Captain Solomon Townsend

March 27, 2015



Solomon Townsend was a merchant ship’s captain prior to the American Revolution, owned an ironworks in New York State, and was a representative to the New York State Legislature. Stranded in London following the outbreak of hostilities, Townsend’s passage back to America was facilitated by Benjamin Franklin. After the war he was a successful owner of an iron works plant, and a member of the New York State Legislature. One of his children followed him into the legislature and another was a founder of what became the New York Academy of Sciences.

Solomon Townsend was born in the hamlet of Oyster Bay, New York in 1746, the eldest son of State Senator Samuel Townsend (d. 1790) and Sarah (Stoddard) Townsend. He was descended from the Oyster Bay Townsends, a Quaker family who settled in the area in the mid-17th century.


Solomon Townsend, portrait by Ezra Ames (1808)

Because of a good harbor, Oyster Bay saw a rise in the ship trade in the early 18th century and Townsend’s father Samuel owned a number of merchant vessels. At age 20 his father put him in charge of a brig which he owned. Solomon worked for his father for the next 10 years captaining ships.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Townsend was commanding the ship Glasgow, owned by Thomas Buchanan, which was berthed in London due to the cessation of trade between the two countries. The ship’s owner was reluctant to put the vessel at risk by leaving the harbor, effectively stranding the crew in London. Townsend made his way to Paris where he befriended Benjamin Franklin and was received at the French court.

Franklin commissioned Townsend into the Continental Navy and helped him secure passage back to America on the Frigate USS Providence (1775) under the command of Commodore Abraham Whipple. Franklin provided Townsend with the following letter of safe passage:

“Passey, near Paris, June 27, 1778.I certify to whom it may concern, that Captain Solomon Townsend, of New York, mariner, hath this day appeared voluntarily before me and taken the oath of allegiance to the United Status of America, according to the resolution of congress, thereby acknowledging himself a subject of the United States. B. FRANKLIN” [1]

The Providence arrived in Boston in November 1778. With this voyage complete, Townsend ended his first career at sea. There is no evidence that he ever again sailed the ocean.

When Townsend returned from England and France, the American colonies were fully engaged in revolution against the British. The family’s home in Oyster Bay was at the time occupied by the British Army. Townsend, as a commissioned midshipman in the US Navy was unable to return to the town as a result. Townsend instead traveled to the home of his cousin, Peter Townsend in Newburgh, New York, proprietor of the Stirling Iron Works, creator of the Hudson River Chain which kept the British Navy from sailing up the Hudson River during the war.

Townsend married his cousin Anne, Peter Townsend’s eldest daughter. After the war they briefly returned to the family home Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay Long Island in New York, currently preserved as a museum, the Raynham Hall Museum.[2] Some time later he purchased land near his father-in-law in Orange County, New York. Throughout the mid-18th century significant new reserves of iron were discovered in the area and Townsend established an extensive iron works known as the Augusta Forge in Tuxedo Park, New York, associated with his father-in-law’s Stirling Iron.

Townsend spent his later years residing in the City of New York where he oversaw his extensive business interests. In addition to Augusta Forge, he owned a producer of bar iron on the Peconic River near the town of Riverhead. In 1801 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1801 which was called to clarify some issues that had arisen regarding the State Constitution of 1777. He was a member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co.) in 1804, 1804–05, 1808, 1808–09, 1810 and 1811, and died during the latter session on March 27, 1811.[3]

Townsend left six children:

  • Hannah, who married her cousin Isaiah Townsend, a wealthy merchant in Albany NY, (who in term had a son Robert Townsend (Captain) a ship captain for the US Navy in the Civil War)
  • Anne, who married Effingham Lawrence, a Queens county judge; and their son was State Senator Edward A. Lawrence
  • Mary, married to Edward H. Nicoll, a New York City merchant,
  • Phoebe, married to James Thorne, an Albany merchant,
  • Solomon Townsend Jr. a state legislator, and
  • Peter S. Townsend MD, a founder of the Lyceum of Natural History, now called the New York Academy of Sciences.


  1. Thompson p. 350
  2. Raynham Hall Museum
  3. Mather, Frederic Gregory (1913). The refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut. J. B. Lyon Company


  • Thompson, Benjamin F (1843). The History of Long Island from its Discovery and Settlement to the Present Time. New York: Gould, Banks & Co. pp. 349–367

Federalist No. 75 – The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive

March 26, 2015



Federalist No. 75 – The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive

Written by Alexander Hamilton

Independent Journal, Wednesday, March 26, 1788


To the People of the State of New York:

THE President is to have power, “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur.” Though this provision has been assailed, on different grounds, with no small degree of vehemence, I scruple not to declare my firm persuasion, that it is one of the best digested and most unexceptionable parts of the plan. One ground of objection is the trite topic of the intermixture of powers; some contending that the President ought alone to possess the power of making treaties; others, that it ought to have been exclusively deposited in the Senate. Another source of objection is derived from the small number of persons by whom a treaty may be made. Of those who espouse this objection, a part are of opinion that the House of Representatives ought to have been associated in the business, while another part seem to think that nothing more was necessary than to have substituted two thirds of all the members of the Senate, to two thirds of the members present. As I flatter myself the observations made in a preceding number upon this part of the plan must have sufficed to place it, to a discerning eye, in a very favorable light, I shall here content myself with offering only some supplementary remarks, principally with a view to the objections which have been just stated.

