Paul Revere makes his famous midnight ride

Paul Revere makes his famous midnight ride

 

On this day in history, April 18, 1775, Paul Revere makes his famous midnight ride to warn the countryside that the British Regulars were coming. Revere was one of the most well-connected and trusted patriots of the inner circle of patriot leaders in Boston.

 

 

Patriots in Boston were constantly watching British movements and listening to their conversations surreptitiously. In the days leading up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the patriots became aware that a major movement was being planned. They did not know the exact date of the movement, or the target, but common sense told them that the patriot leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, might be the target, as well as a large cache of weapons and ammunition being stored in Concord.

           

Two days before the 18th, Paul Revere was sent into the countryside to share the latest intelligence with rural patriot leaders. One stop he made was in Lexington, where Hancock and Adams were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark, having fled Boston for their own safety. Revere warned them that a major action was planned for the near future and that they may be the target. After this, he went on to Concord and warned the citizens that the arms cache might be the target. The citizens quickly went about moving the supplies to other locations.

 

On the evening of April 18, Paul Revere received a message from Dr. Joseph Warren that his inside spy had informed him the action would take place the following day and the target was the arms at Concord. Revere immediately instructed Robert Newman to place a prearranged signal in the steeple of the Old North Church to inform the inhabitants of Charlestown that the British would be making their trek by sea and not by land – hence the phrase, "One if by land, two if by sea." Revere then crossed the Charles River in a boat, arrived in Charlestown and set off for Lexington on a borrowed horse.

 

On the way, Revere was discovered by a British patrol, but he escaped to the north and made a round-about ride to Lexington. He arrived in Lexington around 12:30 that night and informed Hancock, Adams and the local militia the British were coming. Revere was joined by William Dawes, another rider sent by Warren and Dr. Samuel Prescott as they rode on to Concord. Along the way, however, they ran into another British patrol that scattered the group. Prescott got away and rode on to Concord. Dawes got away, but fell off his horse and walked back to Lexington.

 

Revere was captured, a fact unknown to most Americans. He was ordered to divulge any information he had at gunpoint. He calmly told them that 500 Americans would be there with guns shortly. Just then, shots were heard from Lexington (it was actually the militia congregating). The shots spooked the soldiers and they rode off, leaving Revere behind with no horse. Revere then went back to Lexington, and helped get some belongings of Hancock out of the town and joined the Revolution.

 

On the morning of the 19th, the American Revolution would break out when the British soldiers marched into Lexington. Through the rest of the war, Revere would frequently be called on to deliver messages as far as New York and Philadelphia. He would also serve as a lieutenant colonel of artillery in the Massachusetts Militia and as Commander of Fort Independence in Boston Harbor.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"All men by nature are equal in that equal right that every man hath to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man; being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions."
John Locke

 

 

 

Benjamin Franklin dies

Benjamin Franklin dies

 

On this day in history, April 17, 1790, Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia. Franklin is one of the most well-known and beloved Founding Fathers of the United States. Ben Franklin was born in Boston to a tallow chandler, meaning his father made candles and soap from "tallow" or animal fat. Ben had 16 brothers and sisters.

 

Ben had less than two years of formal schooling as a boy and was apprenticed to his older brother James who owned a printing shop. This is where Ben learned the skills printing and writing that would later make him rich. Franklin ran away to Philadelphia at 17 and eventually began his own printing business. He purchased the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729 and began printing his Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1732, which made him a fortune and gave him the ability to retire at the age of 42.

           

After his retirement Franklin became involved in studying electricity. His experiments and findings helped shaped our modern understanding of electrical currents. He even coined such terms as positive and negative charge, battery, charging and discharging and conductor. His writings about electricity were put into a book by a friend in England and Franklin quickly became a household name.

 

Franklin’s first political offices were as Clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly and as Deputy Postmaster of Philadelphia. He later served on the Common Council of Philadelphia, as a Justice of the Peace and as an Alderman. In 1753, he became the Deputy Postmaster General for all of North America. Franklin served in the Pennsylvania House for several terms and served as the agent of several colonies in London.

 

Once the Revolutionary War broke out, Franklin was elected to the Continental Congress where he served on the committee to write the Declaration of Independence. In what was probably his most important role, Franklin served as America’s Ambassador to France from 1778-1785. It was during this time that Franklin persuaded King Louis XVI to join the Revolution on the American side, involvement that proved crucial to the American victory.

