Naval Committee appointed by Congress

October 30, 2014

 

 

On October 30, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed seven members to serve on an administrative naval committee tasked with the acquisition, outfitting and manning of a naval fleet to be used in defense against the British. Almost two weeks earlier, on October 13, 1775, Congress had authorized the construction and arming of vessels for the country’s first navy.

Members of the first naval committee included some of the most influential members of the Continental Congress and several “founding fathers,” including John Adams, Joseph Hewes, John Langdon, Richard Henry Lee, Silas Deane and Stephen Hopkins, the committee’s chairman.

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John Adams, appointed to Naval Committee

On December 22, Esek Hopkins, Stephen’s brother, was appointed the first commander in chief of the Continental Navy. Congress also named four captains to the new service: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burrows Hopkins. Their respective vessels, the 24-gun frigates Alfred and Columbus, and the14-gun brigs Andrew Doria and Cabot, as well as three schooners, the Hornet, the Wasp and the Fly, became the first ships of the Navy’s fleet. Five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants and three third lieutenants also received their commissions.

With help from the committee, America’s first navy went from a fleet of two vessels on the day Congress established the naval committee to a fleet of more than 40 armed ships and vessels at the height of the War for Independence. The Continental Navy successfully preyed upon British merchant shipping and won several victories over British warships. This first naval force was disbanded after the war. What is now known as the United States Navy was formally established with the creation of the federal Department of the Navy in April 1798.

Source: history.com


John Hancock, president of Congress, resigns due to illness

October 29, 2014

 

 

John Hancock resigned his position as president of the Continental Congress, due to a prolonged illness, on October 29, 1777. Hancock was the first member of the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence and is perhaps best known for his bold signature on the ground-breaking document.

First elected to the Continental Congress in 1774 as a delegate from Massachusetts, Hancock became its president upon the resignation of Peyton Randolph in May 1775. During his tenure as president, Hancock presided over some of the most historic moments of the American Revolution, culminating in the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

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After resigning his position as president, Hancock returned to his home state of Massachusetts, where he continued his work in public service. After helping to establish the state’s first constitution, Hancock was elected first governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1780 and served for five years. He declined to run for reelection in 1785, but returned after a two-year absence and was elected governor for a second time in 1787. He held the position until his death in 1793.

Hancock will forever be remembered for his bold and defiant signature on the Declaration of Independence, but “bold” and “defiant” could also describe the way he lived. The wealthiest colonist in New England, Hancock risked losing everything he had for the cause of American independence. Nothing better exemplifies Hancock’s defiance than the first words he spoke after signing the Declaration of Independence. In response to the bounty the British had placed on the heads of prominent revolutionary leaders, Hancock replied:

“The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward.”

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Source: history.com


British proclamation forbids Boston residents from leaving the city

October 28, 2014

 

 

The new commander in chief of the British army, Major General Sir William Howe, issued a proclamation to the residents of Boston on 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.

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General Washington assumes command of the Continental Army

The newly commissioned 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.

Source: history.com


Federalist No. 1 – General Introduction

October 27, 2014

The Federalist No. 1 – General Introduction

Written by Alexander Hamilton

Published in The Independent Journal,  October 27th, 1787

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To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable–the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars: — The utility of the UNION to your political prosperity — The insufficiency of the present Confederation to preserve that Union — The necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the attainment of this object — The conformity of the proposed Constitution to the true principles of republican government — Its analogy to your own state constitution — and lastly, The additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to liberty, and to property.

In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.

PUBLIUS

 

SUMMARY

Alexander Hamilton begins by asking his readers to consider a new Constitution because they have experienced the inefficiencies in the present form of government. He proclaims that his countrymen are in a unique position to decide whether or not ­ “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” He goes further and states that a mistake on their part would be unfortunate for the future of mankind.

He then goes on to show that many people will oppose the Constitution for a variety of reasons, especially if they benefit from the current form of government – “Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold.”

Hamilton, however, states he is not going to address the motives of those who oppose the Constitution – “It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from –the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears” – rather, his intent is to make arguments that are for the Constitution.

He then goes on to say that he expects there to be vigorous and at times bitter debate – “A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.”