With regard to the intermixture of powers, I shall rely upon the explanations already given in other places, of the true sense of the rule upon which that objection is founded; and shall take it for granted, as an inference from them, that the union of the Executive with the Senate, in the article of treaties, is no infringement of that rule. I venture to add, that the particular nature of the power of making treaties indicates a peculiar propriety in that union. Though several writers on the subject of government place that power in the class of executive authorities, yet this is evidently an arbitrary disposition; for if we attend carefully to its operation, it will be found to partake more of the legislative than of the executive character, though it does not seem strictly to fall within the definition of either of them. The essence of the legislative authority is to enact laws, or, in other words, to prescribe rules for the regulation of the society; while the execution of the laws, and the employment of the common strength, either for this purpose or for the common defense, seem to comprise all the functions of the executive magistrate. The power of making treaties is, plainly, neither the one nor the other. It relates neither to the execution of the subsisting laws, nor to the enaction of new ones; and still less to an exertion of the common strength. Its objects are CONTRACTS with foreign nations, which have the force of law, but derive it from the obligations of good faith. They are not rules prescribed by the sovereign to the subject, but agreements between sovereign and sovereign. The power in question seems therefore to form a distinct department, and to belong, properly, neither to the legislative nor to the executive. The qualities elsewhere detailed as indispensable in the management of foreign negotiations, point out the Executive as the most fit agent in those transactions; while the vast importance of the trust, and the operation of treaties as laws, plead strongly for the participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body in the office of making them.

However proper or safe it may be in governments where the executive magistrate is an hereditary monarch, to commit to him the entire power of making treaties, it would be utterly unsafe and improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of four years’ duration. It has been remarked, upon another occasion, and the remark is unquestionably just, that an hereditary monarch, though often the oppressor of his people, has personally too much stake in the government to be in any material danger of being corrupted by foreign powers. But a man raised from the station of a private citizen to the rank of chief magistrate, possessed of a moderate or slender fortune, and looking forward to a period not very remote when he may probably be obliged to return to the station from which he was taken, might sometimes be under temptations to sacrifice his duty to his interest, which it would require superlative virtue to withstand. An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth. An ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents. The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States.

To have intrusted the power of making treaties to the Senate alone, would have been to relinquish the benefits of the constitutional agency of the President in the conduct of foreign negotiations. It is true that the Senate would, in that case, have the option of employing him in this capacity, but they would also have the option of letting it alone, and pique or cabal might induce the latter rather than the former. Besides this, the ministerial servant of the Senate could not be expected to enjoy the confidence and respect of foreign powers in the same degree with the constitutional representatives of the nation, and, of course, would not be able to act with an equal degree of weight or efficacy. While the Union would, from this cause, lose a considerable advantage in the management of its external concerns, the people would lose the additional security which would result from the co-operation of the Executive. Though it would be imprudent to confide in him solely so important a trust, yet it cannot be doubted that his participation would materially add to the safety of the society. It must indeed be clear to a demonstration that the joint possession of the power in question, by the President and Senate, would afford a greater prospect of security, than the separate possession of it by either of them. And whoever has maturely weighed the circumstances which must concur in the appointment of a President, will be satisfied that the office will always bid fair to be filled by men of such characters as to render their concurrence in the formation of treaties peculiarly desirable, as well on the score of wisdom, as on that of integrity.

The remarks made in a former number, which have been alluded to in another part of this paper, will apply with conclusive force against the admission of the House of Representatives to a share in the formation of treaties. The fluctuating and, taking its future increase into the account, the multitudinous composition of that body, forbid us to expect in it those qualities which are essential to the proper execution of such a trust. Accurate and comprehensive knowledge of foreign politics; a steady and systematic adherence to the same views; a nice and uniform sensibility to national character; decision, secrecy, and despatch, are incompatible with the genius of a body so variable and so numerous. The very complication of the business, by introducing a necessity of the concurrence of so many different bodies, would of itself afford a solid objection. The greater frequency of the calls upon the House of Representatives, and the greater length of time which it would often be necessary to keep them together when convened, to obtain their sanction in the progressive stages of a treaty, would be a source of so great inconvenience and expense as alone ought to condemn the project.

The only objection which remains to be canvassed, is that which would substitute the proportion of two thirds of all the members composing the senatorial body, to that of two thirds of the members present. It has been shown, under the second head of our inquiries, that all provisions which require more than the majority of any body to its resolutions, have a direct tendency to embarrass the operations of the government, and an indirect one to subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority. This consideration seems sufficient to determine our opinion, that the convention have gone as far in the endeavor to secure the advantage of numbers in the formation of treaties as could have been reconciled either with the activity of the public councils or with a reasonable regard to the major sense of the community. If two thirds of the whole number of members had been required, it would, in many cases, from the non-attendance of a part, amount in practice to a necessity of unanimity. And the history of every political establishment in which this principle has prevailed, is a history of impotence, perplexity, and disorder. Proofs of this position might be adduced from the examples of the Roman Tribuneship, the Polish Diet, and the States-General of the Netherlands, did not an example at home render foreign precedents unnecessary.