 

After the Revolution, Franklin served three terms as governor of Pennsylvania. In one of his last acts of public service, Franklin served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He encouraged the other members to sign the US Constitution, even though it wasn’t perfect. During the Convention, he famously spoke these words:

 

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor… Have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?… I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."

 

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing."

Benjamin Franklin (1758)

General, Sir Henry Clinton is born

General, Sir Henry Clinton is born

 

On this day in history, April 16, 1730, General, Sir Henry Clinton is born. Clinton would be in charge of the British forces for North America through much of the Revolutionary War and would ultimately go down in defeat for losing the American Revolution.

 

Clinton was the son of Admiral George Clinton who was a Governor of New York in the 1740s. Consequently  young Henry spent much of his youth in America. His father eventually purchased him a captain’s commission and he rose in rank to lieutenant colonel by the time of the French and Indian War, during which he fought in several battles in Europe.

           

By 1775, Clinton was a major general and was informed he would be sent to Massachusetts to assist in putting down the rebellion. General Thomas Gage was then the commander of British troops in North America. Gage and Clinton did not get along from the start. Clinton often disagreed with Gage’s tactical and strategic choices and was not afraid to give his opinion, constantly offering  suggestions and criticisms and irritating Gage, who often disregarded him.

 

Clinton was part of the Battle of Bunker Hill that led to the slaughter of 1,000 British soldiers, leading him to famously write that it was, “A dear bought victory, another such would have ruined us.” In January, 1776, he was given command of an expedition to invade the Carolinas. Gage refused to give him the officers he wanted. When he arrived in North Carolina, Clinton decided not to make a base of operations there when he learned of a Tory defeat at Moore’s Bridge and made plans to attack Charleston, South Carolina, instead.

 

Assisted by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis and Admiral, Sir Peter Parker, the attack on Charleston was a dismal failure and Clinton returned to help General William Howe, who had replaced General Gage, take New York City. Clinton’s plans were instrumental in taking Long Island, but again, his suggestions were continually rebuffed by Howe, who was generally more cautious than Clinton.

 

In 1777, plans were made to send an army under General John Burgoyne south from Quebec that would meet another army coming up from New York, to cut off the more rebellious New England from the rest of the colonies. General Howe, however, decided to take Philadelphia, instead of meeting up with Burgoyne. Gage left Clinton in charge in New York, frustrated and unable to help either group. Burgoyne’s army was captured and Howe’s nearly defeated at Germantown, causing him to resign. Henry Clinton was then appointed his replacement as Commander-in-Chief of North America.

 

Clinton returned the army to New York and oversaw the exodus of troops to the West Indies to defend British interests there. He tried to resign numerous times, but was refused by the King. In late 1779, he adopted a southern strategy intended to take the less rebellious southern colonies and personally led the capture of Charleston and Major General Benjamin Lincoln’s 5,000 man army in 1780. Clinton returned to New York after this and left Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis in control. Cornwallis ultimately failed in recapturing the south and when he surrendered his army, Clinton received much of the blame.

 

Forced to resign, Clinton returned to England. He published a book placing the blame for the failure in America on Cornwallis and continued to serve in Parliament. In 1793, Clinton became a full-fledged general and was appointed Governor of Gibraltar, but he died in 1794 before taking the position.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges."

Alexander Hamilton (1775)

Artist Charles Willson Peale is born

Artist Charles Willson Peale is born

 

On this day in history, April 15, 1741, Artist Charles Willson Peale is born. Peale would become one of the most prolific painters of prominent figures of the American Revolution. He was born in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland and trained as a maker of horse saddles as a boy. He first became interested in art when he saw some paintings at the home of a wealthy client. Thinking the paintings weren’t done very well, he tried his hand at painting his own images and found that he had a natural talent for it.

 

Peale traded a saddle for several lessons from prominent Maryland and Pennsylvania painter John Hesselius and traveled to Boston to visit the studio of John Singleton Copley, another painter who would later specialize in paintings from the American Revolution. In time, wealthy Maryland planter and judge John Beale Bordley would raise money to send the young Peale to Europe where he studied for three years with American painter Benjamin West, who was then beginning to paint pictures for King George III.

           

After returning to Annapolis, Peale set up his own studio where he displayed his own works and took commissions to do portraits. When the American Revolution broke out, Peale moved his family to Philadelphia and began painting portraits of prominent members of Congress and their families. During the Revolution and the years leading up to it, Peale painted more than 300 portraits, many of which you have probably seen, including portraits of John Hancock, Dorothy Quincy Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Henry Knox, Thomas McKean, Benjamin Rush and Nathanael Greene. Peale also served in several battles of the American Revolution.

