Congress authorizes Yorktown Victory Monument

Congress authorizes Yorktown Victory Monument

 

On This Day in History, October 29, 1781, the Continental Congress authorizes the Yorktown Victory Monument at York, Virginia, to remember the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the British army, news of which had just reached the Congress in Philadelphia. The monument was not even begun for 100 years and was started during the centennial celebration of the victory in 1881.

 

Congress’ original resolution to erect the monument reads as follows: "That the United States in Congress assembled, will cause to be erected at York, in Virginia, a marble column, adorned with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his Most Christian Majesty; and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of earl Cornwallis to his excellency General Washington, Commander in Chief of the combined forces of America and France; to his excellency the Count de Rochambeau, commanding the auxiliary troops of his most Christian Majesty in America, and his excellency the Count de Grasse, commanding in chief the naval army of France in the Chesapeake."

 

Notice the emphasis on French involvement during the war. If it hadn’t been for French cooperation, the war likely would have been lost, a fact not known by many Americans. The Yorktown Victory Monument was finished in 1884. The main pillar is 84 feet tall and the statue of the Lady Victory is 14 feet on top of that. The statue was replaced in 1956 after the original was damaged by lightning. Today the monument can be found on the southeast end of Main Street in Yorktown, Virginia.

 

Each of the four sides of the base of the monument contain an inscription:

 

Side 1:

 

At York on Oct 19 1781 after a siege of nineteen days by 5500 American & 7000 French troops of the line 3500 Virginia Militia under command of Gen Thomas Nelson & 33 French ships of war Earl Cornwallis commander of the British forces at York & Gloucester surrendered his army 1751 officers and men 840 seamen 244 cannon and 24 standards to His Excellency George Washington Commander in Chief of the combined forces of America and France to his Excellency the Comte de Rochambeau commanding the auxiliary troops of His Most Christian Majesty in America and to His Excellency The Comte de Grasse Commanding Chief The Naval Army of France in Chesapeake

 

Side 2:

 

The provisional Articles of Peace concluded Nov 30, 1782 & the definitive treaty of peace concluded Sept 3 1783 between the U.S.A. and George III King of Great Britain & Ireland declare His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said U.S. viz New Hampshire Massachusetts Bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Connecticut New York new Jersey Pennsylvania Delaware Maryland Virginia North Carolina South Carolina and Georgia to be free sovereign and independent states

 

Side 3:

 

The treaty concluded Feb 6 1778 between the U.S.A. and Louis XVI King of France declares the essential & direct end of the present defensive alliance is to maintain effectually the liberty & sovereignty & independence absolute & unlimited of the said U.S. as well in matters of government as of commerce

 

Side 4:

 

Erected in pursuance of a resolution of Congress adopted Oct 29 1781 & an act of congress approved June 7 1880 to commemorate the victory by which the independence of the U.S.A. was achieved

 

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions — The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
George Washington (1776)

British proclamation forbids residents from leaving Boston

British proclamation forbids residents from leaving Boston

 

The new commander in chief of the British army, Major General Sir William Howe, issues a proclamation to the residents of Boston on this day October 28, 1775. Speaking from British headquarters in Boston, Howe forbade any person from leaving the city and ordered citizens to organize into military companies in order to “contribute all in his power for the preservation of order and good government within the town of Boston.”

 

Almost four months earlier, on July 3, 1775, George Washington had formally taken command of the Continental Army. Washington, a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War, had been appointed commander in chief by the Continental Congress two weeks before in an attempt to turn the impromptu siege of Boston, instigated by New Englanders enraged by the Battle of Lexington and Concord the previous April into a congressionally organized inter-colonial revolt against parliamentary oppression. The ad hoc siege of Boston enjoyed it greatest moment when New Englanders under the command of Israel Putnam and William Prescott managed to kill 226 and wound 838 members of the world-famous British army before withdrawing their rag-tag force from Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

 

The newly minted General Washington was unimpressed upon meeting his supposed army outside Boston a few weeks after their momentous success. Just as the British had during the French and Indian War, he saw “stupidity” among the enlisted men, who were used to the easy familiarity of being commanded by neighbors in local militias with elected officers. Washington promptly insisted that the officers behave with decorum and the enlisted men with deference. Although he enjoyed some success with this original army, the New Englanders went home to their farms at the end of 1775, and Washington had to start fresh with new recruits in 1776.

