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Jay’s Treaty is Signed

Jay's Treaty is signed

 

On this day in history, November 19, 1794, Jay's Treaty is signed to bring to an end several years of conflict between Great Britain and the United States after the end of the American Revolution. Once America's independence had been achieved with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, several areas of contention with Britain began to arise. Things got worse and worse, until it looked like war might break out again.

 

Britain was in a war with France and wanted to keep the Americans on its side. Britain was capturing American merchant vessels sailing into French waters and impressing American sailors into service in the British navy. Americans wanted to be reimbursed for their confiscated ships. Trade between the two countries was vital for America's continued growth and for Britain's ability to sustain itself as a leading global power.

 

Britain still had several operating forts on the frontier in the Ohio River valley, territory it had ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. Indian tribes in the area who were hostile to the US were receiving help from British Canada. Conflict also continued along the northeast border with Canada because of unclear boundaries between the two nations. In addition, slaveholders in the South wanted reparations from Britain for slaves who had fled with the British when they left America and British Loyalists who had left America at the end of the war wanted remunerations for their confiscated property.

 

George Washington sent John Jay to London to try to negotiate a peace and resolve these issues to prevent a further war. John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and, along with John Adams and Ben Franklin, was one of the chief negotiators of the Treaty of Paris. Jay was able to negotiate a treaty with England, but the terms were not all that favorable to the Americans and many in the United States vehemently opposed the treaty's signing. President Washington approved the treaty and it was eventually ratified by the required 2/3s of the Senate.

 

In Jay's Treaty, the British agreed to abandon the forts in the Ohio River Valley by June 1796. They opened up limited trade to the Americans in the West Indies and in India. They agreed to establishing commissions to deal with boundary issues with Canada, reparations for captured merchant vessels and remuneration for Loyalist losses. Jay's Treaty failed to deal with remunerations for slave losses and with British impressment of American sailors.

 

Many Americans, including the Republican faction led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, opposed Jay's Treaty. They felt it gave the "monarchists" in Britain to much favor. Jefferson's party favored France instead, which was having its own revolution at the time. Opposition to Jay's Treaty was so strong that John Jay was burned in effigy in towns across the country. In the end, George Washington supported the Treaty, even though he didn't agree with everything in it, because he thought it would help avert another war. Indeed it did, and war was averted with Great Britain for another decade, when the War of 1812 began and some of the remaining conflicts between the United States and Great Britain were dealt with once and for all.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent." 
John Jay

General Philip Schuyler Dies

General Philip Schuyler dies

 

On this day in history, November 18, 1804, General Philip Schuyler dies. Philip Schuyler was a wealthy planter from Albany, New York who owned tens of thousands of acres of land and his own lumber, flour and flax mills, including the first flax mill in America for making linen.

 

Schuyler served in the French and Indian War as a young man after raising his own militia company and was given the commission of Captain. He became a quartermaster during the war, meaning he was in charge of procuring and managing equipment and supplies.

 

When the American Revolution broke out, Philip Schuyler was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress from New York, a position he served in only for a few months when he was appointed a Major General in the Continental Army and was placed in charge of the Northern Department. General Schuyler planned the invasion of Canada, but had to place General Richard Montgomery in charge of the operations due to ill health. Montgomery was killed at the Battle of Quebec.

 

The American invasion of Canada failed and the British launched an attack against New York from Canada in 1777. General Schuyler played a major role in planning the patriots’ defense. In July of that year, Fort Ticonderoga fell to a small detachment of British soldiers and General Schuyler was replaced by General Horatio Gates for dereliction of duty. The British were eventually defeated in New York at the Battle of Saratoga under General Gates and Benedict Arnold, but Schuyler’s country home at Saratoga was destroyed in the process. It was later rebuilt and is part of the Saratoga National Historical Park today.

 

Schuyler demanded a court martial to investigate the charges of dereliction of duty against him and the court martial exonerated him, but he resigned from the army on April 19, 1779. After this Schuyler served two more terms in the Continental Congress.

 

Over the next decade, General Schuyler served in the New York State Senate from 1780 to 1784 and from 1786 to 1790. In 1789, he became a senator to the First United States Congress from New York. He lost re-election and returned to the State Senate from 1792 to 1797. He was elected a US Senator again in 1797, but resigned in 1798 due to ill health. General Schuyler and his wife, Catherine, had fifteen children. One of whom, Elizabeth, married Alexander Hamilton, future Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility."
Alexander Hamilton (1788)

Henry Knox Begins the Knox Expedition

Henry Knox begins the Knox Expedition

 

On this day in history, November 17, 1775, Henry Knox begins the "Knox Expedition," leaving Boston for Fort Ticonderoga at the direction of George Washington to bring 60 tons of captured British artillery across the frozen mountains of New England and back to Boston to help drive the British out of the city. The trip became known as the Knox Expedition and makes the history books because of Knox's daring feat, bringing the cannons across a large lake, on snow sleds and across frozen rivers.

 

Henry Knox was a 25 year old bookseller from Boston with an interest in military history. When George Washington took control of the Continental Army at Boston, he and Knox became friends. Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont had captured Fort Ticonderoga in New York in May, along with its huge supply of cannons and other materials.

