Burning of Falmouth

October 18, 2013

The Burning of Falmouth on October 18, 1775, was an attack by a fleet of Royal Navy vessels on the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts — site of the modern city of Portland, Maine, and not to be confused with the modern towns of Falmouth, Massachusetts or Falmouth, Maine. The fleet was commanded by Captain Henry Mowat.[1] The attack began with a naval bombardment which included incendiary shot, followed by a landing party meant to complete the town’s destruction. The attack was the only major event in what was supposed to be a campaign of retaliation against ports that supported Patriot activities in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War.

Among the colonies, news of the attack led to rejection of British authority and the establishment of independent governments. It also led the Second Continental Congress to contest British Naval dominance by forming a Continental Navy. Both Mowat and his superior, Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves, who had ordered Mowat’s expedition, suffered professionally as a consequence of the act.


Detail from a 1777 nautical chart showing Falmouth (now Portland, Maine)

Following the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the British army was besieged in the City of Boston. The British were supported and supplied by the Royal Navy under the command of Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves, who was under Admiralty instruction to suppress the burgeoning rebellion. Under his orders, vessels were searched for military stores and potential military communications. Laid-up vessels were stripped of their masts and rudders to prevent their use by privateers and military equipment was salvaged from readily-accessible recent wrecks.[2]

Captain Henry Mowat had been in the port of Falmouth in May 1775, during Thompson’s War when local Patriots captured several ships carrying supplies for Boston and weaponry from Fort Pownall at the mouth of the Penobscot River.[3] Graves’ Admiralty orders (issued in July 1775 and received by him on October 4) required that he “carry on such Operations upon the Sea Coasts … as you shall judge most effective for suppressing … the Rebellion”.[3] Graves ordered Mowat to “lay waste burn and destroy such Sea Port towns as are accessible to His Majesty’s ships … and particularly Machias where Margueritta was taken”.[3]

Mowat left Boston harbor on October 6, 1775[3] aboard his 16-gun[4] hydrographic survey sloop HMS Canceaux,[5] in company with the 20-gun[4] ship Cat,[6] the 12-gun[4] schooner[6] HMS Halifax,[5] the bomb sloop[6] HMS Spitfire,[5] and the supply ship[6] HMS Symmetry.[5][7] While his instructions were broad in the number of possible targets, he opted against attacks on harbors on Cape Ann, where the buildings were too widely spaced for naval cannon fire to be effective.[8] On October 16 he reached the outer parts of Falmouth harbor and anchored there.

The people of Falmouth had mixed reactions to the presence of the British fleet. Some recognized the Canceaux, which Mowat had previously captained into Falmouth, and believed there was no danger; others, primarily the militia members, were more suspicious. The next day was windless: Mowat kedged the ships into the inner harbor and anchored them near the town. He sent one of his lieutenants ashore with a proclamation stating that he was there to “execute a just punishment” for the town’s state of rebellion. He gave the townspeople two hours to evacuate.[8]

As soon as they received this ultimatum, the townspeople sent a deputation to plead with Mowat for mercy. He promised to withhold fire if the town swore an oath of allegiance to King George. They must also surrender all their small arms and powder, along with their gun carriages. In response, the people of Falmouth began to move out of the town. No oaths were sworn. A small number of muskets were surrendered, but no gun carriages.[8]


A 1782 engraving depicting the burning of Falmouth

Mowat had set a deadline of 9:00 am on October 18 for the town’s response. By 9:40 the town appeared to be deserted, so he ran a red flag up the Canceaux’s masthead, and ordered the fleet to begin firing. Incendiary cannonballs set fire to the harbor installations and most of the town’s houses and public buildings.[8] One witness reported:

The firing began from all the vessels with all possible briskness, discharging on all parts of the town … a horrible shower of balls from three to nine pounds weight, bombs, carcasses, live shells, grapeshot and musket balls. … The firing lasted, with little cessation, until six o’clock.[9]

When the bombardment appeared inadequate to Mowat, he sent a landing party to set fire to any buildings that had survived.[10] The town militia offered little significant resistance, as most were helping their families to safety. In spite of this, some of the landed British marines were killed or wounded.[11] By evening, according to Mowat, “the body of the town was in one flame”.[12]

Following the bombardment, Mowat went on to Boothbay, where he set fire to a few houses and raided for livestock, but his expedition was faltering to an end. The decks of some of his ships had been inadequately braced for prolonged gunnery, and many of his guns had jumped their mounts. He returned to Boston, and remained there as winter was setting in. When Admiral Graves was relieved in December 1775, these punitive raids were gradually abandoned.[10] One of the last, undertaken to avenge British military losses to revolutionary Patriots, was the burning of Norfolk, Virginia, on January 1, 1776, instigated by Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia.[13]

More than 400 buildings and houses were recorded as damaged or destroyed by fire.[14] In his report to Graves, Mowat stated that eleven small vessels were destroyed in the harbor itself, and four captured, at the cost of one man killed and one wounded.[10] The people were left to fend for themselves for the winter. A visitor to the town reported that, a month later, there was “no lodging, eating or housekeeping in Falmouth”.[12]

On October 26, the town formed a committee to raise funds for the distressed families. More than 1,000 people (out an estimated population of 2,500), including at least 160 families, had been left homeless by the raid.[15][16] The Massachusetts Provincial Congress authorized £250 to be paid to the distressed families, and arranged for the distribution of up to 15 bushels of corn to those left destitute. As late as 1779, additional grants were made to needy families in Falmouth.[16] Despite numerous earlier entreaties to a wide variety of parties, significant recompense was not made until 1791, when Congress granted two tracts of land as compensation. These tracts became the towns of New Portland and Freeman. The town of Falmouth accounted losses in the raid at over £50,000.[17]

The citizens of Falmouth began rebuilding their town. In 1784 they built over 40 homes and 10 shops. By 1797 over 400 homes had been built, or rebuilt, along with factories, offices, and municipal buildings.[18] Part of the Falmouth Neck was politically separated in 1786 to form the city of Portland.[19]

News of the raid caused uproar in the colonies. Propagandists emphasized its cruelty.[10] The Massachusetts Provincial Congress authorized the issue of letters of marque, licensing privateer actions against the British navy.[20] The Second Continental Congress heard of the event just as word arrived of King George’s Proclamation of Rebellion. Outraged by the news, Congress resolved a recommendation that all provinces declare themselves self-governing and independent of British rule or influence.[21] The attack on Falmouth stimulated Congress to advance its plans for establishment of a Continental Navy. It authorized the commissioning of two ships on October 30 “for the protection and defense of the united Colonies”.[22] The Falmouth incident was again mentioned on November 25, when Congress passed legislation described by John Adams as “the true origin of the American Navy”.[23]

When news of the event first reached England, it was dismissed as rebel propaganda.[24] When the reports were confirmed, Graves’ superior, Lord George Germain expressed surprise rather than offence, noting that “I am to suppose that Admiral Graves had good reason for the step he took”, in spite of orders (not received by Graves until after Mowat had sailed for Falmouth) to not take such acts unless the town clearly refused to do business with the British.[10] Graves was relieved of his command in December 1775, in part due to his failure to suppress the rebel naval forces.[25] Germain issued the orders before Falmouth burned.[26]

News of the event also reached France, which was carefully monitoring political developments in North America. The French foreign secretary wrote: “I can hardly believe this absurd as well as barbaric procedure on the part of an enlightened and civilized nation.”[24]

Mowat’s career suffered as a result of his actions. He was repeatedly passed over for promotion, and achieved it only when he downplayed his role in the event, or omitted it entirely from his record.[25]

On August 30, 1775, Royal Naval Captain James Wallace, commanding HMS Rose, fired into the town of Stonington, Connecticut, after the townspeople there prevented Rose’s tender from capturing a vessel it had chased into the harbor. Apparently not seeking to burn the town, he did not fire any heated rounds or incendiaries.[27] Wallace also fired on the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, in October 1775, after its townspeople refused to deliver livestock to him.[28]


  1. Sometimes spelled Mowatt
  2. Duncan, pp. 215–216
  3. Duncan, p. 216
  4. Goold’s gun count includes swivel guns, but not the mortars of the bomb sloop Spitfire. Half (or fewer) of this count were carriage-mounted cannon. Other references indicate Canceaux carried 8 cannon, and Halifax carried 6.
  5. “The Penobscot Expedition Archaeological Project”. United States Navy. http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/UA_Penobscot.pdf
  6. Goold, William The Burning of Portland 19 February 1873
  7. Symmetry may have carried guns, because other references indicate she fired during the Battle of Bunker Hill; but Goold describes her as a magazine for the bomb sloop during this engagement. As a safety measure to prevent loss of a ship through accidental ignition of unfired incendiary carcasses, carcasses were transferred by lighter from a non-firing ship to the bomb sloop as needed.
  8. Duncan, p. 217
  9. Miller, p. 47
  10. Duncan, p. 218
  11. Willis, p. 520
  12. Miller, p. 48
  13. Fiske, p. 211
  14. Willis, p. 521
  15. Conforti, p. 60
  16. Willis, pp. 521–523
  17. Willis, p. 524
  18. Conforti, p. 62
  19. Willis, p. 582
  20. Burke, p. 281
  21. Fiske, pp. 192–193
  22. Miller, pp. 48–49
  23. Miller, p. 49
  24. Nelson, p. 146
  25. Duncan, p. 219
  26. Nelson, p. 273
  27. Caulkins, p. 516
  28. Charles, pp. 168–169


  • Charles, Patrick J (2008). Irreconcilable Grievances: The Events That Shaped American Independence. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Books. ISBN 9780788445668. OCLC 212838026.
  • Conforti, Joseph (2007). Creating Portland: History and Place in Northern New England. Durham, NH: UPNE. ISBN 9781584654490. OCLC 154804541.
  • Duncan, Roger F (1992). Coastal Maine: A Maritime History. New York: Norton. ISBN 9780393030488. OCLC 24142698.
  • Burke, Edmund (1780). An Impartial History of the War in America. London: R. Faulder. OCLC 6187693. http://books.google.com/?id=gGUFAAAAQAAJ.
  • Fiske, John (1902). The Historical Writings of John Fiske, Volume 10. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. OCLC 1658057. http://books.google.com/?id=UIoQAAAAYAAJ.
  • Caulkins, Frances Manwaring; Griswold, Cecelia (1895). History of New London, Connecticut: From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. New London, Connecticut: H. D. Utley. OCLC 1856358. http://books.google.com/?id=ij8OAAAAIAAJ.
  • Miller, Nathan (1974). Sea of Glory: The Continental Navy fights for Independence 1775-1783. New York: David McKay. ISBN 9780679503927. OCLC 844299.
  • Nelson, James L (2008). George Washington’s Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 9780071493895. OCLC 212627064.
  • Willis, William (1865). The History of Portland, from 1632 to 1864: With a Notice of Previous Settlements, Colonial Grants, and Changes of Government in Maine (2nd ed.). Portland, Maine: Bailey & Noyes. OCLC 2341166. http://books.google.com/?id=tffBtJBkRG8C.

Colonel Ebenezer Allen, Green Mountain Boys

October 17, 2013

Ebenezer Allen was an American soldier, pioneer, and member of the Vermont General Assembly. He was born in Northampton, Massachusetts on October 17, 1743. His parents were Samuel Allen (1706–1755) and Hannah Miller (1707–1755).


Allen married Lydia Richards (1746–1833) in 1762 in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Zebulon Richards and Lydia Brown.

Along with Thomas Ashley, Allen was a founder of Poultney, Vermont. Allen and Ashley (both had married daughters of Zebulon Richards) arrived at the site of the town along the Poultney River on 15 April 1771. Allen brought his family with him on the journey. Ashley traveled alone, building a shanty and planting corn before bringing his family to the wilderness.[1]

Poultney was a patriotic village. All of its residents (except one) supported the American Revolution and most males served in the revolutionary army at various times during the war.[2]

Allen became a Lieutenant in a company of Green Mountain Boys, was with Ethan Allen when Ft. Ticonderoga was captured from the British, and with Colonel Seth Warner in Canada. He was appointed a captain in Colonel Herrick’s battalion of rangers in July 1777, and distinguished himself at the battle of Bennington. In September of the same year he captured Mt. Defiance by assault, and on the retreat of the enemy from Fort Ticonderoga made fifty of them prisoners. Subsequently he was made major in the rangers, and showed himself a brave partisan leader. In his later life he was always referred to as Col. Allen.[3]

Allen occupied many positions of civil authority in Vermont. He was a Justice of the Peace, served on many town committees, and was a representative to the Vermont General Assembly from 1788-1792. He was prominent in the planning of a new government for Vermont, helping to frame its constitution.[4]

Allen was one of the original grantees of South Hero, Vermont by an act of the legislature in 1779. He left Poultney with his family for South Hero, Vermont where he once again was the first pioneer in a wilderness—tradition states that he arrived on 25 August 1783, however he may have arrived as early as 1779. In 1787 he enlarged his house and operated a public house on the island. He held many public offices and was a representative to the Vermont General Assembly from 1788 – 1792. His cousin, Ethan Allen, spent the last night of his life at his house in South Hero. Ebenezer removed from South Hero to Burlington, Vermont in 1800 and operated a tavern there until his death in 1806.[5]

Allen was known as a man of strong convictions—whether political, moral or religious. He was opposed to slavery. On 27 November 1777, he granted freedom to two slaves stating: “I being conscientious that it is not right in the sight of God to keep slaves, give them their freedom.”[6]

In 1792 Allen toured the unsettled portions of Ohio, Michigan and Upper Canada with a group of Indians for a year. In 1795, Allen was part of a partnership with Charles Whitney, also of Vermont, Robert Randal, of Philadelphia and several British subjects in Detroit including John Askin and William Robertson, which planned to buy the entire lower Michigan peninsula from the United States government for $500,000. A stock company was established, and two of Allen’s eastern partners promised members of Congress either stock or cash for their support in the purchase. This clumsy scheme was exposed, and the partner’s plans evaporated.[7]

Allen died on March 6, 1806, and was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont.[8]


  1. Smith, Henry P. & Rann, William S., The History of Rutland County, Vermont, Syracuse: D. Mason & Co., 1886
  2. Joslin, Joseph, “A History of the Town of Poultney, Vermont, from its Settlement to the Year 1875″, Poultney: Journal Printing Office, 1875
  3. Hemenway, Abbey, “The Vermont Historical Gazetteer”, (Clark, History of South Hero), Burlington: The Author, 1871, vol. II, p. 580-81
  4. Hemenway, Abbey, “The Vermont Historical Gazetteer”, Burlington: The Author, 1871, vol. II, p. 582
  5. Hemenway, Abbey, “The Vermont Historical Gazetteer”, Burlington: The Author, 1871, vol. II, p. 573
  6. Joslin, Joseph, “A History of the Town of Poultney, Vermont, from its Settlement to the Year 1875″, Poultney: Journal Printing Office, 1875, p. 198
  7. “Account of a Plot for Obtaining the Lower Peninsula of Michigan from the United States in 1795 by J. V. Campbell”. Collections of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan together with Reports of County Pioneer Societies, Vol VIII. (second edition ed.). Lansing, Mich.: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford. 1907 [1886]. pp. 406–411. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/lhbum:@field(DOCID+@lit(lhbum5298adiv184))
  8. Ebenezer Allen at Find A Grave

Colonel Morgan Lewis, Governor of New York

October 16, 2013

Colonel Morgan Lewis was an American lawyer, politician and military commander.