To require a fixed proportion of the whole body would not, in all probability, contribute to the advantages of a numerous agency, better then merely to require a proportion of the attending members. The former, by making a determinate number at all times requisite to a resolution, diminishes the motives to punctual attendance. The latter, by making the capacity of the body to depend on a proportion which may be varied by the absence or presence of a single member, has the contrary effect. And as, by promoting punctuality, it tends to keep the body complete, there is great likelihood that its resolutions would generally be dictated by as great a number in this case as in the other; while there would be much fewer occasions of delay. It ought not to be forgotten that, under the existing Confederation, two members may, and usually do, represent a State; whence it happens that Congress, who now are solely invested with all the powers of the Union, rarely consist of a greater number of persons than would compose the intended Senate. If we add to this, that as the members vote by States, and that where there is only a single member present from a State, his vote is lost, it will justify a supposition that the active voices in the Senate, where the members are to vote individually, would rarely fall short in number of the active voices in the existing Congress. When, in addition to these considerations, we take into view the co-operation of the President, we shall not hesitate to infer that the people of America would have greater security against an improper use of the power of making treaties, under the new Constitution, than they now enjoy under the Confederation. And when we proceed still one step further, and look forward to the probable augmentation of the Senate, by the erection of new States, we shall not only perceive ample ground of confidence in the sufficiency of the members to whose agency that power will be intrusted, but we shall probably be led to conclude that a body more numerous than the Senate would be likely to become, would be very little fit for the proper discharge of the trust.




Hamilton defends the treaty-making procedures outlined in the Constitution. He responds to the criticism that the Constitution wrongly mixes the legislative and executive branches of government by affording both a role in making and approving treaties. Hamilton argues that act of treaty-making does not fit neatly into the typical purview of either the executive or legislative branch. Therefore, affording a role to both is appropriate.

Other critics claimed that the power to make treaties should be limited to the president. Hamilton responds that, unlike European monarchs, the president is only in office for a limited period of time. He may therefore be tempted to sign a treaty detrimental to the nation but beneficial to his private interests since he will eventually return to being a private citizen (unlike monarchs). It is therefore necessary that his power be held in check by the legislature.

Others asserted that the Congress should have even greater authority over treaty making. However, Hamilton responds that this would introduce unnecessary delays and inefficiencies to the process and weaken the American negotiating position.


This paper returns to an argument that had been previously addressed by other papers: the Constitutional provisions for treaty making. It illustrates the underlying tension built into the Constitution between the energy of government and the separation of powers. On the one hand, the founders wanted to ensure that the executive would be strong enough to negotiate effectively with foreign powers. If the president were too weak, other heads of state might not take him seriously. At the same time, however, the founders wanted to ensure that the president did not become too powerful—hence the role afforded to the Senate in ratifying treaties with foreign powers.

This paper also illuminates one of the most important assumptions underlying the entire American Constitutional system: men are not angels. The founders assumed that politicians would always be tempted to use their power for private gain, even at the expense of the public good. The founders feared that if the President had sole authority to make treaties, as European monarchs do, then he would be tempted to use that power for his own benefit. For example, imagine if present-day Presidents could sign trade agreements with foreign powers that resulted in substantial profits for a corporation in which the President had a personal financial interest. Without the supervisory role played by the Senate, there would be nothing to stop Presidents from using their treaty-making powers as little more than opportunities for self-aggrandizement.


Meme by Tara Ross,

Source: The Federalist Papers,

Federalist No. 74 – The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive

March 25, 2015



Federalist No. 74 – The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive

Written by Alexander Hamilton

New York Packet, Tuesday, March 25, 1788


To the People of the State of New York:

THE President of the United States is to be “commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States.” The propriety of this provision is so evident in itself, and it is, at the same time, so consonant to the precedents of the State constitutions in general, that little need be said to explain or enforce it. Even those of them which have, in other respects, coupled the chief magistrate with a council, have for the most part concentrated the military authority in him alone. Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand. The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority.

“The President may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective officers.” This I consider as a mere redundancy in the plan, as the right for which it provides would result of itself from the office.

He is also to be authorized to grant “reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed. The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel. As the sense of responsibility is always strongest, in proportion as it is undivided, it may be inferred that a single man would be most ready to attend to the force of those motives which might plead for a mitigation of the rigor of the law, and least apt to yield to considerations which were calculated to shelter a fit object of its vengeance. The reflection that the fate of a fellow-creature depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of weakness or connivance, would beget equal circumspection, though of a different kind. On the other hand, as men generally derive confidence from their numbers, they might often encourage each other in an act of obduracy, and might be less sensible to the apprehension of suspicion or censure for an injudicious or affected clemency. On these accounts, one man appears to be a more eligible dispenser of the mercy of government, than a body of men.

