Preliminary Treaty of Paris is signed

Preliminary Treaty of Paris is signed

 

On this day in history, November 30, 1782, the preliminary Treaty of Paris is signed, bringing the hostilities of the American Revolution to a close. The British government became more disposed to achieving peace with the Americans after the surrender of General Charles Lord Cornwallis and the loss of several of its possessions to France and Spain.

 

The United States was prevented from dealing directly with Great Britain due to its alliance with France, having promised that it would not negotiate with Britain without them. Nonetheless, messages were exchanged between Ben Franklin in Paris and Prime Minister, Lord Shelburne’s peace commissioner in Paris, Richard Oswald, seeking common ground on which a preliminary peace could be formed.

 

The United States demanded full recognition by Britain as a sovereign nation, removal of British troops from its territory and fishing rights off Newfoundland. At first, Britain wanted the United States to remain as British possessions, but with greater autonomy. This was rejected by Ben Franklin, who wanted all of Canada for the United States as part of the deal. Britain rejected this proposal.

 

The negotiations continued in secret and John Jay and John Adams joined Franklin. Due to the exposure of some secret meetings between Britain and France and to his distrust of the French, John Jay, began negotiating directly with the British, against the wishes of Franklin and unbeknownst to France. Formal talks began in September and the remaining difficulties were ironed out over the next two months.

 

Two days after America’s 4th peace commissioner, Henry Laurens, arrived, a preliminary agreement was signed on November 30, 1782, which recognized the United States and established its boundaries, roughly being from the Mississippi to the Atlantic and from the Great Lakes to Florida. The preliminary Treaty of Paris also granted the US the right to fish off Newfoundland and granted both Britain and the US the right to use the Mississippi River.

 

Congress was to "earnestly recommend" to the states that they refund any property taken from Loyalists during the war and creditors on both sides were given full rights to recover all debts. Prisoners were to be released on both sides and all American property was to be left undamaged by British troops when they left.

 

The preliminary Treaty of Paris was ratified by Parliament on January 20, 1783 and by Congress on April 15. A ceasefire was declared by Britain on February 4 and by America on April 11th. The final official Treaty of Paris was signed by the commissioners on September 3, 1783, ratified by Congress on January 14, 1784 and by Great Britain on April 9, 1784. The ratified documents were exchanged once and for all in Paris on May 12, 1784, bringing the American Revolution to an end.

 

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Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech."

Benjamin Franklin (1722)

USS Lee captures British Brigantine Nancy

USS Lee captures British brigantine Nancy

 

On this day in history, November 29, 1775, the USS Lee captures the British brigantine Nancy. George Washington and the Continental Army were besieging British held Boston at the time. The British troops were trapped in the city and the only way to receive food and supplies was by sea. Washington wanted to harass and capture as many ships bringing supplies to the troops in Boston as possible, so he formed a small squadron of ships, outfitted at his own expense, for the task.

 

Captain John Manley was given command of a schooner named the USS Lee, after General Charles Lee. The schooner was chartered from Thomas Stevens of Marblehead, Massachusetts and was previously called the Two Brothers. Captain Manley set out from Marblehead on October 28. He captured a small British sloop called the Polly, carrying turnips to the soldiers in Boston on November 27th, but on the 29th, he ran into the brigantine Nancy, a massive 250 ton British ship bringing supplies to Boston. Unknown to Captain Manley and the crew of the USS Lee, the ship was carrying tons of ammunition and weapons.

 

After capturing the Polly, Manley searched the waters off of Boston. When the Nancy saw the Lee, it was mistaken for a British pilot boat which would lead them into Boston. The Nancy then gave a series of signal flags, alerting the Lee that her intentions had not yet been discovered. Captain Manley sent a boat of men to the Nancy with their arms concealed. As soon as they boarded the ship, they pulled their weapons on the crew and the ship was surrendered without a fight.

 

The Nancy turned out to be one of the most valuable captures of the American Revolution. It contained 2,000 muskets, 8,000 fuses, 31 tons of musket balls, 3,000 solid shot for 12-pounders (cannon balls), one 13 inch cannon, 100,000 flints and other types of ammunition and supplies.

 

 

The Nancy was sailed into Beverly, Massachusetts, where the supplies were loaded onto wagons and hauled to Cambridge, George Washington’s headquarters outside Boston. The arrival of the supplies caused an eruption of excitement through the Continental Army camp and throughout the northeast because their arms and supplies were extremely limited before the arrival of the captured munitions. The joy was so great that Colonel Stephen Moylan wrote of General Israel Putnam celebrating as he sat on top of the newly acquired cannon with a bottle of rum in his hand to christen it.

