June 23, 1776

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In Philadelphia, the Provincial Conference of Committees urges the people to “select qualified patriots to the Convention, who shall know the ideas and sentiments of their constituents, and, above all, assure the timid and fearful of the high purpose of the Congress.”

In Charleston, South Carolina, Commodore Peter Parker notifies General Sir Henry Clinton that he would land on the mainland tomorrow on the flood tide if the wind was from the south.  Parker and his fleet were thwarted by a sandbar for nearly two weeks.

Meanwhile, John Adams writes to Cotton Tufts about the dramatic events going on in Philadelphia as the colonies debate the declaring independence.  Adams had argued long and hard for months, and perhaps even he was surprised but the slow yet steady progress his arguments (as well as events) had made upon the others.  “You mention Independence and Confederation. These Things are now become Objects of direct Consideration. Days, and Times, without Number, have been spent upon these Subjects, and at last a Committee is appointed to prepare a Draught of Confederation, and a Declaration that these Colonies [are] free States, independent of all Kings, Kingdoms, Nations, People, or States in the World. . . .”  As we have seen in prior posts, Adams has requested that Thomas Jefferson take on the job of writing the initial draft of the Declaration.  “There has been the greatest Scarcity of News for the last Fortnight, which has ever happened since the War commenced. . . . I make it a constant Practice to transmit to my Family, all the News Papers, where I presume you get a Sight of them. You will find by them, the Course of political Causes and Effects in this Colony. The Assembly [were] necessitated to rescind their Instructions, and [became] so obnoxious, and unpopular, among the Inhabitants their own Constituents for having ever passed them, as to be obliged to die away, without doing any Thing else, even without Adjourning, and give Place to a Conference of Committees and a Convention. Every Part of the Colony is represented in this Conference which is now sitting, and is extremely unanimous, spirited, zealous, and determined. You will soon see Pensilvania, one of the most patriotic Colonies.”  John Adams and cousin Sam deserve some credit for this, having helped to encourage a mob to gather and angrily replace the Pennsylvanian delegates who voiced the timid proposals of reconciliation.  “New Jersey is in a similar Train. The Delaware Government the same.  Maryland is a little beside itself I think, but presently it will blaze out like a Fire ship or a Volcano.”  Adams is every day hectoring Maryland delegate Samuel Chase to get his colony in line.  However, they felt powerless to act, since the Maryland Convention had adjourned on May 25 without determining their position.  Samuel Chase has returned to Maryland to persuade the colony’s leader to call their convention back into session and to endorse independence.  Although he has been able to drum up considerable support, the members of the provincial convention have now ordered the Maryland delegates in Philadelphia to return to Maryland to attend the convention, but not to leave congress until they receive a guarantee that they will not take up the question of independence until they return.  This may be a hard sell, as congress has already agreed to take up Richard Henry Lee’s resolution, and those seeking independence, such as Adams, smell victory in the air and are in no mood to delay.

Adams continues  to describe New York and its lack of gravitas.  “New York still acts in Character, like a People without Courage or sense, or Spirit, or in short any one Virtue or Ability. There is neither Spunk nor Gumption, in that Province as a Body. Individuals are very clever. But it is the weakest Province in point of Intellect, Valour, public Spirit, or any thing else that is great and good upon the Continent. It is incapable of doing Us much good, or much Hurt, but from its local situation. The low Cunning of Individuals, and their Prostitution plagues Us, the Virtues of a few Individuals is of some Service to Us. But as a Province it will be a dead Weight upon any side, ours or that of our Enemies.”

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June 22, 1776

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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.

To hear more stories about the Revolution, join Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Join us on our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” which includes admission into Independence Hall, as well as the Graff House, the 2nd National Bank, and Christ Church.  To learn more about the most famous battles of the Revolution, you may want to look into our Battlefield Tours.  And, if you want to have the best 4th of July ever, join us for our 7-Hour Extravaganza on the 4th!  Limited tickets available!

 

June 15, 1776

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In Burlington, New Jersey, the New Jersey Provincial Congress brands Governor William Franklin an “enemy to the liberties of this country.”  William Franklin is Benjamin Franklin’s illegitimate son.

In New Hampshire, the Provincial Congress instructs its delegation to join the other colonies by “Solemnly Pledging our Faith and Honor, that we will on our parts support the measures with our lives and fortunes.”

