August 15, 1776

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General Nathaniel Greene informs General George Washington that on the previous evening the Hessian troops had disembarked on Staten Island.  His own troops, busy removing livestock and grain and dismantling mills, were, he felt in excellent spirits and confident of putting up a good fight.  Without doubt, the most ominous information for Washington was the fact that Greene, a most promising General, had fallen victim to raging fever.

An Independent Milita Company, led by Captain Dennis Gauge, while on patrol near Roanoke attacked a British foraging party.   The British were all killed or captured.

George Washington, awaiting events in New York, writes to President of Congress, John Hancock:  “As the situation of the Two Armies must engage the attention of Congress and lead them to expect, that, each returning day will produce some Important Events, This is meant to Inform them that Nothing of Moment has yet cast up. In the Evening of Yesterday there were great movements among their Boats and from the Number that appeared to be passing and repassing about the Narrows, we were Induced to beleive they Intended to land a part of their force upon Long Island, but having no report from Genl Greene, I presume they have not done It.”

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 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.”

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 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.”

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July 30, 1776

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Debate on the “Articles of Confederation” continues.  On the subject of voting in Congress, Dr. Franklin argues that for the smaller colonies to have an equal vote, they should have to give equal money and men.  John Witherspoon, however, fears that “smaller states will be oppressed by the great ones.”  The following discussion takes place in regards to how African Americans should be treated in this new confederation (according to notes taken by John Adams) –

“Chase. Moves that the Word, White, should be inserted in the 11. Article. The Negroes are wealth. Numbers are not a certain Rule of wealth. It is the best Rule We can lay down. Negroes a Species of Property—personal Estate. If Negroes are taken into the Computation of Numbers to ascertain Wealth, they ought to be in settling the Representation. The Massachusetts Fisheries, and Navigation ought to be taken into Consideration. The young and old Negroes are a Burthen to their owners. The Eastern Colonies have a great Advantage, in Trade. This will give them a Superiority. We shall be governed by our Interests, and ought to be. If I am satisfied, in the Rule of levying and appropriating Money, I am willing the small Colonies may have a Vote.

Wilson. If the War continues 2 Years, each Soul will have 40 dollars to pay of the public debt. It will be the greatest Encouragement to continue Slave keeping, and to increase them, that can be to exempt them from the Numbers which are to vote and pay…. Slaves are Taxables in the Southern Colonies. It will be partial and unequal. Some Colonies have as many black as white…. These will not pay more than half what they ought. Slaves prevent freemen cultivating a Country. It is attended with many Inconveniences.

Lynch. If it is debated, whether their Slaves are their Property, there is an End of the Confederation. Our Slaves being our Property, why should they be taxed more than the Land, Sheep, Cattle, Horses, &c. Freemen cannot be got, to work in our Colonies. It is not in the Ability, or Inclination of freemen to do the Work that the Negroes do. Carolina has taxed their Negroes. So have other Colonies, their Lands.

Dr. Franklin. Slaves rather weaken than strengthen the State, and there is therefore some difference between them and Sheep. Sheep will never make any Insurrections.

Rutledge…. I shall be happy to get rid of the idea of Slavery. The

Slaves do not signify Property. The old and young cannot work. The Property of some Colonies are to be taxed, in others not. The Eastern Colonies will become the Carriers for the Southern. They will obtain Wealth for which they will not be taxed.”  This is a discussion that will continue on, through the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and beyond.  General Washington informed British General William Howe that Congress had authorized a “General Exchange of prisoners, to those of equal rank.   Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, and citizen for citizen.”  A particular mention, he noted, was made of Colonel Ethan Allen, who would be exchanged for any officer.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  To learn more about George Washington, take our take our Valley Forge Tour.  Or, enjoy our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall.  If your interest lies in the Civil War, you will not want to miss out on our extraordinary Gettysburg Tour.  Finally, if you are a huge history fan, please check out our exciting American History Vacation Packages, which include week-long excursions to learn about George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

 

July 28, 1776

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Colonel Paul Sergeant and Israel Hutchinson with their Continental troops from Boston, as well as several British ships, arrive at Horn’s Hook, New York.

At Fort Ticonderoga, in New York, the Declaration of Independence is read by Colonel Arthur St. Clair and when he added “God save the free independent states of America,” the Army demonstrated their joy with cheers.  “It was remarkably pleasing to see the spirits of the soldiers so raised, after all their calamities, the language of every man’s countenance was.  Now we are people, we have a name among the States of the world.”

Joseph Ward writes to John Adams from Boston:  “I have the pleasure to inform you that the Continental armed Schooners Hancock and Franklin sent into Marblehead this day a Transport from Hallifax bound to New York with provisions and dry goods. There are many Tories on board, among whom is the noted Benjamin Davis.  Last Sunday a Transport from Ireland came into this Harbour, (not knowing the Pirates were gone) and was taken; She had seventeen hundred Barrels of Beef and Pork and four hundred Casks of Butter for the use of the Enemy.  Some days since our Hearts were made glad with the glorious Declaration of the Independent States of America! Blessed be their memory and immortal Fame attend those who had the Wisdom and Virtue and Magnanimity to Do This! We have undoubtedly many and great things yet to do, but in my humble opinion, the greatest is done; the Foundation is now laid.”

Nathaniel Greene writes to George Washington from Long Island:  “Col Hands reports that the Enemy continues as they were. they fird several Guns last Night different from any custom that has prevaild amongst them since the Arrival of the fleet, A considerable noise and movement of the Boats was heard, after the Signal Guns; and the hurry and confusion they seemd to be in after the firing discoverd they were Alarm’d, Perhaps they have heard of the fire Ships.  Capt. Talbut of Colo. Hitchcocks Regiment, begs the command of one of these Vessels. he is a daring Spirit and I dont doubt will execute the command agreeable to your Excellencys wishes. As I am totally Ignorant of the matter, I could give him no encouragement until your Excellencys pleasure was known.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  To learn more about George Washington, take our take our Valley Forge Tour.  Or, enjoy our four-hour “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall.  If your interest lies in the Civil War, you will not want to miss out on our extraordinary Gettysburg Tour.  Finally, if you are a huge history   fan please check out our exciting Vacation Packages, which include week-long excursions to learn about George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

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.

Join Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Take our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, or learn about Washington at our Valley Forge Tour.  Or, if you are a big history buff, you may think about joining us for one of our American Revolution Vacation Packages, which include several-day trips dedicated to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  Or, if the Civil War is your thing, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.

July 24, 1776

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In a letter to General Philip Schuyler, Congress President John Hancock asserted that the Congress is “concerned to find there should be a necessity of recommending harmony to the officers and troops of different States under your command nothing can show greater weakness or wickedness than to throw provincial reflections on one antoher, which muswt have direct tendency to impede public sercie, and weaken the union of the American States.”

At the Hudson River in New York, the HMS Phoenix exchanges fire with Americans on shore at Haverstraw.

In his General Orders, George Washington makes recommendations for his soldiers dress, knowing that many of them are too poor to purchase specific uniforms and that the Congress, to, has no money for such necessities.

Join Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Take our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, or learn about Washington at our Valley Forge Tour.  Or, if you are a big history buff, you may think about joining us for one of our American Revolution Vacation Packages, which include several-day trips dedicated to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  Or, if the Civil War is your thing, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.