Of Welsh descent, he was born October 16, 1754, the son of Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) in 1773 and began to study law on the advice of his father. His studies were interrupted by military service during the American Revolutionary War. From September 1, 1776 to the end of the war he was a colonel and the Quartermaster General for the Northern Department. In 1779 he married Gertrude Livingston (1757–1833), the daughter of Robert R. Livingston.


After the Revolution, Lewis completed his legal studies and was elected to the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate. He was New York State Attorney General and later Justice and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York. He served as governor of New York from 1804 to 1807, defeating Vice President Aaron Burr in the race to succeed future Vice President George Clinton as Governor. On April 30, 1807, he was defeated in his run for re-election by Daniel D. Tompkins, also a future Vice President. Tompkins received 35,074 votes, Morgan Lewis 30,989.

During the War of 1812 Lewis resumed his duties as Quartermaster General and served in western New York. He commanded the American forces at the Battle of Fort George. Although the British position was captured, Lewis ordered Colonel Winfield Scott to break off the pursuit of the defeated British troops. But for Lewis’s over-caution, Scott might have been able to capture Major-General John Vincent’s entire division and greatly weaken the British defense of the Niagara Peninsula. Later, Lewis was appointed as commander of upstate New York.

Lewis was a presidential elector in 1828.

Lewis was a Freemason, and served as Grand Master in the Grand Lodge of New York from 1830-1843.

From 1832 to 1835 he was the President of the Historical Society of New York.

Lewis helped to found New York University in New York City, where he was born and where he died on April 7, 1844.


Grave of Moran Lewis, Saint James Episcopal Churchyard, Hyde Park, New York

Lewis County, New York, the Town and Village of Lewiston, New York, and the Town of Lewis in Essex County, New York have been named to honor him.


  • [1] Morgan Lewis
  • [2] Morgan Lewis
  • [3] Morgan Lewis picture and gravesite
  • [4] New York history, election result 1807

British retreat from Middleburgh

October 15, 2013

A combined force of 1,000 British regulars, Hessians, Loyalists and Indians, led by Loyalist Sir John Johnson and Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, attempted an unsuccessful attack on Middleburgh, New York, on October 15, 1780.


Chief Joseph Brant

Only 200 Continental soldiers under Major Melancthon Lloyd Woolsey were defending the fort, and unknown to the British, the Continentals were low on ammunition. In their ignorance of the Patriots’ weakness, the Loyalist forces retreated in the direction of the Schoharie Valley, contenting themselves with destroying everything in their path and continuing the civil war raging in upstate New York.

Johnson was the son of Sir William Johnson, Britain’s superintendent of Indian Affairs, who lived in the Mohawk Valley. The younger Johnson inherited his father’s sizable estate in 1774 only to relinquish it when he led a group of his tenants and native allies in flight to Montreal, Canada, after the outbreak of war between the colonies and Great Britain in 1775. Johnson’s cohort created the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, which fought throughout the war. For his efforts, Johnson became a British brigadier general in 1782.

Joseph Brant ranked among Britain’s best commanders during the American War for Independence. He was an educated Christian and Freemason who studied directly with Eleazer Wheelock at Moor’s Indian Charity School, the parent institution of Dartmouth College. His older sister Mary was Sir William Johnson’s common-law wife and also played a significant role in colonial and revolutionary Indian affairs. At the close of the war, the Brants and their Iroquois followers left the United States for Canada, where they found land and safety with their British allies.


Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress

October 14, 2013

The Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, also known as the Declaration of Colonial Rights or the Declaration of Rights, was a statement adopted by the First Continental Congress on October 14, 1774, in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament. The Declaration outlined colonial objections to the Intolerable Acts, listed a colonial bill of rights, and provided a detailed list of grievances. It was similar to the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, passed by the Stamp Act Congress a decade earlier.

The Declaration concluded with an outline of Congress’s plans: to enter into a boycott of British trade (the Continental Association) until their grievances were redressed, to publish addresses to the people of Great Britain and British America, and to send a petition to the King.


Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, meeting place of the First Continental Congress

In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, the British government instated the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts in the colonies.[1] There were five Acts within the Intolerable Acts; the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, the Quartering Act, and the Quebec Act.[1] These acts placed harsher legislation on the colonies, especially in Massachusetts, changed the justice system in the colonies, made colonists provide for the quartering of permanent British troops, and expanded the borders of Quebec.[1] The colonies became enraged at the implementation of these laws as they felt it limited their rights and freedoms. Outraged delegates from the colonies united to share their grievances in the First Continental Congress in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774 to determine if the colonies should, or were interested in taking action against the British.[1][2] All the colonies except Georgia sent delegates to this conference.[3] The First Continental Congress produced five resolves, one of which was the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress.[4]

OCTOBER 14, 1774

Resolved, N.C.D. 5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of that law.

This resolve refers to the Administration of Justice Act, which meant British soldiers would not need to be tried in the colonies, but could go to Britain to be tried.[5] This act angered colonists as they thought that since the soldiers would have to leave the colonies, they could escape and avoid persecution.[5] British soldiers had been accused of committing crimes throughout the French and Indian War, and as some of these offenses were against colonists, they wanted to see the troops brought to justice for their offenses.

Resolved, N.C.D. 2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural- born subjects, within the realm of England.

Resolved, N.C.D. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.

These resolves mean that upon emigration from Great Britain, the colonists were entitled to equal rights as the British, and should be treated as such. This is in reference to the Intolerable Acts that the colonists saw as limiting their freedom and placing them at a lower political and social level than the citizens of the mother country. This resolve is controversial as it suggests that colonial rights have not only been disrespected recently prior to the Continental Congress, but rather for many years before.

Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed: But, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British parliament, as are bonfide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members; excluding every idea of taxation internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects, in America, without their consent.

The colonists did not have direct representation in British Parliament, and felt that the government couldn’t place taxes on the colonists unless they had representatives in government.[6] The colonists did not want to have taxes levied on them to raise money for the British government when they had no say in the legislature of such taxes.[7] In reality, the British were implementing these taxes to raise the revenue they lost in the French and Indian War, as well as will the colonies into submission as the British felt their loyalty was wavering.[8] The colonists slogan for this issue was “No taxation without representation”[7] It is up for debate who the individual is who coined this expression. Different sources say it was Patrick Henry in 1750, while another says it was Jonathan Mayhew (also in 1750)[7]

Resolved, N.C.D. 5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of that law.

In the Administration of Justice Act it was made law that the colonists had to be tried in British courts for crimes, and British soldiers accused of crimes could be tried in British courts.[9] The colonists called this the ”murder act” because they felt soldiers could get away with murder by fleeing when they were supposed to go to Britain for trial.[9] This resolve is depicting the colonists demand that they be tried in their own courts for crimes committed in the colonies.

Resolved, N.C.D. 6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English statutes, as existed at the time of their colonization; and which they have, by experience, respectively found to be applicable to their several local and other circumstances.

Resolved, N.C.D. 7. That these, his Majesty’s colonies, are likewise entitled to all the immunities and privileges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their several codes of provincial laws.

These resolves state the colonists are entitled to the rights stated in their individual colony’s charters, and have been since colonization. This is important for colonial rights as it ties into the issue of colonial legislative rights, in comparison to the rights of the monarch over the colonies. This document states that colonial rights cannot be altered too much, as the colonial charter must be respected.

Resolved, N.C.D. 8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the king; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal.

The purpose of this resolve is to ease the tension and the colonies by making sure they have the right to assemble and petition the king, in the forms of committees of correspondence.[10] Committees of correspondence were formed in the period between 1772 and 1774 as a way for colonists and colonial leaders to express their grievances towards the King.[11]

Resolved, N.C.D. 9. That the keeping a standing army in these colonies, in times of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that colony, in which such army is kept, is against law.

The resolution above was included in the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress as the British had placed a permanent army in Massachusetts in 1768. The colonists were angered that these troops were to be quartered in their houses, fed with their food, and showed a blatant mistrust from Britain and increased control in the colonies.

Resolved, N.C.D. 10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the English constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other; that, therefore, the exercise of legislative power in several colonies, by a council appointed, during pleasure, by the crown, is unconstitutional, dangerous and destructive to the freedom of American legislation.

All and each of which the aforesaid deputies, in behalf of themselves, and their constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indubitable rights and liberties, which cannot be legally taken from them, altered or abridged by any power whatever, without their own consent, by their representatives in their several provincial legislature.

In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringements and violations of the foregoing rights, which, from an ardent desire, that harmony and mutual intercourse of affection and interest may be restored, we pass over for the present, and proceed to state such acts and measures as have been adopted since the last war, which demonstrate a system formed to enslave America.

This resolve was created to demand and proclaim that colonial legislatures shouldn’t be controlled by a council appointed by the crown, but rather by colonists and leaders of their own choosing. The addition of this resolve is further demanding colonial independence by placing additional control in the hands of the colonial government.

Resolved, N.C.D. That the following acts of parliament are infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists; and that the repeal of them is essentially necessary, in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies, viz.

The several acts of Geo. III. ch. 15, and ch. 34.-5 Geo. III. ch.25.-6 Geo. ch. 52.-7 Geo.III. ch. 41 and ch. 46.-8 Geo. III. ch. 22. which impose duties for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, extend the power of the admiralty courts beyond their ancient limits, deprive the American subject of trial by jury, authorize the judges certificate to indemnify the prosecutor from damages, that he might otherwise be liable to, requiring oppressive security from a claimant of ships and goods seized, before he shall be allowed to defend his property, and are subversive of American rights.

Also 12 Geo. III. ch. 24, intituled, “An act for the better securing his majesty’s dockyards, magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores,” which declares a new offence in America, and deprives the American subject of a constitutional trial by jury of the vicinage, by authorizing the trial of any person, charged with the committing any offence described in the said act, out of the realm, to be indicted and tried for the same in any shire or county within the realm.

Also the three acts passed in the last session of parliament, for stopping the port and blocking up the harbour of Boston, for altering the charter and government of Massachusetts-Bay, and that which is entitled, “An act for the better administration of justice, etc.”

Also the act passed in the same session for establishing the Roman Catholic religion, in the province of Quebec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and erecting a tyranny there, to the great danger (from so total a dissimilarity of religion, law and government) of the neighboring British colonies, by the assistance of whose blood and treasure the said country was conquered from France.

Also the act passed in the same session, for the better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers in his majesty’s service, in North-America.

Also, that the keeping a standing army in several of these colonies, in time of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that colony, in which such army is kept, is against law.

To these grievous acts and measures, Americans cannot submit, but in hopes their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that state, in which both countries found happiness and prosperity, we have for the present, only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures: 1. To enter into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement or association. 2. To prepare an address to the people of Great-Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America: and 3. To prepare a loyal address to his majesty, agreeable to resolutions already entered into.

The final resolve in this document refers to all of the Intolerable Acts, and states that under the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, they are prohibited and illegal. The anger over the Intolerable Acts was no secret to the British government, and the issue of taxation without representation was voiced loudly, however this resolve questions the authority of the monarch and parliaments rule in the colonies.

At this time in history the colonies were perceptibly unhappy with the British monarch and parliament.[12] Despite the palpable tensions that existed between the groups King George did not waver or give in to colonial demands. He meant to maintain political unity between the colonies and the United Kingdom even at the expense of the happiness of the colonists.[12] King George famously said to the Prime Minister Lord North “The die is now cast, the colonies must either submit or triumph.”[12] This sentiment continued after the publication of the Declarations and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, as he would not negotiate with them.[12]

The Declarations and Resolves of the First Continental Congress served many purposes. Among those who supported achieving full autonomy from Britain, it served to rouse their spirits together towards gaining independence.[12] For those who were on the fence about supporting of opposing American independence, this document, which outlined all the wrongdoings of the King, could turn their support against the King.[12] In addition, before this document was released the goal of the Continental Congress was to discuss grievances, however after the publication American opinion turned from wanting respect and recognition from the crown, to wanting to become separate from the mother country. Not all Americans felt this way, there were many loyalists who wanted to remain a part of the empire of Great Britain especially in the South, but the public opinion was turning.


