December 7, 1776

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Commodore Lambert Wicks in USS Reprisal with Benjamin Franklin aboard arrives in Nantz, France, on this day.  Wrotes Stacy Schiff in A Great Imrpvisation:  Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, “Franklin knew that his name had been a passport in France for years.  As early as 1769 friends reported that they wre welcomed everywhere with open arms on his account; distinction was the best recommendation a man could claim in Paris.  It introduced where titles failed.  If Franklin knew he was vilified in London as the insidious ‘chief of the rebels’ he would have known too the effect of that epitaph on his stock in France.  Nowhere was his compound status as emblem, as thinker, as chief rebel on better display…  ‘You know that Dr. Franklin’s troops have been defeated by those of the King of England.  Alas!  Philosophers are beaten everywhere.  Reason and liberty are poorly received in this world,” wrote Voltaire.  And Franklin’s symbolic power only increased as he crossed the ocean.  Unwittingly, Congress sent France a sort of walking statue of liberty.”

Congressional President John Hancock writes the four New England states urging troops be sent to reinforce General Schuuyler in northern New York.

In Tapppan, New York, a force of Tories and British marauders known as “cowboys” pillatged the town.

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 historical vacation packages.

 

 

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November 25, 1776

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British Colonel Guy Johnson, Indian Superintendent in New York, reports to Lord Germain in England that the Indians have kept their promises to him of last year and that he had sent an officer in disguise to the Six Nations.

In New York, William Franklin writes in a letter to his wife in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, regarding their son going to Paris with his father, Benjamin, “if the old gentleman has taken the boy with him, I hope it is only to put him in some foreign university, which he seemed anxious to do when he spoke to me last about his education.”  William and Benjamin are at odds, since William has chosen to support the British in the conflict.

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 those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

November 14, 1776

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The St. James Chronicle in London carried an item stating, “The very identical Dr Franklin, whom Lord Chatham so much caressed, and used to say, he was proud in calling his friend, is now at the head of the rebellious North America.

Reports in Congress that  British fleet is sailing south causes concern.  The Board of War authorizes the Marine Committee to defend the Delaware River.  The ships were actually headed back to England.