 

Washington sent Knox to retrieve the cannons, a journey that was supposed to last two weeks. Knox reached Ticonderoga on December 5. He chose 60 tons of cannons, mortars and howitzers, including several 24 pound cannons known as "Big Berthas," which were 11 feet long and weighed 5,000 pounds.

 

The cannons were carried to the northern end of Lake George and put on a ship. The ship grounded once on a rock and began to sink at another point because of the weight. It was almost a disaster, but the water was bailed out and the cannons arrived safely at the southern tip of the lake. It was already winter and Knox built 42 sleds to pull the cannons across the wilderness with 80 yoke of oxen. Two frozen rivers had to be crossed and several cannons broke through the ice, but were retrieved each time.

 

Snow and ice, including two feet of snow that fell on Christmas Day, impeded Knox's progress, but he continued to press on. John Adams wrote that he saw the "noble train of artillery," as the equipment came to be called, pass through Framingham, Massachusetts on January 25. The weapons arrived at Cambridge, just outside Boston, on January 27, nearly two months after leaving Ticonderoga. General Washington placed the cannons around Boston, including at the high point of Dorchester Heights, overlooking both the city and the harbor. The advantage forced General William Howe to abandon the city and the British never did return to northern New England.

 

Coincidentally, Henry Knox received a Colonel's commission from the Continental Congress, and was appointed Chief of the Continental Artillery, also on November 17, 1775, the same day he left to begin the expedition. One year later, after the Battle of Trenton, in which his artillery played an important role, Colonel Knox was promoted to Brigadier General. He became one of George Washington's most trusted advisers. He was promoted to Major General in 1782 and later served as President Washington’s Secretary of War.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The powers of Congress are totally inadequate to preserve the balance between the respective States, and oblige them to do those things which are essential for their own welfare or for the general good.”
Henry Knox

Americans lose the Battle of Fort Washington

Americans lose the Battle of Fort Washington

 

On this day in history, November 16, 1776, the Americans lose the Battle of Fort Washington. Fort Washington sat on the highest point of Manhattan Island, then called York Island. It was built in the summer of that year to prevent British ships from sailing up the Hudson River after George Washington and his officers had decided the area would be impenetrable by the British. Fort Washington sat on one side of the Hudson, while Fort Lee sat on the other side. Fire from the two forts, along with a series of impediments constructed in the river would prevent the British from advancing deeper into New York.

 

After the British abandoned Boston, George Washington concentrated on the defense of New York City. The British began landing troops on Staten Island unopposed in July and by August had 32,000 men in the area. They quickly conquered Long Island and attacked Manhattan in mid-September, driving Washington’s men all the way north to White Plains.

 

Washington left a contingent of 1200 men, under the command of Colonel Robert Magaw, to defend Fort Washington and hopefully the Hudson River Valley. In late October, Magaw’s men had the chance to prove the value of the Fort when two British ships attempted to go upriver. The ships were badly damaged and had to be towed back downriver by the British.

 

George Washington’s army was defeated at White Plains on October 28 causing him to flee and separate his army. British General William Howe marched his forces back to Manhattan to take Fort Washington and drive the Americans from the island for good. Some wanted Washington to abandon the Fort, but several of his chief officers believed it was defensible and advised him to defend the Fort, which he did.

 

Washington went with part of his troops down the western side of the Hudson to Fort Lee, across the Hudson from Fort Washington. On the morning of November 16, Howe’s men began their attack on the Fort with a three pronged attack from three sides. The American positions around the Fort fell quickly and Washington, who had come over from Fort Lee, along with several of his key generals were forced to flee back across the river. The Americans were severely outnumbered and the British stormed the Fort once the outer defenses fell. 59 Americans were killed and 96 were wounded at the Battle of Fort Washington, but the biggest loss was 2,838 men that were captured, along with 34 cannons and a great deal of supplies and ammunition. Of the 2,800 men that were captured, 2,000 died in British captivity due to unsanitary conditions. The remaining 800 were released in a prisoner exchange 18 months later.

 

Washington and his army were driven across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania by the end of the year. The loss of Fort Washington crowned a string of losses that seemed to indicate the Americans were no match for their British counterparts and many Americans lost hope that they could win the war. George Washington turned the tide though, when he attacked the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas Eve and the British at Princeton a week later. These victories helped restore American morale, encouraging them to fight on.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
George Washington (1796)

Articles of Confederation are approved

Articles of Confederation are approved

 

On This Day in history, November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation are approved by the Continental Congress for distribution to the states. All 13 states would have to ratify the Articles in order for them to become the first governing document of the new United States of America.

 

A Confederation of states was first called for in Congress on June 7, 1776 by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia when he submitted what became known as the “Lee Resolution.” The Resolution called for three things, 1) a declaration of independence from Great Britain, 2) that foreign alliances should be sought and 3) that a plan of confederation between the colonies should be prepared.

