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Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born

Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born

 

On this day in history, May 3, 1727, Loyalist publisher Margaret Green Draper is born in Boston. Margaret would be a staunch Loyalist supporter of the British in the opening days of the American Revolution. She would eventually be forced to flee the country and return to England.

 

Margaret Green Draper was the great-granddaughter of Samuel Green, one of the earliest printers in North America and the printer of the Cambridge Press. In 1704, the Boston News-Letter began publication by the Boston postmaster John Campbell. It was the first regularly published newspaper in North America. Bartholomew Green, Samuel Green’s son, became the printer for the Boston News-Letter. Bartholomew purchased the newspaper in 1721 and continued its publication until his death in 1732. Ownership passed to his son-in-law, John Draper in 1732 and to John’s son Richard in 1762.

 

Richard Draper, who married his cousin, Margaret Green, in 1750, changed the name of the paper to the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter. The paper became the official printer for the Massachusetts Royal Government in the 1760s and, as such, printed many pro-government articles. When the Stamp Act was enacted, many colonial newspapers felt threatened by the tax on the use of paper and consequently became staunchly anti-Parliament. The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, however, remained pro-British, although it did print articles reflecting both sides of the issues.

 

Richard Draper died in 1774 and Margaret took over the paper at the age of 47. Under her leadership, the paper leaned even more staunchly to the pro-British side. Margaret gave leadership of the paper to 20 year old John Howe who had served as an apprentice under her husband. John wrote pro-British articles about the Boston Tea party in 1773 and probably wrote the paper’s article about the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first article to be published about the incidents in the colonies.

 

After Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts militia surrounded Boston and began a year long siege of the city. Margaret continued publication in the city under British protection. Every other newspaper in the city shut down during the siege. Finally, in March of 1775, the Americans, under George Washington, occupied Dorchester Heights south of the city and fortified it with cannons brought from Fort Ticonderoga. The British found their position to be untenable and were forced to evacuate the city.

 

Loyalists such as Margaret were then faced with a decision. Stay in the city and face the wrath of the local patriots for their support of the British, or flee the city with the British army into exile. Margaret certainly would have been a target of patriots as publisher of a pro-British newspaper. Her papers had already been destroyed in public burnings by patriots.

 

Margaret chose to leave Boston and her lifelong home with the British on March 17 with more than 9,000 troops and 1,000 Loyalist civilians. The Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, North America’s first regularly published newspaper, ended publication with Margaret’s departure. The evacuees landed in Halifax and Margaret eventually emigrated to London. She successfully petitioned the British government for a pension, which was granted due to her support of the Crown. Margaret passed away in London in 1802.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British parliament was advised by an artful man [Sir William Keith], who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them. But that they should not do it openly; but to weaken them and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.

George Mason

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Founding Father Nicholas Gilman dies

Founding Father Nicholas Gilman dies

 

On this day in history, May 2, 1814, Founding Father Nicholas Gilman dies. Gilman was from a politically prominent family in New Hampshire. His father was a member of New Hampshire’s Provincial Congress and served as the state’s treasurer during the American Revolution. His older brother John Taylor Gilman served as a soldier in the war. John Taylor would be the first person to read a copy of the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of Exeter in July, 1776. He would also later become a 14 term governor of the State.

 

In late 1776, the 21 year old Nicholas was appointed adjutant (or chief administrator) of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment of the Continental Army. The Regiment served in the Battles of Saratoga and saw the surrender of British General John Burgoyne’s army there. After this, Nicholas’ New Hampshire Regiment reported to Valley Forge and served with Washington for the rest of the war.

 

Nicholas’ superior officer, Colonel Alexander Scammell, was appointed the Continental Army’s Adjutant General and Nicholas became his chief assistant. In this pivotal administrative position, Gilman was in daily contact with George Washington, General Henry Knox, General Nathanael Greene and other key figures. Nicholas saw action in key battles such as the Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Yorktown.

