August 13, 1776

george-washington-writing-at-his-desk-by-candlelightGeneral Washington writes to Charles Lee that his situation has deteriorated, what with smallpox and desertion.  He now fears that the superior British navy might blockade New York, thus isolating the city from communications with all the adjacent states.

In a communication to the Connecticut Assembly, Ethan Allen in Halifax, Nova Scotia, predicts that France and Spain will react to the Declaration of Independence by accelerating their military assistance and eventually entering into an alliance with Americans.

President of the South Carolinian General Assembly, John Rutledge, issues a call to the members of the Assembly to convene on September 17.  South Carolina has successfully resisted the attack of General Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Peter Parker.  It is in a state of war.

In Tomassy, South Carolina, a large Patriot expedition encountered a lare Cherokee war party near Tomassy.  The Indians were defeated with many casualties, and their town burnt by the Patriots.

In New York, the Provincial Convention empowers George Washington to convewrt some 12 private residences into a general hospital.  Having decided that General Howe will attack in the very near future, Washington packs all his important papers and orders them to be forwarded to Philadelphia for safe keeping.

In London, England, the French Ambassador reports to Paris that “the government has not thought it necessary to take notice of [the Declaration of Independence] and indeed I do not see that this uprising causes any sensation here.”

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August 11, 1776

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General orders prohibit furloughs or discharge of officers and soldiers without the knowledge and consent of General George Washington.

In Boston, Massachusetts, the Declaration is read in all the local churches.

In Little River, South Carolina, Major Andrew Pickens, with a detachment of 25 men was attacked by a group of 135 Cherokee Indians while on a reconnaissance mission.  The American troops killed several Indians who then broke off the fight and withdrew.  The battle was also known as the “Ring Fight”

John Adams writes to James Warren:  “I Informed you in my last that we were Calling in every 25th. Man of the Train Band, and Alarm List to supply the places of your Battalions called away and already Marched. These Men are coming into the place of Rendesvous Dochester Heigths, but you have Appointed no General Officer to Command them, and unless General Ward can be prevailed on to Continue, I know not how they can be furnished with pay subsistence Barrack Utensils, or Ordinance Stores. Would it not be well to Appoint A Major General to Command in the Eastern department only. I am not Aware of any disadvantages in such An Appointment. I hope before this the Confederation, and matter of foreign Alliances are determined, As I suppose matters will go more glibly after the decleration of Independance, which by the way was read this Afternoon by Doctor Cooper, and Attended to by the Auditory with great Solemnity, and satisfaction.  Matters of great Importance must after all remain to be settled, Among which I Conceive Coin and Commerce are not to be reckoned Among the smallest. These are indeed such Intricate subjects that I dont pretend to Comprehend them in their full Extent. Your Currency still retains its Credit, but how long that will last if you Continue large Emissions is difficult for me to Guess. Commerce is A Subject of Amazeing Extent. While such Matters are on the Carpet how can we spare you.  I suppose Mrs. Adams will Inform you by this Post that She and the Children are well tho’ Charles has not yet had the Small Pox, which is the Case with many others After being Inoculated 2. 3. and even 6 or 7 Times. The Physicians cant Account for this. Several Persons that supposed they had it lightly last winter, and some before, now have it in the Natural way. Mrs. Warren and myself have been fortunate enough to have it very Cleverly and propose going home this week. She Joins me in the sincerest regards, for you and Mr. Adams, and wishes for your Health and Happiness. I am &c.  If the News you have from France be true the Ball must wind up soon.  God Grant a Confirmation. I long to be A Farmer again.

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 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.

 

August 2, 1776

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Members of congress signed the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Samuel Cooper writes to John Adams:  “The Small Pox is an Enemy more terrible in my Imagination, than all others. This Distemper will be the ruin, of every Army from New England if great Care is not taken. I am really Sorry that the Town of Boston attempted to clear itself of the Infection.2 I cannot but wish, that an innoculating Hospital, was set up in every Town in New England. But if this is not done, I am Sure that Some Hospitals, ought to be erected in Some convenient Places.  Between you and me, I begin to think it Time for our Colony to think a little more highly of itself.—The military operations have been at least as well conducted, under our own Officers, when left to themselves, as any others. You and several others of my best Friends have been pressing for a Stranger to command in Boston, and from two political Motives, I have been pressing for it too. The one was this, the People, and the Soldiery, at Boston, would not be so likely to respect, a General from among themselves, as a Stranger, the other was that the People of the Southern and middle Colonies, would have more Confidence in one of their own Officers, than in one from New England. And in Case of any Thing Unlucky I had rather hear them groan for one of their own, than scold or curse at a New England man.  The Reverse of Fortune in Canada, and the Arrival of the Hallifax Fleet, at Sandy Hook have now, removed all Expectation of having such an Officer Sent to Boston as We wished and therefore I wish that some Massachusetts Man, could command at Boston.”

In Congress, a proposal for term limits is drafted which will ultimately be passed:  “To prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress, to preserve to that body the confidence of their friends, and to disarm the malignant imputations of their enemies It is earnestly recommended to the several Provincial Assemblies or Conventions of the United colonies that in their future elections of delegates to the Continental Congress one half at least of the persons chosen be such as were not of the delegation next proceeding, and the residue be of such as shall not have served in that office longer than two years. And that their deputies be chosen for one year, with powers to adjourn themselves from time to time and from place to place as occasions may require, and also to fix the time and place at which their Successors shall meet.”

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.