  1. “The First Continental Congress”
  2. Steinbach, Nancy. “A Tea Party at Night, on the Road to Revolution”
  3. “The First Continental Congress”
  4. Brinkley, Alan (1997). The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 112
  5. “Administration of Justice Act”
  6. “No Taxation Without Representation”
  7. “No Taxation Without Representation”
  8. “Coercive Acts Imposed By British 1774″
  9. “Administration of Justice Act”
  10. “Committees of Correspondance”
  11. “Committees of Correspondence”
  12. Karsch, Carl G. “The First Continental Congress: A Dangerous Journey Begins”

Major General John Armstrong, Sr.: Pennsylvania Congressman

October 13, 2013

John Armstrong was an American civil engineer and soldier who served as a major general during the Revolutionary War. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress for Pennsylvania. Armstrong County, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.

Armstrong was born on October 13, 1717, in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Ireland, to James Armstrong and Jane Campbell. John was educated in Ireland and became a civil engineer before emigrating to Pennsylvania. Armstrong came to Pennsylvania as a surveyor for the Penn family, the proprietary owners of the colony. In 1750 he laid out the first plat or plan for the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and was one of its first settlers. He was later appointed surveyor for the newly established Cumberland County.

In 1756 he led the Kittanning Expedition. When a group of Indians and Frenchmen overtook Fort Granville and captured prisoners that were taken back to their fortified village of Kittanning on the Allegheny River, it was Armstrong that led an expedition that destroyed their village and rescued the prisoners.

In 1758, Colonel Armstrong led 2,700 Pennsylvania provincial troops on the Forbes expedition, the approach of which compelled the French to vacate and blow up Fort Duquesne. Armstrong became a good friend to the other militia commander in this expedition, Colonel George Washington.


Letter from Armstrong to George Washington expressing Armstrong’s opinion on proposed attack on British forces at Philadelphia, November 25, 1777

In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Armstrong was a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia. On March 1, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed him to that same rank in the Continental Army. He was sent south to begin preparations for the defense of Charleston, South Carolina. He contributed his engineering talents to the construction of defenses that enabled them to withstand the Battle of Sullivan’s Island later that year. When General Charles Lee arrived to take command, he returned to his duties with the main army and with the Pennsylvania militia. Pennsylvania named him major general in charge of the state militia. This ended his service in the Continental Army, but not the war or his cooperation with General Washington.

At the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Armstrong’s militia held the far left of the American line. They were also to guard the army’s supplies. After a hard day’s fighting the Americans were forced to withdraw or face being surrounded. Armstrong brought the supplies and his militia out from Pyle’s Ford after dark.

In the Battle of Germantown on October 4, General Armstrong led the American right. His mission was to skirt the British left flank and attack there and in their rear. Despite delays and the troubles some units had in moving, the overall attack was going well, until the center was held up at the Benjamin Chew House. The attack then collapsed after a friendly fire incident in the fog in which General Adam Stephen’s men fired on Anthony Wayne’s troops causing their withdrawal. Armstrong, whose men had advanced nearly to the center of Germantown, but were not greatly involved in the fight later complained that it was “….a glorious victory fought for and eight tenths won, ….mysteriously lost, for to this moment no one man can ….give any good reason for the flight.”

After Germantown, Armstrong was granted permission to give up active command. At aged sixty, his health was declining, and old wounds were troubling him. Returning home to Carlisle, he was elected to the Continental Congress by the Pennsylvania Assembly. As a delegate from 1777 to 1780 he was a strong supporter of Washington and the army. Armstrong was firm in his support for a new United States Constitution, and was returned to the Congress of the Confederation during its final days in 1787 and 1788.

Throughout his life Armstrong served in a number of local or civic offices. One of these, the Carlisle school board, led him to originally oppose Dr. Benjamin Rush’s proposal to start a college in the town. He later relented, and became a member of the first Board of Trustees for Dickinson College. John died at home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on March 9, 1795, and is buried in the Old Carlisle Cemetery. In 1800, when Pennsylvania created a new county at Kittanning, it was named Armstrong County in his honor.


James Findlay, mayor of Cincinnati

October 12, 2013

James Findlay was a soldier, political official, and merchant who for decades was one of the leading citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born on October 12, 1770, in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, to Samuel Findlay and Jane Smith. He had two older brothers, John Findlay and William Findlay. After his father suffered financial setbacks, Findlay moved to the Northwest Territory in 1793 with his wife Jane Irwin (1769–1851). There, in partnership with John Smith, he soon became one of the leading merchants and most influential men in the young city of Cincinnati. He was elected to the legislature of the Northwest Territory in 1798, and in 1802 he became the United States Marshal for the Ohio Territory.


Congressman James Findlay from Ohio’s first district

In 1800 Findlay received his most influential appointment, that of receiver of public money at the Cincinnati Public Land Office, which made him the region’s most visible official of the federal government and a central figure in the business and politics of Cincinnati. In 1805 and 1806, he served as mayor of Cincinnati, a position he would return to in 1810 and 1811.[1][2] Findlay also played an active role in the Ohio militia, attaining the rank of brigadier general.

In 1806 and 1807 Findlay helped to quash the Burr conspiracy, though that meant turning on his partner Smith, an alleged conspirator. In the War of 1812, Findlay was commissioned a colonel in the United States Army, and commanded the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He marched north with General William Hull, and opposed Hull’s disastrous decision to surrender Detroit. Afterwards, Findlay was promoted to major general in the Ohio militia, and built Fort Findlay at the site of present-day Findlay, Ohio.

He was elected to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses and elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Congresses (March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1833). Findlay eventually broke with the Jackson Democrats, and was defeated for reelection in 1832, and as an Anti-Jacksonian lost a bid for Governor of Ohio in 1834.

He died on December 28, 1835, in Cincinnati and was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.


Grave of James Findlay in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery.

The Findlay Market, his most famous legacy, is built on land donated to Cincinnati by the estate of General Findlay and Jane Irwin Findlay.


  • Andrew Cayton. “Findlay, James.” American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  • The Political Graveyard
  • James Findlay (Cincinnati mayor) at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  1. Greve, Charles Theodore (1904). Centennial history of Cincinnati and representative citizens 1. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company. p. 438
  2. Goss, Charles Fredric (1912). Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912 1. Cincinnati: S J Clarke Publishing Company. p. 96

Jonathon Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut

October 10, 2013

Jonathon Trumbull, a dismal failure as a merchant but highly esteemed as a governor, was a life-long resident of Lebanon where he was born on October 10, 1710. Three years after graduating from Harvard in 1727, he was licensed as a Congregational minister, but the ministry was not to be his vocation. By July 1731 he and his brother Joseph (1705-1732) had formed a mercantile partnership. After Joseph was lost at sea, Jonathan became a full-time merchant on his own.


Portrait of Governor Jonathon Trumbull

A committed public servant, he faithfully served his town, church, and colony. Always interested in intellectual pursuits, he helped found a library and a private school in Lebanon. In 1733 Lebanon elected him a deputy to the assembly; in 1740 the colony chose him for the upper house-the youngest assistant in eighteenth-century Connecticut. Enjoying an extremely active legislative career, he frequently accepted committee assignments and wrote the reports. Never one to be idle, he also was a justice of the peace and quorum; a judge of the county, probate, and superior courts; and colonel of the Twelfth Regiment. In 1735 he married Faith Robinson (1718-1780) of Duxbury. Massachusetts, with whom he had six children. All four sons,Joseph (1736-1778), Jonathan, Jr., (1740-1809), David (1750-1822), and John (1756-1843), played active roles during the Revolutionary War.

From 1731 to 1749 he operated as an inland merchant, selling to customers in Lebanon and nearby towns goods he purchased in Boston. Probably late in 1749, with Elisha Williams (1694-1755) and Joseph Pitkin (1696-1762), he formed a partnership which soon acquired large debts attempting a direct trade with England. A later firm, founded in 1764 and composed of Trumbull, son Joseph, and Eleazer Fitch (1726-1796), likewise tried but failed to realize a profitable English trade.

A strong opponent of the Stamp Act, Trumbull and other assistants walked out in 1765 when Governor Thomas Fitch took the required oath of support. In 1766 Trumbull was elected deputy governor and in 1769, governor. The only incumbent colonial governor to serve throughout the war, he established a close relationship with General Washington, providing large amounts of food and arms for the Continental army. An indefatigable worker, he converted about 1,200 meetings of the Council of Safety, but much of the burden of running the state fell on him. In 1784 when he retired from public service, being acutely aware of the disunity which had plagued the American cause, he urged his countrymen to establish a much stronger central government.

His efforts helped greatly in making Connecticut the “Provisions State” of the American Revolution as well as a large contributor of men and arms. His strong and effective leadership as governor during the critical years of the Revolution and his remarkable political acumen wrought a significant change in the relative power of the governor and assembly and “entitled him to the first place among patriots.”

He died in his hometown of Lebanon on August 17, 1785, and is buried in Old Cemetery.


Source: http://www.connecticutsar.org/patriots/trumbull_jonathan.htm

Harmanus Bleecker, New York statesman

October 9, 2013

Harmanus Bleecker was a United States Representative from New York. He was born in Albany, New York, on October 9, 1779, to an old Dutch family. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1801, and commenced practice in Albany.


Congressman Harmanus Bleecker

He was elected as a Federalist to the 12th United States Congress, holding office from March 4, 1811 to March 3, 1813. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1812 and resumed the practice of law in Albany.

Bleecker was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1814 and 1815. From 1822 to 1834 was a University of the State of New York Board of Regents.

He was Chargé d’Affaires to the Netherlands from May 12, 1837 to June 28, 1842. As a practitioner of the traditional Dutch culture as it was known in Albany and a speaker of the old-style Dutch language, Bleecker was very well received by the government and people of the Netherlands.

After returning to Albany Bleecker retired from public life and business pursuits. He died in Albany on July 19, 1849, and was buried at Albany Rural Cemetery.


Grave site of Harmanus Bleecker

Bleecker married a woman many years younger than him, whom he met in the Netherlands. She lived with him in Albany, and inherited his estate. She remarried and returned to the Netherlands after his death, surviving Bleecker by 40 years. The executors of the Harmanus Bleecker estate, which she left to benefit the City of Albany as Bleecker had requested, decided to spend the $130,000 ($3.32 million in modern dollars) to construct and maintain Harmanus Bleecker Hall, a library and theater. In more recent times the building has been renovated as private office space, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • Harmanus Bleecker at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Harman Blennerhassett, supporter of the Aaron Burr conspiracy

October 8, 2013

Harman Blennerhassett was an Irish-born American lawyer, born October 8, 1764, in Castle Conway in County Kerry, to Conway Blennerhassett and Elizabeth Lacy. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1790 was called to the Irish bar. After living for several years on the continent, he married in 1796 his niece, Margaret Agnew, daughter of Robert Agnew, the lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man.


Harman Blennerhassett, from a miniature painted in London

Ostracized by their families for this step, the couple decided to settle in America, where Blennerhassett in 1798 bought a (now-eponymous) island[1] in the Ohio River about 2 miles below what is now Parkersburg, West Virginia. Here in 1805 he received a visit from Aaron Burr, in whose alleged conspiracy[2] he became interested, furnishing liberal funds for its support, and offering the use of his island as a rendezvous for the gathering of arms and supplies and the training of volunteers. When the conspiracy collapsed, the mansion and island were occupied and plundered by the Virginia militia. Blennerhassett fled, was twice arrested and remained a prisoner until after Burr’s release.


Blennerhassett’s estate on a small island in the Ohio river, a few miles below Parkersburg

The island was then abandoned, and Blennerhassett was in turn a cotton planter in Mississippi, and a lawyer (1819-1822) in Montreal, Canada. After returning to Ireland, he died on the island of Guernsey on February 2, 1831. His wife, who had considerable literary talent and who published The Deserted Isle (1822) and The Widow of the Rock and Other Poems (1824), returned to the United States in 1840, and died soon afterward in New York City while attempting to obtain through Congress payment for property destroyed on the island.

The buildings on his island have since been restored and the location is now Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, a popular tourist attraction near Parkersburg.


  • Burke, Micheal. “A Chronicle of the Life of Harman Blennerhassett.” West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly Vol. XIII, No. 1, January 1999. West Virginia Historical Society
  • Swick, Ray. “A Brief Sketch of Blennerhassett Island.” Blennerhasset Historic Foundation. blennerhassett.net
  • Swick, Ray. “Harman Blennerhassett: Irish Aristocrat and Frontier Entrepreneur.” Essays In History. Volume 14, (1968-1969) The History Club Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia, pp. 51–71.blennerhassett.net Accessed September 6, 2007
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Blennerhassett, Harman”. Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


  1. Johnny Appleseed planted an apple orchard on the island. blennerhassett.net
  2. “Blennerhassett, Harman”. Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography. 1891. Through the efforts of Henry Clay, Burr, and Blennerhassett, were eventually acquitted.

The Province of Massachusetts Bay is chartered

October 7, 2013

The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America and one of the thirteen original states of the United States. It was chartered on October 7, 1691, by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The modern Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor; Maine is an independent state, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are Canadian provinces.


