December 13, 1777

General Conway

In a direct rebuff of General Washington, Congressestablishes the Inspector General Department of the Continental Army, andpromotes General Thomas Conway to Major General above other senior Generals andin a position that, from the civil side, is equal to that of Washington.  This indicates a move by several in congressto replace Washington with General Horatio Gates, who has had more success oflate.  Thomas Conway had been involved inwhat historians call the “Conway cabal,” which was a loose attempt by severalin the army and out of the army to replace Washington with Gates.  As a younger man Washington would haveresponded to this action with an angry letter of resignation, but this olderand wiser Washington will bide his time.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours forPhiladelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours. Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to IndependenceHall, 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 forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

December 6, 1777

Emlen House, which was Washington’s Headquarters during Battle of Whitmarsh

The second day of the Battle of Whitemarsh passes with thetwo armies watching each other across the Wissahickon Valley.  General Howe is hoping that Washington willleave his positions to attack the British, but Washington is holding back inorder to see what move the British will make. By the end of the day, Howe decided to go forward on the 7thg with aflanking movement toward Jenkintown and Cheltenham Township, while MajorGeneral Charles Grey’s forces woud create a distraction by attacking theAmerican center.  This is a familiartactic of Howe’s that Washington should be not only used to, but expecting atthis point. 

Meanwhile, in Paris, France, French foreign minister Count Charles de Vergennes responds positively to the American suggestions of amilitary alliance in the wake of the American victory at Saratoga.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s BestHistorical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, aswell as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, GraffHouse, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

December 3, 1777

From the very start, Charles Lee has felt no doubt that, despite what story might need to be peddled for public consumption, that he, and not George Washington, was the man who should be leading the army.  His pedigree, education, and level of experience clearly exceeded that of the man who had been given the position.  Lee never felt any compunction in peddling his personal theories to members of congress and other leaders about how he felt the army should be run, and the revolution conducted.

In this letter, sent in December 3rd, Charles Lee explains his theories to Benjamin Franklin – 

Dear Sir,
I am very happy that my letter to Lord Thanet meets with your approbation. I send you here some crude notions of what ought be adopted.
1st  A solemn league and covenant defensive and offensive to be taken by every man in America, particularly by those in or near the Sea Port Towns; all those who refuse, to have their estates confiscated for the public use, and their persons remov’d to the interior par[t of] the Country with a small pension res[erved?] for their subsistance.
2dly  New York to [be] well fortify’d and garrison’d or totally destroy’d.
3dly  No Regiments to be rais’d f[or any?] particular local purposes, but one general g[reat?] Continental Army adequate to evry purpose. South Carolina may be excepted from its distance and peculiar circumstances.
4thly.  The Regiments to be exchang’d those who are rais’d in one Province to serve in another rather than in their own, viz. the New Englanders in New York the N. Yorkers in New England and so on. This system will undoubtedly make ’em better Soldiers.
5thly.  A general Militia to be establishd and the regular Regiments to be formd by drafts from the Militia or their substitutes.
6thly.  A certain portion of lands to be [assign]ed to evry Soldier who serves one campaign [a d]ouble portion to him who serves two, and so on.
7thly.  A strong flying camp to be kept about Hampton Bay, another about Annapolis and Charles Town in S. Carolina to be well watch’d and guarded.6
8thly.  The greatest [pains?] to be taken and no expence to be spar’d in securing the Indians to our interest.
These measures may appear bold but I am sure they will be efficacious and decisive decision is the onset[?] of success.

By pushing for militias instead of a regular standing army, Lee has made himself popular among the pro-democracy Whig elements in Congress.  This popularity is growing due to George Washington’s recent military defeats.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s BestHistorical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, GraffHouse, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil Warbuffs, come see Gettysburg

April 17, 1776


Martha Washington arrived in New York from Cambridge to join George.

Off the coast of Virginia the USS Lexington under the command of John Barry battled the HMS Edward.  The Lexington was better armed, but the Edward’s seamanship showed more experience.  The Edward’s was eventually captured.  Barry thus becomes the first American naval captain to capture a British ship in actual combat.