George Washington, who had arrived at Fort Lee on the 13th, writes the following letter to John Hancock, President of the Congress:  “I have the honor to inform you of my arrival here Yesterday and that the whole of the Troops belonging to the States which lay South of Hudsons River and which were in New York Government have passed over to this side, except the Regiment lately Colo. Smalwoods, which I expect is now on their march.  That they may be ready to check any incursions the Enemy may attempt in this Neighbourhood, I intend to quarter them at Brunswic, Amboy, Eliz. Town, New Ark and about this place, unless Congress should conceive it necessary for any of them to be stationed at or more contiguous to Philadelphia. in such case they will be pleased to signify their pleasure. There will be very few of them after the departure of those who were engaged for the Flying Camp and which is fast approaching. The disposition I have mentioned seems to me well calculated for the end proposed and also for their accomodation.  The movements and designs of the Enemy are not yet understood. Various are the opinions and reports on this Head. From every information, the whole have removed from Dobb’s Ferry towards Kings bridge and it seems to be generally beleived on all hands, that the investing of Fort Washington is one object they have in view. But that can employ but a small part of their force. whether they intend a Southern expedition, must be determined by Time. to me there appears a probability of It, and which seems to be favoured by the advices we have, that many Transports are wooding and watering. General Green’s Letter would give you the substance of the intelligence brought by Mr Mersereau from Staten Island in this instance, which he received before It came to me.  Inclosed you have Copies of Two Letters from Genl Howe and of my Answer to the first of them. The Letter alluded to and returned in his last was One from myself to Mrs Washington of the 25 Ulto from whence I conclude that All the Letters which went by the Boston Express have come to his possession. You will also perceive, that Genl Howe has requested the return of Peter Jack, a servant to Major Stewart, to which I have consented as he was not in the military line and the requisition agreable to the custom of War. This Servant having been sent to Philadelphia with the Waldeckers and other Prisoners, I must request the favor of you to have him conveyed to Genl Greene by the earliest Opportunity in order that he may be returned to his master.  Before I conclude, I beg leave not only to suggest but to urge the necessity of increasing our Field Artillery very considerably. Experience has convinced me, as It has every Gentleman of discernment in this Army, that while we remain so much inferior to the Enemy in this Instance, we must carry on the War under infinite disadvantages, and without the smallest probability of success. It has been peculiarly owing to the situation of the Country where their Operations have been conducted, and to the rough and strong Grounds we possessed ourselves of and over which they had to pass, that they have not carried their Arms by means of their Artillery to a much greater extent. When these difficulties cease, by changing the Scene of Action to a level champaign Country, the worst of consequences are justly to be apprehended. I would therefore with the concurrence of all the Officers whom I have spoke to upon the Subject, submit to the consideration of Congress, whether immediate measures ought not to be taken for procuring a respectable Train. It is agreed on all hands, that each Batallion should be furnished at least with Two peices, and that a smaller number than 100—of 3 lb. 50 of 6 lb. & 50—of 12 lb. should not be provided in addition to those we now have—besides these, if some 18 & 24 pounders are ordered, the Train will be more serviceable & compleat. The whole should be of Brass for the most Obvious reasons. they will be much more portable—not half so liable to burst, and when they do, no damage is occasioned by it, and they may be cast over again. The Sizes before described should be particularly attended to, if they are not, there will be great reason to expect mistakes and confusion in the charges in Time of Action, As it has frequently happened in the best regulated Armies. The disparity between those I have mentioned, and such as are of an Intermediate size, is difficult to discern. It is also agreed, that a Regiment of Artillerists with approved and experienced Officers should be obtained if possible, and some Engineers of known reputation and abilities. I am sorry to say, too ready an indulgence has been had to several appointments in the latter instance, and that men have been promoted, who seem to me, to know but little if any thing of the business. Perhaps this Train &c. may be looked upon by some, as large & expensive; true it will be so, but when it is considered that the Enemy, having effected but little in the course of the present Campaign, will use their utmost efforts to subjugate us in the next, every consideration of that sort should be disregarded, and every possible preparation made to frustrate their unjust and wicked attempts. How they are to be procured, is to be inquired into. That we cannot provide them among ourselves or more than a very small proportion, so trifling as not to deserve our notice, is evident; therefore I would advise, with all immaginable deference, without any abatement of our own internal exertions, application should be immediately made to such Powers as can & may be willing to supply them. They cannot be obtained too early, if soon enough, and I am told they may be easily had from France & Holland.  Mr Trumbull, the Comy Genl has frequently mentioned to me of late, the inadequacy of his pay to his trouble and the great risk he is subject to on account of the large Sums of Money which pass through his Hands. He has stated his case with a view of laying it before Congress and obtaining a more adequate compensation. My Sentiments upon the Subject are already known, but yet I shall take the liberty to add, that I think his complaint to be well founded and that his Pay considering the important duties and risks of his Office by no means sufficient, and that the footing he seems to think it should be upon himself, appears just and reasonable.  A Proposition having been made long since to Genl Howe and agreed to by him for an Exchange of Prisoners in consequence of the Resolutions of Congress to that effect, I shall be extremely happy if you will give directions to the Committees and those having the charge of Prisoners in the Several States, South of Jersey to transmit me proper Lists of the names of All the Commissioned Officers and of the Ranks & the Corps they belong to—also the Number of the non Commissioned and Privates & their respective Regiments. You will perceive by his Letter he supposes me to have affected some delay or to have been undmindfull of the proposition I had made.  I propose to stay in this neighbourhood a few days, in which time I expect the designs of the Enemy will be more disclosed and their Incursions be made in this quarter or their Investiture of Fort Washington if they are intended.”

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 those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

November 2, 1776

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The Maryland Convention passes “The Declaration of Rights” and considers the final draft of the Constitution.