The expediency of vesting the power of pardoning in the President has, if I mistake not, been only contested in relation to the crime of treason. This, it has been urged, ought to have depended upon the assent of one, or both, of the branches of the legislative body. I shall not deny that there are strong reasons to be assigned for requiring in this particular the concurrence of that body, or of a part of it. As treason is a crime levelled at the immediate being of the society, when the laws have once ascertained the guilt of the offender, there seems a fitness in referring the expediency of an act of mercy towards him to the judgment of the legislature. And this ought the rather to be the case, as the supposition of the connivance of the Chief Magistrate ought not to be entirely excluded. But there are also strong objections to such a plan. It is not to be doubted, that a single man of prudence and good sense is better fitted, in delicate conjunctures, to balance the motives which may plead for and against the remission of the punishment, than any numerous body whatever. It deserves particular attention, that treason will often be connected with seditions which embrace a large proportion of the community; as lately happened in Massachusetts. In every such case, we might expect to see the representation of the people tainted with the same spirit which had given birth to the offense. And when parties were pretty equally matched, the secret sympathy of the friends and favorers of the condemned person, availing itself of the good-nature and weakness of others, might frequently bestow impunity where the terror of an example was necessary. On the other hand, when the sedition had proceeded from causes which had inflamed the resentments of the major party, they might often be found obstinate and inexorable, when policy demanded a conduct of forbearance and clemency. But the principal argument for reposing the power of pardoning in this case to the Chief Magistrate is this: in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a welltimed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the commonwealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall. The dilatory process of convening the legislature, or one of its branches, for the purpose of obtaining its sanction to the measure, would frequently be the occasion of letting slip the golden opportunity. The loss of a week, a day, an hour, may sometimes be fatal. If it should be observed, that a discretionary power, with a view to such contingencies, might be occasionally conferred upon the President, it may be answered in the first place, that it is questionable, whether, in a limited Constitution, that power could be delegated by law; and in the second place, that it would generally be impolitic beforehand to take any step which might hold out the prospect of impunity. A proceeding of this kind, out of the usual course, would be likely to be construed into an argument of timidity or of weakness, and would have a tendency to embolden guilt.




In this short paper, Hamilton defends the power of the president to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and to grant reprieves and pardons. Hamilton argues that the demands of war require a single supreme leader. A distribution of military authority among multiple, supreme executives could lead to disaster.

Although Hamilton considers the advantages that may be had from requiring pardons to receive legislative support, Hamilton ultimately decides that questions of mercy are best decided by a single executive. He implies that if pardons were to be decided by a group of individuals, they may feel less pressure to either grant mercy on humanitarian terms or to uphold justice when the circumstances of the case demand it. Furthermore, the judgment of Congress might be colored by partisanship. He furthermore imagines situations in which it will be essential to the national interest for the president to be able to grant pardons swiftly. For example, in order to “restore the tranquility of the commonwealth,” it may be necessary for the president to grant a pardon to rebel leaders. If this process were delayed by the need to obtain congressional approval, important opportunities might be lost.


The anti-federalists were deeply concerned that the presidential pardon would be misused just as royal pardons were frequently abused in Europe. The first high-profile pardon was issued by President Washington to the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion in return for their renouncement of violent opposition to US law. Therefore this early use of the pardon affirmed Hamilton’s claim that this particular power of the president would at times be essential to restoring peace and public order during times of domestic upheaval.

Since the early days of the republic, the presidential pardon has at times been highly controversial with some claiming that pardons tend to be issued for political reasons rather than concerns about mercy or justice. Today, applications for pardons are made to the office of the pardon attorney, an official of the US Department of Justice.


Meme by Tara Ross,

Source: The Federalist Papers,

Captain John Barry, Father of the American Navy

March 24, 2015



John Barry was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution and later in the United States Navy. He is widely credited as “The Father of the American Navy” (and shares that moniker with John Paul Jones) and was appointed a Captain in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.[1] He was the first Captain placed in command of a US warship commissioned for service under the Continental flag.[2]


Portrait of Commodore John Barry, US Navy, by V. Zveg, 1972, from the 1801 portrait by Gilbert Stuart

After the war, he became America’s first commissioned naval officer, at the rank of Commodore, receiving his commission from President George Washington in 1797.

Barry was born on March 25, 1745, in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland. Barry’s family was driven from their ancestral home by the British.

Barry received his first captain’s commission in the Continental Navy on March 14, 1776, signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. Barry was a religious man and began each day at sea with a reading from the Bible. He had great regard for his crew and their well being and always made sure they were properly provided for while at sea.[3]


General George Washington presenting Captain Barry with his commission by Alfred M. Hoffy (1840) courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

During his naval career Barry commanded United States Ships Delaware, Lexington, Raleigh, and Alliance.

In 1777, Barry commanded the ship USS Delaware, a brig sailing under a letter of marque capturing English vessels in the Delaware river.[4]

In 1778, Barry assumed command of the USS Raleigh, capturing three prizes before being run aground in action on September 27, 1778. Her crew scuttled her, but she was raised by the British who refloated her for further use in the Royal Navy.[5]

Captain Barry was given command of USS Lexington, of 14 guns, on December 7, 1775. It was the first commission issued by the Continental Congress.[6] The Lexington sailed March 31, 1776. On April 7, 1776, off the Capes of Virginia, he fell in with the Edward, tender to the British man-of-war HMS Liverpool, and after a desperate fight of one hour and twenty minutes captured her and brought her into Philadelphia.

On June 28, Pennsylvania’s brig Nancy arrived in the area with 386 barrels of powder in her hold and ran aground while attempting to elude British blockader Kingfisher. Barry ordered the precious powder rowed ashore during the night leaving only 100 barrels in Nancy at dawn. A delayed action fuse was left inside the brig, which exploded the powder just as a boatload of British seamen boarded Nancy.[7] This engagement became known as the Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet.[8]

Barry continued in command of Lexington until October 18, 1776, and captured several private armed vessels during that time.

