"I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love…" – George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

April 30, 2013


Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.


Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.


Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.


To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.


Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.


“The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745—1799,” edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (1931-44) Vol. 30, pp. 291-296

Oliver Ellsworth: statesman, naturalist, and Chief Justice

April 29, 2013

Jurist, statesman, and naturalist, Oliver Ellsworth was born in Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29, 1745, to parents determined to make him a minister. After studying under the Reverend Dr. Joseph Bellamy (1719/19-1790), he entered Yale College in 1762. Youthful pranks, however, proved his undoing and in 1764 he was dismissed. Entering Princeton, where no notable misbehavior marred his record, he graduated in 1766.


Law proving more attractive than the ministry, he studied first under Matthew Griswold (1714-1799), and then under Jesse Root (1736-1822). Admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1771, he opened a law office in Windsor. Election in 1773 as a deputy and in 1774 as a justice of the peace gave him entrée to political positions. Too poor to own a horse, he was forced to walk the twenty-mile round trip when the General Assembly and courts met. Hoping to enhance his status as a lawyer and public servant, he moved to Hartford.

In 1772, Ellsworth married Abigail Wolcott, the daughter of Abigail Abbot and William Wolcott, nephew of Connecticut colonial governor Roger Wolcott, and granddaughter of Abiah Hawley and William Wolcott of East Windsor, Connecticut. They had nine children including the twins William Wolcott Ellsworth, who married Noah Webster’s daughter, served in Congress and became the governor of Connecticut ; and Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, who became the first Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, the mayor of Hartford, president of Aetna Life Insurance and a large benefactor of Yale College.


Oliver and Abigail Ellsworth by Ralph Earl

The outbreak of the Revolution brought enlarged opportunities for public service, both in state and national capacities: on the committee of the pay table, 1775-1777; state’s attorney for Hartford County, 1777-1785; delegate to Congress, 1778-1783; deputy from Hartford, 1779; on the Council of Safety, 1779; assistant, 1780-1785; superior court judge, 1785-1789; delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention, 1787 and the ratifying convention, 1788; United States senator, 1788-1796; chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1796-1799; and commissioner to France, 1799-1800.

On May 28, 1787, Ellsworth joined the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia as a delegate from Connecticut along with Roger Sherman and William Samuel Johnson. More than half of the 55 delegates were lawyers, eight of whom, including both Ellsworth and Sherman, had previous experience as judges conversant with legal discourse. Ellsworth in particular played an important role in having participated in the exclusion of judicial review from the Constitution at the Convention.

Ellsworth took an active part in the proceedings beginning on June 20, when he proposed the use of the name the United States to identify the nation under the authority of the Constitution. The words “United States” had already been used in the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation as well as Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis. It was Ellsworth’s proposal to retain the earlier wording to sustain the emphasis on a federation rather than a single national entity. Three weeks earlier, on May 30, 1787, Edmund Randolph of Virginia had moved to create a “national government” consisting of a supreme legislative, an executive and a judiciary. Ellsworth accepted Randolph’s notion of a threefold division, but moved to strike the phrase “national government.” From this day forward the “United States” was the official title used in the Convention to designate the government, and this usage has remained in effect ever since. The complete name, “the United States of America,” had already been featured by Paine, and its inclusion in the Constitution was the work of Gouverneur Morris when he made the final editorial changes in the Constitution.

Ellsworth played a major role in the passage of the Connecticut Plan. During debate on the Great Compromise, often described as the Connecticut Compromise, he joined his fellow Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman in proposing the bicameral arrangement in which members of the Senate would be elected by state legislatures as indicated in Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution. Ellsworth’s version of the compromise was adopted by the Convention, but it was later revised by Amendment XVII substituting a popular vote similar to that used for the House of Representatives.

To gain the passage of the Connecticut Plan its proponents needed support of three southern states, Georgia and the two Carolinas, complementing the small state coalition of the North. It came as no surprise that Ellsworth favored the Three-Fifths Compromise on the enumeration of slaves and opposed the abolition of the foreign slave trade. Stressing that he had no slaves, Ellsworth spoke twice before the Convention, on August 21 and 22, in favor of slavery being abolished.

Along with James Wilson, John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, and Nathaniel Gorham, Ellsworth served on the Committee of Detail which prepared the first draft of the Constitution based on resolutions already passed by the Convention. All Convention deliberations were interrupted from July 26 to August 6, 1787, while the Committee of Detail completed its task. The two preliminary drafts that survive as well as the text of the Constitution submitted to the Convention were in the handwriting of Wilson or Randolph. However, Ellsworth’s role is made clear by his 53 contributions to the Convention as a whole from August 6 to 23, when he left for business reasons. As James Madison tabulated in his Records, only Madison and Gouverneur Morris spoke more than Ellsworth during those sixteen days.

Though Ellsworth left the Convention near the end of August and didn’t sign the final document, he wrote the Letters of a Landholder to promote its ratification. He also played a dominant role in Connecticut’s 1788 ratification convention, when he emphasized that judicial review guaranteed federal sovereignty. It seems more than a coincidence that both he and Wilson served as members of the Committee of Detail without mentioning judicial review in the initial draft of the Constitution, but then stressed its central importance at their ratifying conventions just a year preceding its inclusion by Ellsworth in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

Along with William Samuel Johnson, Ellsworth served as one of Connecticut’s first two United States senators in the new federal government, and his service extended from 1789 to 1796. During this period he played a dominant role in Senate proceedings equivalent to that of a Senate Majority Leaders in later decades. According to John Adams, he was “the firmest pillar of [Washington's] whole administration in the Senate.” Aaron Burr complained that if Ellsworth had misspelled the name of the Deity with two d’s, “it would have taken the Senate three weeks to expunge the superfluous letter.” Senator William Maclay, a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, offered a more hostile assessment: “He will absolutely say anything, nor can I believe he has a particle of principle in his composition,” and “I can in truth pronounce him one of the most uncandid men I ever knew possessing such abilities.” What seems to have bothered McClay the most was Ellsworth’s emphasis on private negotiations and tacit agreement rather than public debate. Significantly, there was no official record of Senate proceedings for the first five years of its existence, nor was there any provision to accommodate spectators. The arrangement was essentially the same as for the 1787 Convention, in contrast to the open sessions of the House of Representatives.


An engraving depicting Ellsworth

Ellsworth’s first project was the Judiciary Act, described as Senate Bill No. 1, which effectively supplemented Article III in the Constitution by establishing a hierarchical arrangement among state and federal courts. Years later Madison stated, “It may be taken for certain that the bill organizing the judicial department originated in his [Ellsworth's] draft, and that it was not materially changed in its passage into law.” Ellsworth himself probably wrote Section 25, the most important component of the Judiciary Act. This gave the Federal Supreme Court the power to veto state supreme court decisions supportive of state laws in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. All state and local laws accepted by state supreme courts could be appealed to the federal Supreme Court, which was given the authority, if it chose, to deny them for being unconstitutional. State and local laws rejected by state supreme courts could not be appealed in this manner; only the laws accepted by these courts could be appealed. This seemingly modest specification provided the federal government with its only effective authority over state government at the time. In effect, judicial review supplanted Congressional Review, which Madison had unsuccessfully proposed four times at the Convention to guarantee federal sovereignty. Granting the federal government this much authority was apparently rejected because its potential misuse could later be used to reject the Constitution at State Ratifying Conventions. Upon the completion of these conventions the previous year, Ellsworth was in the position to render the sovereignty of the federal government defensible, but through judicial review instead of congressional review.