Massachusetts Bay Charter, courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

The name Massachusetts comes from the Massachusett, an Algonquian tribe. The name has been translated as “at the great hill”, “at the place of large hills”, or “at the range of hills”, with reference to the Blue Hills, and in particular, Great Blue Hill.

Colonial settlement of the shores of Massachusetts Bay began in 1620 with the founding of the Plymouth Colony.[1] Other attempts at colonization took place throughout the 1620s, but expansion of English settlements only began on a large scale with the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628 and the arrival of the first large group of Puritan settlers in 1630.[2] Over the next ten years there was a major migration of Puritans to the area, leading to the founding of a number of new colonies in New England. By the 1680s the number of colonies had stabilized at five: in addition to Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire all bordered the area. Massachusetts Bay was the most populous and economically significant, housing a sizable merchant fleet.

The colonies at times struggled against the local Indian population, which had suffered a serious decline in population (most likely at the hands of infectious diseases brought over by European traders and fishermen) prior to the arrival of the first permanent settlers.[3] In the 1630s the Pequot tribe was virtually destroyed, and King Philip’s War in the 1670s resulted in the expulsion, pacification, or killing of most of the Indians in southern New England. The latter war was also costly to the colonists of New England, putting a halt to expansion for several years.[4]

Massachusetts and Plymouth were both somewhat politically independent from England in their early days, but this situation changed after the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660.[5] Charles sought closer oversight of the colonies, and to introduce and enforce economic control over their activities. The Navigation Acts passed in the 1660s were widely disliked in Massachusetts, where merchants often found themselves trapped and at odds with the rules. However, many colonial governments, Massachusetts principally among them, refused to enforce the acts themselves, and took matters one step further by obstructing the activities of the Crown agents themselves.[6] The religiously conservative Puritan rulers of Massachusetts also refused to tolerate the Church of England, and yet at the same time were intolerant of other religious groups, banishing Baptists and executing Quakers who defied their banishment. These issues and others led to the revocation of the first Massachusetts Charter in 1684.

In 1686 Charles II’s successor, King James II, formed the Dominion of New England, which ultimately joined all of the British territories from Delaware Bay to Penobscot Bay into a single political unit.[7] The Dominion’s governor, Sir Edmund Andros, was highly unpopular in the colonies, but was especially hated in Massachusetts, where he angered virtually everyone by enforcing of the Navigation Acts, vacating land titles, appropriating a Puritan meeting house as a site to host services for the Church of England, and his restriction of town meetings, among other sundry complaints.[8] When James was deposed in the 1688 Glorious Revolution, Massachusetts political leaders conspired against Andros, arresting him and other English authorities in April 1689.[9][10] This led to the collapse of the Dominion, as the other colonies then quickly reasserted their old forms of government.[11]

The Plymouth colony had never had a royal charter, so its governance had always been on a somewhat precarious footing. Massachusetts, however, was placed into constitutional anarchy by the uprising. Although the colonial government was reestablished, it no longer had a valid charter, as a result of which some opponents of the old Puritan rule refused to pay taxes, and engaged in other forms of protest. Provincial agents traveled to London where Increase Mather, representing the old colony leaders, petitioned new rulers William and Mary to restore the old colonial charter. When King William learned that this might result in a return to the predominantly entrenched religious rule, he refused. Instead, the Lords of Trade decided to solve two problems at once by combining the two colonies. Accordingly on October 7, 1691, they issued a charter for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and appointed Sir William Phips its governor.

The new charter differed from the old one in several important ways: one of the principal changes, inaugurated over Mather’s objection, was to change the test requirements for attaining voting eligibility from religious to financial. Although the effect of this change has been subject to debate among historians, there is significant consensus that it greatly enlarged the number of men eligible to vote.[12] The new rules required prospective voters to own £40 worth of property, or real estate that yielded at least £2 per year in rent, and has been estimated to have thus included three quarters of the then adult male population as eligible.[13]

The second major change was that senior officials of the government, including governor, lieutenant governor, and judges, were appointed by the crown instead of being elected. The legislative assembly, or General Court, continued to be elected, however, and was responsible for choosing members of the Governor’s Council. The governor had veto power over laws passed by the General Court, as well as over appointments to the council. These rules differed in important ways from the royal charters enjoyed by other provinces. The most important were that the General Court now possessed the powers of appropriation, and that the council was locally chosen and not appointed by either the governor or the Crown. These significantly weakened the governor’s power, something that came to be of importance later in provincial history.

A third reason for the changes may have been to reduce the deadly influence of religious superstition in the colony, as evidenced by the Salem Witch Trials, which also occurred in 1692.

The province’s territory was also greatly expanded beyond that originally claimed by the predecessor Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies. In addition to their territories, which included present-day mainland Massachusetts, western Maine, and portions of all of the neighboring modern states, the territory was expanded to include Acadia or Nova Scotia (then encompassing modern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and eastern Maine), as well as what was then known as Dukes County in the Province of New York, consisting of the islands of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands.


  1. Labaree, pp. 23–26
  2. Labaree, pp. 27–30
  3. Hart, pp. 129–131
  4. Labaree, pp. 96–105
  5. Labaree, p. 111
  6. Labaree, pp. 94, 111–113
  7. Lovejoy, pp. 159, 196–212
  8. Lovejoy, pp. 184–186, 188–190, 193
  9. Lovejoy, pp. 224–226
  10. Webb, pp. 183–184
  11. Palfrey, p. 596
  12. Labaree, p. 127
  13. Labaree, pp. 127, 132


  • Hart, Albert Bushnell (ed.) (1927) Commonwealth History of Massachusetts. New York: The States History Company. OCLC 1543273
  • Labaree, Benjamin (1979) Colonial Massachusetts: a History. Millwood, NY: KTO Press. ISBN 978-0-527-18714-9. OCLC 248194957
  • Lovejoy, David (1987) The Glorious Revolution in America. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6177-0. OCLC 14212813
  • Palfrey, John (1864) History of New England: History of New England During the Stuart Dynasty. Boston: Little, Brown. OCLC 1658888
  • Webb, Stephen Saunders (1998) Lord Churchill’s Coup: The Anglo-American Empire and the Glorious Revolution Reconsidered. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0558-4. OCLC 39756272

Leonard Henderson, North Carolina jurist

October 6, 2013

Leonard Henderson was an American jurist who served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1829 to 1833, and an associate judge of that court beforehand.

Henderson was born in Granville County, North Carolina on October 6, 1772. His father, Richard Henderson, was a pioneer, state Superior Court judge and politician. His brother, Archibald Henderson, was a state legislator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He read law under his father’s cousin, Judge John Williams.

On November 3, 1795, he was married to Frances Farrar, the niece of his law mentor, Judge Williams. The couple had four sons and two daughters: Archibald Erskine, William Farrar, MD, John Leonard, Richard, Frances Taylor and Lucy Sneed.

Henderson served as a state superior court judge from 1808 until 1816. When the North Carolina General Assembly created the state Supreme Court in 1818, it elected Henderson as one of the first members of the three-judge court. The judges of the Court elected Henderson their Chief in 1829 after the death of Chief Justice Taylor. Henderson was also a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Judge Henderson died in Williamsboro, in what is today Vance County, North Carolina, on August 13, 1833. He is buried in the Williams Family Cemetery at Henderson, Vance County, North Carolina.


Henderson, North Carolina; Hendersonville, North Carolina; and Henderson County, North Carolina are named for him.


  • The Heritage of Vance County. Vance County Historical Society. 1984. page 24
  • North Carolina Reports, NC Supreme Court, 1919

Squire Boone, Jr.

October 5, 2013

Squire Boone Jr. was an American pioneer and brother of Daniel Boone. In 1780, he founded the first settlement in Shelby County, Kentucky. The tenth of eleven children, Squire Boone was born to Nathan “Squire” Boone Sr. and his wife Sarah Boone in Berks County, Pennsylvania at the Daniel Boone Homestead. Although overshadowed by his famous brother, Squire Boone was well known in his day.


1852 painting of Squire Boone

Squire Boone Jr. was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania on October 5, 1744. In 1749 his family moved to Rowan County, North Carolina[1] and lived in the Yadkin Valley. At age 15, 1759, he was sent back to Pennsylvania to apprentice as a gunsmith under Samuel Boone, a cousin. After five years of apprenticeship he returned to North Carolina. On August 8, 1765, he married Jane Van Cleave, whose father was of Dutch heritage. Together the couple had five children.[2]

From 1767 to 1771 he went on several long hunts with his brother Daniel into the Kentucky wilderness. In 1775, Richard Henderson, a prominent judge from North Carolina, hired Daniel Boone to blaze what became known as the Wilderness Road, which went through the Cumberland Gap and into central Kentucky. Squire Boone accompanied his brother, along with 30 others, eventually establishing Boonesborough, Kentucky.


In Spring 1779, after the siege of Boonesborough, where Squire had a rifle ball cut out of his shoulder, he moved his family to the settlement at the Falls of the Ohio that would become Louisville. In 1780, he brought 13 families to “Painted Stone”, a tract of land in Shelby County belonging to his father-in-law, and established a Station (fort) there, the first permanent settlement in the county. He was wounded in April 1781 when Indians attacked Painted Stone Station; complications of the gunshot injury would result in his right arm being an inch and a half shorter than his left.

On September 13, 1781, the settlers abandoned the undermanned station and headed for nearby Linn’s Station, however Squire Boone was still too weak from his injury to make the trip, staying behind at Painted Stone Station with his family and one other. The fleeing settlers from the station were attacked in what came to be known as the Long Run Massacre.

In 1782, he began acting as a land locater for wealthy investors who did not want to personally risk living on the frontier. However, due to financial losses in this line of work, he lost his own property, including the station, in 1786, and was forced to settle elsewhere in the county. He served two terms in the Virginia legislature in 1789 and 1790 and was the primary sponsor of a bill to chart the town of Louisville, Kentucky.[2]

After attempting to establish a settlement near present-day Vicksburg, Mississippi and staying with Daniel Boone in Missouri for several years, in 1806[3][4] he eventually settled with his family in Harrison County, Indiana, south of Corydon. There he settled with his four sons and the sons of Samuel Boone. The settlement is in what is now called Boone Township, and it began to flourish early on. Squire Boone personally acquired a large tract of land on the western edge of the township near the cave he and his brother had hid in many years earlier to evade Indians. Boone considered the cave to be sacred and decided that was where he wanted to be entombed.

On his land Boone carved stone out of a nearby hill to build his home. He carved into the quarry wall various religious and political statements that are still there today. Boone would also build Old Goshen Church, one of the first churches in the state. Boone also became a close friend of Harvey Heth and involved in the local politics of the area as one of the leading citizens. He was Harrison County’s Justice of the peace in 1808.[5]


Marker denoting Squire Boone’s original burial spot.

He died, age 71, on August 5, 1815, and was buried in a cave on his property. His remains were left undisturbed for many years, but in the mid-20th century relic hunters began taking parts of his coffin and even some of his bones. His coffin was then moved deeper into the cave, where it resides today, at the end of the tour of Squire Boone Caverns.



  1. The Boone Society – Profile of Squire Boone
  2. Kleber, p. 99
  3. in 1804 according to The Boone Society
  4. A History of Indiana By Logan Esarey, Pg. 205 in 1802 according to The History of Indiana
  5. Indiana and Indianians, 1919, Pg. 299


Tanacharison, the Half King: companion of a future president

October 4, 2013

Tanacharison or Tanaghrisson was an American Indian leader who played a pivotal role in the beginning of the French and Indian War. He was known to Europeans and Americans as the Half King, a title also used to describe several other historically important American Indian leaders. His name has been spelled in a variety of ways.


Half King Tanacharison

Little is known of Tanacharison’s early life. He may have been born into the Catawba tribe about 1700 near what is now Buffalo, New York. As a child, he was taken captive by the French and later adopted into the Seneca tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He would later claim that the French boiled and ate his father. His early years were spent on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie in what is now western New York state.

Tanacharison first appears in historical records in 1747, living in Logstown (near present Ambridge, Pennsylvania), a multi-ethnic village about 20 miles downstream from the forks of the Ohio River. Those Iroquois who had migrated to the Ohio Country were generally known as “Mingos”, and Tanacharison emerged as a Mingo leader at this time. He also represented the Six Nations at the 1752 Treaty of Logstown, where he was referred to as “Thonariss, called by the English the half King”. At this treaty, he speaks on behalf of the Six Nations’ Grand Council, but also makes clear that the Council’s ratification was required, in accordance with the Iroquois system of government.

According to the traditional interpretation, the Grand Council had named Tanacharison as leader or “half-king” (as a sort of viceroy) to conduct diplomacy with other tribes, and to act as spokesman to the British on their behalf. However, some modern historians have doubted this interpretation, asserting that Tanacharison was merely a village leader, whose actual authority extended no further than his village. In this view, the title “half king” was likely a British invention, and his “subsequent lofty historical role as a Six Nations ‘regent’ or ‘viceroy’ in the Ohio Country was the product of later generations of scholars.”[1]

In 1753, the French began the military occupation of the Ohio Country, driving out British traders and constructing a series of forts. British colonies, however, also claimed the Ohio Country. Robert Dinwiddie, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, sent a young George Washington to travel to the French outposts and demand that the French vacate the Ohio Country. On his journey, Washington’s party stopped at Logstown to ask Tanacharison to accompany them as a guide and as a “spokesman” for the Ohio Indians. Tanacharison traveled with Washington to meet with the French commander of Fort Le Boeuf in what is now Waterford, Pennsylvania. The French refused to vacate, however, and to Washington’s great consternation, they tried to court Tanacharison as an ally. Although fond of their brandy, he remained a strong francophobe.