He and his crew of the USS Alliance fought and won the final naval battle of the American Revolution off the coast of Cape Canaveral on March 10, 1783. He was seriously wounded on May 29, 1781, while in command of Alliance during her capture of HMS Atalanta and Trepassey. Barry was successful in suppressing three mutinies during his career as an officer in the Continental Navy.[9]

John Barry was once offered 100,000 British pounds and command of any frigate in the entire British Navy if he would desert the American Navy. Outraged at the offer, Captain Barry responded that not all the money in the British treasury or command of its entire fleet could tempt him to desert his adopted country.[10]

Appointed senior captain upon the establishment of the U.S. Navy, he commanded the frigate United States in the Quasi-War with France. This ship transported commissioners William Richardson Davie and Oliver Ellsworth to France to negotiate a new Franco-American alliance.

Barry authored a signal book published in 1780 to improve communications at sea among vessels traveling in formation.[11]


Statue of John Barry in Independence Square

On February 22, 1797, he was issued Commission Number 1 by President George Washington, backdated to June 4, 1794. His title was thereafter “Commodore.” He is recognized as not only the first American commissioned naval officer but also as its first flag officer.[12]

Barry’s last day of active duty was March 6, 1801, when he brought the USS United States into port, but he remained head of the Navy until his death from asthma. Barry died childless.[13] He died at Strawberry Hill, in present-day Philadelphia on September 13, 1803, and was buried in the graveyard of Old St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Center City, Philadelphia.

On October 24, 1768, Barry married Mary Cleary, who died in 1774. On July 7, 1777, he married Sarah Austin, daughter of Samuel Austin and Sarah Keen of New Jersey. Barry had no children, but he helped raise Patrick and Michael Hayes, children of his sister, Eleanor, and her husband, Thomas Hayes, who both died in the 1780s.


  1. Williams, 2008 p. 5
  2. Meany, 1911 p. 1
  3. Williams, 2008 p. 73
  4. Meany, 1911 p. 22
  5. Ignatius, Griffin, 1897 pp. 42-44
  6. Williams, 2008 p. 72
  7. “Lexington”. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command
  8. “The Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet”. Wildwood Crest Historical Society
  9. “Alliance”. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command
  10. The American Irish Blog
  11. Woods, D. & Sterling, C. Signaling and communicating at sea. Arno Press, 1980. p. 195
  12. specifically issued by a Joint Congressional Resolution and proclaimed by President George W. Bush on December 22, 2006
  13. Meany, 1911 pp.56-57


  • Clark, William Bell (1938). Gallant John Barry 1745 1803 The Story Of A Naval Hero Of Two Wars, The Macmillan Company, New York. p. 554
  • Fink, Leo Gregory (1962). Barry or Jones, “Father of the United States Navy”; Historical Reconnaissance, Jefferies & Manz, Inc, Philadelphia. p. 138
  • Ignatius, Martin; Griffin, Joseph (1897). The history of Commodore John Barry, Published by the Author, Philadelphia. p. 261
  • —— (1903). Commodore John Barry: “the father of the American navy”, Published by the Author, Philadelphia. p. 424
  • McGrath, Tim (2010). John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, AuthorHouse, IN. p. 704. ISBN 978-1-59416-104-9
  • Meany, William Barry (1911). Commodore John Barry, the father of the American navy: a survey of extraordinary episodes in his naval career, Harper & brothers, New York, London. p. 74
  • Williams, Thomas (2008). America’s First Flag Officer: Father of the American Navy, AuthorHouse, IN. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4343-8654-0

Mann Page III, Virginia statesman

March 23, 2015



Mann Page III was an American lawyer and planter from Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He was a delegate for Virginia to the Continental Congress. He was the half-brother of Virginia Governor John Page. Mann Page III was born in 1749 to Mann Page (II) and Ann Tayloe (his second wife) on their Rosewell Plantation in Gloucester County, Virginia. He attended the College of William and Mary. After graduating from college and qualifying for the bar, he moved to Spotsylvania and assumed the management of the family estate known as “Mannsfield” near Fredericksburg. The plantation was mostly destroyed during the Battle of Fredericksburg but a remnant remains on the battlefield.

He married Mary Tayloe (October 28, 1759-January 27, 1835), a cousin of his mother, and they had two children. A son was born about 1776. A daughter, Maria, was born about 1785. She married Lewis Burwell.


Mann Page III served in the House of Burgesses and sat as a delegate in the Revolutionary Conventions. In 1776 he succeeded George Wythe as delegate to the Continental Congress. Throughout the Revolution he was a lieutenant colonel in the Spotsylvania co. militia and after the Revolution he was active in numerous organizations in Virginia. He died at home on March 23, 1803, and was buried in the family plot at his Mannsfield estate.

His portrait with his sister Elizabeth is by John Wollaston.


Mann Page and His Sister Elizabeth, John Wollaston, circa 1757


Anne Hutchinson is expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent

March 22, 2015



Anne Hutchinson, born Anne Marbury, was a Puritan spiritual adviser, mother of 15, and important participant in the Antinomian Controversy that shook the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. Her strong religious convictions were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma helped create a theological schism that threatened to destroy the Puritans’ religious experiment in New England. She was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the colony on March 22, 1638, with many of her supporters.

Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, in 1591, Anne was the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican minister and school teacher who gave her a far better education than most other girls received. She lived in London as a young adult, and married there an old friend from home, William Hutchinson. The couple moved back to Alford, where they began following the dynamic preacher named John Cotton in the nearby major port of Boston, Lincolnshire. After Cotton was compelled to emigrate in 1633, the Hutchinsons followed a year later with their 11 children, and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston in New England. Anne was a midwife, and very helpful to those needing her assistance, as well as forthcoming with her personal religious understandings. Soon she was hosting women at her house weekly, providing commentary on recent sermons. These meetings became so popular that she began offering meetings for men as well, including the young governor of the colony, Henry Vane.


Anne Hutchinson on Trial, by Edwin Austin Abbey, 1901

As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a “covenant of grace,” while accusing all of the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband’s brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a “covenant of works.” Following complaints of many ministers about the opinions coming from Hutchinson and her allies, the situation erupted into what is commonly called the Antinomian Controversy, resulting in her 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony. This was followed by a March 1638 church trial in which she was excommunicated. With encouragement from Providence founder Roger Williams, Hutchinson and many of her supporters established the settlement of Portsmouth in what became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. After her husband’s death a few years later, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled Hutchinson to move totally outside the reach of Boston, into the lands of the Dutch. While five of her older surviving children remained in New England or in England, she settled with her younger children near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what later became The Bronx in New York City. Tensions with the native Siwanoy were high at the time. In August 1643, during Kieft’s War, Hutchinson, six of her children, and other household members were massacred during an attack. The only survivor was her nine-year old daughter, Susanna, who was taken captive.


Split Rock, Bronx, New York, near where the Hutchinson family was massacred.

Hutchinson is a key figure in the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry. She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. She is honored by Massachusetts with a State House monument calling her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.” She has been called the most famous, or infamous, English woman in colonial American history.

After being expelled from Massachusetts Bay, the Anne Hutchinson and several members of her family settled in a wilderness area of New York. The exact location of the home has never been determined.

The Hutchinsons were unfortunate in the timing of their settlement in this area, and soon became victims of the local unrest. The Dutch governor, Willem Kieft, had aroused the ire of the natives with his inhumanity and treachery. Mrs. Hutchinson, who had a favourable relationship with the Narragansett people in Rhode Island, likely felt a false sense of safety among the Siwanoy of New Netherland. The Hutchinsons had been friendly to them but following their mistreatment by the Dutch, these natives ravaged the New Netherland colony in a series of incidents in 1643 known as Kieft’s War. The fate of the Hutchinson family was aptly summarized by LaPlante:

The Siwanoy warriors stampeded into the tiny settlement above Pelham Bay, prepared to burn down every house. The Siwanoy chief, Wampage, who had sent a warning, expected to find no settlers present. But at one house the men in animal skins encountered several children, young men and women, and a woman past middle age. One Siwanoy indicated that the Hutchinsons should restrain the family’s dogs. Without apparent fear, one of the family tied up the dogs. As quickly as possible, the Siwanoy seized and scalped Francis Hutchinson, William Collins, several servants, the two Annes (mother and daughter), and the younger children—William, Katherine, Mary, and Zuriel. As the story was later recounted in Boston, one of the Hutchinson’s daughters, “seeking to escape,” was caught “as she was getting over a hedge, and they drew her back again by the hair of the head to the stump of a tree, and there cut off her head with a hatchet.[1]


Depiction of the massacre of Anne Hutchinson and her family, found in William Cullen Bryant’s “A popular history of the United States,” 1878

The warriors then dragged the bodies into the house along with the cattle, and set fire to the place, which burned to the ground.[1] During the attack, Hutchinson’s nine-year-old daughter, Susanna, is said to have been out picking blueberries, and was found, according to legend, hidden in the crevice of Split Rock, nearby.[2] She is believed to have had red hair, unusual to the attackers, and perhaps because of this curiosity her life was spared. She was taken captive and by one account was named “Autumn Leaf”,[3] and lived with the Native Americans for two to six years (accounts vary) until ransomed back to her family members, most of whom were living in Boston.[4]

The exact date of the Hutchinson massacre is not known. The first definitive record of the occurrence was in John Winthrop’s journal, where it was recorded as the first entry made for the month of September, though not dated.[5] Since it took days or even weeks for Winthrop to receive the news, the event almost certainly occurred in August 1643, and this is the date found in most sources.[5][3] While some accounts offer an exact date for the massacre, they provide no source or evidence.

Anne Hutchinson

Statue of Anne Hutchinson by Cyrus Dallin unveiled in 1915 (dedicated in 1922).

In 1987, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned Anne Hutchinson, revoking the order of banishment by Governor Winthrop 350 years earlier.[6]


  1. LaPlante 2004, p. 237
  2. LaPlante 2004, p. 239
  3. Pritchard 2002, pp. 1–42
  4. Kirkpatrick 1998, p. 228
  5. Anderson 2003, pp. 479–81
  6. LaPlante 2004, p. 256


  • Anderson, Robert Charles (2003). The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England 1634–1635. Vol. III G-H. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. ISBN 0-88082-158-2
  • Kirkpatrick, Katherine (1998). Trouble’s Daughter, the Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-32600-9
  • LaPlante, Eve (2004). American Jezebel, the Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman who Defied the Puritans. San Francisco: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-056233-1
  • Pritchard, Evan T. (2002). Native New Yorkers: the legacy of the Algonquin people of New York. San Francisco: Council Oak Books

Federalist No. 73 – The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power

March 21, 2015

Federalist No. 73 – The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power