He addresses people questioning his willingness to listen to their arguments because he has already made up his mind to support the Constitution – “Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.”

Finally, he outlines the specific issues that he will address in the Federalist Papers, namely:

  • The utility of the UNION to your political prosperity
  • The insufficiency of the present Confederation to preserve that Union
  • The necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the attainment of this object
  • The conformity of the proposed Constitution to the true principles of republican government
  • Its analogy to your own state constitution
  • The additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to liberty, and to property.

Hamilton then writes that it might seem unnecessary to plead for a strong Union, but “the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole”.

He then concludes the first of the Federalist Papers by saying that the ultimate question is whether the people adopt the Constitution or whether they dissolve the Confederation and devolve into separate countries.

 

Meme by Tara Ross, http://www.taraross.com

Source: The Federalist Papers, http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/federalist-papers


Count Curt Bogislaus Ludvig Kristoffer von Stedingk

October 26, 2014

 

 

Curt Bogislaus Ludvig Kristoffer von Stedingk was a count of the von Stedingk family, and a successful Swedish army officer and diplomat who played a prominent role in Swedish foreign policy during several decades.[1] He valorously lead forces in support of the colonial cause during the American Revolutionary War.[3]

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Von Stedingk was born in Swedish Pomerania on October 26, 1746.[2] His father was Major Kristoffer Adam Stedingk and his mother was Countess Kristina Charlotta von Schwerin, daughter of Frederick the Great’s the Great famous Field Marshal Kurt Christoph von Schwerin.[2] He married Ulrika Fredrika Ekström, and became the father of one son and five daughters who married into the noble families af Ugglas, Biörnstierna, von Platen, d’Otrante and Rosenblad; he was the father of the composer Maria Frederica von Stedingk. During the Seven Years’ War, at which time Sweden was at war with Prussia, then thirteen-year-old Curt was an ensign in the personal regiment of the Crown Prince of Sweden. After the end of the war, he went to Sweden to claim compensation for damage done to his family’s estate in Pomerania. This goal was not achieved, but instead, von Stedingk was introduced to the court, and became friends with the crown prince and his brothers.

In 1763, after von Stedingk completed his studies at Uppsala University, he began his military career, and rose quickly through the ranks in the Royal Suédois regiment in France, which was owned by his friend count Axel von Fersen. Both von Stedingk and Axel von Fersen were both close friends of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and spent much time in Versailles. By 1788, he had become colonel en chef, and by 1783, he was in charge of a larger army unit in Finland, then an internal part of Sweden.

During the American Revolutionary War, when France sent troops under the command of Marquis de Lafayette in support of the American colonies, von Stedingk went overseas to America in 1779.

At Siege of Savannah in October 1779, he commanded the left column of the attacking force, and planted the American flag on the last line of enemy trenches, but was wounded by enemy crossfire, and forced to retreat, with 20 men, all wounded like he was.[3] For this, he was decorated by the French and received a lifetime pension.[4]

He was also recognized as a hero for his acts during the naval Battle of Grenada fought against Vice Admiral John Byron on 6 July 1779. For his feats in battle, von Stedingk was made a member of the Society of the Cincinnati by George Washington in 1783.[3] However, the King of Sweden at that time, Gustav III, forbade him to wear the insignia as they were awarded to him by a revolting people.[4]

During the Russo-Swedish War started by King Gustav III in 1788, von Stedingk commanded the defence of Savolax. His forces repeatedly defeated Russian forces which greatly outnumbered the Swedes, and von Stedingk was promoted to major general.

He was Ambassador to Russia in St. Petersburg in two turns – all in all almost 20 years. In the Russo-Swedish War 1808-1809 he was Commander in Chief in Finland, which still belonged to Sweden. Thanks to his very good standing with the Russian Imperial Family he later managed to alleviate the harsh terms of the peace negotiations when Finland was lost to Russia.

In the Battle of Leipzig he successfully commanded the Swedish troops against Napoleon. He was promoted to Field Marshal.[5]

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Grave site of Curt von Stedingk at Björnlunda church

Avon Stedingk died on January 7, 1837, at age 90[2] in Stockholm, and is said to have been mourned by both the King of Sweden, at that time, Charles XIV John, and the armed forces.

