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.

 

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July 8, 1776

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In Philadelphia, on the steps of the State House, the Declaration is read aloud by John Nixon in the presence of “a great concourse of people.”  The crowd cheered enthusiastically and the King’s arms were taken down in the Court Room and the State House at the same time.

The bell later known as the Liberty Bell rings in center Philadelphia in order to gather citizens of the city for the reading of the Declaration.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Take our four-hour Independence Tour Extraordinaire, which includes tickets to Independence Hall, or enjoy our driving tour at Valley Forge, where you will learn the exciting story of how George Washington, with the help of a few friends, turns a rabble of hungry and discontented individuals into an army ready to stand up against Great Britain.  If you are interested in one of our exciting historical vacation packages, check out our options for our Washington and Jefferson trips!

 

July 2, 1776

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Congress formally adopts Richard Henry Lee’s resolution, asserting that the “United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.”  The vote would be unanimous, except that New York abstained.

General John Sullivan, from Crown Point, New York, writes to John Hancock about his experience in Canada “to give you a particular account of the miserable state of our troops there, and the numbers of which daily kept dropping in their beds and graves would rather seem like the effect of imagination than a history of facts.”

After landing at New York, British Captain Archibald Robertson reports on “The Rebels” he encountered and notes how they “fired musketry at the nearest ships without effect.  Lucky for us the rebels had no cannon here or we would have suffered a great deal.”

Thomas Jefferson, being a forerunner of the term-limit movement, drafts a proposal to encourage the colonies to return different people to congress, rather than just the same ones.  “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 preceeding, 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.”

On this 4th of July Weekend, join us for Bow Tie Tours, the best historical walking tours in Philadelphia.  Visit some of the nearby battlefields to hear the true story of the Revolution.

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.

To hear the whole story of the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the manner in which this paper defines not only the war effort but what it will mean to be an American, join Bow Tie Tours on July 4th for our 7-hour July 4th Extravaganza!  (You will see the room where the Declaration of Independence was written, and the room where it was signed!)  Or let us take you to Valley Forge (or one of the nearby battlefield sites) to learn from a battlefield expert how a motley crew of disorganized farmers and merchants defeated the greatest empire in the world!

 

 

May 1, 1776

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King George issues a proclamation extending the bounties for encouraging enlistments in the Royal Navy.

Patriot General John Thomas takes over forces in Quebec, replacing General David Wooster.

The Commissioners from Canada (Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll) send a dispatch to Congress describing the situation there and their need of money and men:  “It is impossible to give you a just idea of the lowness of the Continental credit here from the want of hard money, and the prejudice it is to our affairs. Not the most trifling service can be procured without an assurance of instant pay in silver or gold. The Express we sent from St. John’s to inform the General of our arrival there, and to request carriages for La Prairie, was stopt at the ferry, till a friend passing changed a Dollar for him into silver, and we are obliged to that friend (Mr. M’Cartney9) for his engagement to pay the Caleches, or they would not have come for us. The general apprehension, that we shall be driven out of the Province as soon as the King’s troops can arrive, concurs with the frequent breaches of promise the Inhabitants have experienced, in determining them to trust our people no farther. Therefore the utmost dispatch should be used in forwarding a large sum hither (we believe twenty thousand pounds will be necessary); otherwise it will be impossible to continue the war in this Country, or to expect the continuance of our interest with the people here, who begin to consider the Congress as bankrupt and their cause as desperate. Therefore till the arrival of money, it seems improper to propose the federal union of this Province with the others, as the few friends we have here, will scarce venture to exert themselves in promoting it, till they see our credit recoverd, and a sufficient army arrived to secure the possession of the Country.  Yesterday we attended a Council of war, the minutes of which we inclose. The places proposed are proper to prevent the further progress of the Enemy, in case they should oblige us to raise the siege of Quebeck. The plank and timber for the Gondolas is all prepared and ready at Fort Chamblee, and some of the Carpenters are arrived from New York; others are to be engaged here:1 and as hard money is necessary for these, we have a need to advance some out of what the Congress put into our hands for our own subsistance; to be replaced when cash shall arrive.  We understand that the Troops now before Quebeck have not ten days provision; but hope, as the lakes are now open, supplies will soon reach them.  We have directed the opening of the Indian Trade, and granting passports to all, who shall enter into certain engagements to do nothing in the upper Country prejudicial to the Continental interests.  We hope to morrow to obtain an account of our debts, that ought instantly to be paid. If besides what is necessary for that purpose, we had a sum to manage by opening a bank for exchanging continental bills, it is supposed that we might thereby give a circulation to those bills. The twenty thousand pounds above mentioned will, we think, answer both these purposes.  We are told that not less than the eight thousand orderd by Congress will be a sufficient army for this quarter. As yet there are but about three thousand, including those now passing down to Quebeck, who are just come over the lakes. The small pox is in the army, and General Thomas has unfortunately never had it.”

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April 30, 1776

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Samuel Adams writes of his hopes for another battle between British and American troops, stating his belief that it “would do more towards a declaration of independency than a long chain of conclusive arguments in the Continental Congress.”