Once the Judiciary Act was adopted by the Senate, Ellsworth sponsored the Senate’s acceptance of the Bill of Rights promoted by Madison in the House of Representatives. Significantly, Madison sponsored the Judiciary Act in the House at the same time. Combined, the Judiciary Act and Bill of Rights gave the Constitution the “teeth” that had been missing in the Articles of Confederation. Judicial Review guaranteed the federal government’s sovereignty, whereas the Bill of Rights guaranteed the protection of states and citizens from the misuse of this sovereignty by the federal government. The Judiciary Act and Bill of Rights thus counterbalanced each other, each guaranteeing respite from the excesses of the other. However, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1865, seventy-five years later, the Bill of Rights could be brought to bear at all levels of government as interpreted by the judiciary with final appeal to the Supreme Court. Needless to say, this had not been the original intention of either Madison or Ellsworth.

Ellsworth was the principal exponent in the Senate of Hamilton’s economic program, having served on at least four committees dealing with budgetary issues. `These issues included the passage of Hamilton’s plan for funding the national debt, the incorporation of the First Bank of the United States, and the bargain whereby state debts were assumed in return for locating the capital to the south (today the District of Columbia). Ellsworth’s other achievements included framing the measure that admitted North Carolina to the Union, devising the non-intercourse act that forced Rhode Island to join the union, and drawing up the bill to regulate the consular service. He also played a major role in convincing President Washington to send John Jay to England to negotiate the 1794 Jay Treaty that prevented warfare with England, settled debts between the two nations, and gave American settlers better access to the midwest.

On March 3, 1796, Ellsworth was nominated by President George Washington to be Chief Justice of the United States, the seat having been vacated by John Jay. (Jay’s replacement, John Rutledge, had been rejected by the Senate the previous December, and Washington’s next nominee, William Cushing, had declined the office in February.) The following day, Ellsworth was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission.

Ellsworth served until his resignation due to poor health on September 30, 1800, and his brief contribution was deservedly overshadowed by the accomplishments of his successor, John Marshall, who succeeded him in 1801. However, four cases the Ellsworth Court decided were of lasting importance in American jurisprudence. Hylton v. United States (1796) implicitly addressed the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review in upholding a federal carriage tax (although it would not be until John Marshall succeeded Ellsworth that the court addressed this issue head on); Hollingsworth v. Virginia (1798) affirmed that the President had no official role in amending the Constitution of the United States, and that a Presidential signature was therefore unnecessary for ratification of an amendment; Calder v. Bull (1798) held that the Constitution’s Ex post facto clause applied only to criminal, not civil, cases; and New York v. Connecticut was the first exercise by the court of its original jurisdiction in cases between two states.

Ellsworth’s chief legacy as Chief Justice, however, is his discouragement of the previous practice of seriatim opinion writing, in which each Justice wrote a separate opinion in the case and delivered that opinion from the bench. Ellsworth instead encouraged the consensus of the Court to be represented in a single written opinion, a practice which continues to the present day

Ellsworth was a candidate in the 1796 United States presidential election, receiving eleven votes in the electoral college, sharing with John Adams the distinction of gaining most votes in both New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

As United States Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of France, Ellsworth led a delegation there between 1799 and 1800 in order to settle differences with Napoleon’s government regarding restrictions on U.S. shipping that might otherwise have led to military conflict between the two nations. The agreement accepted by Ellsworth provoked indignation among Americans for being too generous to Napoleon. Moreover, Ellsworth came down with a severe illness resulting from his travel across the Atlantic (causing him to tender his resignation from the Supreme Court while still in Europe in 1800), and the Federalist party had fallen into disarray and was easily defeated by Republicans led by Jefferson. As a result, Ellsworth retired from national public life upon his return to America in early 1801. He was nevertheless able to serve again on the Connecticut Governor’s Council until he died in Windsor on November 26, 1807.


Although many erroneously believe that he is buried on the grounds of the Ellsworth Homestead in Windsor, Connecticut, his remains are in the Palisado Cemetery behind the First Congregational Church of Windsor overlooking the Farmington River.

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

James Monroe, The Last Founder

April 28, 2013

James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825). Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation.[1] His presidency was marked both by an “Era of Good Feelings” – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory. Monroe is most noted for his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which stated that the United States would not tolerate further European intervention in the Americas.

Born April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War. He was injured in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to his shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. As an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution, Monroe opposed ratification, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. Nonetheless, Monroe took an active part in the new government and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate of the first United States Congress, where he joined the Jeffersonians. He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence when as a diplomat in France he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Monroe was of French and Scottish descent.

During the War of 1812, Monroe held the critical roles of Secretary of State and the Secretary of War under President James Madison.[2] Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote and becoming the last president during the First Party System era of American politics. As president, he sought to ease partisan tensions and embarked on a tour of the country and was well received everywhere. As nationalism surged, partisan fury subsided and the “Era of Good Feelings” ensued until the Panic of 1819 struck and dispute over the admission of Missouri embroiled the country in 1820. Nonetheless, Monroe won near-unanimous reelection. In 1823, he announced the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy. His presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy and the Second Party System era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.


5th President of the United States

James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in a wooded area of Westmoreland County, Virginia. The site is marked and is one mile from what is known today as Monroe Hall, Virginia.

Monroe’s father, Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a moderately prosperous planter who also learned the carpentry trade. His mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe (1730–1774), married Spence Monroe in 1752. His paternal great-grandfather emigrated to America from Scotland in the mid-17th century. In 1650 Andrew Monroe patented a large tract of land in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia.[3]


Marker designating the site of James Monroe’s birthplace in Monroe Hall, Virginia

Monroe studied at Campbelltown Academy, a school run by the Reverend Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish, between the ages of 11 and 16. There he excelled as a prodigious pupil and progressed through Latin and mathematics at a rate faster than that of most boys his age. John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the United States, was among his classmates.

At the age of 16, Monroe inherited his father’s fortune. He also began forming a close relationship with his uncle, the influential Judge Joseph Jones, who had been educated at the Inns of Court in London and was the executor of his father’s estate. That same year, Monroe enrolled in the College of William and Mary. However in 1774, the atmosphere on the Williamsburg campus was not conducive to study, and the prospect of rebellion against King George charged most of the students, including Monroe, with patriotic fervor. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army.[4] In June 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Monroe joined 24 older men in raiding the arsenal at the Governor’s Palace. The 200 muskets and 300 swords they appropriated helped arm the Williamsburg militia. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the Continental army. He never returned to earn a degree.