References

  1. Matrikel Öfwer Swea Rikes Ridderskap Och Adel (Anders Anton Von Stiernman. Stockholm : Tryckt uti Kongl. ISBN 9781143870842
  2. Count Stedingk. Putnam’s Monthly. 4–22. New York: G.P. Putnam & Co.. October 1854. pp. 346–581. http://books.google.com/books?id=WSHQAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA346
  3. Adolph B. Benson, ed. (1957). American Swedish Historical Museum: Yearbook 1957. American Swedish Historical Museum: Yearbook. Philadelphia: American Swedish History Museum. p. 34. ISBN 9781437950076. http://books.google.com/books?id=RRYEzhkkVkcC&pg=PA34
  4. American Swedish Historical Museum: Yearbook 1957
  5. People from the past: Curt von Stedingk, ambassador and Sweden’s last field marshal (Trond Norén Isaksen)

Major General Henry Knox

October 25, 2014

 

 

Robust Henry Knox had a lifelong interest in the military. Born in Boston, Knox enlisted in a local military company at the age of eighteen; eventually promoted to major general in the Continental Army, he took part in most of the major battles of the Revolutionary War, and became a close friend and advisor to George Washington. After the war, on March 8, 1785, the Congress made Knox Secretary of War, to be paid a salary of $2,450 a year. President George Washington asked his friend Knox to remain in this position throughout his presidency.

Knox was a generous, amiable man, who enjoyed life’s luxuries. He weighed more than 300 pounds, as did his somewhat intimidating wife; in New York they were commonly known as the “largest couple in the city.”

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Henry Knox was born in Boston to William Knox and Mary Campbell Knox on July 25, 1750. His parents were pioneers from North Ireland. Henry was the seventh of ten children. William Knox was a shipmaster, carrying on trade with the West Indies. Suffering from financial difficulties and all the mental stress and burdens that go with money woes, William died at the age of fifty. Henry gave up school and became the sole support for his mother. He became a clerk in a Boston bookstore, and eventually opened one himself. He was an avid reader, fond of history, but his main interest later settled on artillery.

Knox supported the American cause, and as early as 1772, he became a member of the Boston Grenadier Corps. He was a volunteer in June 1775 at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He served under General Ward, in charge of the colonials around Boston. In 1775, Washington arrived in Boston, taking command of the army. There he met and developed a friendship with Knox, a friendship that would last a lifetime. Washington realized the need of artillery in the American forces and found Knox to be well versed on the subject. Washington asked his opinion on what the army should do. The thought of Knox was to use the cannon from the captured Fort Ticonderoga. Thus, Knox was commissioned a colonel, placed in charge of artillery, and given the task to bring cannon from Ticonderoga to Boston. By way of ox sleds, Knox successfully brought fifty cannon to the city.

The Knox Expedition, the Noble Train of Artillery

In March 1776, Washington seized Dorchester Heights (the key to Boston) and Knox placed the cannon in position there. Howe realizing the danger of an impending American bombardment, withdrew his troops from the city. On March 17, he embarked his troops for Halifax. Boston was entered the following day by triumphant Americans.

After the capture of Boston, Knox helped place Connecticut and Rhode island in proper defense, in preparation for the return of the British. Washington took his forces to defend New York. Knox joined the army there, as the British fleet arrived in New York, with men numbering 30,000. The American forces numbered about 18,000 with very little experience. Knox had 520 officers and soldiers to handle his (approximately) 120 cannon…with little experience as well. The American forces were so outnumbered, they were forced to retreat which did not end until the crossing of the Delaware River at Trenton on December 8, 1776. The Americans had seized all the boats along the Delaware, so the British were unable to follow. With severely reduced forces, who were scantily clothed and poorly armed, the American troops were depressed. Washington did not give up hope, and Knox followed his lead — the would be no reason for despondency. It was on Christmas night that Washington made his famous trip across the Delaware, directed by Knox, to surprise the Hessian forces at Trenton, capturing 1000 men as well as supplies. The American army of 2500, the captives and stores were all carried back across the Delaware. This event gave a much needed boost to the American morale. Knox, himself, was promoted to brigadier-general as a result of his service.