In the General Order for the day, General Washington makes both a plea and then an order against desertion, which was widespread:   “The General is sorry to find, that there are some Soldiers, so lost to all Sense of Honor, and Honesty, as to leave the Army, when there is the greatest necessity for their services: He calls upon the Officers of every rank, to exert themselves, in putting a stop to it, and absolutely forbids any officer, under the rank of a Brigadier General, discharging any officer, or soldier, or giving any permission to leave the Camp on any pretence whatever.  The sick of the Militia may be discharged by their General Officer, after he has seen them, and is satisfied of their incapacity to do duty, but not otherwise.  The situation of the Army, and the Season, requiring that the Soldiery should be as well accommodated as possible, especially at night; the taking of Straw, or even Grain in the sheaf, is not to be considered as included in the Orders against plundering.”

Patrick Henry writes to Thomas Jefferson, who he criticizes for refusing the request to travel to France with Benjamin Franklin’s delegation, and quitting his congressional office because of the health of his wife.  “As I have received no answer to the letter I wrote you by the Express from Congress I conclude it has miscarried. I heared with much regret that you had declined both the voyage, and your seat in Congress. No Man feels more deeply than I do, the love of, and the loss of, private enjoyments; but let attention to these be universal, and we are gone, beyond redemption lost in the deep perdition of slavery. By every account from lake Champlain we had reason to think ourselves in no danger on that water for this Campaign. Nor did Gen. Arnold seem to apprehend any until he was defeated by an enemy four times as strong as himself. This Officer, fiery, hot and impetuous, but without discretion, never thought of informing himself how the enemy went on, and he had no idea of retiring when he saw them coming, tho so much superior to his force! Since his defeat, our people evacuated Crown point, and joined their whole strength at Ticonderoga. We do not hear the enemy have thought proper to visit them there, and the Season must now stop operations on the Lake. On the [borders of] the Sound it has been a war of skirmishes, in which I [think we] have gained 5 out of 6. Never was a Ship more mauled [than] a Frigate that lately attempted Fort Washington, she had [26] eighteen pounders thro her and most of the guns double s[hotted.] At the same time an attack on the same place by land w[as] repelled, but the day following the enemy gained an emine[nce] from our people near the white plains, on the sound, about 10 miles above Kingsbridge. The loss on our part in killed, wounded, and Missing, between 3 and 400, the enemies loss considerable but numbers not fixt. Our troops fought well and retired in order before a much superior force. This was McDougals brigade consisting of York, Maryland, and I believe some Eastern Troops. In a skirmish the next day We learn the enemy were defeated. By London papers middle of August it seems quite probable that the quarrel between Spain and Portugal with the manoeuvres of the Russian fleet, will produce events in Europe of great importance to our cause.

I have been informed that very malignant and very scandalous hints and innuendo’s concerning me have been uttered in the house. From the justice of the House I should expect they would not suffer the character of an absent perso[n] (and one in their service) to be reviled by any slande[rous] tongue whatever. When I am present, I shall be perfect[ly] satisfied with the justice I am able to do myself. From your candor Sir, and knowledge of my political mo[ve]ments I hope such mistatings as may happen in y[our] presence will be rectified.