Between 1780 and 1783, he studied law under Thomas Jefferson.[5][6] Monroe was not particularly interested in legal theory or practice, but chose to take it up because he felt that it offered “the most immediate rewards” and that it would place him on a path to wealth, social standing, and political influence.[6]

Although Andrew Jackson served as a courier in a militia unit at age thirteen, Monroe is regarded as the last U.S. President who was a Revolutionary War hero, since he served as an officer of the Continental Army and personally took part in combat.[7] He served with distinction at the Battle of Trenton, where he was shot in his left shoulder. He spent three months recuperating from his wound. In John Trumbull’s painting Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, Monroe can be seen lying wounded at left center of painting. In an even more famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Monroe is depicted holding the flag. Following his war service, he practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia.[8][9]


Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830), daughter of Laurence Kortright and Hannah Aspinwall Kortright, on February 16, 1786, in New York City. After a brief honeymoon on Long Island, the Monroes returned to New York to live with her father until Congress adjourned. The Monroes had the following children:

  • Eliza Monroe Hay (1786–1835) – married George Hay in 1808 and substituted as official White House host for her ailing mother.
  • James Spence Monroe (1799–1801) – his name is merely a speculation, as his grave reads “J.S. Monroe”, and not this name.
  • Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur (1803–1850) – married her cousin Samuel L. Gouverneur on March 8, 1820, in the first wedding of a president’s child in the White House.[10][11]

Monroe fulfilled his youthful dream of becoming the owner of a large plantation and wielding great political power, but his efforts in agriculture were never profitable. He sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics, and though he owned land and slaves and speculated in property he was rarely on-site to oversee the operation. Therefore the slaves were treated harshly to make them more productive and the plantations barely supported themselves if at all. His lavish lifestyle often necessitated selling property to pay debts.[12]

Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782. After serving for the Continental legislature he was elected to the Fourth Continental Congress in November 1783. He was also elected to and served in the Fifth and Sixth Congresses, serving for a total of three years where he finally retired from that office by the rule of rotation.[13]

In Virginia the struggle in 1788 over the ratification of the proposed new Constitution involved far more than a simple clash between federalists and anti-federalists. Virginians held a full spectrum of opinions about the merits of the proposed change in national government. George Washington and James Madison were leading supporters; Patrick Henry and George Mason were leading opponents. The central actors in the ratification fight were those who held the middle ground in the ideological struggle. Led by Monroe and Edmund Pendleton, these “federalists who are for amendments,” criticized the absence of a bill of rights and worried about surrendering taxation powers to the central government. Virginia ratified the Constitution in June 1788, largely because these men suspended their reservations and vowed to press for changes after the new government had been established.[14]

Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution and Monroe ran for a House seat in the 1st Congress but was defeated by Madison. In 1790 he was elected United States Senator. He soon joined the “Democratic-Republican” faction led by Jefferson and Madison and by 1791 was the party leader in the Senate.[15]

Monroe resigned his Senate seat after being appointed Minister to France in 1794.[16] As ambassador, Monroe secured the release of Thomas Paine when he was arrested for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI on the condition that he be sent to America.[17]

He managed to free all the Americans held in French prisons, including Madame Lafayette. He issued American passports for the Lafayette family, (since they had been granted citizenship), before she traveled to Lafayette’s place of imprisonment, in Olmutz.[18]

A strong friend of the French Revolution, Monroe tried to assure France that Washington’s policy of strict neutrality did not favor Britain. But American policy had come to favor Britain, and Monroe was stunned by the signing of the Jay Treaty in London. With France and Britain at war, the Jay Treaty alarmed and angered the French. Washington discharged Monroe from his office as Minister to France due to inefficiency, disruptive maneuvers, and failure to safeguard the interests of his country.[19]

Monroe had long been concerned about untoward foreign influence on the presidency. He was alarmed at Spanish diplomat Don Diego de Gardoqui who in 1785 tried to convince Congress to allow Spain to close the Mississippi River to American traffic for 30 years. Here Monroe saw Spain over-influencing the republic, which could have risked the loss of the Southwest or dominance of the Northeast.[20] Monroe placed faith in a strong presidency and the system of checks and balances. In the 1790s he fretted over an aging George Washington being too heavily influenced by close advisers like Alexander Hamilton who was too close to Britain. Monroe favored France and so opposed the Jay Treaty in 1795. He was humiliated when Washington criticized him for his support of revolutionary France while he was minister to France.[21] He saw foreign and Federalist elements in the genesis of the Quasi War of 1798–1800 and in efforts to keep Thomas Jefferson away from the presidency in 1801. As governor he considered using the Virginia militia to force the outcome in favor of Jefferson.[22] Federalists responded in kind, some seeing Monroe as at best a French dupe and at worst a traitor.[23]


Out of office, Monroe returned to practicing law in Virginia until elected governor there as a Republican, his first term serving from 1799 to 1802. He was reelected Virginia’s governor four times.[24] He called out the state militia to suppress Gabriel’s Rebellion. Gabriel and 26 other enslaved people who participated were all hanged for treason.

President Jefferson sent Monroe to France to assist Robert R. Livingston to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe was then appointed Minister to the Court of St. James (Britain) from 1803 to 1807. In 1806 he negotiated a treaty with Britain, known as the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty. It would extend the Jay Treaty of 1794 which had expired after ten years; Jefferson had fought the Jay Treaty intensely in 1794–95 because he felt it would allow the British to subvert American republicanism. The treaty had produced ten years of peace and highly lucrative trade for American merchants, but Jefferson was still hostile. When Monroe and the British signed a renewal in December 1806, Jefferson decided to reject it, and not submit it to the Senate. Although the new treaty called for ten more years of trade between the U.S. and the British Empire, and gave American merchants certain guarantees that would have been good for business, Jefferson refused to give up the potential weapon of commercial warfare against Britain and was unhappy that it did not end the hated British practice of impressment of American sailors. Jefferson did not attempt to obtain another treaty, and as a result, the two nations moved from peace toward the War of 1812.[25]

The Republican Party was increasingly factionalized with “Old Republicans” or “Quids” denouncing the Administration for abandoning true republican principles. The Quids, seeing that Monroe’s foreign policy had been rejected by Jefferson, tried to enlist Monroe in their cause. The plan was to run Monroe for president in the 1808 election in cooperation with the Federalist Party, which had a strong base in New England. John Randolph of Roanoke led the Quid effort to stop Jefferson’s choice of James Madison. However, the regular Republicans overcame the Quids, kept control of the party in Virginia, and protected Madison’s base. Monroe did not run and Madison was elected president.[26]