George Washington writes to Colonel James Clinton regarding the situation in New York:  “You are to repair to Fort Montgomery, and take upon you the Commd of the Posts in the Highlands. use every means in your power to provide your Regiment with Arms fit for Service—one step towards which, endeavour to Imploy an Armourer or two, or more, as the case may require.  Use every possible diligence in forwarding the Works at Forts Montgomery & Constitution, agreeable to late direction’s given to Mr Bedlow, who will furnish you with the same, as it is proposed by the Provincial Congress of New York to recall their Commissioners ⟨from⟩ those Posts & leave the care of them altogether to the Commanding Officer of the Continental Forces and his Orders.  As these are, or may become Posts of infinite importance especially the lower one, I cannot sufficiently Impress upon you the necessity of putting them into a fit Posture of Defence without delay. I have desired that a Battalion, or at least five hundred of the York Militia, may be ordered to reinforce those Garrisons, as well for the purpose of defence as to assist in the Work—these are also to be under your Command.  The whole are to be kept close to duty & not suffered to be absent on Furlough but in cases of real necessity, ⟨and⟩ then not more than two at a time ar⟨e to⟩ be absent from a Company at once.  Review the Men, Inspect the A⟨rms⟩ &ca & make a Report of the State of th⟨ings⟩ so soon as you get to these Posts. ⟨Your⟩ Lieutt Colo., Livingston, is to be sent ⟨to⟩ this place in order to proceed to long ⟨Is⟩land to take charge of the remainde⟨r of⟩ your Regiment posted towards the Ea⟨st⟩ end thereof.  Inform me if there are Barr⟨acks⟩ or Houses convenient to the Fort Mont⟨go⟩mery & Constitution in which the Militi⟨a⟩ ordered there can be lodged. make ⟨Week⟩ly returns of your Strength, and advi⟨se⟩ me regularly of all occurrances ⟨of any⟩ kind of Importance. Given under my hand at He⟨ad⟩ Quarters near the City of Ne⟨w⟩ York this 14th day of June 1776.”

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June 13, 1776

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General Benjamin Lincoln directs the placement of cannon around the harbor.  A short cannonade convinces the British to weigh anchor, inspiring Lincoln to write, “This is the port of Boston again opened by our own authority, after being closed for two years by virtue of an act of the British Parliament.”

Meanwhile, “Mad Anthony” Wayne writes to Benjamin Franklin from Canada:  “After a long March by land and water Variated with Delightful as well as Gloomy prospects we Arrived here the night of the 4th. [?] Instant and on the 7th. it was Agreed in a Council of War to Attack the Enemy at Three Rivers about 47 Miles lower down, whose Strength was Estimated at 3 or 4 Hundred. Genl. Thompson was appointed for this Command, the Disposition was as follows, 4 Attack’s to be made at the same time viz. Col. Maxwell to Conduct the first, myself the Second Col. St. Clair the third and Col. Irvine the 4th. Liet. Col. Hartly the Reserves.

On the same evening We Embarked and Arrivd at Col. St. Clairs Encampment about Midnight. It was Intended that the Attack shou’d be made at the dawn of day. This we found to be Impraketecable, therefore Remained where we were until the 7th. [?] when we took boats to the Number of 1450 Men all Pennslvanis except Maxwells Battalion.  About 2 in the Morning we landed Nine Miles above the town, and after an Hours March day began to Appear, our Guides had mistook the road, the Enemy Discoverd and Cannonaded us from their ships. A Surprise was out of the Question. We therefore put our best face on and Continued our line of March thro’ a thick deep Swamp three Miles wide and after four Hours Arrived at a more Open piece of Ground, amidst the thickest firing of the Shipping when all of a Sudden a large Body of Regulars Marched down in good Order Immediately in front of me to prevent our forming, in Consequence of which I Ordered my Light Infantry together with Capt. Hay’s Company of Rifle men1 to Advance and amuse them whilst I was forming, they began and Continued the Attack with great Spirit until I advanced to Support when I Orderd them to wheel to the Right and left and flank the Enemy at the same time we poured in a well Aimed and heavy fire in front as this:

