September 27, 1776

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The South Carolina House sends a report to President Rutledge that opposed the idea of forcing captured Indians into slavery.  They argued that the idea would hurt future relations and encourage Indians to retaliate in a similar fashion.

General George Washington transmits to Congress that the British military force in Canada is 8,000 men, one 18 gun ship, two brigs, three schooners, gondolas, bateaux, and artillery companies and about 100 cannon, the finest ever sent from England.

Richard Henry Lee writes to Thomas Jefferson to inform him that he has been chosen, along with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane to travel to France in order to convince the French to join the efforts of the colonies.  “I should have written to you before now if I had not been uncertain about finding you at home, as the distance was great, and the meeting of our Assembly approaching. All the material events that have happened since you left us are to be found related pretty faithfully in the public papers, which I suppose are regularly conveyed to you.

The plan of foreign treaty is just finished, and yourself, with Doctor Franklin, and Mr. Deane now in France, are the Trustees to execute this all important business. The great abilities and unshaken virtue, necessary for the execution of what the safety of America does so capitally rest upon, has directed the Congress in their choice; and tho ambition may have no influence in this case, yet that distinguished love for your country that has marked your life, will determine you here. In my judgement, the most emminent services that the greatest of her sons can do America will not more essentially serve her and honor themselves, than a successful negotiation with France. With this country, every thing depends upon it, and if we may form a judgement of what is at a distance, the dispositions of that Court are friendly in a high degree, and want only to be properly acted upon, to be wrought into fixt attachment and essential good. We find ourselves greatly endangered by the Armament at present here, but what will be our situation the next campaign, when the present force shall be increas[ed] by the addition of 20 or 30 thousand Russians with a larg[e] body of British and Irish troops? I fear the power of America will fail in the mighty struggle And the barbarous hand of despotism will extirpate libe[rty] and virtue from this our native land; placing in th[eir] stead slavery, vice, ignorance, and ruin. Already these foes of human kind have opened their Courts of Justice (as they call them) on Long Island, and the first frui[ts] of their tender mercies, are confiscation of estates, and condemnation of Whigs to perpetual imprisonment.  The idea of Congress is, that yourself and Dr. Frank[lin] should go in different Ships. The Doctor, I suppose, will sail from hence, and if it is your pleasure, on[e] of our Armed Vessels will meet you in any River in Virginia that you choose.”

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September 9, 1776

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Congress adopts the name “United States of America.”  “Resolved, that in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the style be altered for the future to the ‘United States.”

In London, England, William Lee informs C.F.W. Dumas in Pairs that the Declaration of Independence has “totally changed the nature of the contest” and for the British military effort, the Americans required more military stores and experienced officers.

Meanwhile, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, while travelling to meet with the British Peace Negotiators, find themselves sharing a bed and arguing about the nature of the common cold.  John Adams later described the event:  “The Taverns were so full We could with difficulty obtain Entertainment. At Brunswick, but one bed could be procured for Dr. Franklin and me, in a Chamber little larger than the bed, without a Chimney and with only one small Window. The Window was open, and I, who was an invalid and afraid of the Air in the night, shut it close. Oh! says Franklin dont shut the Window. We shall be suffocated. I answered I was afraid of the Evening Air. Dr. Franklin replied, the Air within this Chamber will soon be, and indeed is now worse than that without Doors: come! open the Window and come to bed, and I will convince you: I believe you are not acquainted with my Theory of Colds. Opening the Window and leaping into Bed, I said I had read his Letters to Dr. Cooper in which he had advanced, that Nobody ever got cold by going into a cold Church, or any other cold Air: but the Theory was so little consistent with my experience, that I thought it a Paradox: However I had so much curiosity to hear his reasons, that I would run the risque of a cold. The Doctor then began an harrangue, upon Air and cold and Respiration and Perspiration, with which I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep, and left him and his Philosophy together: but I believe they were equally sound and insensible, within a few minutes after me, for the last Words I heard were pronounced as if he was more than half asleep…. I remember little of the Lecture, except, that the human Body, by Respiration and Perspiration, destroys a gallon of Air in a minute: that two such Persons, as were now in that Chamber, would consume all the Air in it, in an hour or two: that by breathing over again the matter thrown off, by the Lungs and the Skin, We should imbibe the real Cause of Colds, not from abroad but from within. I am not inclined to introduce here a dissertation on this Subject. There is much Truth I believe, in some things he advanced: but they warrant not the assertion that a Cold is never taken from cold air. I have often conversed with him since on the same subject: and I believe with him that Colds are often taken in foul Air, in close Rooms: but they are often taken from cold Air, abroad too. I have often asked him, whether a Person heated with Exercise, going suddenly into cold Air, or standing still in a current of it, might not have his Pores suddenly contracted, his Perspiration stopped, and that matter thrown into the Circulations or cast upon the Lungs which he acknowledged was the Cause of Colds. To this he never could give me a satisfactory Answer. And I have heard that in the Opinion of his own able Physician Dr. Jones he fell a Sacrifice at last, not to the Stone but to his own Theory; having caught the violent Cold, which finally choaked him, by sitting for some hours at a Window, with the cool Air blowing upon him.