Monroe returned to the Virginia House of Delegates and was elected to another term as governor in 1811, but only served four months. He became Secretary of State in April of that year. He had little to do with the War of 1812, as President Madison and the War Hawks in Congress were dominant. The war went very badly, and when the British burned the capitol building on August 24, 1814, Madison removed John Armstrong as Secretary of War and turned to Monroe for help, appointing him Secretary of War on September 27.[27] Monroe resigned as Secretary of State on October 1, but no successor was ever appointed, so he continued doing the work. Thus from October 1, 1814, to February 28, 1815, Monroe effectively held both cabinet posts. Monroe formulated plans for an offensive invasion of Canada to win the war, but a peace treaty was ratified in February 1815, before any armies moved north. Monroe therefore resigned as Secretary of War on March 15, 1815 and was formally reappointed Secretary of State. Monroe stayed on at State until March 4, 1817, when he began his term as the new President of the United States.[2]


The congressional nominating caucus experienced little opposition during the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, but this situation changed in the election year of 1816. An indeterminate number of anti-Virginia Republicans, led by the New York delegation, objected to the caucus system along with the Federalists. Disorganization and failure to agree on William H. Crawford, Daniel Tompkins, Henry Clay or another possible contender weakened opposition to Monroe. The boycott by Virginia delegates of the March 12 caucus removed the chances of Monroe’s opponents, and he received the caucus nomination four days later.[28] With the Federalist Party in disarray due to the unpopularity of their opposition to the War of 1812, he was easily elected.[29] The Federalists did not even name a candidate, though Rufus King of New York did run in opposition to Monroe under the Federalist banner.[29] King carried only Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts and won only 34 of 217 electoral votes cast.[29]

The collapse of the Federalists left Monroe with no organized opposition at the end of his first term, and he ran for reelection unopposed,[29] the only president other than Washington to do so. A single elector from New Hampshire cast a vote for John Quincy Adams, preventing a unanimous vote in the electoral college.[29]


Monroe as he appears in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Monroe largely ignored old party lines in making appointments to lower posts, which reduced political tensions and enabled the “Era of Good Feelings”, which lasted through his administration. He made two long national tours in 1817 to build national trust. Frequent stops on these tours allowed innumerable ceremonies of welcome and expressions of good will. The Federalist Party continued to fade away during his administration; it maintained its vitality and organizational integrity in Delaware and a few localities, but was no longer a national factor. Lacking serious opposition, the Republican party’s Congressional caucus stopped meeting, and for practical purposes the Republican Party stopped operating.[30]

Monroe’s popularity was undiminished even when following difficult nationalist policies as the country’s commitment to nationalism was starting to show serious fractures. The Panic of 1819 caused a painful economic depression. The application for statehood in 1819 by the Missouri Territory as a slave state failed. An amended bill for gradually eliminating slavery in Missouri precipitated two years of bitter debate in Congress. The Missouri Compromise bill resolved the struggle, pairing Missouri as a slave state with Maine, a free state, and barring slavery north of latitude 36/30′ N forever. The Missouri Compromise lasted until 1857, when it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the Dred Scott decision.

Congress demanded high subsidies for internal improvements, such as for the improvement of the Cumberland Road, during Monroe’s presidency.[31] Monroe vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill, which provided for yearly improvements to the road, because he believed it to be unconstitutional for the government to have such a large hand in what was essentially a civics bill deserving of attention on a state by state basis. This defiance underlined Monroe’s populist ideals and added credit to the local offices that he was so fond of visiting on his speech tours.[32]

Monroe sparked a constitutional controversy when, in 1817, he sent General Andrew Jackson to move against Spanish Florida to pursue hostile Seminole Indians and punish the Spanish for aiding them. News of Jackson’s exploits ignited a congressional investigation of the 1st Seminole War. Dominated by Democratic-Republicans, the 15th Congress was generally expansionist and more likely to support the popular Jackson. Ulterior political agendas of many congressmen dismantled partisan and sectional coalitions, so that Jackson’s opponents argued weakly and became easily discredited. After much debate, the House of Representatives voted down all resolutions that condemned Jackson in any way, thus implicitly endorsing Monroe’s actions and leaving the issue surrounding the role of the executive with respect to war powers unanswered.[33]

Monroe believed that the Indians must progress from the hunting stage to become an agricultural people, noting in 1817, “A hunter or savage state requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it than is compatible with progress and just claims of civilised life.”[34] His proposals to speed up the assimilation process were ignored by Congress.[35]

Relations with Spain over the purchase of Spanish Florida proved to be troublesome, especially after General Andrew Jackson invaded that territory on what he believed to be the president’s authorization, which Monroe later denied giving. But largely through the skillful work of John Quincy Adams, a treaty was signed with Spain in 1819 that ceded Florida to the United States in return for the assumption of $5,000,000 in claims and the relinquishment of any claims to Texas.[36] Florida was ceded to the U.S. in 1821.


After the Napoleonic wars (which ended in 1815), almost all of Spain’s and Portugal’s colonies in Latin America revolted and declared independence. Americans welcomed this development as a validation of the spirit of Republicanism. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams suggested delaying formal recognition until Florida was secured. The problem of imperial invasion was intensified by a Russian claim to the Pacific coast down to the fifty-first parallel and simultaneous European pressure to have all of Latin America returned to its colonial status.

Monroe informed Congress in March 1822 that permanent stable governments had been established in the United Provinces of La Plata (present-day Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Adams, under Monroe’s supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers (ambassadors) to these new countries. They declared that the policy of the United States was to uphold republican institutions and to seek treaties of commerce on a most-favored-nation basis. The United States would support inter-American congresses dedicated to the development of economic and political institutions fundamentally differing from those prevailing in Europe. The articulation of an “American system” distinct from that of Europe was a basic tenet of Monroe’s policy toward Latin America. Monroe took pride as the United States was the first nation to extend recognition and to set an example to the rest of the world for its support of the “cause of liberty and humanity.”

Monroe formally announced in his message to Congress on December 2, 1823, what was later called the Monroe Doctrine. He proclaimed that the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries’ affairs. It further stated the United States’ intention to stay neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and their colonies, but to consider new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States.

Although it is Monroe’s most famous contribution to history, the speech was written by Adams, who designed the doctrine in cooperation with Britain.[37] Monroe and Adams realized that American recognition would not protect the new countries against military intervention to restore Spain’s power. In October 1823, Richard Rush, the American minister in London, advised that Foreign Secretary George Canning was proposing that the U.S. and Britain jointly declare their opposition to European intervention. Britain, with its powerful navy, also opposed re-conquest of Latin America and suggested that the United States join in proclaiming a “hands off” policy. Galvanized by the British initiative, Monroe consulted with American leaders and then formulated a plan with Adams. Ex-Presidents Jefferson and Madison counseled Monroe to accept the offer, but Adams advised, “It would be more candid … to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war.” Monroe accepted Adams’ advice. Not only must Latin America be left alone, he warned, but also Russia must not encroach southward on the Pacific coast. “…the American continents,” he stated, “by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.”