 

The British did not leave Boston until March 27, 1776, after Washington’s successful occupation of Dorchester Heights 13 days earlier, during which he had turned the cannon captured from the British at Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775 upon the British-held city. More afraid of their own cannon than Patriot soldiers, the British departed, thus allowing Bostonians to move freely in and out of their own city for the first time in six months.

 

https://www.history.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

First of the Federalist Papers is published

First of the Federalist Papers is published

 

On this day in history, October 27, 1787, the first of the Federalist Papers is published. The Federalist, as it was originally called, was a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, to explain and justify the need for the newly proposed United States Constitution.

 

The United States Constitution was written by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to replace the failing Articles of Confederation, America’s first governing document. The Confederation Congress sent a copy of the new Constitution to each state at the end of September, 1787, for each state to debate and make its own vote for or against ratification. Within days of its arrival, the first criticisms of the document began to appear in newspapers.

 

In New York, one of the states whose ratification of the Constitution was deemed critical to its success because of its large population, a very strong anti-Constitution coalition arose. Articles published under pseudonyms such as Brutus, Cato and the Federal Farmer began to appear, by people such as George Clinton, Robert Yates and Melancton Smith. To counter these arguments, Alexander Hamilton masterminded a plan to write a series of articles to refute the arguments and provide solid reasons why the Constitution should be adopted.

 

The first of the articles, which was written by Hamilton, appeared on October 27, 1787. Hamilton recruited fellow Federalist John Jay to write more articles, but after writing only 4 articles, Jay became ill and James Madison was recruited to the effort. Hamilton and Madison wrote the remainder of the 85 articles with the exception of one more written by Jay. In all, Hamilton wrote 51 articles, Madison 26 and Jay 5, all of which were written using the pseudonym, Publius.

 

According to The Federalist No. 1, the purpose of the articles was to explain how the Constitution would benefit the individual American citizen; why the current Confederation was not working; and the benefits of each provision in the Constitution. For example, Federalist Nos. 6-9 explain the benefits of a federal union; Federalist Nos. 24-29 discuss the need for common defense; Federalist No. 45 discusses alleged dangers to the authority of the states from the federal government; and Federalist Nos. 52-56 discuss the proposed House of Representatives.

 

The articles were published from October, 1787, to August, 1788, in several New York papers. Some of the articles were printed elsewhere, but they were primarily read in New York. By March of 1788, the articles had become so popular that a bound edition of the first 36 articles was printed under the title of The Federalist. Eventually all the other articles were printed together as well.

 

 

Scholars debate how much the Federalist Papers actually influenced the New York ratification vote. The required 9 states for the Constitution to be established had already been achieved with New Hampshire’s vote for ratification on June 21, 1788. Virginia was the tenth state to ratify on June 25. New York finally voted for ratification on July 26 in a 30-27 vote.

 

In later times, The Federalist Papers have come to be regarded as a unique window into the intentions of the Founders. They are studied by law students and Constitutional scholars and are often referred to in Supreme Court decisions, perhaps taking on an even greater role today than they held at the time they were written.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the Law of Nature and the grant of God Almighty, who has given to all men a natural right to be free, and they have it ordinarily in their power to make themselves so, if they please."
James Otis

Benjamin Franklin sets sail for France

Benjamin Franklin sets sail for France

 

On this day in history, October 26, 1776, Benjamin Franklin sets sail for France as ambassador from the Continental Congress. The new United States was formed on July 4th only a few months before. One of the nation’s primary goals was to obtain foreign alliances. France was considered to be the best possibility for an alliance, due to France’s continual feud with Great Britain dating back centuries.

 

When Ben Franklin arrived in France, he was already a well-known celebrity. In the 1750s, Franklin’s discoveries with electricity had made him a household name in Europe after his letters about the subject were published. Upon his arrival in France, Franklin’s fame was so great that he found his likeness on portraits, snuff boxes and busts. His celebrity status gave him exactly what he needed in Paris, status and open doors to the highest society and government officials.