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 29, 1776

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In New York, a Council of War is summoned by General Washington, and it votes to fall back across the East River to New York.  Washington spends the night riding between forts and the shore encouraging and directing his men.  Fortunately the wind, tide and weather assist the Americans and equally fortunate was the failure of Admiral Howe to order his numerous warships to block the retreat.  10,000 troops evacuate between August 29th and 30th.  Troops are ferried across the East River by Colonel John Glover’s Marbleheaders.

Meanwhile, Abigail Adams writes to her husband John:  “Dearest Friend:  I have spent the 3 days past almost intirely with you. The weather has been stormy, I have had little company, and I have amused my self in my closet reading over the Letters I have received from you since I have been here.  I have possession of my Aunts chamber in which you know is a very conveniant pretty closet with a window which looks into her flower Garden. In this closet are a number of Book Shelves, which are but poorly furnished, however I have a pretty little desk or cabinet here where I write all my Letters and keep my papers unmollested by any one. I do not covet my Neighbours Goods, but I should like to be the owner of such conveniances. I always had a fancy for a closet with a window which I could more peculiarly call my own.  Here I say I have amused myself in reading and thinking of my absent Friend, sometimes with a mixture of paine, sometimes with pleasure, sometimes anticipating a joyfull and happy meeting, whilst my Heart would bound and palpitate with the pleasing Idea, and with the purest affection I have held you to my Bosom till my whole Soul has dissolved in Tenderness and my pen fallen from my Hand.  How often do I reflect with pleasure that I hold in possession a Heart Eaqually warm with my own, and full as Susceptable of the Tenderest impressions, and Who even now whilst he is reading here, feels all I discribe.  Forgive this Revere, this Delusion, and since I am debared real, suffer me, to enjoy, and indulge In Ideal pleasures—and tell me they are not inconsistant with the stern virtue of a senator and a Patriot.  I must leave my pen to recover myself and write in an other strain. I feel anxious for a post day, and am full as solicitious for two Letters a week and as uneasy if I do not get them, as I used to be when I got but one in a month or 5 weeks. Thus do I presume upon indulgance, and this is Humane Nature, and brings to my mind a sentiment of one of your correspondents viz. “That Man is the only animal who is hungery with His Belly full.”  Last Evening Dr. Cooper came in and brought me your favour from the post office of August 18 and Coll. Whipple arrived yesterday morning and deliverd me the two Bundles you sent, and a Letter of the 12 of August. They have already afforded me much amusement, and I expect much more from them.  I am sorry to find from your last as well as from some others of your Letters that you feel so dissatisfied with the office to which you are chosen. Tho in your acceptance of it, I know you was actuated by the purest motives, and I know of no person here so well qualified to discharge the important Duties of it, Yet I will not urge you to it. In accepting of it you must be excluded from all other employments. There never will be a Salery addequate to the importance of the office or to support you and your family from penury. If you possess a fortune I would urge you to it, in spight of all the flears and gibes of minds who themselves are incapable of acting a disintrested part, and have no conception that others can.  I have never heard any Speaches about it, nor did I know that such insinuations had been Thrown out.  Pure and disintrested Virtue must ever be its own reward. Mankind are too selfish and too depraved to discover the pure Gold from the baser mettle.  I wish for peace and tranquility. All my desires and all my ambition is to be Esteemed and Loved by my Partner, to join with him in the Education and instruction of our Little ones, to set under our own vines in Peace, Liberty and Safety.  Adieu my Dearest Friend, soon, soon return to your most affectionate- Portia

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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.

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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June 11, 1776

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Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Philip Livingston comprise a committee chosen to prepare the Declaration of Independence.  John Adams requests Thomas Jefferson to prepare the first draft.  When Jefferson suggested that Adams write the Declaration, Adams “declined, and gave him several reasons for declining.  1.  That he was a Virginian, and I a Massachusettensian.  2. That he was a southern man, and I a northern one.  3.  That I had been so obnoxious for my early and constant zeal in promoting the measure, that any draught of mine would undergo a more severe scrutiny and criticism in Congress, than one of his composition.  4., and lastly, and that would be reason enough if there were no other, I had a great opinion of the elegance of his pen, and none at all of my own.  I therefore insisted that no hesitation should be made on his part.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for the Independence Tour Extraordinaire, a four hour tour that takes you inside the building where the Declaration was signed, and also to the place where Thomas Jefferson, alone, wrote his first draft.  Join us for our stupendous 4th of July Celebration, which comprises of a tour given by Dr. Benjamin Rush that will take you to the inside of the room where the Declaration was written!

We had a tremendous tour at Valley Forge yesterday – now that summer is here, you don’t want to miss  it.

May 6, 1776

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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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