John Penn (not the John Penn related to William Penn but the North Carolinian who will later sign the Declaration of Independence) writes to John Adams about his travels and the opinions as to independence of the people.  (Original spellings retained.)  “After a Tedious Journey, (occasion by bad roads and wet weather I arrived here in good health,) as I came through Virginia I found the inhabitants desirous to be Independant from Britain, however they were willing to submit their opinion on the subject to whatever the General Congress should determine. North Carolina by far exceeds them occasioned by the great fatigue trouble and danger the People here have undergone, for some time past; Gentlemen of the first fortunes in this Province have marched as common Soldiers and to encourage and give spirit to the men have footed it the whole time. Lord Cornwallis with seven Regiments are expected to visit us every day, Clinton is now in Cape Fear with Govr. Martin who has about 40 sail of Vessels armed and unarmed waiting his arrival. The Highlanders and Regulators are not to be trusted. Govr. Martin has coaxed a number of Slaves to leave their Masters in the lower parts. Everything base and wicked are practised by him; these things have totally changed the temper and disposition of the Inhabitants that are Friends to liberty. All regard or fondness for the King or the nation of Britain is gone, a total separation is what they want. Independance is the word most used. They ask if it is possible that any Colony after what has passed can wish for a Reconciliation, the Convention have tried to get the opinion the People at large, I am told that in many Counties there were not one dissenting voice.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Take our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” a four hour tour that includes admission to Independence Hall, the Declaration House, the 2nd National Bank, and Christ Church, and see the statue of John Barry!

April 11, 1776


George Washington replies to the requests of a prisoner, Samuel McKay, for his release.  “I receiv’d yours of the 9th Instant, and could wish that it was in my power, consistent with the Duty I owe my Country to grant you the relief you desire. I have made repeated applications to General Howe for an Exchange of Prisoners, but the has not thought proper to return me any Answer. It has been in his power to set you at Liberty, and if you are still continued a Prisoner the blame must lay entirely upon him.  The Situation of your family is indeed distressing, but such is the Event of War, that it is far from being singular. The brave Collo. Allen an Officer of Rank, has been torn from his dearest Connections, sent to England in Irons and is now confin’d to the most servile drudgery on board one of the King’s Ships—Your treatment Sir, & that of the other Officers, taken in Arms against the Liberties of America, has been very different—for the truth of this I appeal to your own feelings.  Whenever it is in my power to release you by a mutual Exchange I shall do it with the greatest pleasure and am Sir Your most obedt Servt…”

Join us for the Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours at Bow Tie Tours.  You may also be interested in learning more about George Washington in our vacation package dedicated to learning about our first president and commanding general.


Thomas Jefferson and Adnileb


Thomas Jefferson had dressed up his arguments in order to make success a certainty!  As a college student at William and Mary, Jefferson spent almost as much time thinking about the women of his acquaintance as he spent on Locke.  In one specific case, he probably spent more time on the woman, and that was with Rebecca Burwell, who he alternatively called in letters or in his journal, either Belinda, or Adnileb.  (Belinda backwards, get it?)

Thomas Jefferson was in  love – at least he thought he was.  One problem – Rebecca hardly knew he was alive.

Rebecca – writes Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone – was “an orphan with the best of connections.”  Her father had been a member of the Council and  her uncle, who took charge of her after her parent’s death, was William Nelson of York, also a Councilor and later acting governor.    Malone writes that she was beautiful and good, but she was not particularly nice, at least to Jefferson, who she regarded as a somewhat comical, scarecrow-looking boy.

Jefferson, who was twenty, could hardly keep his mind off of the sixteen year old girl, whose vision constantly interrupted his attempts to understand Coke’s primer of the law.  Writing to his friend John Page, he said, “Well, Page, I do wish the Devil had old Coke, for I am sure I never was so tired of an old dull scoundrel in my life.”