 

The USS Lee was captained by John Manley for one more mission, on which the British ship Concord was captured, carrying food and coal to Boston. Manley was then promoted to captaining the faster ship USS Hancock. The USS Lee went on in the service of the Navy for two more years, captained by various men and capturing another 15 ships before it was returned to its owner.

 

Captain John Manley went on to command Washington’s schooner fleet in the northeast, sailing under the Washington’s Cruisers flag, a flag with a pine tree on it, created just for the fleet. He received the third naval commission from Congress as a captain when Congress took on the duties of creating a navy. Manley captured ten British ships during the war and helped in the capture of five others. He was also captured three times and spent more than two years in British prisons during the war. Though little known today, John Manley is regarded as one of the first naval heroes of American history for his many spectacular and heroic deeds.

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people.”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Dickinson, 1801

Congress adopts Rules for the Regulation of the Navy

Congress adopts Rules for the Regulation of the Navy

 

On this day in history, November 28, 1775, Congress adopts “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy,” the first set of guidelines governing the American navy. Congress had first established the Navy on October 13th, when it called for the purchase and arming of two vessels to be used for intercepting British ships. On the same day, a committee of seven people was formed to oversee naval affairs. The committee consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, John Langdon of New Hampshire, Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, Silas Deane of Connecticut, Joseph Hewes of South Carolina and Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island. The committee was called the Naval Committee and it set the course for the US Navy’s development.

 

On November 28th, Congress adopted “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North-America,” on the recommendation of the Naval Committee. The Rules were largely created by John Adams. Adams had no naval or military experience himself, but he was an eminent lawyer and may have had some experience with maritime law since he practiced in the prominent port city of Boston.

 

Adams borrowed heavily from existing British naval rules. In fact, the first seven articles of Adams’ Rules are taken almost verbatim from “Rules of Discipline and good Government to be observed on board His Majesty’s Ships of War,” the British naval guidelines since 1730. The main difference is that wherever the British articles said “His Majesty’s Ships,” Adams changed it to “ships of the Thirteen United Colonies.”

 

Adams’ Rules contain 41 articles altogether. They deal with such things as food rations, how to deal with crimes and dereliction of duty on board ship, the proper conduct of officers, the proper care of injured seamen, how to deal with captured ships and how to deal with mutiny and sedition. The Rules also contained strict guidelines about personal behavior, forbidding “dissolute, immoral and disorderly practices,” requiring regular church services on board ship and punishment for swearing, cursing, blaspheming God and drunkenness.

 

“Rules for the Regulation of the Navy” formed the basis of all naval regulations in the United States for decades to come, many of the articles being passed nearly word for word into future naval regulations.

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” —Thomas Jefferson (1822)

Tea ship Dartmouth arrives in Boston Harbor

Tea ship Dartmouth arrives in Boston Harbor

 

On this day in history, November 27, 1773, the tea ship Dartmouth arrives in Boston Harbor. This was the first of three ships in Boston that would be involved in the Boston Tea Party. Taxes on tea was a longstanding issue between the colonists and England. The Townshend Acts of 1767 taxed five items: glass, lead, painters colors, paper and tea. The Townshend Acts actually had the effect of lowering the price of tea in the colonies, because it removed a duty paid by the British East India Company, allowing them to sell tea more cheaply. The colonists, however, were not inclined to pay any tax and boycotted British goods until the taxes were repealed in 1770… except for the tax on tea!

 

The British East India Company fell into serious debt and Parliament tried to help with the Tea Act of 1773, allowing the Company to ship its goods directly and more cheaply to the colonies by bypassing the middlemen in England who raised the price. This arrangement would save the British East India Company from bankruptcy because it would sell more tea and it would still affirm Parliament's right to tax the colonies because the tea tax was still in place.

 

Once the Tea Act was passed, the Company sent tea to several American ports. The tea never landed in New York or Philadelphia because patriots wouldn't allow it to be unloaded and the ships returned home. In Charleston, the tea was confiscated and resold to fund patriot activity against the British.