Colonel Isaac Nichol writes to George Washington concerning the scarcity of arms and men at his posts in New York:  “Inclosed you have a return of the state of the Fortifications under my command, by which you will readily see that the Men in General are very deficient in Arms and more especially the standing Companies—I think it would be prudent to have them Armed as soon as possible as there are many disaffected Persons in the adjacent Counties of Westchester and Dutches who in case of an Attact at New York (if they knew our weakness) might attempt to take the Garrisons by surprize—I have been informed that one Capt. Menos a half pay officer from Dutches County has gone off about the 20th Inst with 40 Men supposed to join the Ministerial Army.There is no Ammunition at Fort Montgomery for small Arms but One Quarter Cask of Powder & 48 lb. of Musket Balls which I got of the Commissioner[s]—and they produced instructions from Congress not to let any of the Powder be made Use of without their further Order but as there was a Necessity for it I prevailed with them to let it go—I have given Orders to Lieutenant Stephens (of the Artilery) to have it made up into Cartridges for the Use of that Garrison—Gun Flints we are destitute of—No Phisician has been Ordered here yet and a Number of the Men in Garrison are Sick and Lame and cannot have proper means used for their Recovery.  The time for which one of the Minute Companies now at this Fortress is Inlisted will Expire in about fifteen Days if Your Excellency thinks it proper that more should be called in, should be glad of an Order for that purpose as soon as possible—In the mean time You may rest Assured Sir that nothing shall be wanting on my part to secure the different Posts under my command and for that purpose that the works shall be forwarded to the utmost of my Power.”

Join us in at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  For the real history afficianadoes, travel along with us to learn about the key battles of the war (Washington Crossing, Monmouth, Brandywine) as well as the story of how George Washington and “Baron” von Steuben formed the army at Valley Forge.

April 20, 1776

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Germany and Britain arrange to have more troops sent from Germany to America, including 670 infantrymen.

Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll arrive in Montreal to try to convince the Canadians to join the revolution.  They returned to Philadelphia complaining of gross mismanagement.

John Adams writes to James Warren:  “Last Evening, a Letter was received, by a Friend of yours, from Mr. John Penn, one of the Delegates from North Carolina, lately returned home to attend the Convention of that Colony, in which he informs, that he heard nothing praised in the Course of his Journey, but Common sense and Independence. That this was the Cry, throughout Virginia. That North Carolina, were making great Preparations for War, and were determined, to die poor and to die hard, if they must die, in Defence of their Liberties. That they had, repealed, or Should repeal their Instructions to their Delegates against Independence. That South Carolina had assumed a Government chosen a Council, and John Rutledge Esqr., President of that Council with all the Powers of a Governor, that they have appointed Judges and that Drayton is Chief Justice. “In short, sir, says this Letter, The Vehemence of the southern Colonies is such, as will require the Coolness of the Northern Colonies, to restrain them from running to Excess.”  Inclosed you have a little Pamphlet, the Rise and Progress of which you shall be told.   Mr. Hooper and Mr. Pen of North Carolina, received from their Friends in that Colony, very pressing Instances to return home and attend the Convention, and at the Same Time to bring with them every Hint they could collect, concerning Government.  Mr. Hooper, applied to a certain Gentleman, acquainted him with the Tenor of his Letters and requested that Gentleman to give him his sentiments upon the subject. Soon afterwards Mr. Pen applied to the Same Gentleman, and acquainted him with the Contents of his Letters, and requested the same Favour.  The Time was very Short. However the Gentleman thinking it an opportunity, providentially thrown in his Way, of communicating Some Hints upon a subject, which seems not to have been sufficiently considered in the southern Colonies, and so of turning the Thought of Gentlemen that Way, concluded to borrow a little Time from his sleep and accordingly wrote with his own Hand, a Sketch, which he copied, giving the original to Mr. Hooper and the Copy to Mr. Penn, which they carried with them to Carolina. Mr. Wythe getting a sight of it, desired a Copy which the Gentleman made out from his Memory as nearly as he could. Afterwards Mr. Serjeant of New Jersey, requested another, which the gentleman made out again from Memory, and in this he enlarged and amplified a good deal, and sent it to Princetown. After this Coll. Lee, requested the same Favour. But the Gentleman, having written amidst all his Engagements five Copies, or rather five sketches, for no one of them was a Copy of the other, which amounted to Ten Sheets of Paper, pretty full and in a fine Hand was quite weary of the office. To avoid the Trouble of writing any more he borrowed Mr. Wythes Copy and lent it to Coll. Lee, who has put it under Types and thrown it into the Shape you see. It is a Pity it had not been Mr. Serjeants Copy for that is longer and more compleat, perhaps more correct. This is very incorrect, and not truly printed. The Design however is to mark out a Path, and putt Men upon thinking. I would not have this Matter communicated.  I think, by all the Intelligence We have that North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey will erect Governments, before the Month of June expires. And, if New York should do so too Pennsylvania, will not neglect it. At least I think so.  There is a particular, Circumstance relative to Maryland, which you will learn eer long, but am not at Liberty to mention at present, but will produce important Consequences in our favour, I think.  But, after Governments shall be assumed, and a Confederation formed, We shall have a long, obstinate and bloody War to go through and all the Arts, and Intrigues of our Enemies as well as the Weakness and Credulity of our Friends to guard against.  A Mind as vast as the Ocean, or Atmosphere is necessary to penetrate and comprehend all the intricate and complicated Interests which compose the Machine of the Confederat Colonies. It requires all the Philosophy I am Master of and more than all, at Times to preserve that serenity of Mind and Steadiness of Heart, which is necessary to watch the Motives, of Friends and Enemies, of the Violent and the Timid, the Credulous and the dull, as well as the Wicked.  But if I can contribute ever so little towards preserving the Principles of Virtue and Freedom in the World, my Time and Life will be not ill spent.  A Man must have a wider Expansion of Genius than has fallen to my share to see to the End of these great Commotions. But, on such a full sea are We now afloat, that We must be content to trust, to Winds and Currents with the best Skill We have, under a kind Providence to land us in a Port of Peace, Liberty and Safety.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Today Dr. Benjamin Rush will visit Crossroads Accelerated Academy, and talk to the students about the history of our country.  Check out our school offerings for visits and field trips.