 

Franklin’s chief mission in France was to secure a financial and military alliance. All of the high society citizens wanted to know the famous American and Franklin quickly became part of their inner circle. The only problem was that the French government was reluctant to publicly make an  alliance with the upstart Americans. Secretly, however, France was willing to send aid in the form of military supplies.

 

In the fall of 1777, the big break came when British general, John Burgoyne surrendered more than 6,000 men to the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga. This victory convinced France that the Americans could indeed handle a war against England. France decided to join the war and Franklin helped negotiate a treaty of alliance the next spring. Tons of military supplies, fleets of French ships and some of France’s best soldiers went to America. Franklin encouraged such soldiers as the Marquis de Lafayette, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski to go to America and join the fight.

 

France’s involvement in the American Revolution turned out to be one of the keys to the eventual American victory. France’s involvement, along with Spain, which joined the war as well, made the American Revolution a world war. Fighting erupted between France and England all over the globe, in such disparate places as the Mediterranean, Africa, India and the West Indies. England was forced to spread its resources to these far flung places and even remove troops from America to defend its interests elsewhere. England couldn’t sustain such a vast war and was eventually forced to capitulate in the American colonies where the war began.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be had on no other terms than leaving her in the full enjoyment of her rights."
Benjamin Franklin

John and Abigail Adams are Married

John and Abigail Adams are married

 

On this day in history, October 25, 1764, John and Abigail Adams are married. They would become one of the most recognizable couples in American history, not only for their time in the White House when John was the 2nd President of the United States, but also because of the more than 1200 letters between them that have survived.

 

John Adams and Abigail Smith were third cousins who knew one another from a young age. Both of them grew up in Christian households, John's father being a deacon and Abigail's a minister. John grew up on a farm and became a lawyer, while Abigail was educated at home, as was the custom for many women of the day. Abigail's education was far more extensive than most women of the day, however. She became quite versed in politics, philosophy, poetry and other subjects, due to access to the libraries of her father and grandfather.

 

When the two married in 1764, John was 28 and Abigail was 19. They lived at the farm John's father had left him in Quincy, Massachusetts, a few miles from Boston. Their first child, Abigail, also known as Nabby, was born in 1765. The Adams' had 5 more children over the years, one of whom, John Quincy, became the 6th President of the United States.

 

As John's law practice grew, the couple moved to Boston where they became intimately involved in revolutionary politics. John became involved in local politics and was eventually elected to attend the Continental Congress where he was a strong advocate of independence from Great Britain. During John's long absences to Congress, he and Abigail kept up a vigorous letter writing habit that has provided subsequent generations a unique window into typical family life during the Revolution. Abigail was forced to raise their youngest children on her own and manage the farm as well.

 

John and Abigail often discussed political matters in their letters and her views were always taken to heart by Adams. Both of them were strong advocates of American independence and the abolition of slaves. She was also a strong proponent of women's rights.

 

In the 1780s, John spent several years as the American ambassador to the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 1784, Abigail went to join him and the two spent several years in Paris and London. Neither of them particularly liked the social life of Europe.

 

John Adams was elected Vice-President with George Washington and subsequently became the 2nd President of the United States. The Adams' came under great scrutiny and criticism while he was president and both had their feelings hurt from the criticisms and the lost election for a second term in the White House. After returning to Quincy from the capital, the two lived at their home called Peacefield. Abigail passed away in 1818 and John finished his memoirs. He passed away on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American Independence.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman." 
John Adams (1815)

New Jersey Patriot Elias Boudinot Dies

New Jersey patriot Elias Boudinot dies

 

On this day in history, October 24, 1821, New Jersey patriot Elias Boudinot dies. Boudinot would serve as President of the Continental Congress, director of the United States Mint and President of the American Bible Society.

 

Elias Boudinot was born in 1740 in Philadelphia. He attended college in Princeton at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). He served as an apprentice with lawyer and future signer of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Stockton. Stockton married Boudinot’s older sister, Annis, while Boudinot married Stockton’s younger sister, Hannah. Elias started his own successful law practice in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and became involved in politics.

 

During the American Revolution, Boudinot served on New Jersey’s Committee of Safety and helped manage the activities of spies in the New York City area. George Washington asked Boudinot to become the Continental Army’s commissary general of prisoners in 1777, a position in which he had the responsibility of caring for British prisoners held by the Americans and for American prisoners held by the British.

