American General Benjamin Lincoln dies

American General Benjamin Lincoln dies

 

On this day in history, May 9, 1810, American General Benjamin Lincoln dies. Benjamin Lincoln was born into a prominent family in Hingham, Massachusetts, 16 miles southeast of Boston, in 1733. His father was wealthy and politically active and Benjamin followed in his footsteps, becoming the town constable at the age of 21 and the town clerk at the age of 24. Lincoln also joined the Suffolk County militia as an adjutant under his father who was the colonel.

 

Lincoln held town posts for 20 years leading up to the Revolution and became known for his administrative ability. He did not serve in combat during the French and Indian War, but was involved in procuring supplies, recruitment and training of his father’s regiment. Shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution, Lincoln was elected to the colonial assembly and became a lieutenant colonel in the militia.

           

When British Governor Thomas Gage dissolved the colonial assembly in 1774, the representatives continued to meet as a provincial congress. Lincoln became the Congress’ secretary and held several key administrative positions supplying the army. When the war broke out he became a Major General over the militia. After the British abandoned Boston, Lincoln was given command of a Massachusetts regiment sent to join the Continental Army at New York. They saw action at the Battle of White Plains, but soon returned to Massachusetts, as their enlistment terms had expired.

 

In 1777, Lincoln was appointed a major general in the Continental Army on the advice of George Washington. He was sent to assist in repelling the British invasion from Canada and took part in the Battles of Saratoga, where he was shot in the ankle, an injury that would plague him for years.

 

In 1778, Lincoln was given command over the Southern Department of the Continental Army where the British were attempting to take over Georgia and South Carolina. His efforts were constantly plagued by the unwillingness of local authorities to cooperate with the Army. He was constantly short on soldiers and supplies. He successfully repelled an invasion attempt on Charleston in May, 1779, but failed to capture Savannah in October. Lincoln’s worst failure occurred in May of 1780 when his entire army was captured at the Siege of Charleston, the largest American defeat of the entire war.

 

In spite of this failure, Lincoln retained his good standing in the eyes of Washington and the Congress, largely because he had obeyed the civilian authorities in Charleston who didn’t want him to abandon the town. After being exchanged as a prisoner of war, Lincoln was given command of one of three regiments that marched with George Washington to Yorktown, Virginia. Lincoln was the overall general in charge of the siege and, as second in command to Washington, received the surrendered sword of British General Cornwallis from his second in command, General Charles O’Hara.

 

After Yorktown, Lincoln was made the first Secretary of War by the Confederation Congress until the end of the war. Returning to Massachusetts, Lincoln invested in land in Maine and retained his position as first Major General of the militia. In this position, Lincoln led an army that put down Shay’s Rebellion in 1787. Lincoln then served at the Massachusetts Constitutional Ratifying Convention where he supported the Constitution’s adoption and served a term as lieutenant governor.

 

Once George Washington became President, he appointed Lincoln to the influential post of Customs Collector for Boston. He held this lucrative position for the rest of his life. Washington called on him a few times to conduct sensitive negotiations with Indian tribes as well. Lincoln finally passed away in 1810 in Hingham and is buried in the Old Ship Burying Ground.

 

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Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
Thomas Jefferson


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American General John Stark dies

American General John Stark dies

 

On this day in history, May 8, 1822, American General John Stark dies. John Stark was a Revolutionary War hero from New Hampshire, especially known for his victory at the Battle of Bennington. Stark was born in 1728 to Irish immigrants who settled in Derryfield, which is now Manchester, New Hampshire.

 

When he was 23 years old, Stark was captured by Abenaki Indians while on a hunting trip and was forced to "run the gauntlet," which meant he had to run through two lines of Indian warriors who would pummel him with their fists. John attacked the first warrior in the line, which so impressed the chief that he adopted him into the tribe. The following year, John was bought back to white society for a ransom.

           

When the French and Indian War broke out, John served as a top lieutenant in the famed Rogers Rangers, an elite scouting and special missions force. In 1759, the Rangers were ordered to attack the Abenaki settlement where John’s adopted Indian family lived. He refused to take part in the mission and returned to Derryfield to begin life with his new wife, Molly Page.

 

When the American Revolution broke out, John became colonel of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment, which marched straight to Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Stark’s regiment, along with James Reed’s 3rd New Hampshire Regiment, came to the rescue of American Colonel William Prescott when he called for reinforcements. They quickly formed a redoubt and repelled several British assaults, killing scores of British soldiers. When Prescott’s men ran out of ammunition, the New Hampshire regiments laid down covering fire to let them escape.

 

For his heroism, Stark came to the attention of George Washington and his regiment was brought into the Continental Army. They helped in the defenses of New York before being ordered north to defend the retreating American army from the failed Siege of Quebec. After helping at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, Stark returned to New Hampshire to recruit more men. While there, he learned of the promotion of several others, who had less experience, to general over himself. He was offended and resigned his position, but declared he would still work for the defense of New Hampshire.