 

The first time George Washington sat for his portrait was with Charles Willson Peale in 1772. Peale would paint Washington seven times and place him in various settings, usually in military attire. Peale’s portrait George Washington at the Battle of Princeton sold for more than $21 million dollars in 2005, the highest amount ever paid for an American painting at the time.

 

After the war, Peale became interested in natural history. He funded scientific expeditions and displayed artifacts and animal specimens in a museum in his home called the Philadelphia Museum. This would be the first museum of its kind in America. It would eventually be moved to larger quarters and would house such things as mastodon bones dug up in one of his expeditions, a large number of birds and American plant and animal species. This museum was the first to set up animal displays with painted backgrounds showing them in their natural habitat, many of which were mounted by Peale himself. The Philadelphia Museum was eventually sold to none other than entertainers PT Barnum and Moses Kimball after Peale’s death.

 

Peale spent his later years building the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and continued painting until his death. He experimented in many different fields, including taxidermy, dentistry and optometry and wrote several books as well. Peale trained his own children in painting (all of the boys were named after artists or scientists) and several of them, including Rembrandt, Titian, Raphaelle and Rubens, became renowned artists in their own right. In addition to his sons, Peale also trained his brother James, his nieces Sarah Miriam and Anna Claypole Peale and his nephew Charles Peale Polk, all of whom became renowned painters as well.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can."

Samuel Adams

 

George Washington learns he has been elected the first President

George Washington learns he has been elected the first President

 

On this day in history, April 14, 1789, George Washington learns he has been elected the first President of the United States. The first presidential election under the new US Constitution was held from December 15, 1788 through January 10, 1789. At that time, each state set its own rules for conducting elections and choosing electors for the electoral college, who would then vote for president.

 

The electors had to be chosen by January 7, 1789. Each state was given a number of electors equal to its number of senators plus its number of representatives in the House of Representatives. Some states chose their electors by popular vote, others were chosen by their legislatures, or by a combination of the two. After the electors were chosen, they were to meet in their respective states on February 4 to cast their votes for president. These votes were then transmitted to New York City, where the federal government was then meeting, to be counted by Congress.        

 

The first Congress began officially on March 4, 1789, but all the members were not yet present. A quorum of members did not exist in the House of Representatives until April 1st and in the Senate until April 6. Since this was the first day that both houses could meet in an official joint session, the electoral college votes were counted on this day.

 

John Langdon of New Hampshire had been elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate. This was the highest position in the Senate and the leader of the Senate in the absence of the Vice-President. Since there was no Vice-President yet, Langdon took the responsibility of tabulating the votes. He opened, counted and announced the votes to Congress. Once it was determined that George Washington had won and John Adams had come in second, Langdon dispatched a Certification of Election and a letter to each of them to inform them of their victories.

 

Washington’s letter was sent by the hand of Charles Thomson of Philadelphia, the longtime Secretary of the Continental Congress. Thomson served in this position from 1774 through July of 1789, helping the fledgling government in its first few months before he officially left the office.

 

Thomson arrived at Mount Vernon on April 14, 1789. He stood in the Large Dining Room in Mount Vernon where he announced to George Washington that he had been unanimously elected the first President of the United States. The humbled Washington immediately wrote a short letter to Senator Langdon that said:

 

    Sir,

 

    I had the honor to receive your Official Communication, by the hand of Mr. Secretary Thompson, about one o’clock this day. Having concluded to obey the important & flattering call of my Country, and having been impressed with an idea of the expediency of my being with Congress at as early a period as possible; I propose to commence my journey on Thursday morning which will be the day after tomorrow.

 

    I have the honor to be with sentiments of esteem Sir Your most obedt. servt.

    G. Washington 

 

Washington arrived in New York City to great fanfare on April 23rd and was sworn in as President on April 30 at Federal Hall.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.”

George Washington

Thomas Jefferson is born

Thomas Jefferson is born

 

On this day in history, April 13, 1743, Thomas Jefferson is born. He would write the Declaration of Independence, be America’s Ambassador to France, be the first Secretary of State and the 3rd President of the United States.