Writing circumspectly, he asked, “Write me very circumstantially everything which happened at the wedding. Was She there? Because if she was I ought to have been at the devil for not being there too.”  However, he then proceeded to demonstrate that Rebecca – or Adnileb – was not the only girl on his mind.  “Remember me affectionately to all the young ladies of my acquaintance, particularly the Miss Burwells and Miss Potters, and tell them that though that heavy earthly part of me, my body, be absent, the better half of me, my soul, is ever with them, and that my best wishes shall ever attend them. Tell Miss Alice Corbin that I verily believe the rats knew I was to win a pair of garters from her, or they never would have been so cruel as to carry mine away. This very consideration makes me so sure of the bet that I shall ask every body I see from that part of the world what pretty gentleman is making his addresses to her. I would fain ask the favor of Miss Becca Burwell to give me another watch paper, of her own cutting which I should esteem much more though it were a plain round one, than the nicest in the world cut by other hands: however I am afraid she would think this presumption after my suffering the other to get spoiled. If you think you can excuse me to her for this I should be glad if you would ask her. Tell Miss Suckey Potter that I heard just before I came out of town that she was offended with me about something: what it is I know not: but this I know, that I never was guilty of the least disrespect to her in my life either in word or deed: as far from it as it has been possible for me to be: I suppose when we meet next she will be endeavoring to repay an imaginary affront with a real one: but she may save herself the trouble, for nothing that she can say or do to me shall ever lessen her in my esteem. And I am determined allways to look upon her as the same honest-hearted good-humored agreeable lady I ever did. Tell—tell—In short tell them all ten thousand things more than either you or I can now or ever shall think of as long as we live.”

Jefferson could not quite decide between two contending wishes – to travel the world with his friend Page, or to marry the woman of his dreams.  He decided to make his move at the Raleigh Tavern.  He prepared diligently for his approach to her, as he told Page.  “In the most melancholy fit that ever any poor soul was, I sit down to write to you. Last night, as merry as agreeable company and dancing with Belinda in the Apollo could make me, I never could have thought the succeeding sun would have seen me so wretched as I now am! I was prepared to say a great deal: I had dressed up in my own mind, such thoughts as occurred to me, in as moving language as I knew how, and expected to have performed in a tolerably creditable manner. But, good God! When I had an opportunity of venting them, a few broken sentences, uttered in great disorder, and interrupted with pauses of uncommon length, were the too visible marks of my strange confusion!”

Whatever he had said to her, it is said that she made much fun of it to her friends.  At any event, the night marked the end of his first great romantic passion.  She would go on to marry Jacquelin Ambler, a man somewhat older than Jefferson, and Jefferson would return to his studies with a vengeance.  “Wed her?” he asked.  “No. Were she all desire could with, as fair/As would the vainest of her sex be thought/With wealth beyond what woman’s pride could waste/She could not cheat me of my freedom.”

You can hear more stories about the Founders and their romantic lives on the Bow Tie Tours nighttime event, Sex and the First City.  If you are interested in Thomas Jefferson, join us for our vacation package about the man who did so much to define the United States.

January 17, 1776


The Virginia Convention, in Richmond, orders the jailing of all African Americans who carried arms in Dunmore’s service.  They are then to be appraised and sent to the West Indies or Bay of Honduras to be sold.

Dunmore’s Proclamation, which is called by some Dunmore’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” was signed on November 7, 1775 by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, and declared martial law and promised freedom of all slaves of American revolutionaries who left their owners and joined the royal forces.  Of all fears that could be offered up to southern Americans, this was the greatest, and many were terrified that a general slave uprising – certainly Murray’s hope and intent – would follow. While a flood of slaves did escape and join the British, the hope of a general slave uprising never transpired, and Murray was ultimately forced out of the colony, taking about three hundred escaped slaves with him.


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Arthur Middleton, Signer of the Declaration

Arthur MiddletonTo many in the congress, Arthur Middleton was a rich, spoiled child.  Benjamin Rush described his  “cynical temper” while John Adams said “[h]e had little information and less argument; in rudeness and sarcasm his forte lay, and he played off his artillery without reserve.”