 

After the war, Gilman returned to Exeter to take over his recently deceased father’s business, but he was soon appointed to the Continental Congress. In 1787, Gilman attended the Constitutional Convention and signed the US Constitution. Gilman and his brother, John Taylor, helped secure the Constitution’s ratification in New Hampshire on June 21, 1788. New Hampshire was the 9th state to ratify and with this vote the Constitution became law since 9 affirmative votes were needed for adoption.

 

Gilman was elected a member of the US House of Representatives in the 1st through 4th Congresses from 1789-1797 and to the US Senate from 1804-1814. He also served in several state offices during this time, including as a state legislator and as state treasurer. In 1793 and 1797, he was a presidential elector, and in 1802, he was appointed a Federal bankruptcy commissioner by President Thomas Jefferson. Nicholas Gilman passed away on his way home to Exeter from Washington in 1814.

 

The Ladd-Gilman House in Exeter still stands today and was the place of Nicholas Gilman’s birth. In 1985, an electrician discovered the original copy of the Declaration of Independence brought to Exeter and read by Gilman’s brother, John Taylor, to the citizens of Exeter, in the floorboards of the house. This copy of the Declaration of Independence from the original run of copies of the document is now on display in the home, which was purchased and is now operated by the American Independence Museum, whose mission is “Connecting America’s Revolutionary past with the present.”

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“But the fact being once established, that the press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood, I leave to others to restore it to its strength, by recalling it within the pale of truth.”
Thomas Jefferson (1805)

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Brigadier General John Lacey loses the Battle of Crooked Billet

Brigadier General John Lacey loses the Battle of Crooked Billet

 

On this day in history, May 1, 1778, Brigadier General John Lacey loses the Battle of Crooked Billet. The previous fall had been devastating for the Americans. Philadelphia was captured and the Americans had lost the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown attempting to defend the city. Forts Mercer and Mifflin were destroyed, opening up the way for British reinforcements to the city. George Washington took his worn out army to a miserable winter at Valley Forge.

 

The British often made excursions out of Philadelphia on foraging expeditions to confiscate the produce of local farms and mills. Many locals, who were still loyal to the Crown, would take their produce into Philadelphia for sale. George Washington placed patrols all around the city to prevent the farmers from taking their goods into town and to prevent the British from confiscating supplies as much as possible.

           

In January of 1778, a 23 year old Brigadier General John Lacey was placed in charge of the patrols north of Philadelphia. Lacey experienced enough success in his operations that the British made his capture a priority. By late April, Lacey had established a headquarters near the Crooked Billet Tavern in a small town known as The Billet, which is in present day Hatboro, about 16 miles north of downtown Philadelphia. The British had placed spies in the area to watch his movements and on April 30, a troop of 850 men marched out of Philadelphia under Major John Graves Simcoe to attack Lacey’s men.

 

Lacey’s 400 men were mostly untrained and under armed local militia. His group was constantly changing in size as members came and went and he often had trouble keeping his force manned. On the night of the 30th, Lacey gave instructions to several subordinates to make scouting missions to watch for British movements. Unfortunately, Lieutenant William Neilsen did not follow his orders to go scouting between 2 and 3 am. Instead, his patrol didn’t leave until just before daybreak and ran right into Simcoe’s men as they approached the sleeping camp.

 

Lacey was sleeping in a nearby house and was awakened by the skirmish when the attackers were only 200 yards away. The entire camp was virtually surrounded and Lacey knew he could not survive a head on fight. Instead, he quickly ordered a retreat across an open field and into a wood. Nearly a fourth of his men were wounded, captured or killed.

 

The British attackers at Crooked Billet were about 2/5 Loyalists born in America. This meant there were numerous cases of neighbor fighting neighbor and even family member fighting family member in the battle. The great tragedy of the Battle of Crooked Billet is that the British tortured and killed several wounded and captured militia members. Many Americans had hidden in a large pile of buckwheat straw and were burned alive. Others who were wounded were thrown onto the pile of burning straw, while others were bayoneted and slashed with sabers.