 

As the British began a major invasion from Canada in the summer of 1777, Stark took the position of Brigadier General of the New Hampshire militia, under the condition that he would not take orders from the Continental Army. In August, Stark learned the British had sent a large force to capture supplies at Bennington, Vermont. Stark took hundreds of men to defend the city and met the British at the Battle of Bennington on August 16. Aided by Seth Warner’s Green Mountain Boys, Stark captured or killed nearly a thousand British soldiers, which won Stark widespread acclaim and helped secure the surrender of British General John Burgoyne’s army several weeks later. For the victory, Stark received an offer to be a Brigadier General in the Continental Army, which he accepted. Stark would serve on and off as the commander of the Northern Department for the rest of the war.

 

After the war, Stark returned to farming in Derryfield, where he remained the rest of his life. In 1809, veterans from the Battle of Bennington asked for his presence at a ceremony remembering the battle. Being in ill health, Stark declined to attend, sending a letter instead. The letter closed with the statement, “Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils.” The phrase, “Live free or die,” stuck in the minds of New Hampshire residents and became the official state motto in 1945. John Stark passed away at Derryfield in 1822 at the age of 93.

 

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Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Live free or die, death is not the worst of evils.”
General John Stark
 

 

 


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John Hancock writes of his arrival in New York City

John Hancock writes of his arrival in New York City

 

On this day in history, May 7, 1775, John Hancock writes of his arrival in New York City to great fanfare on his way to attend the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. When Hancock arrived there, throngs of people greeted he and the other delegates. He was received with such great honor that people insisted he unhitch his horses from his carriage so they could pull it into town themselves.

 

Hancock wrote to his fiancée Dorothy Quincy about the events of the day before when he arrived in New York. Hancock had fled Boston along with other patriot leaders shortly before the American Revolution broke out. He and Dorothy were staying in Lexington with Samuel Adams and John’s Aunt Lydia Hancock, who had raised him. John and Samuel Adams fled Lexington before the British arrived and made their way to New York on their way to attend the Continental Congress, arriving just outside town on May 6.

           

They joined up with the other delegates from Massachusetts and Connecticut there and were greeted by soldiers who would escort them into the city. As they approached town, more soldiers arrived, as well as people in carriages and on horseback. Hancock wrote of being astonished at the thousands of people who came to greet them.

 

When Hancock was within a mile of the city, his carriage was stopped and people wearing harnesses began unharnessing the horses from his carriage, intending to pull him into town themselves. He was mortified by the suggestion and talked them out of it. As he got to the entrance of the city, where he guessed there were more than 7,000 people waiting, another attempt was made to remove the horses and pull the carriage by the people. Again, he talked them out of it.

 

Hancock goes on to tell Dorothy where he stayed and what he ate and so forth. He also asks about friends and relatives from Boston and inquired about whether or not they got out of the city, which was then occupied by the British and under siege by the American militia. Dorothy and Aunt Lydia had gone to Fairfield, Connecticut to stay with a family friend, Thaddeus Burr. Burr was an uncle of Aaron Burr, Jr., who would later become Vice-President. Hancock asks Dorothy to write to him every day.

 

After leaving New York, Hancock travels on to Philadelphia where the Second Continental Congress would hold its first meeting on May 10. On the 24th, he would be elected its first President and a year later he would be the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

 

During a break in August of 1775, Hancock would travel to Fairfield and marry Dorothy. They would then move to Philadelphia together to begin their marriage in very unusual circumstances. While in Philadelphia, they stayed in the same inn where many other delegates to Congress were staying. Dorothy was one woman in the midst of a hundred men. Fellow Massachusetts delegate John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, who was a relative of Dorothy’s, that she was very polite and conducted herself quite properly amongst so many men.

 

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Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual… Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.
John Hancock


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Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys is born

Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys is born

 

On this day in history, May 6, 1743, Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys is born. Seth Warner was born in Roxbury, Connecticut and moved to Bennington, Vermont in 1763. Bennington was part of the disputed New Hampshire Grants between New York and New Hampshire, which is today the state of Vermont. New Hampshire began granting settlers tracts of land in the area in the 1740s, but a 1764 Royal verdict gave the land to New York causing New York to invalidate all the New Hampshire grants.

 

New York began seeking the return of the land granted to New Hampshire settlers, who refused to give up their lands. The New Hampshire settlers organized a militia group called the Green Mountain Boys to  protect their lands from New York officials and settlers. The Green Mountain Boys were led by Ethan Allen and his cousins, Seth Warner and Remember Baker. They would harass and threaten any New York officials, surveyors or settlers that came into the area. As a leader of the Green Mountain Boys, Warner soon had a price placed on his head by Governor William Tryon of New York.