Middleton and his cohorts from South Carolina were not opposed to independence in principle; they simply believed that the time was not precipitous.  On the July 1 vote, South Carolina was one of the two Colonies to vote against Independence.  However, when it became clear that all of the other Colonies were going to vote for independence, they did as well.  (One must be civil…)

Middleton served with the South Carolina Militia and was captured in the Siege of Charleston.  At the time it was reported that he was imprisoned in  Fort Saint Marks in Florida, but he was probably held in house arrest, as most officers were.  He was ultimately released in a prisoner’s exchange.   He was returned to congress, where he served until he returned home and served in his state legislature.

Arthur Middleton died on New Year’s Eve Day in 1787 and left nine children behind.

To hear about him and the other Signers, join us for Bow Tie Tours, where we make history come to life!

Edward Rutledge, Signer of the Declaration

IMG_2024According to John Adams, Edward Rutledge was not exactly  one of the more stellar members of congress.  He was “a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane and puerile….uncouth and ungraceful…”

As you may well have guessed, he opposed John Adams and those who wanted to declare independence for much of the Congress, and he had much to do with putting off the vote in order to try to organize a resistance.  It wasn’t that he was against independence so much as he couldn’t see the rush, partiularly when they had no army to speak of.  Eventually, however, seeing that independence was the wish of most of his colleagues, he went along with it, but not before protecting his home of South Carolina from Thomas Jefferson’s incendiary comments against the slave trade that were in the initial draft of the Declaration.  It was in large part thanks to Edward Rutledge – believed by some, though not all, to be the youngest member of the Congress at 24 – that the sections regarding the slave trade were stricken from the final document.

During the Revolutinoary War, Rutledge served as Captain in the Charleston Battalian of Artillery, and was captured during the siege of Charleston.  Ultimately released in a prisoner exchange, he ended up serving his state as Governor, although he died before the completion of his term.

Travel along with us on Bow Tie Tours to meet all of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and to see where it was written, and where it was signed.



Thomas Stone



If you visit Signer’s Walk on our Independence Tour, you will find that things begin not with a bang, but a whimper.  First of all, the beneficiary of the first plaque, Thomas Stone, is, er, missing his face.  (Not the last one missing, unfortunately.). Come on Philly, let’s fix this thing up!

But on to Thomas Stone, who is not exactly the most famous of the Signers.  At the time Stone was chosen to attend the Second Continental Congress, Maryland was hoping the problems between Great Britain and the Colonies would somehow resolve themselves.  They would famously sit the American Civil War out, being the only state to choose neither side to ally itself with, and many Marylanders would have like to do the same thing in regards to the revolution.  Stone was not particularly popular among the patriots, because he prosecuted a man who refused to pay a tax meant to support the Anglican clergy.  Those on the side of the tax collectors were not highly popular.

Still, Stone had a fairly impressive career.  He was virtually silent about his or Maryland’s position on independence during the Congress, but when called upon to vote on Richard Henry Lee’s resolution on Independence, he voted in the affirmative.  Later he was appointed to be on the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation, the first governing principals for the new confederation of states.

Like the majority of the Founders, Stone married not only for love, but for money as well.  Margaret Brown’s dowry enabled Stone to purchase his large home and helped fund his political career.  Those who believed in science generally received innoculatioins against small pox, which meant actually giving the disease to the patient in a weak form; the patient, once recovered, never need concern him or herself about the disease again.  Unfortunately, these innoculatioins were not one hundred percent effective, and Margaret was one of the unlucky ones.  She never fully recovered from her inoculation, but lived another decade in a weakened state before dying in 1787.  This tragedy was too much for Stone, who quit his work as a lawyer and planned to go to England to forget.  However, at the age of forty-four, he inexplicably dropped dead, the victim, according to writers Denise Kiernen and Joseph D’Agned, of a broken heart!

Keep checking in for descriptions of each of the 56 Signers who are commemorated at Signer’s Walk!