 

More dramatic events unfolded in Boston. The Company had sent four ships to Boston. The Dartmouth arrived on November 27th, but colonists wouldn't allow it to be unloaded. Two other ships arrived over the next two weeks and the fourth was lost in a storm. Patriots posted sentries to make sure the tea wasn't unloaded. By law, if import duties were not paid within 20 days, the ships and their cargo were to be confiscated and sold to pay the duties. Consequently, Governor Thomas Hutchinson would not allow the ships to return to England, which the owners and captains had volunteered to do.

 

The deadline for the confiscation was December 17. The colonists wanted to prevent the confiscation and sale of the cargo and ships since the money would still be used to pay the unjust taxes. This is the reason they picked December 16th for the Boston Tea Party. After a rousing meeting at the Old South Meeting House, several thousand citizens marched to Griffin's Wharf where the ships were docked. They cheered as dozens of men, some disguised as Indians to protect their identities, boarded the three ships and dumped 46 tons of tea into the harbor, so much that the water was brown for a week! Parliament’s response? To shut down the government of Massachusetts and close Boston Harbor until the tea was paid for. This response led directly to the colonists' forming of the First Continental Congress to create a unified colonial response to these Intolerable Acts, and to the outbreak of the American Revolution.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org   

 

"The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office … is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government." 
Alexander Hamilton (1788)

General Artemas Ward is born

General Artemas Ward is born

 

On this day in history, November 26, 1727, General Artemas Ward is born. Artemas Ward was a prominent figure in Massachusetts politics during and after the American Revolution. Ward was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard in 1748. He opened a general store in Shrewsbury in 1750, but in 1751, at the age of 24, he began a life of politics. Ward's first government job was as the township assessor for Worcester County. He became a justice of the peace in 1752 and began the first of many years of service as a representative to the Colony's General Assembly.

 

In 1755, during the French and Indian War, Ward became a major in the Worcester County militia. He did not see active military service, however, until two years later when the British attacked the French held Fort Ticonderoga. Ward became a judge on the Court of Common Pleas in 1762, a position he would hold for decades. In the General Assembly, he served alongside such figures as James Otis, John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Ward became so well known for speaking out against British policies in the Assembly that Governor Francis Bernard took away his military commission and voided the election results from Worcester County in 1768 to keep Ward out of the Assembly.

 

As tensions with England increased, the entire 3rd Regiment of Worcester County resigned from its position under British command and went to Shrewsbury, where they informed Col. Ward that they were now in his service. After Governor Bernard dissolved the Assembly in October, 1774, the cities of Massachusetts set up a new government under the "Committee of Safety," placing Ward as General over the whole colony's militia.

 

 

Ward's first job as general was to get the British out of Boston. He organized the defenses on Bunker Hill and at the Siege of Boston. When the newly appointed General George Washington arrived, Ward helped integrate the Massachusetts militia into the Continental Army. Ward was made a Major General, second in command of the Continental Army only to George Washington. General Ward remained in command of the Eastern Department after the British left Boston and held this position until March 20, 1777, when he resigned for health reasons.

 

Ward continued to serve as a judge during and after the war. As President of the Executive Council, he ran the government of Massachusetts for three years during the war. After this, he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress for a year and in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for six years, including one term as Speaker of the House in 1786. While concurrently serving as Speaker of the House and as a Justice of the Peace, Ward faced down rebels on the steps of the Worcester County Courthouse during Shay's Rebellion, a rebellion over taxes and government policies. Ward served two terms as a Federalist member of the US House of Representatives when the government under the new Constitution was formed.

 

Artemas Ward finally retired as a judge and from a long life of public service in December, 1797, at the age of 70. He passed away on October 28, 1800 and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Shrewsbury. His legacy includes several accomplished authors and the well preserved Artemas Ward House, which is now owned and managed by Harvard University.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org   

 

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

John Adams (1770)

Last British soldiers evacuate the United States

Last British soldiers evacuate the United States

 

On this day in history, November 25, 1783, the last British soldiers evacuate the United States. The signing of the Treaty of Paris ended hostilities between the United States and Great Britain on September 3, 1783. Sir Guy Carleton, commander of British forces in North America at the time, received orders in August to begin planning the evacuation of all remaining British troops from the United States.

 

The evacuation plans dragged on because of large numbers of Loyalists descending on New York in a panic to flee the country. Nearly 30,000 Loyalists and escaped slaves left with the British, most ending up in Quebec or Nova Scotia.