The Monroe Doctrine at the time of its adoption thus pertained more to the Russians in North America than to the former Spanish colonies. The result was a system of American isolationism under the sponsorship of the British navy. The Monroe Doctrine held that the United States considered the Western Hemisphere as no longer a place for European colonization; that any future effort to gain further political control in the hemisphere or to violate the independence of existing states would be treated as an act of hostility; and finally that there existed two different and incompatible political systems in the world. The United States, therefore, promised to refrain from intervention in European affairs and demanded Europe to abstain from interfering with American matters. There were few serious European attempts at intervention.[37]

Monroe made balanced Cabinet choices, naming a southerner, John C. Calhoun, as Secretary of War, and a northerner, John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State. Both proved outstanding, as Adams was a master diplomat[38] and Calhoun completely reorganized the War Department to overcome the serious deficiencies that hobbled it during the war of 1812.[39] Monroe decided on political grounds not to offer Henry Clay the State Department, and Clay turned down the War Department and remained Speaker of the House, so Monroe lacked an outstanding westerner in his cabinet.

Monroe appointed one Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, Smith Thompson. He appointed 21 other federal judges, all to United States district courts, as no vacancies occurred on the one circuit court existing at the time.


Monroe once owned a farm at the location of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

When his presidency ended on March 4, 1825, James Monroe resided at Monroe Hill on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This university’s modern campus was Monroe’s family farm from 1788 to 1817, but he had sold it in the first year of his presidency to the new college. He served on the college’s Board of Visitors under Jefferson and then under the second rector and another former President James Madison, almost until his death.

Monroe had racked up many debts during his years of public life. As a result, he was forced to sell off his Highland Plantation (now called Ash Lawn-Highland; it is owned by his alma mater, the College of William and Mary, which has opened it to the public). Throughout his life, he was not financially solvent, and his wife’s poor health made matters worse.[40]

For these reasons, he and his wife lived in Oak Hill, Virginia, until Elizabeth’s death on September 23, 1830. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams, were guests of the Monroes there.[41]

Upon Elizabeth’s death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur in the White House. Monroe’s health began to slowly fail by the end of the 1820′s and John Quincy Adams visited him there in April 1831.[42] Adams found him alert and eager to discuss the situation in Europe, but in ill health. Adams cut the visit short when he thought he was tiring Monroe.

Monroe died there from heart failure and tuberculosis on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row who died on Independence Day, July 4. His death came 55 years after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and 5 years after the death of two other Founding Fathers who became Presidents: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Monroe was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family’s vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery. Twenty-seven years later in 1858 the body was re-interred to the President’s Circle at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The James Monroe Tomb is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


Statue of Monroe at Ash Lawn-Highland

“When it comes to Monroe’s thoughts on religion,” Bliss Isely notes, “less is known than that of any other President.” No letters survive in which he discussed his religious beliefs. Nor did his friends, family or associates comment on his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written after the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion.[43]

Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia before the Revolution. As an adult, he frequently attended Episcopalian churches, though there is no record he ever took communion. He has been classified by some historians as a Deist because he used deistic language to refer to an impersonal God.[44] Unlike Jefferson, Monroe was rarely attacked as an atheist and infidel for his deistic views. An exception came in 1832 when James Renwick Willson, a Reformed Presbyterian minister in Albany, New York, criticized Monroe for having “lived and died like a second-rate Athenian philosopher.”[45]

As Secretary of State, Monroe dismissed Mordecai Manuel Noah from his post as consul to Tunis in 1815, for the apparent reason that he was Jewish.[46] Noah protested and gained letters from Adams, Jefferson, and Madison supporting church-state separation and tolerance for Jews.[47]

Monroe owned dozens of slaves, and according to William Seale, took some of his slaves to serve him when he resided at the White House from 1817 to 1825; this was not unique, as other slave owning presidents also had the custom of bringing their slaves to work for them since there was no domestic staff provided for the presidents at that time.[48]

On October 15, 1799, some slave traders attempted to transport a group of slaves from Southampton to Georgia when the slaves revolted and killed the slave traders.[49] According to Scheer’s article on the subject, a nearby slave patrol responded and killed ten slaves on the spot in extra judicial killings without the benefit of trial. Of the initial group, there were five men taken alive. They were tried in an oyer and terminer court without the benefit of a jury,[50] and four were convicted (the fifth pleaded benefit of clergy and was flogged and branded). Governor Monroe postponed their executions to check their identities, granting a pardon to one, and allowing two to hang, while the other died in jail from exposure to the cold. Scheer’s argument is that Monroe “help[ed] secure a modicum of civil protection for slaves sentenced to death for capital crimes.”[51]

When Monroe was Governor of Virginia in 1800, hundreds of slaves from Virginia intended to kidnap Governor Monroe, take Richmond, and negotiate for their freedom. Due to a storm on August 30, they were unable to attack. This is known as Gabriel’s slave conspiracy.[52]

In response, Governor Monroe called out the militia; the slave patrols soon captured some slaves accused of involvement. Sidbury says some trials had a few measures to prevent abuses like an appointed attorney, but were “hardly ‘fair’”. Slave codes prevented slaves from being treated like whites, and had quick trials without a jury.[53] Governor Monroe influenced the Executive Council to pardon and sell some slaves instead of hanging them.[54] Nonetheless, historians say the Virginia courts executed between 26 and 35 slaves. None of the executed slaves actually killed any whites because the uprising had been foiled before it could begin.[49]

As president of Virginia’s constitutional convention in the fall of 1829, Monroe reiterated his belief that slavery was a blight which, even as a British colony, Virginia had attempted to eradicate. “What was the origin of our slave population?” he rhetorically asked. “The evil commenced when we were in our Colonial state, but acts were passed by our Colonial Legislature, prohibiting the importation, of more slaves, into the Colony. These were rejected by the Crown.” To the extreme chagrin of states’ rights proponents, he was even willing to accept the federal government’s financial assistance in emancipating and deporting the slaves. At the convention, Monroe made his final public statement on slavery, proposing that Virginia emancipate and deport its bondsmen with “the aid of the Union.”[55]

Monroe was part of the African Colonization Society formed in 1816, which included members like Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. These men were not abolitionists, but they did find common ground with some abolitionists who supported colonization, and together they helped send several thousand freed slaves to Africa from 1820 to 1840. The concern slave owners like Monroe and Jackson had was to prevent free blacks from influencing slaves to rebel in southern states. With about $100,000 in Federal grant money, the organization also bought land for those people in what is today Liberia.[56] The capital of Liberia was named Monrovia after him.[57]

During his years of service in the U.S. Government James Monroe was noted for a number of famous quotes. Some of the more notable ones are listed below:

  • “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.” [58]
  • “Peace and good will have been, and will hereafter be, cultivated with all, and by the most faithful regard to justice. They have been dictated by a love of peace, of economy, and an earnest desire to save the lives of our fellow-citizens from that destruction and our country from that devastation which are inseparable from war when it finds us unprepared for it.”[59]
  • “The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”[60]
  • “Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.” [59]
  • “Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it is in the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist, they ought to be ascertained and guarded against.” [59]
  • “The earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort.” [59]
  • “We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.”


