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Captain Abraham Lincoln is Born

Captain Abraham Lincoln is born


On this day in history, May 13, 1744, Captain Abraham Lincoln is born – not President Abraham Lincoln, but instead, his grandfather. Abraham's father's family settled in Pennsylvania and Abraham was born in Berks County, the first of 9 children. Abraham became a tanner, perhaps because of a family relationship with James Boone, a well-regarded tanner who lived nearby. James was an uncle of Daniel Boone and his daughter was married to Abraham's father's half-brother.


Much of the Lincoln clan moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia when Abraham's father purchased a large tract of land there in 1768. Abraham received a portion of the land, married  and began having children. When the American Revolution broke out, Abraham became involved with the local militia. He served as a captain of the Augusta County militia first and later with the Rockingham County militia when that county was established in 1778. Lincoln's unit was called into service under the Western Department of the Continental Army when Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh of Georgia was in command there.


McIntosh had recently been involved in the killing of Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia and a political rival of McIntosh, when the two fought a duel over various accusations. George Washington valued McIntosh's contributions to the war and feared that McIntosh might be killed or imprisoned by Gwinnett's supporters, so he had him transferred to the northwest.


The Western Department was headquartered at Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) and was responsible for guarding the backcountry from British invasion from Fort Detroit. McIntosh devised a plan to attack Detroit that involved the building of two new forts to aid in the attack, Fort Laurens on the Tuscarawas River in Ohio and Fort McIntosh at the convergence of the Ohio and Beaver Rivers in Pennsylvania. Abraham Lincoln's Rockingham militia unit was called into service to help build the two forts during the latter part of 1778.


In 1780, Abraham Lincoln moved his family to Jefferson County, Kentucky (then part of Virginia) and settled near Hughes' Station east of Louisville (a station was like a small fort near which settlers would live for protection). Lincoln began purchasing land and eventually owned 2,000 acres. Unfortunately, the area was still contested by Indians and Lincoln had numerous "visits" from local Indians who wanted him off their hunting grounds.


In 1786, Lincoln was working on the farm with his three sons when he was shot from the forest and killed. The oldest son, Mordecai, who was 15 or 16, quickly ran to the cabin to get a gun, while the next son, Josiah, 13, ran off to Hughes' Station for help. The youngest son, Thomas, who was only 8 years old, stood by and watched in fear as an Indian came out of the woods. When the Indian reached for Thomas, either to kill or kidnap him, Mordecai took aim and shot the Indian dead. The boys then ran into the house where the rest of the family stayed until the arrival of help from Hughes' Station that drove the Indians off.


After his death, Abraham's wife Bathsheba was left with five children on the harsh frontier. Abraham's land was divided by law between Bathsheba and the oldest son, Mordecai, leaving Thomas to earn his own way in life. He would eventually become a wealthy landowner himself and his second child, also named Abraham, would one day become the 16th President of the United States.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution


“If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted… If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands, and elect bad men to administer the laws."
Noah Webster

Seth Warner Captures Fort Crown Point

Seth Warner captures Fort Crown Point


On this day in history, May 12, 1775, Seth Warner captures Fort Crown Point at the south end of Lake Champlain. In colonial times, Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River formed the border between the French and British colonies and the original Fort St. Frederic was built here by the French in 1734 to guard against British invasion.


When the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, Fort Carillon was built 15 miles south to strengthen the barrier. The British were finally successful in driving the French back to Canada in 1759, but the retreating French forces destroyed both forts to prevent the British from using them. Both forts were rebuilt and renamed Fort Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga.


At the end of the war, Britain received all of the French territory and the two forts lost their strategic value. Both forts fell into disrepair and were lightly guarded up to the outbreak of the American Revolution. Despite the fact that very small British garrisons guarded the forts, a vast amount of military supplies, cannons, howitzers, mortars and ammunition were stored there. As the New England militia surrounded Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, various people suggested the two dilapidated forts should be immediately assaulted and the weapons captured.


Captain Benedict Arnold of the Connecticut militia suggested the idea to George Washington who sent him to accomplish the mission. Simultaneously, Ethan Allen, Seth Warner and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont were moving on the forts. The two groups worked together and captured Fort Ticonderoga and its 70 British soldiers on May 10, 1775. Two days later, Seth Warner took 100 men and captured Fort Crown Point, which was guarded by a meager 9 soldiers. In November, Colonel Henry Knox would arrive and drag 60 tons of the captured weapons across the mountains to Boston where they were used to force the British to abandon the city.


After the Americans captured Crown Point, it was used as a staging ground for operations into Canada. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold staged an attempt to capture Fort St. Jean from here later in May, but were driven back. In the fall of 1775, a major American invasion force gathered at Crown Point under General Philip Schuyler. This army was eventually defeated and retreated back to the fort in June, 1776, riddled with smallpox. Hundreds of American soldiers died from the disease at Crown Point.


Benedict Arnold spent the summer building an American fleet on Lake Champlain, while the British did the same at the north reaches of the Lake. When the two forces finally engaged at the Battle of Valcour Island in October, the American fleet was largely destroyed or captured and retreated to Crown Point, which was abandoned to the advancing British. British General, Sir Guy Carleton left Crown Point, however and returned to the north for the winter.


The following summer, the British made a major invasion down the lake in an attempt to capture the entire Hudson Valley. Fort Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga quickly fell to British General John Burgoyne. Burgoyne’s army was finally defeated and captured at the Battle of Saratoga in October, but the two forts remained in British possession until the end of the war.


