case of the Eastern & southern Troops last Spring. Sensible of this, and of the pernicious consequences that would inevitably result from the advance, I have prevented the Commissrs from proceeding or publishing their Terms till they could obtain the sense of Congress upon the Subject and remonstrated against It in a Letter to Govr Trumbull. I am not singular in Opinion, I have the concurrence of all the General Officers of it’s fatal Tendency.

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August 14, 1776


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.”


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August 7, 1776


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.”

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June 22, 1776


A plot to assassinate George Washington is discovered!

A dozen men were arrested in New York, including the Mayor, David Matthews, and two soldiers from Washington’s own Life Guard, one of which is Thomas Hickey.  The plot was to kill Washington and his officers the moment the British fleet appeared at New York.  Upon learning of the plot, patiriot mobs hunted down the Loyalists, and many were beaten, tarred and feathered, burned with candles, or made “to ride the rail,” which involved forcing a man to straddle a sharp fence rail held on the shoulders of two men, with other men on either side taking a grip on his legs to keep him straight, and to parade the victim through the street.

In order to protect General Washington, his headquarters were changed to City Hall.  Henry Knox and his wife were moved into Number 1 Broadway, while Martha Washington remained at the Mortier house beyond the city.

In La Prarie Canada, General Baron Frederick Riedesel reported to the Duke of Brunswick that the British had recovered Canada and only the lack of shipping prevented a rapid advance into the rear of the American colonies.

In Philadelphia, Congress printed the first American money.

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May 19, 1776


Conservatives and the radical local committee become involved in a bitter struggle for the control of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly.  The Assembly had ordered its delegation in Congress to resist from voting for independence.

The USS Franklin and the schooner Lady Washington were headed for the Nantucket Bay, when the British sent several ships to capture the American ships.  The Franklin was run aground, the crew got ashore and formed a battle line, the British were surprised and their attack failed.

General Washington sends General Horatio Gates to the Congress with the following missive:  “This will be delivered you by Genl Gates who sets out to day1 for Congress agreable to my Letter of Yesterday.  I have committed to him the Heads of Sundry matters to lay before Congress for their consideration, which from the Interesting Intelligence contained in my last, appear to me of the utmost Importance and to demand their most early and serious attention.  Sensible that I have omitted to set down many things necessary, & which probably when deliberating they will wish to be acquainted with, and not conceiving myself at liberty to depart my post, tho to attend them, without their previous approbation, I have requested Genl Gates to Subjoin such Hints of his own as he may apprehend material. His military experience and Intimate acquaintance with the situation of our Affairs will enable him to give Congress the fullest satisfaction about the measures necessary to be adopted at this alarming crisis, and with his zeal and Attachment to the Cause of America, have a claim to their notice and favors.  When Congress shall have come to a determination on the Subject of this Letter, and such parts of my former Letters, as have not been determined on, you will be pleased to honor me with the Result.”  He will have reason in the future to regret his early trust of General Gates.

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May 6, 1776


In Providence, Rhode Island, Governor Cooke sends General George Washington a copy of an act discharging inhabitants of the colony from allegiance to the King.

In Williamsburg, Virginia, the House of Burgesses meets for the last time.  In its place, the General Convention of Delegates from the counties and corporations convenes and elects Edmund Pendleton President.

In the Plains of Abraham, Quebec, American troops under General John Thomas with 250 men, had 200 sick soldiers captured, and was defeated at the Plains of Abraham by General Guy Clinton with 900 men.  The Americans fled westward in panic leaving 200 sick behind.

John Adams writes to John Winthrop about the question of independence(Original spellings retained):  “Our People, you Say are impatiently waiting for the Congress to declare off from Great Britain. What my own Sentiments, are upon this Question, is not material. But others ask to what Purpose should We declare off? Our Privateers are at Liberty, our Trade is open, the Colonies are Sliding into New Governments, a Confederation may be formed but why should We declare We never will be reconciled to Great Britain, again, upon any Terms whatsoever.  You ask how it would be relished by the Congress, if our Colony Should declare off. I am happy to hear that our Colony is disusing a certain Name in all Commissions, Acts, and Law Proscesses and I should like very well, if they would choose a Governor, or at least ask leave of Congress to do it. But I cannot advise them to make any public Declarations, Seperate from our Sister Colonies. The Union, is our Defence, and that must be most tenderly cherished. If our Colony has an Inclination to instruct their Delegates in Congress, no reasonable objection can be made to this. They may if they think proper, instruct their servants, never to vote for any Subjection to Parliament in any Case whatsoever never to vote for submitting to any Crown officer, Whether Governor, Mandamus Councillor, secretary, Judge of Admiralty, Commissioner or Custom House officer &c. &c. if this is their sentiment—or never to vote for acknowledging any Allegiance, or subjection to the Crown of Great Britain, or King of Great Britain. But if they do all this I hope you will allow us to make Peace as an independent State.  It is my opinion, sir, that We shall have but little Difference of Sentiment among the Colonies upon these great Questions in a few Weeks.

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April 2, 1776


In Philadelphia, the Continental Congress established a permanent treasury office and proposed the appointment of an auditor general.

In Quebec, General David Wooster finally arrived and assumed command.

In South Carolina, the General Assembly empowered its new president, John Rutledge, to design and have made a Great Seal of South Carolina.

George Washington replies to the thanks of the Massachusetts General Court with the following address:  “I return you my most sincere, & hearty thanks for your polite address; and feel myself called upon by every principle of Gratitude, to acknowledge the honor you have done me in this Testimonial of your approbation of my appointment to the exalted station I now fill; & what is more pleasing, of my conduct in discharging Its important duties.  When the Councils of the British Nation had formed a plan for enslaving America, and depriving her sons of their most sacred & invaluable privileges, against the clearest remonstrances of the constitution—of Justice—and of Truth; and to execute their schemes, had appealed to the sword, I esteemed It my duty to take a part in the contest, and more especially, when called thereto by the unsollicited Suffrages of the Representatives of a free people; wishing for no other reward than that arising from a conscientious discharge of the important trust, & that my services might contribute to the establishment of Freedom & peace, upon a permanent foundation; and merit the applause of my Countrymen & every virtuous Citizen.  Your professions of my attention to the civil constitution of this Colony, whilst acting in the line of my department, also demand my gratefull thanks—A regard to every provincial institution, where not incompatible with the common Interest, I hold a principle of duty, & of policy, and shall ever form a part of my conduct—had I not learned this before, the happy experience of the advantages resulting from a friendly intercourse with your Honorable body—their ready, and willing concurrence to aid and to counsel, when ever called upon in cases of difficulty and emergency, would have taught me the usefull lesson.  That the metropolis of your Colony, is now releived from the cruel and oppressive invasion of those who were sent to erect the Standard of lawless domination, & to trample on the rights of humanity, and is again open & free for Its rightfull possessors, must give pleasure to every virtuous and Sympathetic heart—and being effected without the blood of our Soldiers, and fellow Citizens, must be ascribed to the Interposition of that providence, which has manifestly appeared in our behalf thro the whole of this important struggle, as well as to the measures pursued for bringing about the happy event. May that being who is powerfull to save, and in whose hands is the fate of Nations, look down with an eye of tender pity & compassion upon the whole of the United Colonies—May he continue to smile upon their Councils and Arms, & crown them with success, whilst employed in the cause of virtue & of mankind—May this distressed Colony & Its Capitol, and every part of this wide, extended Continent, thro his divine favor, be restored to more than their former lustre and once happy state, and have peace, liberty & safety secured upon a solid, permanent, and lasting foundation.”

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