 

Jefferson was born to a plantation owning family. He inherited a large amount of land and slaves when his father died when he was only 14 years old. He was educated by private tutors until he began attending the College of William and Mary where he met eminent lawyer George Wythe. Jefferson became a protégé of Wythe, who trained him to become a lawyer. Over the years, Jefferson learned 5 languages, studied architecture, religion and science and learned to play the violin.    

 

Jefferson first became involved in politics when he was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1769. As tensions increased with Great Britain, he wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which detailed the grievances against England and the rights of the colonists, in 1774. Jefferson was sent to the Continental Congress from Virginia in 1775. When the time came to declare independence from Great Britain, the other members of Congress, who were impressed with A Summary View, asked Jefferson to write the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Congress reworded portions of it, but the language is largely Jefferson’s.

Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Virginia Monticello – the home of Thomas Jefferson

 

During the war, Jefferson continued to serve in the Virginia legislature and as governor from 1779-1781. While governor, he was nearly captured by British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at Monticello. After the war, Jefferson served for a time in the Confederation Congress and was appointed Minister to France from 1785 to 1789. When the new US Constitution was adopted, Jefferson returned to the United States and accepted an appointment from George Washington as his first Secretary of State. He soon became aligned with James Madison and they formed the Democratic-Republican party to oppose Washington and the Federalist Party.

 

In 1796, Jefferson received the second highest number of votes for President and thus became Vice-President under John Adams, whom he opposed in most matters. In 1800, the unpopular Adams was not re-elected and Jefferson won the presidency, which he would hold for two terms. During his first term, Jefferson attempted to reduce tensions with the Barbary states of North Africa and made the famous Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, which doubled the size of the United States. In 1804, he sent the famed Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the new lands and find a path to the Pacific. During his second term, tensions increased with Great Britain, later breaking out into the War of 1812.

 

In his retirement, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, which he had been planning for years. Though he inherited slaves when he was young, he was not able to release them by law. Jefferson advocated the abolition of slavery his entire life and was known to treat his slaves well. Jefferson wrote his own epitaph, which points out the three accomplishments he was most proud of: HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON, AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"It is the manners and spirit of a people, which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution." Thomas Jefferson (1787)

North Carolina is the first state to call for independence

North Carolina is the first state to call for independence

 

On this day in history, April 12, 1776, North Carolina is the first state to call for independence from Great Britain. Her Provincial Congress, meeting at Halifax, North Carolina, passed a resolution that has come to be known as the Halifax Resolves. In the document, the Congress instructs its representatives to the Continental Congress to vote for independence if the other colonies agree to do so. The resolution does not instruct them to introduce a resolution for independence to the Congress, but to vote in the affirmative if the other colonies agree to it.

 

North Carolina was a hotbed of rebellion against royal authority from the beginning of tensions with England. North Carolina was the site of the "War of the Regulation," a conflict that lasted from 1760 to 1771. This "war" was an effort of poor western farmers to remove corrupt officials in the more prosperous east who were oppressing them with high taxes. The movement was finally defeated at the Battle of Alamance in 1771.

           

After the Boston Tea Party, the women of Edenton, North Carolina joined in a compact to boycott tea, the first political resistance organized by women in the colonies. The first North Carolina Provincial Congress met in 1774 and elected members to attend the Continental Congress. The second Provincial Congress met the next year, causing Royal Governor Josiah Martin to dissolve the official assembly.

 

North Carolina was the site of an early invasion attempt by the British in 1776, but the attempt failed when a large group of Loyalists were defeated at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The Halifax Resolves were adopted less than a month later on April 12. In July, after Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a formal vote for independence to the Continental Congress, North Carolina’s representatives, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper and Lyman Hall, voted for independence in accordance with their instructions in the Resolves. In the same month, Governor Martin fled with the attempted British invasion fleet, bringing royal rule to an end in North Carolina.

 

North Carolina remained free from fighting with the British for the next several years as the fighting was concentrated in the north. During this time, however, she was involved in numerous battles with Indian tribes allied with the British to the west. In the latter half of the war, the fighting moved south and North Carolina saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war. After the crucial Battle of Guilford Courthouse, British General Charles Cornwallis wrote, "I never saw such fighting… the Americans fought like demons."

 

Though the battle was won by the British, Cornwallis’ troops were worn out and ill-supplied after a year of chasing the Continental Army through the state. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse finally broke his strength and Cornwallis was forced to flee to the coast for reinforcements, where he was trapped at Yorktown, Virginia and forced to surrender, bringing about the end of the American Revolution.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled…"

Thomas Paine (1776)