Tanacharison, the Half-King, and tribal leaders meet with George Washington at Logstown in 1753.

Tanacharison had requested that the British construct a “strong house” at the Forks of the Ohio and early in 1754 he placed the first log of an Ohio Company stockade there, railing against the French when they captured it. He was camped at Half King’s Rock on May 27, 1754 when he learned of a nearby French encampment and sent word urging an attack to Washington at the Great Meadows, about five miles (8 km) east of Chestnut Ridge in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania (near Uniontown). Washington immediately ordered 40 men to join Tanacharison and at sunset followed with a second group, seven of whom got lost in heavy rain that night. It was dawn before Washington reached the Half King’s Rock.

After a hurried war council, the English and Tanacharison’s eight or nine warriors set off to surround and attack the French, who quickly surrendered. The French commander, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, was among the wounded. With the French words, “Tu n’es pas encore mort, mon père!” (Thou are not yet dead, my father), Tancharison sank his tomahawk in Jumonville’s skull, washed his hands with the brains, “and scalped him”.[2] Only one of the wounded French soldiers was not killed and scalped among a total of ten dead, 21 captured, and one missing, a man named Monceau who had wandered off to relief himself that morning.

Monceau witnessed the French surrender before walking barefoot to the Monongahela River and paddling down it to report to Contrecoeur, commanding at Fort Duquesne. Tanacharison sent a messenger to Contrecoeur the following day with news that the British had shot Jumonville and but for the Indians would have killed all the French. A third and accurate account of the Jumonville Glen encounter was told to Jumonville’s half-brother, Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, by a deserter at the mouth of Redstone Creek during his expedition to avenge his brother’s murder.

Washington was without Indian allies at the battle of Fort Necessity, his hastily erected stockade at the Great Meadows. Tanacharison scornfully called it “that little thing upon the meadow” and complained that Washington would not listen to advice and treated the Indians like slaves. He and another Seneca leader, Queen Aliquippa, had taken their people to Wills Creek. Outnumbered and with supplies running low, Washington surrendered the fort, later blaming Captains George Croghan and Andrew Montour for “involving the country in great calamity”.[3]

Indeed, it was true. Tanacharison was “one of the sachems who had confirmed Croghan in his land grant of 1749″ (Wainwright, 49), 200,000 acres minus about two square miles at the Forks of the Ohio for a British Fort. Thomas Penn and Pennsylvania planned to build a stone fort, but Croghan realized that his deeds would be invalid if in Pennsylvania and had Andrew Montour testify before the Assembly in 1751 that the Indians did not want the fort, that it was all Croghan’s idea, scuttling the project (Wainwright, 43).

In 1752 Croghan was on the Indian council that granted Virginia’s Ohio Company permission to build the fort. Tanacharison’s introduction of Croghan to the Virginia commissioners is further evidence that Croghan organized and led the 1748 Ohio Indian Confederation that Pennsylvania recognized as independent of the Six Nations and appointed Croghan as the colony’s representative in negotiations:

Brethren, it is a great while since our brother, the Buck (meaning Mr. George Croghan)has
been doing business between us, & our brother of Pennsylvania, but we understand he does
not intend to do any more, so I now inform you that he is approv’d of by our Council at
Onondago, for we sent to them to let them know how he has helped us in our councils here;
and to let you & him know that he is one of our people and shall help us still & be one
of our council, I deliver him this string of wampum (Wainwright, 49-50).

The Ohio Company fort was surrendered to the French by Croghan’s half-brother, Edward Ward, and commanded by his business partner, William Trent, but Croghan’s central role in these events remains suppressed, as he himself was in 1777, when Pittsburgh’s president judge, Committee of Safety chairman, and person keeping the Ohio Indians pacificed since Pontiac’s Rebellion was declared a traitor by General Edward Hand and exiled from the frontier.

It was to Croghan’s Aughwick plantation that Tanacharison and Queen Aliquippa took their people in 1754 where the old queen died and Tanacharison became seriously ill and was taken to John Harris.

Tanacharison moved his people east to the Aughwick Valley near present Shirleysburg, Pennsylvania. He would take no active part in the remainder of the war. He died of pneumonia on October 4, 1754 on the farm of John Harris at Paxtang, Pennsylvania, near present-day Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His burial site is unknown


  1. Michael N. McConnell, A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774 (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), p. 75
  2. Fred Anderson, Crucible of War (Vintage Books, 2001), p. 6
  3. Nicholas Wainwright, George Croghan; Wilderness Diplomat (U. of N. Carolina Press, 1959), p. 65

The Columbia leaves Boston and sails around the world

September 30, 2013

Columbia Rediviva, commonly known as the Columbia, was a privately owned ship under the command of John Kendrick, along with Captain Robert Gray, best known for going to the Pacific Northwest for the maritime fur trade. The “Rediviva” (Latin “revived”) was added to her name upon a rebuilding in 1787. Since Columbia was privately owned, she did not carry the prefix designation “USS”.


Artist sketch of ship on the Columbia River (1919) John B. Horner

Early authorities claim the ship was built in 1773 by James Briggs at Hobart’s Landing on North River, in Norwell, Massachusetts and named Columbia.[1] Later historians say she was built in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1787. In 1790 she became the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. During the first part of this voyage she was accompanied by the Lady Washington which served as tender for the Columbia. In 1792 Captain Gray entered the Columbia River and named it after the ship.

The ship was decommissioned and salvaged in 1806. A replica of Lady Washington is located at Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington.[2]


  1. Jacobs, Melvin C. (1938). Winning Oregon: A Study of An Expansionist Movement. The Caxton Printers, Ltd. 77.
  2. Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

John Chapman and the legend of Johnny Appleseed

September 26, 2013

John Chapman, often called Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, including the northern counties of present day West Virginia. He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. He was also a missionary for The New Church (Swedenborgian).[1]


Image from “A History of the Pioneer and Modern Times of Ashland County” by H.S. Knapp (1863)

John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts,[2] the second child (after his sister, Elizabeth) of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Chapman (née Simonds, married February 8, 1770) of Massachusetts. His birthplace has a granite marker, and the street is called Johnny Appleseed Lane. Nathaniel Chapman fought at Concord as a Minuteman as early as April 19, 1775, and later served in the Continental Army with General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. Johnny was born around the time of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

While Nathaniel was in military service, his wife died (July 18, 1776) shortly after giving birth to a second son, named Nathaniel. The baby died about two weeks after his mother. Nathaniel Chapman ended his military service and returned home in 1780 to Springfield, Massachusetts. In the summer of 1780 he married Lucy Cooley of Springfield, Massachusetts and they had 10 children.[1][3]

According to some accounts, John, at the age of eighteen, persuaded his half-brother Nathaniel, eleven, to go west with him in 1792. The two of them apparently lived a nomadic life until their father, with his large family, came west in 1805 and met up with them in Ohio. Nathaniel the younger, then probably quit moving around with Johnny to help his father farm the land.

Nathaniel started John Chapman on a career as an orchardist by apprenticing him to a Mr. Crawford, who had apple orchards.[4]

There are stories of Johnny Appleseed practicing his nurseryman craft in the Wilkes-Barre area and of picking seeds from the pomace at Potomac cider mills in the late 1790s.[1] Another story has Chapman living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Grant’s Hill in 1794 at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion.[5]


Johnny Appleseed post card

The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery. Although apples grown from seed are rarely sweet or tasty, apple orchards with sour apples were popular among the settlers because apples were mainly used for producing hard cider and apple jack. In some periods of the settlement of the Midwest, settlers were required by law to plant orchards of apples and pears in order to uphold the right to the claimed land. So Johnny Appleseed planted orchards made for popular real estate on the frontier.[6] His first nursery was planted on the bank of Brokenstraw Creek, South of Warren, Pennsylvania. Next, he seems to have moved to Venango County along the shore of French Creek,[7] but many of these nurseries were located in the Mohican area of north-central Ohio. This area included the towns of Mansfield, Lucas, Perrysville, and Loudonville.[8]

According to Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, towards the end of his career, he was present when an itinerant missionary was exhorting an open-air congregation in Mansfield, Ohio. The sermon was long and severe on the topic of extravagance, because the pioneers were buying such indulgences as calico and imported tea. “Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to heaven barefooted and clad in coarse raiment?” the preacher repeatedly asked until Johnny Appleseed, his endurance worn out, walked up to the preacher, put his bare foot on the stump that had served as a podium, and said, “Here’s your primitive Christian!” The flummoxed sermonizer dismissed the congregation.[9]

He would tell stories to children, spread the The New Church gospel to the adults, receiving a floor to sleep on for the night, sometimes supper in return. “We can hear him read now, just as he did that summer day, when we were busy quilting upstairs, and he lay near the door, his voice rising denunciatory and thrillin—strong and loud as the roar of wind and waves, then soft and soothing as the balmy airs that quivered the morning-glory leaves about his gray beard. His was a strange eloquence at times, and he was undoubtedly a man of genius,” reported a lady who knew him in his later years.[10] He made several trips back east, both to visit his sister and to replenish his supply of Swedenborgian literature.


Johnny Appleseed in Graham’s History of Richland County, Ohio (1880)

Chapman was quick to preach the Gospel as he traveled, and during his travels he converted many Indians, whom he admired. The Native Americans regarded him as someone who had been touched by the Great Spirit, even hostile tribes left him strictly alone. He once wrote, “I have traveled more than 4,000 miles about this country, and I have never met with one single insolent Native American.”[11]

Johnny Appleseed cared very deeply about animals, including insects. Henry Howe, who visited all the counties in Ohio in the early 19th century, collected several stories from the 1830s, when Johnny Appleseed was still alive:[12]

One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burned. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of his creatures.” Another time he made a camp-fire in a snowstorm at the end of a hollow log in which he intended to pass the night, but finding it occupied by a bear and cubs, he removed his fire to the other end, and slept on the snow in the open air, rather than disturb the bear.

When he heard a horse was to be put down, he bought the horse, bought a few grassy acres nearby, and turned the horse out to recover. When it did, he gave the horse to someone needy, exacting a promise to treat the horse humanely.[13]

During his later life, he was a vegetarian.[14]

When Johnny Appleseed was asked why he didn’t marry, his answer was always that two female spirits would be his wives in the after-life if he stayed single on earth.[15] However, Henry Howe reported that Appleseed had been a frequent visitor to Perrysville, Ohio. He was to propose to Miss Nancy Tannehill there—only to find that he was a day late; she had accepted a prior proposal:[16]

On one occasion Miss Price’s mother asked Johnny if he would not be a happier man, if he were settled in a home of his own, and had a family to love him. He opened his eyes very wide–they were remarkably keen, penetrating grey eyes, almost black–and replied that all women were not what they professed to be; that some of them were deceivers; and a man might not marry the amiable woman that he thought he was getting, after all.

Now we had always heard that Johnny had loved once upon a time, and that his lady love had proven false to him. Then he said one time he saw a poor, friendless little girl, who had no one to care for her, and sent her to school, and meant to bring her up to suit himself, and when she was old enough he intended to marry her. He clothed her and watched over her; but when she was fifteen years old, he called to see her once unexpectedly, and found her sitting beside a young man, with her hand in his, listening to his silly twaddle.

I peeped over at Johnny while he was telling this, and, young as I was, I saw his eyes grow dark as violets, and the pupils enlarge, and his voice rise up in denunciation, while his nostrils dilated and his thin lips worked with emotion. How angry he grew! He thought the girl was basely ungrateful. After that time she was no protégé of his.


Johnny Appleseed, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1871

There is some controversy and vagueness concerning the date of his death and his burial. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine of November, 1871 (which is taken by many as the primary source of information about John Chapman) says he died in the summer of 1847.[9] The Fort Wayne Sentinel, however, printed his obituary on March 22, 1845, saying that he died on March 18, 1845:[17]

“On the same day in this neighborhood, at an advanced age, Mr. John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed).

The deceased was well known through this region by his eccentricity, and the strange garb he usually wore. He followed the occupation of a nurseryman, and has been a regular visitor here upwards of 10 years. He was a native of Pennsylvania we understand but his home—if home he had—for some years past was in the neighborhood of Cleveland, where he has relatives living. He is supposed to have considerable property, yet denied himself almost the common necessities of life—not so much perhaps for avarice as from his peculiar notions on religious subjects. He was a follower of Swedenborg and devoutly believed that the more he endured in this world the less he would have to suffer and the greater would be his happiness hereafter—he submitted to every privation with cheerfulness and content, believing that in so doing he was securing snug quarters hereafter.

In the most inclement weather he might be seen barefooted and almost naked except when he chanced to pick up articles of old clothing. Notwithstanding the privations and exposure he endured, he lived to an extreme old age, not less than 80 years at the time of his death—though no person would have judged from his appearance that he was 60. “He always carried with him some work on the doctrines of Swedenborg with which he was perfectly familiar, and would readily converse and argue on his tenets, using much shrewdness and penetration.

His death was quite sudden. He was seen on our streets a day or two previous.”

The actual site of his grave is disputed as well. Developers of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Canterbury Green apartment complex and golf course claim his grave is there, marked by a rock. That is where the Worth cabin in which he died sat.[18]

However, Steven Fortriede, director of the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) and author of the 1978 Johnny Appleseed, believes another putative gravesite, located in Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne,[19] is the correct site.[18] Johnny Appleseed Park is a Fort Wayne, IN city park which adjoins Archer Park, an Allen County park. Archer Park is the site of John Chapmann’s grave marker and formerly was a part of the family Archer farm.