Written by Alexander Hamilton

New York Packet, Friday, March 21, 1788


To the People of the State of New York:

THE third ingredient towards constituting the vigor of the executive authority, is an adequate provision for its support. It is evident that, without proper attention to this article, the separation of the executive from the legislative department would be merely nominal and nugatory. The legislature, with a discretionary power over the salary and emoluments of the Chief Magistrate, could render him as obsequious to their will as they might think proper to make him. They might, in most cases, either reduce him by famine, or tempt him by largesses, to surrender at discretion his judgment to their inclinations. These expressions, taken in all the latitude of the terms, would no doubt convey more than is intended. There are men who could neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of their duty; but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils; and in the main it will be found that a power over a man’s support is a power over his will. If it were necessary to confirm so plain a truth by facts, examples would not be wanting, even in this country, of the intimidation or seduction of the Executive by the terrors or allurements of the pecuniary arrangements of the legislative body.

It is not easy, therefore, to commend too highly the judicious attention which has been paid to this subject in the proposed Constitution. It is there provided that “The President of the United States shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected; and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.” It is impossible to imagine any provision which would have been more eligible than this. The legislature, on the appointment of a President, is once for all to declare what shall be the compensation for his services during the time for which he shall have been elected. This done, they will have no power to alter it, either by increase or diminution, till a new period of service by a new election commences. They can neither weaken his fortitude by operating on his necessities, nor corrupt his integrity by appealing to his avarice. Neither the Union, nor any of its members, will be at liberty to give, nor will he be at liberty to receive, any other emolument than that which may have been determined by the first act. He can, of course, have no pecuniary inducement to renounce or desert the independence intended for him by the Constitution.

The last of the requisites to energy, which have been enumerated, are competent powers. Let us proceed to consider those which are proposed to be vested in the President of the United States.

The first thing that offers itself to our observation, is the qualified negative of the President upon the acts or resolutions of the two houses of the legislature; or, in other words, his power of returning all bills with objections, to have the effect of preventing their becoming laws, unless they should afterwards be ratified by two thirds of each of the component members of the legislative body.

The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the rights, and to absorb the powers, of the other departments, has been already suggested and repeated; the insufficiency of a mere parchment delineation of the boundaries of each, has also been remarked upon; and the necessity of furnishing each with constitutional arms for its own defense, has been inferred and proved. From these clear and indubitable principles results the propriety of a negative, either absolute or qualified, in the Executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. Without the one or the other, the former would be absolutely unable to defend himself against the depredations of the latter. He might gradually be stripped of his authorities by successive resolutions, or annihilated by a single vote. And in the one mode or the other, the legislative and executive powers might speedily come to be blended in the same hands. If even no propensity had ever discovered itself in the legislative body to invade the rights of the Executive, the rules of just reasoning and theoretic propriety would of themselves teach us, that the one ought not to be left to the mercy of the other, but ought to possess a constitutional and effectual power of selfdefense.

But the power in question has a further use. It not only serves as a shield to the Executive, but it furnishes an additional security against the enaction of improper laws. It establishes a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the community against the effects of faction, precipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good, which may happen to influence a majority of that body.

The propriety of a negative has, upon some occasions, been combated by an observation, that it was not to be presumed a single man would possess more virtue and wisdom than a number of men; and that unless this presumption should be entertained, it would be improper to give the executive magistrate any species of control over the legislative body.

But this observation, when examined, will appear rather specious than solid. The propriety of the thing does not turn upon the supposition of superior wisdom or virtue in the Executive, but upon the supposition that the legislature will not be infallible; that the love of power may sometimes betray it into a disposition to encroach upon the rights of other members of the government; that a spirit of faction may sometimes pervert its deliberations; that impressions of the moment may sometimes hurry it into measures which itself, on maturer reflexion, would condemn. The primary inducement to conferring the power in question upon the Executive is, to enable him to defend himself; the secondary one is to increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws, through haste, inadvertence, or design. The oftener the measure is brought under examination, the greater the diversity in the situations of those who are to examine it, the less must be the danger of those errors which flow from want of due deliberation, or of those missteps which proceed from the contagion of some common passion or interest. It is far less probable, that culpable views of any kind should infect all the parts of the government at the same moment and in relation to the same object, than that they should by turns govern and mislead every one of them.

It may perhaps be said that the power of preventing bad laws includes that of preventing good ones; and may be used to the one purpose as well as to the other. But this objection will have little weight with those who can properly estimate the mischiefs of that inconstancy and mutability in the laws, which form the greatest blemish in the character and genius of our governments. They will consider every institution calculated to restrain the excess of law-making, and to keep things in the same state in which they happen to be at any given period, as much more likely to do good than harm; because it is favorable to greater stability in the system of legislation. The injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws, will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing a number of bad ones.

Nor is this all. The superior weight and influence of the legislative body in a free government, and the hazard to the Executive in a trial of strength with that body, afford a satisfactory security that the negative would generally be employed with great caution; and there would oftener be room for a charge of timidity than of rashness in the exercise of it. A king of Great Britain, with all his train of sovereign attributes, and with all the influence he draws from a thousand sources, would, at this day, hesitate to put a negative upon the joint resolutions of the two houses of Parliament. He would not fail to exert the utmost resources of that influence to strangle a measure disagreeable to him, in its progress to the throne, to avoid being reduced to the dilemma of permitting it to take effect, or of risking the displeasure of the nation by an opposition to the sense of the legislative body. Nor is it probable, that he would ultimately venture to exert his prerogatives, but in a case of manifest propriety, or extreme necessity. All well-informed men in that kingdom will accede to the justness of this remark. A very considerable period has elapsed since the negative of the crown has been exercised.