           

When the American Revolution broke out, the Green Mountain Boys immediately set out on a mission to capture Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The fort was notoriously undermanned and dilapidated, but had a very large store of cannons and artillery. The Green Mountain Boys captured the fort on May 10, less than a month after Lexington and Concord. Warner then went on and captured Fort Crown Point a few days later. For the capture of these two forts, Allen, Warner and the Green Mountain Boys became legends across the colonies. The captured artillery was carried across the mountains by a young Colonel Henry Knox to George Washington at the siege of Boston and used to fortify Dorchester Heights, which caused the British to evacuate the city.

 

The Continental Congress soon authorized a regiment to be made up of Green Mountain Boys. Seth Warner was chosen to lead the regiment in place of Allen, probably because of Allen’s legendary temper. The unit was officially called Warner’s Regiment. The Regiment served in the invasion of Canada and helped in the capture St. John’s and Montreal and with the siege of Quebec. Warner personally led the American rear guard in its retreat from Canada the next spring.

 

In 1777, Warner, now a colonel, participated in the Saratoga campaign, displaying superb leadership in several key battles. On August 16, he assisted General John Stark in driving the British off at the Battle of Bennington, a feat which earned him a statue at the battle site. Warner was present at the eventual surrender of Burgoyne.

 

In March, 1778, Warner was made a Brigadier General of the Vermont militia. He was quite ill, however, by this time, possibly from arthritis or tuberculosis, and did not spend much time with his troops anymore. As the war shifted to the south, Warner’s Regiment was disbanded in 1781 and Warner returned to Roxbury permanently.

 

Warner was in a tough financial position by this time as his finances had largely been neglected during the war. He passed away at the young age of 41 in 1784, leaving his wife and three children, ages 16, 10 and 7. His wife, Esther, petitioned both the federal government and the Vermont government for financial assistance due to her husband’s war service. Eventually the Vermont government awarded her 2,000 acres, but the land was rocky and worthless. Warner is buried in Roxbury’s Center Green.

 

Note: Seth Warner’s birthdate is sometimes listed as May 17, 1743. It is May 6 by the Old Style Julian calendar. May 17 by the New Style Gregorian calendar. The British Empire switched to the New Style in 1752.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"The great and chief end therefore, of men united into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property."
John Locke


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Ben Franklin returns from Great Britain

Ben Franklin returns from Great Britain

 

On this day in history, May 5, 1775, Ben Franklin returns from Great Britain after having spent much of the previous two decades as a colonial agent in London. Franklin had become independently wealthy by his early 40s due to the success of his publishing business. After he retired, he devoted much of his time to scientific pursuits and to politics.

 

Franklin first became involved in politics in 1736 when he became the clerk for Pennsylvania’s colonial assembly. He served in this position for 15 years. He served as a deputy postmaster of North America for roughly the same period. He also served on Philadelphia’s City Council and as a Justice of the Peace. In 1751, Franklin was elected as a representative to the Colonial Assembly for the first time, a position he would hold for six years. He would later become the  Crown’s Postmaster for all of North America.

           

In 1757, Ben Franklin became Pennsylvania’s representative to the Crown in London. This began a long career of service to the colonies in England. He would spend 18 of the next 20 years in London as an agent for Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. For a short stint in the early 1760s, he would return to the colonies and serve in the Pennsylvania Assembly again and would be elected the Speaker of the House in 1764.

 

Franklin returned to London in late 1764 and resumed his career as agent for the colonies. Franklin disagreed with many British policies, but for the most part thought the colonists would have to submit to London’s plans. As time progressed, however, his mind slowly changed and he began to realize that Parliament had no intention of being reasonable in its treatment of the colonists.

 

In late 1772, Franklin obtained several private letters from Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, the governor and lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts, from several years earlier. In the letters, the officials recommended abridging civil liberties in Massachusetts in response to the colonists’ rebellion and in order to enforce Parliament’s will. Franklin privately sent the letters back to officials in Massachusetts who published them in public newspapers. Colonists were outraged and Parliament was shamed.

 

For his role in the affair, Ben Franklin was brought before the King’s Privy Council in January, 1774. He was humiliated and removed from his position as Postmaster General. Later in the year, Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in response to the Boston Tea Party. The Coercive Acts shut down Boston Harbor and the Massachusetts Assembly until the tea was paid for. Franklin realized through all this that reconciliation with England was impossible. He left England permanently and arrived back in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775. The following day, he was informed he had been chosen to attend the Second Continental Congress as a delegate from Pennsylvania.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Ben Franklin


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Rhode Island is the first state to declare independence

Rhode Island is the first state to declare independence

 

On this day in history, May 4, 1776, Rhode Island is the first state to declare independence from Great Britain. Rhode Island had an independent streak from its very beginnings. The colony was founded by Roger Williams, a Baptist minister who was kicked out of Massachusetts for his different religious views from the majority.