 

Brigadier General Lacey was soon replaced by George Washington. 26 Americans were killed in the battle and 58 captured, while 10 valuable wagonloads of supplies were lost. The British had none killed and only 7 injured. In spite of the loss, General Lacey is credited with quick thinking for quickly ordering his troops to retreat and preventing greater carnage.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?

George Mason

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George Washington inaugurated first President of the United States

George Washington inaugurated first President of the United States

 

On this day in history, April 30, 1789, George Washington is inaugurated the first President of the United States. Washington was informed by Congress on April 14th that he was unanimously elected as the first president. Two days later he left for New York City, the first seat of the US government. As he traveled, he was greeted in each city along with the way by cheering crowds, the tolls of church bells and flowers thrown by grateful admirers.

 

Washington sailed from New Jersey on April 23rd in a specially decorated barge, accompanied with other dignitaries and numerous smaller boats. They arrived at Murray’s Wharf in New York City to a great throng assembled to greet him. Governor George Clinton then escorted Washington to the house where he would be staying.

 

On April 30, Washington walked to Federal Hall on Wall Street. The building was New York’s City Hall and had been the meeting place of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and of the Confederation Congress from 1785-1789. Washington walked up to the second floor balcony for the inauguration, overlooking a crowd of 10,000 people. The entirety of the First Congress sat on a platform facing the balcony.

 

On the balcony, Samuel Otis, the Secretary of the Senate, held a red velvet cushion with a Bible open on it. Vice-President John Adams, who had already been sworn in a few days earlier, stood to the side. John Jay, who was then the Confederation Congress’ Secretary of State, Generals Henry Knox and Philip Schuyler and others graced the balcony as well.

 

New York’s Chancellor Robert Livingston, the highest judge in New York, administered the oath of office to Washington because no Supreme Court justices were yet appointed. Washington placed his left hand on the open Bible and raised his right hand as he made the oath prescribed in the Constitution. When he finished, by his own volition, he leaned down and kissed the Bible and added, “So help me God.” At this point, Chancellor Livingston turned to the crowd, said, “It is done!” and “Long live George Washington – the first President of the United States!,” to the cheering crowd.

 

Washington then entered the Senate Chamber and addressed both houses of Congress with a short speech in which he talked about his own inability to perform the office and desire to be back at Mount Vernon, his desire that each of them think of the country as a whole and not simply their own districts and made numerous references to God’s hand in establishing the United States and their dependence on Him for future prosperity. He also informs them that he will not take any pay from them for serving as President.

 

After addressing the Congress, Washington, Adams and the rest of Congress walked down Broadway to St. Paul’s Chapel to pray for the new nation, take communion and hear a sermon preached by the Reverend Samuel Provost, who was chosen as the Senate’s first chaplain. The prayer service was scheduled by an Act of Congress a few days before the inauguration. This is the same Saint Paul’s Chapel that survived the terrorist attacks of 9/11 at the foot of the World Trade Center.

 

After the inauguration, George Washington was entertained at a lavish dinner put on by Governor Clinton and in the evening, fireworks and cannon balls were shot over the city in celebration of the new nation and her first president.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
George Washington

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Deborah Sampson dies

Deborah Sampson dies

 

On this day in history, April 29, 1827, Deborah Sampson dies. She would be one of several women to serve in the Revolutionary War while posing as a man and become the first woman to receive a military pension for serving in the war.

 

Deborah was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, a descendant of original settlers from the Mayflower. Her father abandoned the family when she was a child and Deborah was sent into servitude in a local farmer’s home because her mother could not care for her children. The farmer had 10 boys and Deborah lived there from the ages of 8 to 17.

 

When her indentured service was complete, Deborah began teaching school in Middleborough, but soon tried to join the army. Her reason for doing this is unclear. Perhaps she needed the money that was given to soldiers for joining, or perhaps it was that all ten of her “brothers” in the farmer’s home had joined the war. Deborah cut her hair, wore men’s clothing and wrapped her chest tightly to appear more masculine. She then spent her enlistment money in a local tavern. Her secret was exposed when a woman from the enlistment office admitted recognizing her. Deborah did not show up the next day for duty. For her behavior, she was excommunicated from her church and shunned in the community.