The Worth family attended First Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, according to records at ACPL, which has one of the nation’s top genealogy collections.[20] According to an 1858 interview with Richard Worth Jr., Chapman was buried “respectably” in the Archer cemetery, and Fortriede believes use of the term “respectably” indicates Chapman was buried in the hallowed ground of Archer cemetery instead of near the cabin where he died.[18]

John H. Archer, grandson of David Archer, wrote in a letter[21] dated October 4, 1900:

The historical account of his death and burial by the Worths and their neighbors, the Pettits, Goinges, Porters, Notestems, Parkers, Beckets, Whitesides, Pechons, Hatfields, Parrants, Ballards, Randsells, and the Archers in David Archer’s private burial grounds is substantially correct. The grave, more especially the common head-boards used in those days, have long since decayed and become entirely obliterated, and at this time I do not think that any person could with any degree of certainty come within fifty feet of pointing out the location of his grave. Suffice it to say that he has been gathered in with his neighbors and friends, as I have enumerated, for the majority of them lie in David Archer’s graveyard with him.

The Johnny Appleseed Commission to the Common Council of the City of Fort Wayne reported, “as a part of the celebration of Indiana’s 100th birthday in 1916 an iron fence was placed in the Archer graveyard by the Horticulture Society of Indiana setting off the grave of Johnny Appleseed. At that time, there were men living who had attended the funeral of Johnny Appleseed. Direct and accurate evidence was available then. There was little or no reason for them to make a mistake about the location of this grave. They located the grave in the Archer burying ground.”[22]

Johnny Appleseed left an estate of over 1,200 acres of valuable nurseries to his sister.[23] He also owned four plots in Allen County, Indiana, including a nursery in Milan Township, Allen County, Indiana, with 15,000 trees.[18] He could have left more if he had been diligent in his bookkeeping. He bought the southwest quarter (160 acres) of section 26, Mohican Township, Ashland County, Ohio, but he did not record the deed and lost the property.[24]

The financial panic of 1837 took a toll on his estate.[13] Trees brought only two or three cents each,[13] as opposed to the “fippenny bit” (about six and a quarter cents) that he usually got.[25] Some of his land was sold for taxes following his death, and litigation used up much of the rest.[13]

Fort Wayne, Indiana is the location where Johnny Appleseed died.[26] A memorial in Fort Wayne’s Swinney Park purports to honor him but not to mark his grave. In Fort Wayne, since 1975, the Johnny Appleseed Festival is held the third full weekend in September in Johnny Appleseed Park and Archer Park. Musicians, demonstrators, and vendors dress in early 19th century attire, and offer food and beverages that would have been available then.[27] In 2008 the Fort Wayne Wizards, a minor league baseball club, changed their name to the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The first season with the new name was in 2009. That same year the Tincaps won their only league championship. The name “Tincaps” is a reference to the tin hat (or pot) Johnny Appleseed is said to have worn. Their team mascot is also named “Johnny”.

From 1962 to 1980, a high school athletic league made up of schools from around the Mansfield, Ohio, area was named the Johnny Appleseed Conference. An outdoor drama is also an annual event in Mansfield, Ohio.[28]

A memorial in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, is located on the summit of the grounds in Section 1349. A circular garden surrounds a large stone upon which a bronze statue of Chapman stands, face looking skywards, holding an apple seedling tree in one hand and book in the other. A bronze cenotaph identifies him as Johnny Appleseed with a brief biography and eulogy.

March 11 or September 26 are sometimes celebrated as Johnny Appleseed Day. The September date is Appleseed’s acknowledged birthdate, but the March date is sometimes preferred because it is during planting season.

Johnny Appleseed Elementary School is a public school located in Leominster, MA, his birthplace. Mansfield, Ohio, one of Appleseed’s stops in his peregrinations, was home to Johnny Appleseed Middle School until it closed in 1989.

The village of Lisbon, Ohio, hosts an annual Johnny Appleseed festival September 18–19.

A large terra cotta sculpture of Johnny Appleseed, created by Viktor Schreckengost, decorates the front of the Lakewood High School Civic Auditorium in Lakewood, Ohio. Although the local Board of Education deemed Appleseed too “eccentric” a figure to grace the front of the building, renaming the sculpture simply “Early Settler”, students, teachers, and parents alike still call the sculpture by its intended name: “Johnny Appleseed”.[29]

Urbana University, located in Urbana, OH, maintains the world’s only Johnny Appleseed Museum, which is open to the public. The museum hosts a number of artifacts, including a tree that is believed to have been planted by Johnny Appleseed. In addition, the museum is also home to a large number of historical memorabilia, the largest in the world. They also provide a number of services for research, including a national registry of Johnny Appleseed’s relatives. In 2011 the museum was renovated and updated and is now able to hold more memorabilia in a modern museum setting.[30]


1. Swedenborgian history

2. Means, Howard (2011). Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-4391-7825-6

3. The New England Roots of “Johnny Appleseed”, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3. (Sep., 1939), pp. 454-469

4. “Johnny Appleseed, Orchardist”, prepared by the staff of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, November, 1952, page 4

5. “A People’s History of Pittsburgh” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette retrieved 1-10-08 [1]

6. Michael Pollan. Botany of Desire. ch. 1

7. Schmidt, Alexis (2009). Chapman, John (Johnny Appleseed) http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Chapman__John.html.

8. (1871) Johnny Appleseed: A Pioneer Hero, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, XLIII, 830–831

9. (1871) “Johnny Appleseed: A Pioneer Hero”, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, XLIII, 836

10. “Johnny Appleseed: A Pioneer Hero”, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, November 1871, page 834

11. Kacirk, Jeffrey (1997). Forgotten English. New York: William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0-688-15018-7

12. Howe, Henry (1903). Richland County. Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio (485), New York:Dover

13. “Johnny Appleseed, Orchardist”, prepared by the staff of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen Couth, November, 1952, page 26

14. Newell Dwight Hillis, The Quest of John Chapman: The Story of a Forgotten Hero, The Macmillan Company, 1904, pp. 308

15. “Johnny Appleseed: A Pioneer Hero”. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (XLIII): 833. 1871

16. Howe, Henry (1903). Richland County. Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio. New York: Dover. p. 260

17. “Obituaries”. The Fort Wayne Sentinel 67 (81). March 22, 1845

18. Kilbane, Kevin (September 18, 2003). “Researcher finds slice of Johnny Appleseed’s life that may prove his burial spot”. The News-Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2005-02-14

19. Man and Myth http://web.archive.org/web/20060905033519/http://www.in.gov/ism/Education/Johnny_Appleseed.pdf#search=%22Johnny%20Appleseed%3A%20Man%20and%20Myth%22

20. http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/

21. John H. Archer letter, dated October 4, 1900, in Johnny Appleseed collection of Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne IN

22. Report of a Special Committee of the Johnny Appleseed Commission to the Common Council of the City of Fort Wayne, December 27, 1934

23. What’s the story with Johnny Appleseed?, The Straight Dope, January 20, 2004

24. “Johnny Appleseed: A Pioneer Hero”. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (XLIII): 835. 1871

25. “Johnny Appleseed, Orchardist”, prepared by the staff of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen Couth, November, 1952, page 17

26. Scout.com: Fort Wayne no longer the Wizards

27. “Johnny Appleseed Festival”

28. “The Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Drama”

29. “Johnny Appleseed”

30. National Apple Museum

Battle of Longue-Pointe

September 25, 2013

The Battle of Longue-Pointe was an attempt by Ethan Allen and a small force of American and Quebec militia to capture Montreal from British forces on September 25, 1775, early in the American Revolutionary War. Allen, who had been instructed only to raise militia forces among the local inhabitants, had long had thoughts of taking the lightly defended city. When he reached the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River with about 110 men, he seized the opportunity to try. Major John Brown, who Allen claimed was supposed to provide additional forces, did not appear as they had planned, isolating Allen and his men on the north side of the river.

British General Guy Carleton sent a force composed mostly of Quebec militia in response to news of Allen’s crossing of the St. Lawrence. This force cut off Allen’s escape route, and eventually surrounded and captured Allen and a number of his men. Carleton eventually abandoned Montreal, which fell without battle to Continental Army forces on November 13. Allen was sent first to England and then New York City as a prisoner, and was eventually exchanged in 1778.


The Isle of Montreal in 1764. Longue Pointe is opposite Longueuil, which is on the right side of the map.

In the 18th century, the city of Montreal occupied only a small portion of the island of Montreal, centered on what is now called Old Montreal. The eastern tip of the island was called Longue-Pointe, and there was at one time a fortification called Fort Longue Pointe on the island, across the river from Longueuil.[5] This area, annexed to Montreal in 1910,[6] and now the Mercier-Est neighborhood of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a borough of the city, is near where the action described here took place.[7]

The American invasion of Quebec began with the arrival at Île aux Noix of the Continental Army under the command of General Philip Schuyler on September 4, 1775.[8] Schuyler, who was ill at the time, eventually turned command of the army over the General Richard Montgomery, who ordered the army to besiege Fort Saint-Jean, which they did on September 18. At this fort, south of Montreal on the Richelieu River, General Guy Carleton had concentrated the few British regulars at his disposal following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in May.[9]

Before turning command over to Montgomery, Schuyler drafted a proclamation addressed to the people of Quebec, encouraging them to oppose the British and assist the American cause. On September 8 Ethan Allen and Major John Brown went into the countryside between Saint-Jean and Montreal with a small detachment of Americans to circulate this proclamation, meeting with James Livingston, a Patriot sympathizer at Chambly as well as with the local Caughnawaga Mohawk.[10] Livingston eventually raised about 300 local militia, which he encamped at Pointe-Olivier, below Fort Chambly.[11] Allen and Brown returned to Île aux Noix following this tour.[12]

Allen had long harbored the goal of taking Montreal. After he and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775, he had taken a few hundred men north from Ticonderoga to Saint-Jean with the idea of capturing the fort there by surprise, and then taking Montreal.[13] This effort was frustrated by the timely arrival of British troops at Saint-Jean;[14] the exploit made Allen a well-known figure in Montreal and the Richelieu valley.[15]


General Guy Carleton

Following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775, General Carleton, with only 800 regular troops available to defend the entire province,[16] had concentrated those troops at Fort Saint-Jean, placing about 500 troops, along with about 250 militia and natives, at the fort.[17] The remaining forces were distributed among the frontier forts along the Great Lakes, with relatively small garrisons at Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City.[18] During the summer of 1775 he attempted to raise substantial additional militia forces from the population. These attempts met with limited success, in part because of successful American propaganda and agitation by Patriot sympathizers, especially Thomas Walker, James Price, and James Livingston. By July, Carleton was apparently satisfied with the level of militia support near Montreal,[19] but he did little to stop the activities of the agitators, who also sent reports detailing British military preparations to the Americans.[20]


A 1904 photograph of the Ethan Allen statue in Montpelier, Vermont

When Montgomery finally began the siege of Fort Saint-Jean, he ordered Allen and about 30 Americans to join with Livingston’s Canadians to secure the south bank of the St. Lawrence River against attempts by Carleton in Montreal to relieve the siege.[21] He also ordered a larger force under Brown’s command to secure the area north of the fort, and to cover the road between Saint-Jean and Montreal.[22]

Allen traveled along the southeastern banks of the Richelieu River, up to Sorel, where he crossed that river and continued up the southern shore of the St. Lawrence to Longueuil. According to Allen’s account, he met Brown there, and the two of them then hatched a plan to attack Montreal. Brown would cross the river with 200 men at La Prairie, upriver from Montreal, and Allen, with his Americans and 80 Canadians under the command of Loiseau and Duggan, two of Livingston’s captains,[1] would cross the river at Longueuil, below the city, and the two forces would, after a prearranged signal, converge on the city itself.[23]

Allen and his men crossed the St. Lawrence on the night of the 24th, landing at Longue-Pointe. The inhabitants he met there were friendly, but he posted guards on the road to Montreal to prevent news of their crossing from reaching the city. However, one man they detained managed to escape to the city and inform Carleton of Allen’s presence on the island.[1] Brown did not cross the river. While no sources indicate why Brown failed to act, historian Justin Smith suggests that Allen in fact acted alone, and only later sought to blame Brown for the endeavor’s failure.[24] This left Allen’s force alone and vulnerable, as it had taken three round trips with the available boats to ferry his men across the river.[25]

Realizing he would not be able ferry everyone back across the river before troops arrived from the city, Allen chose a wooded area near the Ruisseau-des-Sœurs (labeled on the map above as Ruisseau de la Gde Prairie),[26] between Longue-Pointe and Montreal, to make a stand.[27] He also sent word to Thomas Walker, a British merchant and known Patriot sympathizer with a house in nearby L’Assomption, for assistance. Walker was able to muster some men, but Allen was captured before they could lend any assistance.[28]

When General Carleton received word that the notorious Ethan Allen was at the gates of the city, he raised the alarm. As the news spread, large numbers of people turned out. Captain John Campbell[29] assembled a force of 34 regulars from the 26th Foot (the entire garrison in Montreal), 120 Canadian and 80 English militia, 20 British Indian agents, and a few Indians, and led them out to face Allen’s force.[30][27] As Campbell’s force approached, Allen instructed 10 Canadians to cover his left flank, while Duggan and another 50 Canadians were placed on the right flank. Both of these detachments fled instead of holding their positions, leaving Allen with about 50 men.[27] Over the course of the next 90 minutes, fire was exchanged between the forces. Allen’s remaining forces were eventually broken, and, after trying to outrun the enemy, he surrendered.[31]