At the same time, Washington was under the threat of losing his army to the expiration of enlistments. The troops had not been paid, so Washington wrote to his friend Robert Morris, a Philadelphia banker, for aid. $50,000 was sent to Washington and a massive departure of the troops was averted.

Washington was now in a position to make another strike against the British. The army crossed the Delaware once more into New Jersey. Cornwallis withdrew a portion of his troops and pursued Washington. Washington was located between the Delaware and Trenton. Thinking the Americans were trapped, Cornwallis planned their capture for the morning. Washington had other plans: the Americans built blazing fires to deceive the British and made their escape, marching to Princeton. On January 3, 1777, Washington attacked the British army, but they were driven back. Washington rallied the troops…and the British in turn, were driven back and defeated. Knox and his men rendered aggressive service, earning him a commendation from the Commander-in-Chief. The American army went into winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey.

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Knox had a commission while the army was in winter quarters at Morristown: he was sent to Massachusetts to raise a battalion for the artillery. He was also given the task of creating an arsenal, and Knox did so at Springfield. It became a valuable source in the production and repair of arms for the remaining years of the Revolution.

Knox was almost displaced of his position in charge of artillery by a Frenchman named Ducondray, secured by Silas Deane, the American Minister to France. Ducondray interviewed with Washington and then headed to lay his credentials before Congress. Washington wrote Congress on behalf of Knox on May 31, 1777: “General Knox, who has deservedly acquired the character of one of the most valuable officers in the service, and who combating almost innumerable difficulties in the department he fills has placed the artillery upon a footing that does him the greatest honor; he, I am persuaded, would consider himself injured by an appointment superseding his command, and would not think himself at liberty to continue in the service. Should such an event take place in the present state of things, there would be too much reason to apprehend a train of ills, such as might confuse and unhinge this important department.” Generals Green and Sullivan supported Washington, and Ducondray was permitted to join the troops under Washington as a volunteer. He was to prove his ability as an engineer, but not given any preference over Knox. Unfortunately, in the late summer of 1777, Ducondray was riding a spirited horse in search of Washington in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As he was about to enter a flat bottom boat to cross the Schuylkill River, he lost control of the horse, the horse and rider plunged into the river and Ducondray was drowned.

Knox was involved in fighting at both the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. He had a limited number of cannon. At Brandywine he placed them well near Chadds Ford, but the British forced a retreat. The Americans held them in check at Birmingham Meeting House and were able to retreat to Chester.

At Valley Forge, Knox was invaluable in organizing and erecting forts to safeguard the winter encampment from British attack. In the Weedon Orderly Book under January 3, 1778 at Valley Forge there is written of a General Court Martial, of which Colonel Scammel was President: “Capt. Courtley of artillery appeared before the Court, charged with leaving his Hoitz in the field in the action of Brandywine in a cowardly unsoldierly like manner. The Court having considered the charge and evidence are of opinion that Capt. Courtly is guilty of the charge exhibited against him and do sentence him as he has ever supported the character of a brave man to be reprimanded by Gen. Knox in presence of all the artillery officers.” “The Commander in Chief is indeed from a state of all the evidence to disapprove the sentence and orders Capt. Courtley to be discharged from his arrest without censure.”

Knox was given permission to leave Valley Forge for a time to visit his family in Massachusetts, but particularly to speed supplies for the army from the New England states. Knox returned and immediately began to assist Steuben in his drilling of the troops, particularly the artillery men. The troops left Valley Forge on June 19 and headed for battle at Monmouth.

Much later, Knox was sent as a representative of Washington to secure aid from the northern states in what Washington hoped would be the last campaign of the war. January 1, 1781, from New Windsor, Washington wrote Knox: “…You will generally represent to the supreme executive powers of the States, through which you pass, and to gentlemen of influence in them, the alarming crisis to which our affairs have arrived, by a too long neglect of measures essential to the existence of the army, and you may assure them, that, if a total alteration of system does not take place in paying, clothing and feeding the troops, it will be in vain to expect a continuance of their service in another campaign. Knox was successful.