Today, the remains of Fort Crown Point are part of the Crown Point State Historic Site, which is managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution


“If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds.” 
Alexander Hamilton (1787)

General Thomas Sumter Captures Orangeburg

General Thomas Sumter captures Orangeburg


On this day in history, May 11, 1781, General Thomas Sumter captures Orangeburg, South Carolina, as the American patriots sweep across South Carolina and Georgia in their efforts to recover the south. General Nathanael Greene took over the crumbling American defense of the south in December of 1780 after the British had successfully conquered most of Georgia and South Carolina and begun an invasion of North Carolina.


After Greene dragged British General Charles Cornwallis on long marches and into a costly battle at Guilford, North Carolina, Cornwallis was forced to retreat to the coast for supplies and regrouping. Greene turned his efforts south to recapture South Carolina and Georgia, whose major cities, such as Charleston, Savannah and Augusta were occupied, but whose interiors were guarded by a string of lightly guarded forts.


Greene broke his army into smaller groups under various commanders and sent them out across South Carolina to take as many of these outposts as they could. South Carolina Brigadier General Thomas Sumter had already proven a successful commander with victories at the Battle of Hanging Rock, the Battle of Fishdam Ford and the Battle of Blackstock's Farm, where he was severely wounded. Sumter had been largely responsible for the resurrection of South Carolina's partisan resistance after the fall of 


As the patriots began reclaiming the south, General Sumter and Lt. Col. Henry Lee laid siege to Fort Granby, near present day Columbia, South Carolina. Their force was too small to overtake the fort, so after several days they parted. Lee would come back to Fort Granby several days later and offer the British garrison safe passage back to Charleston if they would surrender, which they did.


Sumter, meanwhile, headed southeast for Orangeburg, an important supply post on the route from Charleston to the interior that would see numerous activities from both sides during the war. Sumter sent men ahead to begin a siege on the town, while he came behind, slowed down because he was carrying his single six-pounder cannon.


At this time, only a small contingent of 89 British soldiers and Loyalists were guarding Orangeburg. When the Americans arrived on the evening of May 10th, the British gathered as a group and holed up inside a brick house, refusing to surrender. Early the next morning, Sumter arrived with the cannon and began to bombard the house. After three holes were shot through the house, all 89 men surrendered without a fight. The following day, after gathering up plentiful supplies in the town, Sumter sent the prisoners to General Greene, but unfortunately local patriot militia killed some of them along the way.


The victory at Orangeburg was one of a string of victories that put nearly the entire states of South Carolina and Georgia back into American hands within only a few months, with the exception of Charleston and Savannah on the coast. General Greene's reconquest of the south was nearly complete. Savannah and Charleston would finally be abandoned by the British in 1782 when the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, was imminent.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution


"Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community." 
Benjamin Rush (1788)

Paul Revere Dies

Paul Revere dies


On this day in history, May 10, 1818, Paul Revere dies. You probably know about his famous midnight ride, but Paul Revere's life was much more than a single horse ride. Revere was the son of a French immigrant father and native Boston mother. Revere's father, Apollos, was a silversmith and goldsmith, an occupation in which Paul followed his father's footsteps. Paul would also work in dentistry, engraving and the manufacture of iron, brass and copper items.


School children are taught the story of Paul Revere's ride to warn the patriots at Lexington and Concord that the British were coming, but Revere was also in the center of nearly everything that happened in Massachusetts during the American Revolution. Of the seven leading groups of patriots in Boston who were leaders and organizers of the rebellion against England, Revere was a member of 5. No one was a member of all 7, or even of 6 of these groups. Only Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren were members of 5.


Revere was the creator of the "Sons of Liberty Bowl," a silver bowl created to honor the refusal of the 92 members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter denouncing the Townshend Acts. This item has been called one of the three greatest American treasures, along with the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Revere also made the famous Boston Massacre engraving that was reproduced across the colonies. The engraving is inaccurate in many respects, showing the propagandized version of the event which the patriots wished to disseminate.


Revere was called on numerous times to deliver messages, not just on the night of April 18, 1775. In fact, there are 18 such documented rides to places such as Philadelphia and New York. Revere organized a group of spies in Boston called the Mechanics that observed and reported on British activities in the city. He built a gunpowder plant to help the Revolution and was employed by the Continental Congress and the State of Massachusetts to engrave and print millions in currency.


Revere was a Major in the Massachusetts militia and served as lieutenant colonel of artillery at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor for a time. Later he became the commander of the fort. He participated in the attempt to recapture Newport, Rhode Island from the British and was part of the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, which was the largest American naval defeat until Pearl Harbor.


After the war, Revere became a major industrialist and manufacturer. He created the first copper foundry in the United States, which still exists today. He also became America's chief manufacturer of brass church bells, some of which also exist today. Revere created iron bolts, cannons and fittings for American naval ships, such as the USS Constitution. He also provided the copper sheeting for the original dome on the Massachusetts State House and for the boilers in Robert Fulton's first steamboat.


Paul Revere died on May 10, 1818 and was buried in Boston's Old Granary Burial Ground, along with the victims of the Boston Massacre, James Otis and 3 signers of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine. Many notable landmarks related to Paul Revere still stand today, most notably the home he lived in at the time of the Revolution. It is the oldest structure standing in downtown Boston.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontentment

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.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." 
Thomas Jefferson (1816)

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.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution


“Yonder are the Hessians. They were bought for seven pounds and ten pence a man. Are you worth more? Prove it. Tonight the American flag floats from yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow!” 
 John Stark

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.


Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

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