 

Williams founded Providence Plantations in 1636 at the northern tip of Narragansett Bay on land given to him by the Narragansett tribe. In 1637, more Baptist refugees from Massachusetts, including Anne Hutchinson, founded another colony on Rhode Island at the southern tip of the bay. Today the island is called Aquidneck Island and has the cities of Newport, Middleton and Portsmouth on it.

           

The two colonies joined together for common defense and common interests and were granted a Royal Charter in 1663 by Charles II, officially recognizing the "Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The colony was known for religious toleration and became an early home for Baptists, Jews, Quakers and others. Because of its proximity to the ocean, Rhode Island became a major shipping and mercantile center and a center of great wealth. Much of the colonial slave trade was handled by Rhode Island merchants.

 

As the American Revolution approached, Rhode Island was particularly affected by British shipping regulations and taxes, which fomented anger and rebellion in the colony. In 1769, citizens of Newport burned the HMS Liberty for enforcing anti-smuggling regulations. The Liberty had formerly been owned by John Hancock and seized by the British for alleged smuggling. In 1772, the citizens of Providence burned the British customs schooner HMS Gaspee for the same reason.

 

On May 4, 1776, the Rhode Island General Assembly declared its independence from Great Britain, the first of the original 13 colonies to do so, two months before the rest declared independence on July 2. Ironically, Rhode Island would be the last of the colonies to ratify the US Constitution. Rhode Islanders were reluctant to cede sovereignty to the United States government, keeping in line with their independent streak.

 

Rhode Island was wealthy enough that it could possibly have survived as an independent state. The primary way for the federal government to raise funds in that time was through taxes on trade. Rhode Island’s heavy dependence on shipping meant it would have paid a heavy share of these taxes. Eventually, however, Rhode Islanders realized they would pay even heavier taxes to trade with the United States as a foreign country than as a member state and she became the last of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790.

 

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Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?
Patrick Henry


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Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born

Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born

 

On this day in history, May 3, 1727, Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born in Boston. Margaret would be a staunch Loyalist supporter of the British in the opening days of the American Revolution. She would eventually be forced to flee the country and return to England.

 

Margaret Green Draper was the great-granddaughter of Samuel Green, one of the earliest printers in North America and the printer of the Cambridge Press. In 1704, the Boston News-Letter began publication by the Boston postmaster John Campbell. It was the first regularly published newspaper in North America. Bartholomew Green, Samuel Green’s son, became the printer for the Boston News-Letter. Bartholomew purchased the newspaper in 1721 and continued its publication until his death in 1732. Ownership passed to his son-in-law, John Draper in 1732 and to John’s son Richard in 1762.

           

Richard Draper, who married his cousin, Margaret Green, in 1750, changed the name of the paper to the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter. The paper became the official printer for the Massachusetts Royal Government in the 1760s and, as such, printed many pro-government articles. When the Stamp Act was enacted, many colonial newspapers felt threatened by the tax on the use of paper and consequently became staunchly anti-Parliament. The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, however, remained pro-British, although it did print articles reflecting both sides of the issues.

 

Richard Draper died in 1774 and Margaret took over the paper at the age of 47. Under her leadership, the paper leaned even more staunchly to the pro-British side. Margaret gave leadership of the paper to 20 year old John Howe who had served as an apprentice under her husband. John wrote pro-British articles about the Boston Tea party in 1773 and probably wrote the paper’s article about the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first article to be published about the incidents in the colonies.

 

After Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts militia surrounded Boston and began a year long siege of the city. Margaret continued publication in the city under British protection. Every other newspaper in the city shut down during the siege. Finally, in March of 1775, the Americans, under George Washington, occupied Dorchester Heights south of the city and fortified it with cannons brought from Fort Ticonderoga. The British found their position to be untenable and were forced to evacuate the city.

 

Loyalists such as Margaret were then faced with a decision. Stay in the city and face the wrath of the local patriots for their support of the British, or flee the city with the British army into exile. Margaret certainly would have been a target of patriots as publisher of a pro-British newspaper. Her papers had already been destroyed in public burnings by patriots.

 

Margaret chose to leave Boston and her lifelong home with the British on March 17 with more than 9,000 troops and 1,000 Loyalist civilians. The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, North America’s first regularly published newspaper, ended publication with Margaret’s departure. The evacuees landed in Halifax and Margaret eventually emigrated to London. She successfully petitioned the British government for a pension, which was granted due to her support of the Crown. Margaret passed away in London in 1802.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

Self-defense is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish; the immediate gift of the Creator, obliges everyone to resist the first approaches of tyranny.
Elbridge Gerry


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