Eventually, the British army was forced in seige at Yorktown. Knox had placed the artillery in fine strategic position. After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, Knox was advanced to major-general, an honor well earned.

In 1782, Knox was stationed at West Point and remained there with the troops until the agreement was made for the British to evacuate New York. In the fall of 1783, Knox was able to leave as they followed the British out of New York. On December 4, the officers assembled at Fraunces Tavern to take final leave of their Commander-in-Chief. Knox stood by Washington. Washington withdrew and Knox returned to Boston, well-received.

Knox was elected Secretary of War by Congress in 1785, and in 1789 he was appointed Secretary of War in President Washington’s new cabinet. Knox found his service as Secretary of War to deal with growing unrest in the western frontier of the little country. When a treaty was finally reached, the leadership of Knox was manifested in his aid in promoting law and order.

Knox officially wrote to the President on December 28, 1794: …”After having served my country nearly twenty years, the greatest portion of which under your immediate auspices, it is with extreme reluctance, that I find myself constrained to withdraw from so honorable a station. But the natural and powerful claims of a numerous family will no longer permit me to neglect their essential interest. In whatever situation I shall be, I shall recollect your confidence and kindness with all the power and purity of affection, of which a grateful heart is susceptible.”

Washington accepted Knox’s resignation with regret. Timothy Pickering, who was Postmaster General at this time, was appointed the successor to Knox as Secretary of War and took office January 2, 1795.

General Knox and his family settled on an estate at Thomaston, Maine in 1796, which he called “Montpelier.” He was engaged in various types of businesses during the latter part of his life such as: brick-making, cattle-raising and ship-building. He entertained numerous guests and gave some time in service to his state in General Court and Governor’s Council. Washington desired to appoint Knox as a Commissioner to St. Croix, but Knox declined.

Knox died unexpectedly on October 25, 1806. He was buried in Thomaston.

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Abridged from the article by Charles William Heathcote, Ph.D., The Picket Post, Valley Forge Historical Society; July 1956

Source: http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/knox.html


Jared Ingersoll, signer of the Constitution of the United States

October 24, 2014

 

 

Jared Ingersoll was an early American lawyer and statesman from Philadelphia. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the U.S. Constitution for Pennsylvania. Ingersoll also served as Pennsylvania state attorney general, 1791–1800 and 1811–1816 and as the United States Attorney for Pennsylvania, 1800-1801.[1][2]

He joined DeWitt Clinton on the Federalist Party ticket for the U.S. presidential election, 1812, but was defeated by James Madison and Elbridge Gerry.[2]

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Delegate to the Second Continental Congress

Jared Ingersoll was a supporter of the Revolutionary cause. His training as a lawyer convinced him that the problems of the newly independent states were caused by the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation. He became an early and ardent proponent of constitutional reform, although, like a number of his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention, he believed this reform could be achieved by a simple revision of the Articles. Only after weeks of debate did he come to see that a new document was necessary.[3] Ironically, his major contribution to the cause of constitutional government came not during the Convention, but later during a lengthy and distinguished legal career when he helped define many of the principles enunciated at Philadelphia.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, on October 24, 1749, Ingersoll was the son of Jared Ingersoll (1722–1781),[1] a prominent British official whose strong Loyalist sentiments would lead to his being tarred and feathered by radical Patriots.[3]

In 1765, the year the Stamp Act was imposed on the colonies in America, the British Crown appointed the elder Jared Ingersoll as Stamp Master, the colonial agent in London, for the colony of Connecticut. As the next few months passed and animosity over the Stamp Act grew, Ingersoll became the most hated man in the Colony. On August 21 of that year the Sons of Liberty hung his effigy in New London, Connecticut and in Norwich, Virginia.[4] He wrote an account of Isaac Barre’s speech [5] made during the Parliamentary debate on the Stamp Act to the governor of Connecticut, Thomas Fitch. He would later be involved in a controversial role as the agent who enforced the resulting Stamp Act in Connecticut.[1][6]