Among the various difficulties that press our Country, I know of none greater than the want of Ships and Seamen. Perhaps a good basis for remedying the latter might be an alteration of the Act of Assembly for binding out Orphan and poor Children, and direct that, for some time at least, the whole of such children should be bound to the Sea. Without safe Ports to build ships in, and give protection to foreign Vessels, our trade must long lang[uish.] Would it not be proper therefore, to make Portsmouth and Norfolk immediately as strong as Cannon can render them, by adding to the guns already [there] as many from York as will answer the purpo[ses. Gen.] Stephen tells me that the works he laid out at [Ports]mouth will put (if properly gunned) that [pla]ce in a state of security from any Seaforce [tha]t can come against it. The Cannon are of no use at York, experience proving incontestibly, that Ships will pass any fort or Battery with ease, when favored by wind and tide. The quantity of seasoned timber said to be in the neighborhood of Norfolk would furn[ish] a number of fine Vessels, whether for fighting or for commerce. I think the large Sea gallies that carry such a number of men for war and for the navigatio[n] part of the Vessel, are well contrived for the defence of our bay and for raising seamen quickly. I sent our Navy board a draught of the large gallies building here by order of Congress. It seems to me, that for the different purposes of battery and Ships our Country could well employ a thousand Cannon. How very important is it that the Cannon foundery on James river should be pushed on with all possible vigor and attention. I understand Mr. Ballantine manages some part of these works, if so, my fears are that very little may be expected. He will talk amazingly, promise most fairly, but do nothing to purpose. This I fancy has been the case with a variety of that Gentlemans undertakings, but such conduct, in the Cannon business, will ruin us. I am very uneasy, I own, on this account. Let us have Cannon, Small Arms, gun powder, and industry; we shall be secure—But it is in vain to have good systems of Government and good Laws, if we are exposed to the ravage of the Sword, without means of resisting. This winter will be an age to us if rightly employed. Let us get strong in Vessels, Troops, and proper fortifications in proper places. Let us import plenty of military stores, soldiers, cloathing, and Sail cloth for tents, shipping &c. I do not think our armed Vessels can be so well [em]ployed in any other business as in m[aking] two or three trips to the French and Dutch Islands for these necessaries, carrying Tobacco and fine flour to purchase them.”

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 those interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

The Constitution Podcast, Episode 4

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The story of the Constitution is the story of the people who brought it about.  Hear about James Otis, Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and all of those who brought about the longest existing national Constitution in the world.

Hear how Benjamin Franklin changed from being a loyal, if argumentative, subject into a revolutionary with Episode 4!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 28, 1776

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Generals William Howe and George Washington are preparing strong defensive positions.

The State Convention of Pennsylvania adopts a Constitution and Bill of Rights.  The Constitution features two distinct features where were unicameral legislature and the election of a Board of Censors every seven years to determine if the Constitution has been violated.

Benjamin Franklin wrote to his grandson, William Temple Franklin, “Dear Tempe – I hope you will return hither immediately, and that your Mother will make no Objection to it, something offering here that will be much to your Advantage if you are not out of the Way. I am so hurried that I can only add Ever your affectionate Grandfather – B Franklin”  Benjamin Franklin’s son, and William Temple Franklin’s father, William Franklin, had decided to support the British during the war, but the relationship between Grandfather/Grandson was undiminished, as Franklin is writing to him elliptically about including him in the upcoming delegation to Paris.

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 those who are interested in the Civil War, come see our Gettysburg Tour.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

September 11, 1776

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General William Howe meets with the Congressional Committee in the Bilop Mansion.  Howe urged peace, but admitted he could not recognize Congres, or an independent America.  Benjamin Franklin and John Adams replied that independence was now an established fact from which the states would not retreat.  Aware of the mood of the King and the Ministry, Howe chose not to transmit to London their proposals regarding independence.

Edward Rutledge wrote to General Washington regarding the meeting.  “I must beg Leave to inform you that our Conferrence with Lord Howe has been attended with no immediate Advantages—He declared that he had no Powers to consider us as Independt States, and we easily discover’d that were we still Dependt we would have nothing to expect from those with which he is vested—He talk’d altogether in generals, that he came out here to consult, advise, & confer with Gentlemen of the greatest Influence in the Colonies about their Complaints, that the King would revise the Acts of Parliament & royal Instructions upon such Reports as should be made and appear’d to fix our Redress upon his Majesty’s good Will & Pleasure—This kind of Conversation lasted for several Hours & as I have already said without any Effect—Our Reliance continues therefore to be (under God) on your Wisdom & Fortitude & that of your Forces—That you may be as succesful as I know you are worthy is my most sincere wish—I saw Mrs Washington the Evening before I left Philadelphia, she was well—I gave Mr Griffin a Letter from her for you .”

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.