 

In May of 1782, Deborah enlisted again in Worcester, which was more distant from Middleborough, this time as “Robert Shurtliff.” Her unit marched to West Point, New York where it joined the brigade of General John Paterson. The Battle of Yorktown was fought in October of 1781, but numerous skirmishes took place afterwards. Being so near the British headquarters in New York City, Deborah’s unit was involved in several skirmishes with soldiers and Loyalists.

 

Deborah took at least one bullet in the leg and suffered a saber slash to her forehead in a fight at Tarrytown. The doctor treated the slash first and when he left the room, Deborah snuck off to prevent her secret from being discovered. Some accounts have her digging at least one bullet out herself and she may have had one that was never removed.

 

After recovering, Deborah was among a group of soldiers sent to Philadelphia to put down a mutiny among soldiers. When she arrived, she came down with a fever. Dr. Barnabas Binney discovered Deborah’s secret while treating her and took her to his own home to nurse her. Deborah was sent back to West Point where General Henry Knox, having been made aware of her secret, discharged her with honors for her 1 1/2 years of service in October, 1783. She was 22 years old.

 

After the war, Deborah moved to Stoughton, Massachusetts and lived with relatives where she continued to pose as a man. This time as her own brother Ephraim. The relatives were distant and they believed her story. It’s unclear how things progressed during the next two years, but in April of 1785, she married farmer Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, Massachusetts and had three children with him.

 

In 1792, Deborah petitioned the State of Massachusetts for back pay from her service in the war and received $34 and a commendation signed by John Hancock, making her the first woman to receive payment for service in the war. Some time later, she began a public speaking tour, telling of her time in the army. She began the lecture dressed as a woman, changed into military attire during the speech and showed off various military exercises. In this role, Deborah may have been the very first woman to engage in a public speaking career.

 

In 1804, Deborah became the first woman placed on the veterans pension rolls by Congress through the intervention of her friend, Paul Revere and General Paterson. Paul Revere would prove a pivotal person in Deborah’s life, often loaning her money in times of distress. After Deborah’s death on April 29, 1827, her husband Benjamin would request his widow’s pension, the first time such a request was made. The awkward situation was tabled by Congress, but the year after his death in 1837, the request was granted and the back pension was paid to Deborah and Benjamin’s children.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.”

James Madison

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President James Monroe is born

President James Monroe is born

 

On this day in history, April 28, 1758, President James Monroe is born into a Westmoreland County, Virginia plantation owning family. He would fight in the American Revolution, be an Ambassador to France, Secretary of State, Secretary of War and the 5th President of the United States.

 

James’ father died when he was only 16 years old in 1774, causing him to inherit his father’s plantation and slaves. In the same year, he entered the College of William and Mary to study law. When the American Revolution broke out, James joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army. He became an officer and participated in a June, 1775 raid on the Governor’s Palace that captured hundreds of weapons for the patriot side.

 

Monroe fought in Washington’s New York and New Jersey campaigns, where he was wounded in the shoulder at the Battle of Trenton. Monroe is among the people featured in two of the Revolution’s most famous paintings, including Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton and Washington Crossing the Delaware.

 

When Monroe’s enlistment expired, he returned to Virginia and studied law with Thomas Jefferson from 1780-1783. He began a practice in Fredericksburg and was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782. From 1783-1786, Monroe served in the Continental Congress meeting in New York City.

 

When the new Constitution was being debated, Monroe opposed it for giving too much power to the federal government, but eventually changed his mind on the condition that a bill of rights be added. Monroe was appointed one of Virginia’s senators to the First Congress where he soon became the Senate’s leader of the Democrat-Republican Party, Jefferson’s and Madison’s party that opposed Washington and the Federalists.