The younger Ingersoll completed Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven in 1762,[7] graduated from Yale College in 1766, studied law in Philadelphia, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1773.[8][9] Although by training and inclination a Patriot sympathizer, the young Ingersoll shied away from the cause at the outset because of a strong sense of personal loyalty to his distinguished father. On his father’s advice, he sought to escape the growing political controversy at home by retiring to London to continue his study of the law at the Middle Temple School (1773–76) and to tour extensively through Europe.[10] But shortly after the colonies declared their independence, Ingersoll renounced his family’s views, made his personal commitment to the cause of independence, and returned home. In 1778 he arrived in Philadelphia as a confirmed Patriot. With the help of influential friends he quickly established a flourishing law practice, and shortly after he entered the fray as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1780–81). In 1781 Ingersoll married Elizabeth Pettit.[9] Always a supporter of strong central authority in political affairs, he became a leading agitator for reforming the national government in the postwar years, preaching the need for change to his friends in Congress and to the legal community.[2]

At the Convention, Ingersoll was counted among those who favored revision of the existing Articles of Confederation, but in the end he joined with the majority and supported a plan for a new federal government. Despite his national reputation as an attorney, Ingersoll seldom participated in the Convention debates, although he attended all sessions.

Once the new national government was created, Ingersoll returned to the law. Except for a few excursions into politics—he was a member of Philadelphia’s Common Council (1789) and, as a stalwart Federalist who considered the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 a “great subversion;’ he ran unsuccessfully for Vice President on the Federalist ticket in 1812—his public career centered on legal affairs. He served as attorney general of Pennsylvania (1790–99 and 1811–17),[1] as Philadelphia’s city solicitor (1798–1801), and as U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania (1800–1801). For a brief period (1821–22) he sat as presiding judge of the Philadelphia district court. His major contribution to the cause of constitutional government came not during the Convention, but later during a lengthy and distinguished legal career when he helped define many of the principles enunciated at Philadelphia.

Ingersoll made his contributions to the Constitutional process through several Supreme Court cases that defined various basic points in Constitutional law during the beginning of the new republic. In one definitive case he represented Georgia in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), a landmark case in states’ rights. Here the court decided against him, ruling that a state may be sued in federal court by a citizen of another state. This reversal of the notion of state sovereignty was later rescinded by the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution. In representing Hylton in Hylton v. US (1796), Ingersoll was also involved in the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of an act of Congress. In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s right to impose a tax on carriages.[3] Ingersoll also served as counsel in various cases that helped clarify constitutional issues concerning the jurisdiction of federal courts and U.S. relations with other sovereign nations, including defending Senator William Blount of Tennessee against impeachment.

Jared Ingersoll died in Philadelphia at the age of 73 on October 31, 1822, and was survived by three children; interment was in the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Fourth and Pine Streets.[9]

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Ingersoll Street in Madison, Wisconsin is named after Jared Ingersoll.[11]

References

  1. “Jared Ingersoll (1749-1822)”. University of Pennsylvania . http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/ingersoll_jared.html
  2. “Jared Ingersoll, Find a Grave”. Find a Grave . http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=4719
  3. “Jared Ingersoll–Pennsylvania”. Center of Military History-United States Army, 1987 . http://www.history.army.mil/books/RevWar/ss/ingersoll.htm
  4. “The Story of the Connecticut Sons of Liberty”. Connecticut, Sons of the American Revolution, founded 1889 . http://www.connecticutsar.org/articles/scarlet_no6.htm
  5. Jared Ingersoll to Thomas Fitch, 11 Feb. 1765
  6. “Jared Ingersoll to Thomas Fitch, 11 Feb. 1765″. Prof.Jeffery Pasley, University of Missouri-Columbia . http://pasleybrothers.com/mocourses/texts/Barre.htm
  7. Thom Peters (Fall 2009). “From the Archives”. Views from the Hill (Hopkins School): p. 52. http://www.hopkins.edu/ftpimages/82/misc/misc_71333.pdf
  8. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. “INGERSOLL, Jared, (1749 – 1822)”. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=I000018
  9. “Jared Ingersoll, Pennsylvania”. The National Archives . http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers_pennsylvania.html
  10. “JBiographical Sketches, JARED INGERSOLL, Pennsylvania”. National Park Service . http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/constitution/bio19.htm
  11. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/odd/archives/002071.asp
  • Jared Ingersoll at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

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