They Attempted to Retreat in good Order at first but in a few Minutes broke and run in the Utmost Confusion. About this time the Other Divisions began to Immerge from the Swamp except Maxwell who with his was Advanced in a thicket a Considerable Distance to the left, our Rear now becoming our front. At this Instant we Recd. a heavy fire in flank from Muskettry field pieces Howitzers &ca. &ca. which threw us into some Confusion, but was Instantly Remedied. We Advanced in Colums up to their breast Work’s which till then we had not Discovered. At this time Genl. Thompson with Cols. St. Clair Ervine and Hartly were Marching in full view to our Support, Col. Maxwell now began to Engage on the left of me, the fire was so hot he cou’d not mantain his post. The Other troops had Also fired off to the left. My Small Battalion Composed of my own and two Companis of Jersey men under Major Ray amounting in the Whole to About 200 were left exposed to the Whole fire of the Shipping in flank and full three thousand men in front with all their Artilry under the Command of Genl. Burgoine. Our people taking example by others gave way. Indeed it was Imposible for them to stand it longer. Whilst Col. Allen and myself were Employed in Railing the troops Let. Col. Hartly had advanced with the Reserve and bravely Attacked the Enemy from a thiket in a Swamp to the left, this hardiness of his was of the Utmost Consequence to us, we having Rallied about 500 men from the Different Regiments. We now sent to find the Genl. and Other field Officers. At the same time the Rifle men of mine and Irvins kept up a Garding fire on the Enemy. The Swamp was so deep and thick with timber and Underwood that a man 10 Yards in front or Rear cou’d not see the men Drawn up. This was the cause of the Genl. Col. St. Clair Maxwell and Irvine missing us, or perhaps had taken for Granted that we were all cut off. Col. Hartly who lay near retreated by without a Discovery on either side, until he Crossed our line near the left, which caused our people to follow him. Allen and myself were now left on the field with only twenty men and five Officers, the Enemy still Continuing their whole fire from Great and [small?] guns upon us, but afraid to venture from their lines; we thought it prudent to keept them in play by keeping up a small fire in Order to gain time for our people to make good their Retreat, in Consequence of which we Continued about an Hour longer in the field, and then Retired back into the woods which brought us to a Road on the far side of the Swamp. We followed this Road about two Miles where we went from our Small party to the place where our people had interd the Swamp by which means we even Collected 6 or 700 men with whom we Retreated in good Order but without Noureshmint of any kind, the Enemy who were Strong in Number had Detatched in two or three bodies about 1500 men to cut off our Retreat. They way laid and Engaged us again about 9 miles from the field of Battle, they did us little damage we Continued our March, and the third day Almost worn out with fatague Hunger and Dificulties scarcely to be parralleld we arrived here with 1100 men, but Genl. Thompson Col. Irvine Doct. McCalla and Several Officers are prisoners at three Rivers. Col. St. Clair Arrived alone last night their Seperation from the Army (which Appeared Indeed to be lost) was the cause of their Misfortune. I believe it will be Universally Allowed that Col. Allen and myself have saved the Army in Canada.6 Capt. Robinson has proved himself the Soldier and the Gentleman,7 his Conduct has Outgone the most Sanguine hopes of his friends, out of 150 of my own I have lost more than the One Quarter part, together with Slight touch in my Right leg, which is partly well already, we shall have more buisness soon, our people are in high Spirits.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for the best walking and driving tours in Philadelphia.  If battles (such as the one described above) are your thing, then you’ll want to join us for one of our driving/battle tours such as Valley Forge, Washington’s Crossing, Brandywine, and Monmouth.  Bow Tie Tours is the only Philadelphia tour company that offers all of these tours.

Finally, if you are looking for the ultimate July 4th Celebration this year, contact us and we will set you up with a tour given by Benjamin Rush that you will never forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 12, 1776

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Congress creates “A Board of War and Ordnance” inspired in part by the failing Canadian campaign.  Americans start a retreat from Canada.

In Williamsburg, Virginia, George Mason and the Virginia Convention adopt a declaration of rights.  This will later be the model for the U.S. Congress when they amend the U.S. Constitution to include a Bill of Rights.

In Philadelphia, Congress appoints a committee to prepare a draft of a working government entitled the Articles of Confederation.

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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.

June 10, 1776

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Congress stops short of declaring “total independence” from Britain, but calls for a committee to prepare a declaration based on the premise “That these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they all are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and all political connection between them and the state of Gret Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved,” as stated in the Virginia proposal.

George Washington writes to John Hancock, addressing the threats to Philadelphia as well as the internal threats to the cause in general.  “To Congress I also submit the Propriety of keeping the two Continental Battalions (under the Comd of Colonels Shae & McGaw) at Philadelpa when there is the greatest probability of a speedy attack upon this place from the Kings Troops. the Incouragements given by Govr Tryon to the disaffected, which are circulated no one can well tell how—the movements of these kind of People which are more easy to perceive than describe —the confident report which is said to have come immediately from Govr Tryon, & brought by a Frigate from Hallifax that the Troops at that place were Imbarking for this, added to a thousand Incidental Circumstances trivial in themselves but strong from comparison, leaves not a doubt upon my Mind but that Troops are hourly expected at the Hook.  I had no doubt when I left this City, for Philadelphia, but that some measures would have been taken to secure the suspected, & dangerous Persons of this Government before now, and left Orders for the Military to give every aid to the Civil Power—But, the Subject is delicate, & nothing is done in it—we may therefore have Internal, as well as external Enemies to contend with.”

The summer is arriving, and there is no better way to celebrate it than with Bow Tie Tours and one of our award winning walking tours!  See Valley Forge and learn how Washington fought off internal foes while creating an army that would be able to stand up to the greatest empire in the world!