Monroe Hall at the University of Virginia; Monroe once owned the land on which the university sits.

  • Monroe Hall, a freshman dormitory in Presidents Park at George Mason University is named after him
  • Monroe Hall, an academic building at the George Washington University is named after him
  • The City of Monroe, Michigan is also named for him.
  • James Monroe High School in Los Angeles, California is named after him.
  • Monroe County, PA, created in 1836, is named for him.
  • The City of Monroe, Georgia, incorporated in 1821, is named for him.


First Monroe Postage stamp, Issue of 1904


  • Monroe was the last U.S. President to wear a powdered wig tied in a queue, a tricorne and knee breeches according to the old fashioned style of the eighteenth century.[61][62]
  • Monroe served two full terms, succeeding James Madison who served two full terms, who succeeded Thomas Jefferson who served two full terms. He would be the last two-term President to succeed another two-term President until George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton nearly 200 years later. Moreover, Bush and Clinton belonged to rival political parties, whereas Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were in the same party, and Madison and Monroe had each served in their predecessors’ cabinets, making Monroe the last two-term president to succeed a member of the same party.
  • Monroe was the last president who had never been photographed and whose portraits are preserved today only on paintings.[63]


  • Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. (1971, 2nd ed. 1990). 706 pp. standard scholarly biography excerpt and text search
  • Ammon, Harry. “James Monroe” in Henry F. Graff ed., The Presidents: A Reference History (1997)
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949), the standard history of Monroe’s foreign policy.
  • Cresson, William P. James Monroe (1946). 577 pp. good scholarly biography
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Presidency of James Monroe. 1996. 246 pp. standard scholarly survey
  • Dangerfield, George. Era of Good Feelings (1953) excerpt and text search
  • Dangerfield, George. The Awakening of American Nationalism: 1815–1828 (1965) standard scholarly survey excerpt and text search
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995). most advanced analysis of the politics of the 1790s. online edition
  • Heidler, David S. “The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War,” Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530. in JSTOR
  • Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, 1754–1829 (2005), 1600 pp.
  • Gilman, Daniel Coit. James Monroe (1911) 312 pages; old barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Hart, Gary. James Monroe (2005) superficial, short, popular biography
  • Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (2007), Pulitzer Prize; a sweeping interpretation of the entire era
  • Holmes, David L. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, May 2006, online version
  • Kranish, Michael. “At Capitol, slavery’s story turns full circle”, The Boston Globe, Boston, December 28, 2008.
  • May, Ernest R. The Making of the Monroe Doctrine (1975), argues it was issued to influence the outcome of the presidential election of 1824.
  • Morgan, George. The Life of James Monroe (1921) 484 pages; old and barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812–1823 (1964)
  • Perkins, Dexter. The Monroe Doctrine, 1823–1826 (1927), the standard monograph about the origins of the doctrine.
  • Powell, Walter & Steinberg, Richard. The nonprofit sector: a research handbook, Yale, 2006, pg 40.
  • Renehan Edward J., Jr. The Monroe Doctrine: The Cornerstone of American Foreign Policy (2007)
  • Scherr, Arthur. “James Monroe and John Adams: An Unlikely ‘Friendship’”. The Historian 67#3 (2005) pp. 405+. online edition
  • Skeen, Carl Edward. 1816: America Rising (1993) popular history
  • Scherr, Arthur. “James Monroe on the Presidency and ‘Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson’s Election (1801).” Mid-America 2002 84(1–3): 145–206. ISSN 0026-2927.
  • Scherr, Arthur. “Governor James Monroe and the Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799.” Historian 1999 61(3): 557–578. ISSN 0018-2370 Full text online in SwetsWise and Ebsco.
  • Styron, Arthur. The Last of the Cocked Hats: James Monroe and the Virginia Dynasty (1945). 480 pp. thorough, scholarly treatment of the man and his times.
  • Unger, Harlow G.. “The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness” (2009), a new biography.
  • White, Leonard D. The Jeffersonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1801–1829 (1951), explains the operation and organization of federal administration
  • Whitaker, Arthur P. The United States and the Independence of Latin America (1941)
  • Wilmerding, Jr., Lucius, James Monroe: Public Claimant (1960) A study regarding Monroe’s attempts to get reimbursement for personal expenses and losses from his years in public service after his Presidency ended.
  • Wood, Gordon S. Empire of Liberty: A history of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)


  • Monroe, James. The Political Writings of James Monroe. ed. by James P. Lucier, (2002). 863 pp.
  • Writings of James Monroe, edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., 7 vols. (1898–1903) online edition at books.google.com