Engraving showing Ethan Allen with his captors in Montreal

The abortive attack on Montreal led to the full mobilization of local militia in Montreal, raising nearly 1,000 men,[32] but they soon began to drift away. Carleton refused to organize an expedition in relief of Fort Saint-Jean, and the militia members from rural parishes eventually disbanded to attend to their harvests and the defense of their own homes.[33] In November, the besieged fort’s commander capitulated, opening the Americans’ way to Montreal.[34] Carleton fled the city, making his way to Quebec City, and Montgomery occupied Montreal without firing a shot on November 13.[35]

Allen and the other captives were brought to the city. Allen, in his account of the encounter, claims that Colonel Richard Prescott was intent on killing the captured Canadians, but Allen interceded on their behalf, saying “I am the sole cause of their taking up arms.”[36] Allen was imprisoned in a ship’s hold, and eventually sent to England. He spent about a year, mostly on prison ships, before he was released on parole in British-occupied New York City in November 1776, as the British authorities feared hanging him would create a martyr. He was eventually exchanged in May 1778 for Archibald Campbell, a British officer, and resumed military and political service for the nascent Republic of Vermont in 1778.[37][38]

Thomas Walker, the merchant to whom Allen had applied for assistance, was arrested in early October 1775 when twenty regulars and a dozen militia came from Montreal to his house in L’Assomption. Walker’s house was destroyed, and he was imprisoned with the intent of sending him to England for trial.[36] Walker was eventually freed when the Americans captured Montreal and most of the British fleet trying to escape the city.[39]

Ethan Allen wrote a memoir recounting his version of the circumstances of his capture, and the time of his imprisonment. This work, along with Allen’s other memoirs, were quite popular in the 19th century, going through numerous printings.[40] A city park in the Montreal borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the action took place, is called Parc de la Capture d’Ethan Allen.[41]


  1. Lanctot, p. 78
  2. Numbers from Stanley, p. 46. Lanctot, p. 78 reports 30 regulars, 30 British, 300 Canadians. Smith, p. 389 reports number similar to Lanctot, but has the number of Canadians at about 120.
  3. These numbers are from Lanctot, p. 78. Smith, p. 390 reports that “the raiders” had a dozen killed, and the defenders about half that. Atherton, p. 73 claims 12 killed and “half that” wounded, with 40 surrendered. Stanley, p. 47 reports 10 wounded.
  4. Atherton, p. 73 claims 6–8 “losses”. Lanctot and Smith are silent on British casualties. Stanley, p. 46 reports 3 dead and two wounded.
  5. See the map at the top of this page.
  6. Atherton, p. 653
  7. Gyulai, Linda (March 16, 2008). “Forgotten capture”. Canada.com. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=d9009c62-b1bf-4863-a1e5-cdf2e953e192&k=22581
  8. Smith, pp. 322–324
  9. Smith, p. 366
  10. Lanctot, p. 65
  11. Lanctot, pp. 65–66
  12. Allen and Brown are clearly sent on two separate expeditions, once by Schuyler before the siege of St. Jean begins, and again by Montgomery during the early days of the siege.
  13. Smith, pp. 383–384
  14. Lanctot, p. 44
  15. Lanctot, p. 50
  16. Lanctot, p. 74
  17. Stanley, pp. 35–36
  18. Lanctot, pp. 59 (frontier garrisons)
  19. Lanctot, p. 57–58
  20. Lanctot, p. 60
  21. Smith, p. 380
  22. Smith, p. 371
  23. Lanctot, p. 77
  24. Smith, p. 388
  25. Smith, p. 387
  26. Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française 1998, p. 97
  27. Smith, p. 389
  28. Smith, p. 395
  29. Lanctot, p. 78 gives the name as Crawford. Nelson, p. 69 give the name of the officer as Campbell. Stanley, p. 46 identifies him as John Campbell
  30. Stanley, p. 46
  31. Smith, p. 390
  32. Smith, p. 399
  33. Stanley, p. 49
  34. Smith, p. 460
  35. Smith, pp. 483, 485–490
  36. Atherton, p. 73
  37. Allen’s Narrative contains a detailed account of his captivity.
  38. Moore, pp. 214–242
  39. Smith, p. 490
  40. Allen, p. i
  41. “List of open spaces – Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve”. City of Montreal. http://www11.ville.montreal.qc.ca/sherlock2/servlet/template/sherlock%2CAfficherDocumentInternet.vm/nodocument/21156


  • Allen, Ethan (1846). A Narrative of Col. Ethan Allen’s Captivity (4th ed.). C. Goodrich. OCLC 3505817. http://books.google.com/books?id=kmQqAAAAYAAJ.
  • Atherton, William Henry (1914). Montreal, 1535–1914, Under British Rule, Volume 2. S. J. Clarke. OCLC 6683395.
  • Lanctot, Gustave (1967). Canada and the American Revolution 1774–1783. Harvard University Press. OCLC 70781264.
  • Moore, Hugh (1834). Memoir of Col. Ethan Allen; Containing the Most Interesting Incidents Connected With His Private and Public Career. Plattsburg, N.Y.: O. R. Cook. ISBN 9781432634179. http://books.google.ca/books?id=lDEOAAAAIAAJ. (The ISBN shown is for a 2007 reprint of this volume.)
  • Nelson, Paul David (2000). General Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester: Soldier-statesman of Early British Canada. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. ISBN 9780838638385.
  • Smith, Justin Harvey (1907). Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony: Canada, and the American Revolution, Volume 1. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN 9780306706332. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ls9BAAAAIAAJ. (The ISBN shown is for a 1974 reprint of this volume.)
  • Stanley, George (1973). Canada Invaded 1775–1776. Hakkert. ISBN 9780888665782.
  • Mémoires de la Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française. Volumes 49–50. Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française. 1998. OCLC 2208362

Moses Brown, Abolitionist and Co-Founder of Brown University

September 23, 2013

Moses Brown was a co-founder of Brown University and a New England abolitionist and industrialist, who funded the design and construction of some of the first factory houses for spinning machines during the American industrial revolution, including Slater Mill.


Moses Brown. Portrait by Martin Johnson Heade

Brown, born September 23, 1738, was the son of James Brown II and Hope Power Brown and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the grandson of Baptist minister James Brown (1666-1732), and his father was a prosperous merchant. His father died in 1739, and Moses was raised in the family of his uncle Obadiah Brown (1712-1762). From age 13 to 22, he was an apprentice in his uncle’s firm, Obadiah Brown & Co. In 1760, he became a full partner, and was primarily responsible for running the firm’s spermaceti works. The firm was also active in distilling rum, owned an iron furnace, and took part in a wide variety of merchant activities including at least one slave voyage in 1759. Following Obadiah Brown’s death in 1762, Moses Brown served as executor of his estate. Shares in the farming and shipping business were divided between Moses Brown and his three brothers, Nicholas, Joseph, and John; it was renamed as Nicholas Brown & Co. The brothers were co-founders of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to Providence. They were active in the Baptist community of Providence and were descendants of Chad Brown, a Baptist minister who co-founded Providence with Roger Williams.

Brown’s brother-in-law and business partner, Jabez Bowen was a notable Rhode Island political figure. Moses Brown eventually differentiated himself from his family by converting to Quakerism.

Moses Brown married his cousin Anna Brown (daughter of his uncle Obadiah) in 1764. They had two surviving children: Sarah (1764-1794, married William Almy) and Obadiah (1771-1822), as well as a daughter who died young. Moses also served as a deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly from 1764 to 1771, and he served on a committee to oppose the Stamp Act in 1765. In 1769, he participated in efforts to move the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to Providence from Warren, Rhode Island. The four Brown brothers donated family land passed down from Chad Brown for the new campus.

Brown’s wife Anna died in 1773. He gradually retired from the family business and began his involvement with Quaker meetings. The following year he formally became a member of the Society of Friends.

Following John Brown’s arrest in connection with the Gaspée affair that helped trigger the American Revolutionary War, Moses and Joseph Brown delivered to the English in Boston a proposal that Rhode Island’s preparations to resist royal authority be stopped if John Brown was released.[1]

In 1779, Brown married his second wife, Mary Olney, a fellow Quaker. They were married for 18 years, and they had no children.

In 1788, Brown returned briefly to the business world, embarking on a textile venture in partnership with his cousin Smith Brown and his future son-in-law William Almy. Moses Brown became interested in recent British attempts to use water power in their textile mills, and hired English emigrant Samuel Slater to help build a similar mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1790, the factory became the first water-powered spinning mill in America, a seminal event generally considered the birth of the American Industrial Revolution. Moses’ son Obadiah Brown soon replaced Smith Brown as a partner, and Samuel Slater was taken in as well, to create the new firm of Almy, Brown & Slater. Moses Brown soon withdrew from active involvement in the firm, but remained a partner.

After getting Almy, Brown & Slater off the ground, Moses Brown moved on to a variety of new activities. He played a role in Rhode Island’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1790. He also became interested in agricultural experiments on his Providence farm, and helped found the Rhode Island Agricultural Society in 1800. He served on the first board of directors of the Providence Bank, and was treasurer of the Central Bridge Company. Along with his son Obadiah, he was a founder of the Rhode Island Bible Society. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1797, he was a strong advocate of sanitation practices. He later introduced smallpox vaccination to Rhode Island.

Brown’s second wife Mary died in 1798, and he married his third and final wife, the widow Phebe (Waterman) Lockwood, in 1799. She had several grown children of her own: Sarah (1773-1832, married E. Bates Harris), Avis (1774-1831, never married), Benoni (1777-1852) and Phebe (1778-1800). After the death of his third wife in 1809, Moses remained unmarried for the last 27 years of his life.

Brown was inspired by the War of 1812 to work on behalf of peace, and was instrumental in the founding of the Rhode Island Peace Society in 1818. He adhered to and promoted the orthodox Quaker position that Quakers should resist war taxes.[1]

Another one of his interests was local history. Moses Brown played an important role in collecting documents relating to colonial Rhode Island, many of them inherited through his own family. He was a founding member of the Rhode Island Historical Society, served as its chairman, and had most of his papers left there after his death.

Moses Brown left few family members, having outlived three wives, all three of his children, and three of his four step-children. At his death on September 6, 1836, his only descendants were his granddaughter Sarah (Almy) Jenkins (1790-1849) and her children. He also left much of his estate to the children of his stepdaughter Sarah (Lockwood) Harris (1773-1832), and to the Society of Friends. His son Obadiah had married, but left no children.

Despite his major role in the slave trade, he eventually refused to continue his association with it. As a Quaker, he began a lifelong crusade against slavery, and soon became the leading opponent of the slave trade in Rhode Island. He freed his own slaves in 1773. At the close of the war, Brown renewed his efforts against the slave trade. He unsuccessfully petitioned the General Assembly in 1783, wrote frequently in the local press, and helped distribute antislavery pamphlets throughout New England. He was instrumental in the 1787 passage of a law banning the participation of Rhode Islanders in the slave trade. In 1789, he helped found the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade with both Quaker and non-Quaker associates to help enforce recently passed anti-slave trade legislation. He later helped engineer passage of a law in the U.S. Congress to forbid foreign slave ships from being equipped in American ports. He also became known for his willingness to help slaves and free blacks on an individual basis, through financial and legal assistance.

In contrast, his brother John was one of the state’s leading slave traders and the first person prosecuted under the federal laws prohibiting slave importation, Moses Brown became an active abolitionist, an advocate for negroes both slave and free.

In 1784 Moses Brown founded what would later be named the Moses Brown School, one of the oldest preparatory schools in the country. One of his last great contributions to Rhode Island life was his role in the revival of the New England Yearly Meeting School. It had existed intermittently in the 1770s and 1780s, but died out through lack of interest. In 1814, Brown presented the Yearly Meeting with 43 acres of land in Providence, and worked diligently toward the creation of a school on this land. He provided important financial assistance, and also donated his impressive book collection to the school library. His son Obadiah was a major supporter of this effort until his untimely death in 1822. Moses Brown served as the school’s treasurer until shortly before his own death in 1836, at the age of 98. The school was renamed in his honor as the Moses Brown School, and remains a leading preparatory school in the U.S.


  1. Gross, David M. American Quaker War Tax Resistance (2008) pp. 173-174, 176-177 ISBN 1438260156

Captain Nathan Hale is hanged for spying: …one life to lose…

September 22, 2013

Nathan Hale was a soldier for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in New York City but was captured by the British. He is probably best remembered for his purported last words before being hanged: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Hale has long been considered an American hero and, in 1985, he was officially designated the state hero of Connecticut.


Nathan Hale, City Hall Park, New York

Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. In 1768, when he was thirteen years old, he was sent with his brother Enoch to Yale College. Nathan was a classmate of fellow patriot spy Benjamin Tallmadge. The Hale brothers belonged to the Yale literary fraternity, Linonia, which debated topics in astronomy, mathematics, literature, and the ethics of slavery. Graduating with first-class honors in 1773, Nathan became a teacher, first in East Haddam and later in New London. After the Revolutionary War began in 1775, he joined a Connecticut militia and was elected first lieutenant. When his militia unit participated in the Siege of Boston, Hale remained behind, but, on July 6, 1775, he joined the regular Continental Army’s 7th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford. He was promoted to captain and in March 1776, commanded a small unit of Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton’s rangers defending New York City. They managed to rescue a ship full of provisions from the guard of a British man-of-war.

During the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death and posed a great risk to Hale.