 

In 1794, Monroe was appointed Minister to France where he was a strong supporter of the French Revolution and opponent of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, angering George Washington to the point of recalling him. Back in Virginia, Monroe served several terms as Governor and put down a slave revolt. He helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and became Madison’s Secretary of State and Secretary of War for a period.

 

Monroe was elected the 5th President of the United States in 1816 and again in 1820. During his administration a harsh economic recession hit America and one of the main public debates revolved around whether or not new states would permit slavery. The Missouri Compromise was adopted during his time in office, which made an equal number of slave and no-slave states. Monroe got into trouble when General Andrew Jackson chased Seminole Indians into Spanish-owned Florida, but he later purchased Florida from the Spaniards for America. Monroe’s most important foreign policy development was the Monroe Doctrine, which demanded that no European powers intervene any longer in the countries of the Western Hemisphere.

 

Monroe spent his years after the presidency in financial troubles, never gaining financial stability due to poor management and long terms in office. He passed away in New York City on July 4, 1831, 55 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. He was the third president to die on July 4th, after Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society.”
James Madison (1788)

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The House of Commons passes the Tea Act

The House of Commons passes the Tea Act

 

On this day in history, April 27, 1773, the House of Commons passes the Tea Act, an act which would lead to the Boston Tea Party and plunge Great Britain and her American colonies into war. The colonists in America had complained about taxes before. They did not mind paying taxes. Rather, their disagreement was with who had the authority to tax them. Since they had no representatives in Parliament, they believed it was unjust for Parliament to tax them. Instead, the proper bodies to tax them should be their own elected assemblies.

 

When the Stamp Act was passed in 1765, the colonists protested its taxes to the point of violence. When Parliament finally repealed the Act, it passed along with it an act called the Declaratory Act, which reaffirmed Parliament’s right to tax the colonies in whatever way it saw fit. While most celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act, some saw an ominous sign in the Declaratory Act of more taxes to come.

 

More taxes did indeed come with the Townshend Acts of 1767, which levied taxes on paper, lead, glass painters’ colors and tea. The colonists responded by protesting and boycotting British goods as usual, forcing Parliament to repeal all of the Townshend Acts’ taxes in 1770, except for the tax on tea, which the colonists continued to boycott. The boycott especially affected the British East India Company, which shipped tea from India to Britain and her colonies.

 

British policy forced the East India Company to ship tea to England first where it was taxed upon import. Then the tea had to be sold in London markets to merchants who shipped it to America where it was taxed again. The multiple taxes and the middlemen merchants caused the price of tea to be very high by the time it reached consumers in America. This opened up a large market for smuggled Dutch tea, which was much cheaper. By the early 1770s, the East India Company was struggling to survive, with warehouses full of tea it couldn’t sell because its price was undercut in the colonies by Dutch tea.

 

In order to prevent the East India Company from going bankrupt, Parliament came up with a scheme called the Tea Act, first passed by the House of Commons on April 27, 1773 and passed into law with King George’s signature on May 10. The Tea Act allowed the Company to ship tea directly to the colonies, bypassing the London middlemen and the London duties. The only tax that remained was on the colonies’ end and that tax was quite small. This new scheme greatly reduced the price of British tea. If the colonists bought the lower priced tea, they would also be tacitly agreeing to the notion that Parliament did indeed have the right to tax them.

 

The colonists, however, no matter how small the tax, had no intention of paying unjust taxes to Britain. They recognized the scheme immediately as an attempt to bribe them into giving Parliament authority to tax them in exchange for cheap goods. The colonists responded by forbidding tea ships from entering their harbors, culminating with the Boston Tea Party, during which 42 tons of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor in protest.

 

Britain responded in force by passing the Coercive Acts, which closed Boston Harbor and shut down the Massachusetts government, until the tea was paid for. Known as the Intolerable Acts in the colonies, these Acts led directly to the formation of the First Continental Congress to plan a joint colonial response. The American Revolution broke out in full fury shortly afterwards.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
George Washington

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