  1. Harlow Unger, James Monroe: The Last Founding Father (2009).
  2. Hart, Gary, ‘James Monroe’ (2005), p.68
  3. Harry Ammon, James Monroe: the quest for national identity (1990) p. 577
  4. Ammon, James Monroe pp 3-8
  5. Holmes, David R. (2006). The faiths of the founding fathers. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-19-530092-0.
  6. Pessen, Edward (1984). The Log Cabin Myth: The Social Backgrounds of the Presidents. Yale University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-300-03166-1.
  7. “Presidential Trivia”. Vernonkids.com. http://www.vernonkids.com/cedarmountain/4thgradelinks/President%20Trivia/Presidential%20Trivia.htm
  8. “James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library | James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library Home Page”. Umw.edu. http://www.umw.edu/jamesmonroemuseum/default.php
  9. “Homes Of Virginia – James Monroe’s Law Office”. Oldandsold.com. http://www.oldandsold.com/articles11/virginia-homes-13.shtml
  10. “How many wedding ceremonies have been held at the White House?”. While House History web site. The White House Historical Association. http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_history/history_faqs-06.html
  11. Doug Wead (2008). “Murder at the Wedding Maria Hester Monroe”. http://www.whitehouseweddings.com/murder.htm. Retrieved March 13, 2011. Excerpt from All The President’s Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America’s First Families. Simon and Schuster. 2004. ISBN 978-074344633-4.
  12. Gerard W. Gawalt, “James Monroe, Presidential Planter,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1993 101(2): 251–272
  13. Morgan, George, The life of James Monroe, (1921) p.94
  14. Jon Kukla, “A Spectrum of Sentiments: Virginia’s Federalists, Antifederalists, and ‘Federalists Who Are for Amendments,’ 1787–1788,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1988 96(3): 276–296.
  15. Harry Ammon, James Monroe (1971) p. 89
  16. “MONROE, James – Biographical Information”. United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000858
  17. Morgan, George (1921), ‘The life of James Monroe’, p.75
  18. Ammon, James Monroe pp 137–8
  19. Herbert E. Klingelhofer, “George Washington Discharges Monroe for Incompetence,” Manuscripts 1965 17(1): 26–34
  20. Ammon, James Monroe pp 55–56
  21. Ammon, James Monroe p. 151
  22. Ammon, James Monroe p. 193
  23. Arthur Scherr, “James Monroe on the Presidency and ‘Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson’s Election (1801).” Mid-America 2002 84(1–3): 145–206
  24. Morgan, George, ‘The life of James Monroe’, p.xvi
  25. Alan Axelrod, Profiles in Folly: History’s Worst Decisions and Why They Went Wrong (2008) p. 154
  26. David A. Carson, “Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808,” Mid-America 1988 70(2): 79–89
  27. Hart, Gary, ‘James Monroe’ (2005), p.52
  28. William G. Morgan, “The Congressional Nominating Caucus of 1816: the Struggle Against the Virginia Dynasty,” Virginia Magazine of History & Biography 1972 80(4): 461–475
  29. “America President: James Monroe: Campaigns and Elections”. Miller Center of Public Affairs. http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/monroe/essays/biography/3
  30. Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., ed. History of U.S. political parties: Volume 1 (1973) pp. 24–25, 267
  31. “The administration of James Monroe.” Bancroft, Hubert H., ed. (1902). “The Great Republic by the Master Historians”. http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/The_Great_Republic_By_the_Master_Historians_Vol_III/jamesmonr_bd.html.
  32. “Cumberland Road”. Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers. 1899. http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy338.html.
  33. David S. Heidler, “The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War.” Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530.
  34. Francis Paul Prucha, The great father: the United States government and the American Indians (1986) p. 65
  35. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 536–40
  36. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 409–48
  37. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 476–92
  38. Samuel Flagg Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the foundations of American foreign policy, (1944) pp 244–61
  39. Charles Maurice Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nationalist, 1782–1828 (1944) pp 142–53
  40. “Ashlawn website”. Ashlawnhighland.org. http://www.ashlawnhighland.org
  41. Auguste Levasseur. Alan R. Hoffman. ed. Lafayette in America. p. 549.
  42. Jon Meacham. American Lion. p. 181.
  43. Bliss Isely, The Presidents: Men of Faith (2006) p 99-107, quote on p 105
  44. Holmes, David L. (Autumn 2003). “The Religion of James Monroe”. Virginia Quarterly Review 79 (4): 589–606. http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2003/autumn/holmes-religion-james-monroe/
  45. “Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion Over All Governments”. Covenanter.org. http://www.covenanter.org/JRWillson/princemessiah.htm
  46. Bassett, Charles Walker; Maisel, Louis Sandy; Forman, Ira N.; Altschiller, Donald (2001). Jews in American politics. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 0-7425-0181-7.
  47. Richard H. Popkin, “Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to Mordecai Noah,” American Book Collector 1987 8(6): 9–11
  48. Kranish, Michael. “At Capitol, slavery’s story turns full circle”, The Boston Globe, Boston, December 28, 2008.
  49. Aptheker, Herbert (1993). American Negro Slave Revolts (6th ed.). New York: International Publishers. pp. 219–225. ISBN 978-0717806058. http://books.google.com/books?id=PkCwK3Uv71IC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA219#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  50. Sidbury, James. “Ploughshares into swords: race, rebellion, and identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730–1810. “, Cambridge, 1997, pg 128.
  51. Scheer, Arthur. “Governor James Monroe and Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799″, The Historian, Vol. 61, 1999, available on Questia
  52. Rodriguez, Junius. “Slavery in the United States: a social, political, and historical encyclopedia”, , Santa Barbara, 2007, pg 428.
  53. Sidbury, James. “Ploughshares into swords: race, rebellion, and identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730–1810. “, Cambridge, 1997, pg 127–128.
  54. Morris, Thomas. ” Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619–1860 “, 1996, pg 272.
  55. Ammon, 1990, pp 563–66
  56. Powell & Steinberg . “The nonprofit sector: a research handbook”, Yale, 2006, pg 40.
  57. Ammon, 1990, pp 522–23
  58. Ammon, Harry, ‘James Monroe, the quest for national identity’, (1990), p.177
  59. Great Presidential Quotes. “Great Presidential Quotes”. Great Presidential Quotes. http://www.greatpresidentialquotes.com/index.php?set=details&id=5&page=1
  60. “James Monroe Quotes”. Brainyquote.com. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_monroe.html
  61. Digital History, Steven Mintz. “Digital History”. Digitalhistory.uh.edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=567
  62. Real Life at the White House: 200 … – Google Knihy. Books.google.cz. May 3, 2002. ISBN 9780415939515. http://books.google.com/?id=p1unoHtahSsC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=James+Monroe++in+wig&q=James%20Monroe%20%20in%20wig
  63. “Presidents of the United States (POTUS)”. Ipl.org. http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/jqadams.html.

Dabney Carr, nephew of Thomas Jefferson

April 27, 2013

Dabney Carr was born on April 27, 1773, at Spring Forest, a Goochland County, Virginia, plantation just three weeks before the death of his father, also named Dabney Carr, brother-in-law and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson took an active role in the support and education of his nephew after his father’s death. He attended Hampden-Sydney College and returned home to study law with William Wirt, who was just one year older. The two men remained friends for the rest of their lives. An extensive collection of their letters can be found in the Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr, 1826. Library of Congress

He married his paternal cousin, Elizabeth Carr in June of 1802.

Carr started practice in Albemarle County and, in 1811, became Chancellor of the Winchester District. Using the pseudonym Obediah Squaretoes, Carr contributed an article to William Wirt’s The Old Bachelor (1814). In 1824, he was elected a judge of the Court of Appeals and held this office until his death on January 8, 1837.


He is interred in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

His nephew, Dabney Smith Carr, was a newspaper publisher and later was U.S. Minister to Turkey (1843–49).


John Patten, Delaware soldier and politician

April 26, 2013

Major John Patten was an American farmer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was an officer of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman, and a member of the Jeffersonian Republican Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as U.S. Representative from Delaware.


Patten was born on April 26, 1746, at Tynhead Court, near Dover, Delaware, son of John Patten and Ann Maxwell. This property was on the present Dover Air Force Base, near the farms of Caesar Rodney and John Dickinson. He was a farmer, who after the American Revolution married Ann Haslet, daughter of the first Colonel of the 1st Delaware Regiment, John Haslet. She died soon thereafter, and he married Mary Miller Loockerman, daughter of the Rev. John Miller and widow of Vincent Loockerman.

Patten was commissioned a first lieutenant in Captain John Caldwell’s 2nd Company of the 1st Delaware Regiment at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. He was soon promoted to captain of the 1st Company and in February 1779 and was promoted to the rank of major. He fought in every major battle from the Battle of Long Island until the Battle of Camden, where the Delaware Regiment suffered grievous losses, and he was taken prisoner. Paroled in 1781, after the fighting was over, he is said to have walked home alone in rags from Charleston, South Carolina.