If a magistrate so powerful and so well fortified as a British monarch, would have scruples about the exercise of the power under consideration, how much greater caution may be reasonably expected in a President of the United States, clothed for the short period of four years with the executive authority of a government wholly and purely republican?

It is evident that there would be greater danger of his not using his power when necessary, than of his using it too often, or too much. An argument, indeed, against its expediency, has been drawn from this very source. It has been represented, on this account, as a power odious in appearance, useless in practice. But it will not follow, that because it might be rarely exercised, it would never be exercised. In the case for which it is chiefly designed, that of an immediate attack upon the constitutional rights of the Executive, or in a case in which the public good was evidently and palpably sacrificed, a man of tolerable firmness would avail himself of his constitutional means of defense, and would listen to the admonitions of duty and responsibility. In the former supposition, his fortitude would be stimulated by his immediate interest in the power of his office; in the latter, by the probability of the sanction of his constituents, who, though they would naturally incline to the legislative body in a doubtful case, would hardly suffer their partiality to delude them in a very plain case. I speak now with an eye to a magistrate possessing only a common share of firmness. There are men who, under any circumstances, will have the courage to do their duty at every hazard.

But the convention have pursued a mean in this business, which will both facilitate the exercise of the power vested in this respect in the executive magistrate, and make its efficacy to depend on the sense of a considerable part of the legislative body. Instead of an absolute negative, it is proposed to give the Executive the qualified negative already described. This is a power which would be much more readily exercised than the other. A man who might be afraid to defeat a law by his single VETO, might not scruple to return it for reconsideration; subject to being finally rejected only in the event of more than one third of each house concurring in the sufficiency of his objections. He would be encouraged by the reflection, that if his opposition should prevail, it would embark in it a very respectable proportion of the legislative body, whose influence would be united with his in supporting the propriety of his conduct in the public opinion. A direct and categorical negative has something in the appearance of it more harsh, and more apt to irritate, than the mere suggestion of argumentative objections to be approved or disapproved by those to whom they are addressed. In proportion as it would be less apt to offend, it would be more apt to be exercised; and for this very reason, it may in practice be found more effectual. It is to be hoped that it will not often happen that improper views will govern so large a proportion as two thirds of both branches of the legislature at the same time; and this, too, in spite of the counterposing weight of the Executive. It is at any rate far less probable that this should be the case, than that such views should taint the resolutions and conduct of a bare majority. A power of this nature in the Executive, will often have a silent and unperceived, though forcible, operation. When men, engaged in unjustifiable pursuits, are aware that obstructions may come from a quarter which they cannot control, they will often be restrained by the bare apprehension of opposition, from doing what they would with eagerness rush into, if no such external impediments were to be feared.

This qualified negative, as has been elsewhere remarked, is in this State vested in a council, consisting of the governor, with the chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court, or any two of them. It has been freely employed upon a variety of occasions, and frequently with success. And its utility has become so apparent, that persons who, in compiling the Constitution, were violent opposers of it, have from experience become its declared admirers.1

I have in another place remarked, that the convention, in the formation of this part of their plan, had departed from the model of the constitution of this State, in favor of that of Massachusetts. Two strong reasons may be imagined for this preference. One is that the judges, who are to be the interpreters of the law, might receive an improper bias, from having given a previous opinion in their revisionary capacities; the other is that by being often associated with the Executive, they might be induced to embark too far in the political views of that magistrate, and thus a dangerous combination might by degrees be cemented between the executive and judiciary departments. It is impossible to keep the judges too distinct from every other avocation than that of expounding the laws. It is peculiarly dangerous to place them in a situation to be either corrupted or influenced by the Executive.




Hamilton discusses the provisions in the Constitution guaranteeing a salary for the president that cannot be adjusted by Congress during his term and defends the president’s right to veto congressional legislation. Hamilton contends that if the president’s salary could be raised or lowered by Congress during his term, the legislative branch would gain an undue degree of power over the executive.

Hamilton defends the presidential veto by pointing to the necessity of holding legislative authority in check. He warns that Congress may at various points be convulsed by the influence of faction and, as a result, seek to pass laws detrimental to the public interest. In such situations, it is necessary for the president to be able to obstruct such legislation. Hamilton claims that in a republican society the executive will always hesitate to overrule the decisions of the legislative branch. He also points out that the veto is only a qualified negative; that is, the congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses.


This paper illustrates the principle of checks and balances on which much of the Constitution is based. The founders believed it was necessary to distribute power among multiple branches of government and ensure that none of these branches became too powerful. This paper focuses in particular on limiting the power of the legislature. Hamilton claims that, in republican societies, the legislative branch of government is always the most powerful since it directly represents the voice of the people. In order to prevent this branch from completely monopolizing the government, the other branches must have means of constitutional “self-defense.”

Thus, in many respects, the Constitution was designed to produce conflict among the branches. The founders felt that it was important to design a system in which one locus of power would compete with another so as to prevent the rise of tyranny or the rash implementation of policies detrimental to the public good.


Meme by Tara Ross,

Source: The Federalist Papers,


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