 

On June 12, 1776, one day after appointing a committee to prepare a declaration of independence from Great Britain, Congress also created a committee to prepare a plan of confederation between the states. The committee, chaired by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, submitted its plan to Congress one month later. Congress then began a long and tedious process of debating the final form of the Confederation that lasted an entire year. The final form of the Articles was determined during the summer of 1777 and the final document was approved on November 15 for distribution to the states. Three and half years later, the final state approved the Articles and it became law on March 1, 1781.

 

The Articles of Confederation created a weak central government due to fears of creating another too-powerful government like the one they had just overthrown. They are the source of the name “the United States of America.” The Articles created a single body where each state had one vote. Changes to the Articles had to be agreed upon unanimously in order to become law. Congress had power to declare war, establish foreign treaties, settle disputes between the states and to settle maritime disputes.

 

The Articles did not, however, give Congress authority to tax, to control commerce between the states or even to compel its own members to attend sessions. These weaknesses made it virtually impossible for the new federal government to function and before long, calls were made for a new convention to create a new Constitution. The Articles lasted until March 4, 1789 when it was replaced with the United States Constitution.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” George Washington (1795)

 

 

 

Mercy Otis and James Warren are Married

Mercy Otis and James Warren are married

 

On this day in history, November 14, 1754, Mercy Otis and James Warren are married. Both of them were direct descendants of pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. Mercy Otis Warren became one of the first female authors in the United States. She was an advisor on politics and a correspondent with such people as John Hancock, Patrick Henry, George Washington and John Adams. Mercy's 3 volume "History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution" became one of the first published works about the American Revolution and also one of the first works published by a woman in America.

 

James Warren was highly involved in politics before and during the American Revolution as well. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty and was one of the first Presidents of the Massachusetts Provincial Assembly, the independent government formed by the citizens of Massachusetts after Great Britain dissolved its Assembly. James Warren fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill and was a Paymaster General of the Continental Army for a time.

 

Mercy Otis Warren and James Warren were central figures during the Revolutionary War era, knowing many of the key leaders personally, even though their names are not so familiar to people today. James and Mercy often hosted meetings of Massachusetts patriots in their home. They formed the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence, which was responsible for coordinating the information, tactics and plans of the patriots, along with Samuel Adams and others in their own living room. Mercy's brother, James Otis, is often called the "Father of the American Revolution" for his fiery patriotic rhetoric.

 

Mercy published liberty and anti-British themed poems and plays during the years leading up to and including the American Revolution, but never under her own name, which would have been highly unusual for a woman at the time. Instead, she used pen names. Her understanding and insight into politics was unusual for a woman in that day as well, since politics was considered to be the realm of men only. In 1790, she published her first book using her own name, "Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous." In 1788, Mercy published "Observations on the new Constitution," under the pen name "A Columbian Patriot." This work was critical of the new Constitution. Both she and her husband were anti-Federalists and did not trust centralized power in the new government.

 

Mercy's final work, "History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution" caused a breach in her relationship with one of her most important mentors, John Adams, because the work portrayed him in a bad light. Adams and Warren had exchanged letters frequently and he often critiqued her early works at her request. Later, he seemed to move away from the idea that there was nothing wrong with a woman sharing her political views publicly, in favor of the more socially acceptable view that politics was a subject properly discussed by men only and not by women, and this offended Mercy. Their friendship and political partnership was almost lost, but was restored in 1812 through the intervention of mutual friends and shortly before her death in 1814.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a state than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters." 
Samuel Adams (1775)

General Richard Montgomery Takes Montreal

General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal

 

On this day in history, November 13, 1775, American General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal without a fight. The Americans had decided to try to take British Quebec in the fall of 1775. This was the first military offensive of the new Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Their goal was to take Quebec and convince the French speaking citizens to join them in their rebellion against England.

 

General Guy Carleton was the Royal Governor of Quebec. Carleton had focused his efforts against Ethan Allen of Vermont, who tried to take Montreal in September. Carleton’s distraction with Allen allowed General Montgomery to take Fort St. Jean, the main British defense post south of Montreal. The fort was surrendered to Montgomery on November 3.

 

Montgomery continued on to Montreal and Carleton, whose forces were depleted from the fight with Allen, fled north to Quebec City. This allowed Montgomery to march into Montreal without opposition. Montgomery left Brigadier General David Wooster in charge of Montreal and continued on to Quebec where he met with Colonel Benedict Arnold’s battalions of New England militia. They had braved an arduous journey across the forests of Maine to meet Montgomery in December. Many had died along the way of starvation or illness and many had deserted.

 

Montgomery and Arnold attacked Quebec City at 4 am on December 31, 1775, but were badly defeated. Carleton was waiting for them and began firing when they were in range of the city’s walls. General Montgomery was killed in the first fusillade. Benedict Arnold was wounded in the leg. Arnold tried to keep up the siege but was forced to give up. Over 60 Americans died and more than 400 were captured in the Continental Army’s first defeat. The Americans stayed at their posts in Montreal and surrounding Quebec City until the spring, still hoping to take the city. When newly appointed General John Thomas decided continuing the siege was pointless, the Americans fell back to Fort Ticonderoga in New York, never again to fight on Canadian soil.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Daniel Webster