June 29, 1776

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Contrary to most of his colleagues in Congress, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina advocates patience regarding declaring independence.  In a letter to John Jay of New York, Rutledge worries whether he and other conservatives can “effectually oppose” such legislation.  Given the mood in the congress and the belligerent letter that King George wrote to them, it feels as if the tide is turning.

In Staten Island, New York, signals indicate the appearance of General William Howe’s fleet from Halifax, prompting Lieutenant Colonel Smuel Webb to declare “a warm and bloody campaign is the least we may expect, may God grant us a victory and success.”

In South Carolina, inspired by his stunning success in repulsing Commodore Peter Parker’s naval squadron, William Logan sends a gift of hogshead of old Antigua rum to Colonel Moultrie.

Virginia adapts a Constitution as a free Commonwealth.

General Washington writes to John Hancock regarding the precarious state of affairs regarding the numbers of individuals he has under his command:  “I observe the augmentation Congress have resolved to make to the forces destined for the Northern department & the bounty to be allowed such Soldiers as will Inlist for three years. I hope many good consequences will result from these measures, and that from the latter a considerable number of men may be induced to engage in the service.  I should esteem myself extremely happy to afford the least assistance to the Canada department in compliance with the desire of Congress and your requisition, were It in my power, but It is not. The Return which I transmitted yesterday will but too well convince Congress of my Incap[ac]ity in this instance, and point out to them, that the force I now have is trifling, considering the many, and important posts that are necessary & must be supported if possible. But few Militia have yet come in; the whole being about Twelve hundred Including the Two Battallions of this City and One Company from the Jerseys. I wish the delay may not be attended with disagreable circumstances, and their aid may not come too late, or when It may not be wanted. I have wrote, I have done everything I could, to call them in, but they have not come, tho I am told that they are generally willing.”

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June 26, 1776

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Virginia Governor Dunmore reports to Lord Germain in England that the Gwynn’s Island is his new base, and that if the fever had not killed most of the slaves that flocked to his banner, he would have stayed on the mainland.

In Seneca, South Carolina, Patriot Captain James McCall and a thirty man detachment of South Carolina rangers were snet on a peace mission to the Cherokee Nation.  They were ambushed by the Indians.

In New Jersey, General Sir William Howe and the British fleet arrive off Sandy Hook.

John Adams writes to his wife, attributing the defeat in Canada to smallpox.  “Our Misfortunes in Canada, are enough to melt an Heart of Stone. The Small Pox is ten times more terrible than Britons, Canadians and Indians together. This was the Cause of our precipitate Retreat from Quebec, this the Cause of our Disgraces at the Cedars.—I dont mean that this was all. There has been Want, approaching to Famine, as well as Pestilence. And these Discouragements seem to have so disheartened our Officers, that none of them seem to Act with Prudence and Firmness.  But these Reverses of Fortune dont discourage me. It was natural to expect them, and We ought to be prepared in our Minds for greater Changes, and more melancholly Scenes still. It is an animating Cause, and brave Spirits are not subdued with Difficulties.”

Adams continues to write of his multiplying duties:  “The Congress have been pleased to give me more Business than I am qualified for, and more than I fear, I can go through, with safety to my Health. They have established a Board of War and Ordinance and made me President of it, an Honour to which I never aspired, a Trust to which I feel my self vastly unequal. But I am determined to do as well as I can and make Industry supply, in some degree the Place of Abilities and Experience. The Board sits, every Morning and every Evening.1 This, with Constant Attendance in Congress, will so entirely engross my Time, that I fear, I shall not be able to write you, so often as I have. But I will steal Time to write to you.”

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June 25, 1776

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The Conference of Committees urges its more pacifist associates to military action by declaring that they were fighting for “permanent liberty, to be supported by your government, derived from you, and organized for all and not for the benefit of one man or class or men.”

Off the coast of South Carolina, after spending three weeks getting his fleet across a sandbar, Commodore Peter Parker’s postponed plans to bombard the fort on Sullivan’s Island due to unfavorable wind and tidal conditions.

Benedict Arnold informs General Washington of the continued bad news from Canada and the necessity of retreat:  “By this express, you will receive advice From Genl Schuyler of our evacuateing Canada, an event which I make no doubt (from our distressed situation) you have some time expected, the particulars of Genl Thompsons repulse, & Captivity, as nearly as could be ascertained, have ben transmitted, you. on advice of which, very direct Intelligence that the Enemy were greatly superior to us In numbers, I advised Genl Sullivan to secure his retreat by retireing to St Johns. he was determined to keep his Post at Sorell, If posible & did not retire untill the 14th Inst. at which time the Enemy were as high up with their Ships as the Sorell—The 15th at Night when the Enemy were at Twelve Miles distance from me I quitted Montreal, with my little Garrison of Three hundred Men[.] The whole Army with their Baggage & Cannon, (except three heavy peices left at Chamble), Arived at St Johns the 17th & at the Ile Aux Noix the 18th previous to which it was Determined by a Counsil of Warr, at St Johns that in Our distressed Situation, (One half of the Army Sick & allmost the whole, destitute of Cloathing & every necessary of Life except Salt Pork & Flour) It was not only Imprudent but Impracticable to keep Possession of St Johns.”

In Philadelphia, congress receives continued requests from the Maryland delegation that the vote on Independence be delayed.  Writing to Sam Chase, who continues to try to drum up support for independence, John Adams writes, “Don’t be angry with me,” but informs him that it is not possible for Congress to delay the July 1 discussion of independence.  Such a delay “would hazard Convulsions and dangerous Conspiracies.”  Meanwhile, New York too continues to push for delay.  New York is divided between radicals who agree with Sam Adams and more conservative members who continue to hope for reconciliation.  To many New Yorkers, any declaration of independence is a dangerous and unnecessary step.

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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.

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June 19, 1776

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In Canada, Benedict Arnold notifies General John Sullivan of his garrison’s successful movement out of Montreal, along with some spirits and molasses seized in that town.

In Boston Harbor an armed Connecticut vessel along with several schooners seize two British ships and take 200 sailors prisoner.

Captain Charles Pond wrote the following letter to General George Washington:  I have the Pleasure of Informing His Excellency of our taking two Prises one A Ship of 250 Tons Burthen the Sloop 35 Tons Bound to Sandy hook the Ship from Glasgow with one Compy of the 42d Regt Who was taken by one of Admiral Hopkins’s fleet who took the Soldiers on Board & Sent the Ship for Rhode Island Soon after was Taken by the Cerberus Frigate & Sent her under Convoy of the Above Sd Sloop for Sandy hook. Remaining on Board the Ship 5 Commission’d officers with 2 Ladies & 4 Privates, Prisoners Total 20.  Stores on Board the Ship Crawford 13 tierces of Beef 11 Do of Pork, 3000 Wt of Bread 4 Puncheons of Rum, 100 barrels of Coal, 10 firkins of Butter 1 Cask of Cheese.  On Board the Sloop 15 Cask of Molasses 2 Chests of Dry Goods 1 Tierce & 1 Barrel of Cags of Powder 1 Case of flints, Some Salt Petre.  The Ship is part of the way In the Inlet but at Present is Aground Pray Send Direction About the Prisoners as I am Short handed.”

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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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