During his mission, New York City (then the area at the southern tip of Manhattan around Wall Street) fell to British forces on September 15 and Washington was forced to retreat to the island’s northern tip in Harlem Heights (what is now Morningside Heights). On September 21, a quarter of the lower portion of Manhattan burned in the Great New York Fire of 1776. The fire was later widely thought to have been started by American saboteurs to keep the city from falling into British hands, though Washington and Congress had already denied this idea. It has also been speculated that the fire was the work of British soldiers acting without orders, intending to punish and/or intimidate any remaining Patriots in the city — with unintended consequences, however. In the fire’s aftermath, more than 200 American partisans were rounded up by the British.


Nathan Hale statue by Bela Lyon Pratt at Fort Nathan Hale

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

Nathan Hale scholar Mary Beth Baker has argued that some of Hale’s posthumous fame arose from a desire by alumni of Yale to claim a Revolutionary War hero, in addition to Yale president Naphtali Daggett, John Trumbull, and others.

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous quote began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account.

If Hale did not give the famous quote, it is possible he instead repeated a passage from Joseph Addison’s play, Cato, an ideological inspiration to many Whigs:

How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!

Who would not be that youth? What pity is it

That we can die but once to serve our country.

No official records were kept of Hale’s speech. However, Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day:

He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.


Nathan Hale as depicted in bronze (1890) by Frederick William MacMonnies at the Brooklyn Museum

It is almost certain that Nathan Hale’s last speech contained more than one sentence. Several early accounts mention different things he said. These are not necessarily contradictory, but rather, together they give us an idea of what the speech must have been like. (The following quotes are all taken from George Dudley Seymour’s book, Documentary Life of Nathan Hale, published in 1941 by the author.)

From the diary of Enoch Hale, Nathan’s brother, after he went to question people who had been present, October 26, 1776:

“When at the Gallows he spoke & told them that he was a Capt in the Cont Army by name Nathan Hale.”

From the Essex Journal, February 13, 1777:

“However, at the gallows, he made a sensible and spirited speech; among other things, told them they were shedding the blood of the innocent, and that if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down, if called to it, in defence of his injured, bleeding Country.”

From the Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser, May 17, 1781: “I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged, that my only regret is, that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.”

From the memoirs of Captain William Hull, quoting British Captain John Montresor, who was present and who spoke to Hull under a flag of truce the next day:

“‘On the morning of his execution,’ continued the officer, ‘my station was near the fatal spot, and I requested the Provost Marshal [the infamous William Cunningham] to permit the prisoner to sit in my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. Captain Hale entered: he was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer.’ He was shortly after summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, ‘I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.'”

Two early ballads also attempt to recreate Hale’s last speech. They are probably more imaginative than accurate, but are included here for completeness:

From Songs and Ballads of the Revolution, collected by F. Moore (1855), “Ballad of Nathan Hale” (anonymous), dated 1776:

“‘Thou pale king of terrors, thou life’s gloomy foe, Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave; Tell tyrants, to you their allegiance they owe. No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave.'”

From “To the Memory of Capt. Nathan Hale” by Eneas Munson, Sr. written “soon after” Hale’s death:

Hate of oppression’s arbitrary plan, The love of freedom, and the rights of man; A strong desire to save from slavery’s chain The future millions of the western main, And hand down safe, from men’s invention cleared, The sacred truths which all the just revered; For ends like these, I wish to draw my breath,’ He bravely cried, ‘or dare encounter death.’ And when a cruel wretch pronounced his doom, Replied, ‘Tis well, —for all is peace to come; The sacred cause for which I drew my sword Shall yet prevail, and peace shall be restored. I’ve served with zeal the land that gave me birth, Fulfilled my course, and done my work on earth; Have ever aimed to tread that shining road That leads a mortal to the blessed God. I die resigned, and quit life’s empty stage, For brighter worlds my every wish engage; And while my body slumbers in the dust, My soul shall join the assemblies of the just.

Munson had tutored Hale before college, and knew him and his family well, so even though the particulars of this speech may be unlikely, Munson knew firsthand what Hale’s opinions were.


  • H. W. Crocker III (2006). Don’t Tread on Me. New York: Crown Forum. ISBN 978-1-4000-5363-6
  • Charles Haynes Haswell (1896). Reminiscences of New York by an octogenarian (1816 to 1860). Harper
  • Jacob K. Neff (1845). The Army and Navy of America: containing a view of the heroic adventures, battles, naval engagements, remarkable incidents, and glorious achievements in the cause of freedom, from the period of the French and Indian Wars to the close of the Florida War : independent of an account of warlike operations on land and sea : enlivened by a variety of the most interesting anecdotes, and splendidly embellished with numerous engravings. John S. Gable
  • George D. Seymour (May 2006). Documentary Life of Nathan Hale: Comprising All Available Official and Private Documents Bearing on the Life of the Patriot. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4286-0043-0

Francis Hopkinson, signer of the Declaration of Independence

September 21, 2013

Francis Hopkinson, an American author, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey. He later served as a federal judge in Pennsylvania. He played a key role in the design of the Great Seal of the United States.


From The literary history of Philadelphia (1906).

Francis Hopkinson was born at Philadelphia on September 21, 1737, the son of Thomas Hopkinson and Mary Johnson. He became a member of the first class at the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania) in 1751 and graduated in 1757, receiving his masters degree in 1760, and a doctor in law (honorary) in 1790. He was secretary to a Provincial Council of Pennsylvania Indian commission in 1761 that made a treaty with the Delaware and several Iroquois tribes. In 1763, he was appointed customs collector for Salem, New Jersey. Hopkinson spent from May 1766 to August 1767 in England in hopes of becoming commissioner of customs for North America. Although unsuccessful, he spent time with the future Prime Minister Lord North and his half-brother, the Bishop of Worcester Brownlow North, and painter Benjamin West.

After his return, Francis Hopkinson operated a dry goods business in Philadelphia and married Ann Borden on September 1, 1768. They would have five children. Hopkinson obtained a public appointment as a customs collector for New Castle, Delaware on May 1, 1772. He moved to Bordentown, New Jersey in 1774, became an assemblyman for the state’s Royal Provincial Council, and was admitted to the New Jersey bar on May 8, 1775. He resigned his crown-appointed positions in 1776 and, on June 22, went on to represent New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He departed the Congress on November 30, 1776 to serve on the Navy Board at Philadelphia. As part of the fledgling nation’s government, he was treasurer of the Continental Loan Office in 1778; appointed judge of the Admiralty Court of Pennsylvania in 1779 and reappointed in 1780 and 1787; and helped ratify the Constitution during the constitutional convention in 1787. On September 24, 1789, he was nominated by President George Washington to the newly created position of judge of the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission, on September 26, 1789.

Only a few years into his service as a federal judge, Hopkinson died on May 9, 1791, in Philadelphia at the age of 53 from a sudden epileptic seizure. He was buried in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. He was the father of Joseph Hopkinson, who was a member of the United States House of Representatives and also became a federal judge.


Gravesite of Francis Hopkinson in Philadelphia’s Christ Church Burial Ground

Hopkinson was an amateur author and songwriter at a time when Philadelphia and the colonies were not well known for the arts. He wrote popular airs and political satires (jeux d’esprit) in the form of poems and pamphlets. Some were widely circulated, and powerfully assisted in arousing and fostering the spirit of political independence that issued in the American Revolution.

His principal writings are A Pretty Story . . . (1774), a satire about King George, The Prophecy (1776), and The Political Catechism (1777).[1] Other notable essays are “Typographical Method of conducting a Quarrel”, “Essay on White Washing”, and “Modern Learning”. Many of his writings can be found in Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings, published at Philadelphia in three volumes in 1792 (see Bibliography).


by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress

Hopkinson was a reputed amateur musician. He began to play the harpsichord at age seventeen and, during the 1750s, hand-copied arias, songs, and instrumental pieces by many European composers. He is credited as being the first American born composer to commit a composition to paper with his 1759 composition “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free.” By the 1760s he was good enough on the harpsichord to play with professional musicians in concerts. Some of his more notable songs include “The Treaty”, “The Battle of the Kegs”, and “The New Roof, a song for Federal Mechanics”. He also played organ at Philadelphia’s Christ Church and composed or edited a number of hymns and psalms including: “A Collection of Psalm Tunes with a few Anthems and Hymns Some of them Entirely New, for the Use of the United Churches of Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia” (1763), “A psalm of thanksgiving, Adapted to the Solemnity of Easter: To be performed on Sunday, the 30th of March, 1766, at Christ Church, Philadelphia” (1766), and “The Psalms of David, with the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, &c. in Metre” (1767). In the 1780s, Hopkinson modified a glass harmonica to be played with a keyboard and invented the Bellarmonic, an instrument that utilized the tones of metal balls.[2] In 1788 he published a collection of 8 songs dedicated to his friend George Washington and his daughter called “Seven Songs for the Harpsichord” and voice.


  • The Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings of Francis Hopkinson, Esq Printed by T. Dobson, 1792
  • Judgments in the Admiralty of Pennsylvania in four suits Printed at T. Dobson and T. Lang, 1789


  • A Pretty Story Written in the Year of Our Lord 1774. Printed by John Dunlap, 1774

Musical compositions

  • Collection of Plain Tunes with a Few from Anthems and Hymns. Printed by Benjamin Carr, 1763.
  • Temple of Minerva. (The First American Opera)[3] Printed by Benjamin Carr, 1781.
  • Seven Songs for the Harpsichord or Forte Piano. Printed by T. Dobson, 1788.[4]


Francis Hopkinson’s design for a US flag, featuring 6-pointed stars arranged in rows.

Hopkinson claimed to have designed the official “first flag” of the United States and sought compensation from Congress. Congress refused on the pretext that many people were involved in the flag’s design, and that Hopkinson was already paid as a public servant.[5][6] Another consideration was that the Flag Resolution of 1777, which defined official United States flags, did not specify the arrangement of stars.[7] Many designs were in use that complied with the flag resolution, with stars arranged in a square, a wreath, rows, patterns, or the familiar “Betsy Ross” circle.

The design of the first Stars and Stripes by Hopkinson had the thirteen stars arranged in a “staggered” pattern technically known as quincuncial because it is based on the repetition of a motif of five units. This arrangement inevitably results in a strongly diagonal effect. In a flag of thirteen stars, this placement produced the unmistakable outline of the crosses of St. George and of St. Andrew, as used together on the British flag. Whether this similarity was intentional or accidental, it may explain why the plainer fashion of placing the stars in three parallel rows was preferred by many Americans over the quincuncial style.

Hopkinson also designed a flag with stars arranged in a circle. It is similar to the familiar Betsy Ross flag, except that it uses 6-pointed stars.[8]

On May 25, 1780, Hopkinson wrote a letter to the Continental Board of Admiralty mentioning several patriotic designs he had completed during the previous three years. One was his Board of Admiralty seal, which contained a red-and-white striped shield on a blue field. Others included the Treasury Board seal, “7 devices for the Continental Currency,” and “the Flag of the United States of America.”[9]

In the letter, Hopkinson noted that he hadn’t asked for any compensation for the designs, but was now looking for a reward: “a Quarter Cask of the public Wine.” The board sent that letter on to Congress. Hopkinson submitted another bill on June 24 for his “drawings and devices.” The first item on the list was “The Naval Flag of the United States.” The price listed was 9 pounds.

The Treasury Board turned down the request in an October 27, 1780, report to Congress. The Board cited several reasons for its action, including the fact that Hopkinson “was not the only person consulted on those exhibitions of Fancy, and therefore cannot claim the sole merit of them and not entitled to the full sum charged.”[10]

Hopkinson’s itemized bill, moreover, is the only contemporary claim that exists for creating the American flag. Although no “Hopkinson flags” exist from the time period, it is believed that his flag contained 13 red and white stripes and 13 white stars arranged symmetrically on a field of blue.

Francis Hopkinson provided assistance to the second committee that designed the Great Seal of the United States. This seal is now impressed upon the reverse of the United States one-dollar bill. The seal, designed by William Barton, contains an unfinished pyramid with a radiant eye, an image used by Hopkinson when he designed the continental $50 currency.[11]


  1. Charles Wells Moulton, ed. (1902). The Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors: 1785–1824. Buffalo, NY: The Moulton Publishing Company. pp. 131. http://books.google.com/books?id=iBAFAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA131
  2. Francis Hopkinson biography at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Digital Library
  3. Pennsylvania Center for the Book on Hopkinson and his writings
  4. “Seven Songs for the Harpsichord or Forte Piano”. Early American Secular Music and its European Sources, 1589–1839 http://colonialdancing.org/Easmes/Biblio/B000974.htm
  5. transcript
  6. Buescher, John. “All Wrapped up in the Flag”, Teachinghistory.org
  7. Mastai, pg. 49
  8. Znamierowski says Hopkinson also used 5-pointed stars. Pg 113.
  9. Leepson, Marc; DeMille, Nelson. Flag: An American Biography. St. Martin’s Griffin. pp. 33. ISBN 978-0-312-32309-7
  10. Journals of the Continental Congress – Friday, October 27, 1780
  11. Univ. of Notre Dame, Coin and Currency Collections
  • Hopkinson holdings at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Online Public Access Catalog.
  • Mastai, Bolesław; Mastai, Marie-Louise d’Otrange. The Stars and the Stripes; the American flag as art and as history from the birth of the Republic to the present. New York, Knopf, 1973.. ISBN 0-394-47217-9.
  • Znamierowski, Alfred. The World Encyclopedia of Flags. Hermes House. ISBN 1-84309-042-2.


  • Francis Hopkinson at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Francis Hopkinson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center


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