 

In 1778, Boudinot was elected to Congress. From 1782-1783, he served as President of the Continental Congress, during which time he had the unique responsibility of signing the preliminary peace treaty with Britain in 1783. After the war, Boudinot was elected to the House of Representatives for the first 3 congresses of the new US government from New Jersey. Boudinot decided not to run again in 1794, but the following year, President Washington asked him to become the Director of the US Mint, a position he held until 1805.

 

Boudinot continued his successful law practice and was involved in numerous other civil duties. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey for nearly 50 years. Boudinot was a devout Presbyterian and, in 1816, he was elected President of the American Bible Society. He also became an advocate for blacks and American Indians. One young Cherokee student whom Boudinot befriended took Boudinot’s name and became the publisher of the first newspaper in the Cherokee language. Boudinot passed away on October 24, 1821 at his home in Burlington, New Jersey.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” 
Edmund Burke

British Fleet Defeated on the Delaware River

British fleet defeated on the Delaware River

 

On this day in history, October 23, 1777, a British fleet on the Delaware River is defeated by patriot defenders from Fort Mifflin and the Pennsylvania State Navy. Forts Mifflin and Mercer were built on the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia in order to prevent a British invasion of the city. Fort Mifflin sat on Mudd Island on the Pennsylvania side and Fort Mercer was at Red Bank, New Jersey, across the river.

 

The Pennsylvania State Navy and the Continental Navy provided ships to monitor the river, all under the command of Pennsylvania Commodore John Hazelwood. The navy constructed a series of formidable chevaux de frise in the river between the forts. These were a series of spikes placed under the water that could penetrate the hull of passing ships. 

 

In the fall of 1777, British General William Howe set about capturing Philadelphia. Partly due to the defenses on the Delaware, Clinton landed a massive army of 17,000 soldiers at Head of Elk, Maryland, on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay, instead. The troops marched overland to Philadelphia, undeterred by the Continental Army at the Battle of Brandywine, and took the city on September 26.

 

Forts Mifflin and Mercer still had their value though. The main way of supplying Philadelphia was by the Delaware River and this still lay in the control of the Americans. Any ships trying to sail up the river would be caught in the cannon fire between the two forts. General Howe knew he had to get control of the river or he would have a hard time feeding and supplying his troops. George Washington knew this as well, so he hoped to maintain control of the forts in order to force Howe to abandon the city.

 

On October 22, a Hessian regiment of 1200 soldiers attacked Fort Mercer. Colonel Carl von Donop led the failed attempt, which saw a fourth of his troops killed or wounded. The following day, on October 23rd, a small fleet of British ships tried to navigate the chevaux de frise and get past the forts. The fleet was led by the 64 gun HMS Augusta. Cannon fire from Fort Mifflin rained down on the ships.

 

Both the Augusta and the 20 gun HMS Merlin took direct hits and may have been damaged by the chevaux de frise as well. Both ships ran aground. The Augusta caught fire from the cannonade and the ship's magazine was breached. The explosion killed over 60 crewmen. The sailors on board the Merlin set fire to the ship and abandoned her in order to prevent her being salvaged by the rebels. The mission was a failure.

 

The victories of the 22nd and 23rd were a great encouragement to the Americans, but General Howe became determined that he must take the river. A massive five day artillery bombardment of Fort Mifflin commenced on November 10, aided by ships from the river. The fort was abandoned in the night on November 15. In addition, 5,000 men were landed on the New Jersey side to deal with Fort Mercer. This fort was abandoned on November 20 as the British troops approached.

 

Forts Mifflin and Mercer eventually fell, but their brave actions helped delay General Howe from his primary mission of decimating the main body of the Continental Army north of Philadelphia for more than a month. The delay forced Howe to wait through the winter for a more opportune moment in the spring.

 

George Washington camped at Valley Forge during the winter, but by spring, Burgoyne had surrendered his army in New York, the French had joined the war, Howe resigned in disgrace and his replacement, General Henry Clinton, was ordered to abandon Philadelphia and return to New York. The survival of the Continental Army was largely due to the brave souls who fought at Forts Mifflin and Mercer.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it." —George Washington (1785)