 

General Carleton finally announced the last of the troops would be leaving at noon on November 25th. George Washington waited outside the city until the British left and their flag was removed from a pole at the Battery at the southern end of Manhattan (A battery is a military fortification with guns or cannons). Wiley British soldiers had hoisted their Union Flag on a greased pole on their way out of the city.

 

Several attempts were made to get the flag down, but were unsuccessful due to the grease. Eventually, American soldier John Van Arsdale was able to climb the pole by nailing pieces of wood to the pole and climbing up on them. He tore the British flag down and replaced it with the American Flag. Shortly after, a triumphant General George Washington entered the city and marched down Broadway to the Battery.

 

For a hundred years after, Evacuation Day was celebrated around the United States, but especially in New York City. Evacuation Day was New York City's biggest celebration of the year for a century and the evacuation was commemorated with a game of boys competing to take down a Union Flag from a greased flagpole in Battery Park. A descendant of John Van Arsdale would then climb the pole and put up a US Flag.

 

Once the Civil War came and Abraham Lincoln announced the annual Thanksgiving Day, Evacuation Day celebrations around the country tended to be absorbed by Thanksgiving Day celebrations. Evacuation Day was eventually lost because the date of November 25 was so close to the Thanksgiving date of the last Thursday of the month. The annual celebrations continued in New York, however, until World War I, at which time people seemed to lose their animosity toward Britain after its allied cooperation with the United States during the war.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org   

 

"Aware of the tendency of power to degenerate into abuse, the worthies of our country have secured its independence by the establishment of a Constitution and form of government for our nation, calculated to prevent as well as to correct abuse." 

Thomas Jefferson to Washington Tammany Society, 1809.

North Carolina wins the Battle of Midway Church

North Carolina wins the Battle of Midway Church

 

On this day in history, November 24, 1778, North Carolina wins the Battle of Midway Church. General Augustine Prevost, commander of British forces in British East Florida organized the first British invasion of Georgia in November of 1778, after Sir Henry Clinton determined the British would begin its "Southern Strategy."

 

Prevost's army split into two units. The first unit was commanded by General Prevost's brother, Lt. Col. Mark Prevost, the second by Lt. Col. L. V. Fuser. Fuser's column marched up the seacoast, while Prevost's marched in tandem with them, but several miles inland.

 

The plan was to meet at Sunbury and attack the Americans at Fort Morris, where they also expected to meet another group of British soldiers who were expected to arrive from New York. On November 22, 1778, 100 soldiers under the command of Continental Army Colonel John White and Major James Jackson confronted Prevost's 700 professional soldiers a mile and a half south of Midway in Liberty County, which was called St. John's Parish at the time.

 

White and Jackson were severely outnumbered, but they hoped to hold out until reinforcements arrived from Savannah. Colonel James Screven soon arrived, but with only 20 soldiers and the Americans were forced to pull back to form a line at Midway Church. Midway Church is an historic church founded by the original Puritan settlers who came to the area from South Carolina. They settled in Midway, named for its distance "midway" between the ports of Savannah and Darien.

 

The area surrounding Midway Church was one of the hotbeds of patriot activity in Georgia during the American Revolution. Midway Church has a long and storied list of former members, including Declaration of Independence signers Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett who both owned land nearby. The church's list of members includes other such notables as the aforementioned Colonel James Screven, General Daniel Stewart, Continental Congressman Benjamin Andrew, US Senators Augustus Bacon , Alfred Iverson and John Elliot, Governors Nathan Brownson, John Martin and Richard Howley, the first US minister to China, John E. Ward and US Representatives William Fleming and John Cuthbert. Other famous descendants from Midway's founding families include Ellen Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, President Theodore Roosevelt and inventor Samuel Morse.

 

Colonel Screven was injured and captured by the British during the Battle of Midway Church. He later died in British custody from his wounds and is thus one of Georgia's first Revolutionary War heroes. Prevost began to get nervous and decided to pull back because he knew the closer they got to Savannah, the more likely it would be for large numbers of militia to join the Continentals and overpower them. Midway Church was burned down by the British later during the war, but was rebuilt in 1792.

 

The following day, November 25th, Lt. Col. Fuser arrived at Sunbury with 500 soldiers, intending to attack Fort Morris, which was defended by 200 Americans. Fuser, like Prevost, realized his soldiers were in severe danger being so deep inside patriot territory. He decided to pull back as well and Britain's first invasion of Georgia came to intend.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org   

 

"One single object … [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." 

Thomas Jefferson (1825)