Patten was elected in 1785 to the State House or House of Assembly, as it was then known, and represented Kent County, during the 1785/86 session. At the same time he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1785 and served there one year. He won a closely contested election to the U.S. House in 1792 and took his seat in the U.S. House on March 4, 1793. However, Henry Latimer, the Federal candidate contested the election, claiming that many ballots were invalid because they were filled out incorrectly. After a lengthy study the Federalist majority in the U.S. House voted on February 14, 1794 to invalidate enough ballots to award the seat to Latimer. A few months later Patten again defeated Latimer, and this time served the whole term, from March 4, 1795 until March 3, 1797. Brought out of political retirement in 1800, Patten was defeated for the U.S. House seat by the incumbent Federalist James A. Bayard.

Patten died at his home, Tynhead Court, near Dover, on December 26, 1800, and is buried in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery, which is at Dover, on the grounds of the Delaware State Museum. He had a home on the north side of Front Street, between Orange and Tattnall Streets in Wilmington, Delaware, but was always a legal resident of Kent County. He was active in the Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Lyceum of Delaware.


  1. election successfully contested and seat awarded to Henry Latimer


  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress: The House of Representatives, Vol. One 1789-1900. Newark: Roger A. Martin. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark: Roger A. Martin.
  • Munroe, John A. (2004). The Philadelawareans. Newark: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-872-8.
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick: Rutgers University.
  • Ward, Christopher (1941). The Delaware Continentals. Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware. ISBN 0-924117-21-4.
  • Wilson, W. Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, MA: Deltos Publishing Company.

Gunpowder Incident

April 25, 2013

The Gunpowder Incident (or Gunpowder Affair) was a conflict early in the American Revolutionary War between Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, and militia led by Patrick Henry. On April 20, 1775, one day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and well before news of that event reached Virginia, Lord Dunmore ordered the removal of the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia to a Royal Navy ship.

This action sparked local unrest, and militia companies began mustering throughout the colony. Patrick Henry led a small militia force toward Williamsburg to force return of the gunpowder to the colony’s control. The matter was resolved without conflict when a payment of £330 was made to Henry. Dunmore, fearing for his personal safety, later retreated to a naval vessel, ending royal control of the colony.


The powder magazine in Williamsburg from which the gunpowder was removed

Military tensions began to rise in the British colonies of North America in 1774 when a series of legislative acts by the British Parliament known as the Intolerable Acts began to be implemented in the colonies. The colonies, in solidarity with the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which had been singled out for punishment by those acts in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, had organized a Congress to meet in September 1774.[1] During the meeting of the First Continental Congress word arrived of a militia uprising in Massachusetts that became known as the Powder Alarm. In early September, General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Massachusetts, had removed gunpowder from a powder magazine in Charlestown (in a location now in Somerville), and militia from all over New England had flocked to the area in response to false rumors that violence had been involved.[2][3] One consequence of this action was that the Congress called for the colonies to organize militia companies for their defense.[3] Another was that Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, advised the colonial governors to secure their military supplies, and prohibited importation of further supplies of powder.[4]

In early 1775, Virginians began to organize militia companies and seek out military supplies (weapons, ammunition, and gunpowder) to arm and equip them. Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s royal governor, saw this rising unrest in his colony and sought to deprive Virginia militia of these supplies.[4] It was not until after Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at the Second Virginia Convention on March 23 that Dunmore “[thought] it prudent to remove some Gunpowder which was in a Magazine in this place.”[5] Although British Army troops had been withdrawn from Virginia in the wake of the Powder Alarm, there were several Royal Navy ships in the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay. On April 19, Lord Dunmore quietly brought a company of British sailors into Williamsburg and quartered them in the governor’s mansion. Dunmore then ordered Captain Henry Collins, commander of HMS Magdalen, to remove the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg.[6]


Drawing of the octagonal Williamsburg Magazine

On the night of April 20, royal marines went to the Williamsburg powder magazine, loaded fifteen half barrels of powder into the governor’s wagon, and transported it to the eastern end of the Quarterpath Road to be loaded aboard the Magdalen in the James River. The act was discovered by townsfolk while underway, and they sounded an alarm. Local militia rallied to the scene, and riders spread word of the incident across the colony. Dunmore had as a precaution armed his servants with muskets, and it was only the calming words of Patriot leaders, including the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Peyton Randolph, that prevented the assembling crowd from storming Dunmore’s mansion.[6] The city council demanded the return of the powder, claiming it was the property of the colony and not the Crown. Dunmore demurred, stating that he was moving the powder as protection against its seizure during a rumored slave uprising, and would eventually return it. This seemed to satisfy the assembled crowd, and it dispersed peacefully.[7]

Unrest however persisted in Williamsburg and spread throughout the countryside. After a second crowd was convinced to disperse by Patriot leaders, Dunmore reacted angrily, warning on April 22 that if attacked, he would “declare Freedom to the Slaves, and reduce the City of Williamsburg to Ashes.”[6] He also told a Williamsburg alderman that he had “once fought for the Virginians” but “By God, I would let them see that I could fight against them.”[8]


Patrick Henry, portrait by George Bagby Matthews c. 1891 after an original by Thomas Sully

By April 29, militia mobilizing in the countryside had learned of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Nearly 700 men mustered at Fredericksburg, and decided to send a messenger to Williamsburg to assess the situation before marching on the capital. Peyton Randolph advised against violence, and George Washington, a longtime leader of the Virginia militia, concurred. In response to their advice, the Fredericksburg militia voted by a narrow margin not to march.[9] However, militia from other parts of the colony did march to Williamsburg. The Hanover County militia, led by Patrick Henry, voted on May 2 to march on Williamsburg. Henry dispatched a small company to the home of Richard Corbin, who was the Deputy Collector of the Royal Revenue in Virginia, in a bid to force him to pay for the powder from Crown revenue in his possession; the remainder of the Hanover County militia, numbering about 150, marched toward Williamsburg, arriving about 15 miles away on May 3.[10] That day Dunmore’s family escaped Williamsburg to Porto Bello, Lord Dunmore’s hunting lodge on the York River, and from there to the HMS Fowey, lying at anchor in the York River.[11]

Corbin was not at home—he was in Williamsburg, meeting with Dunmore.[10] Henry was advised by Carter Braxton, Corbin’s son-in-law and a Patriot member of the House of Burgesses, not to enter the city, while Braxton rode into the city and negotiated a payment.[12] The next day, May 4, Henry received a bill of exchange for £330 signed by a wealthy plantation owner, as payment for the powder (he refused the offer of payment from Crown accounts).[9] Henry then departed to take his place as a member of Virginia’s delegation to the Second Continental Congress, promising to deliver the money to “the Virginia Delegates at the General congress”.[13] On May 6 Dunmore issued a proclamation charging Henry with extortion of the £330, and forbidding the citizenry to assist Henry in any way.[9] Henry was offered protection by several counties, and was escorted by several companies of militia to the Maryland border as he made his way to Philadelphia.[12]

The incident burnished Henry’s reputation while worsening Dunmore’s popularity.[12][14] Although his family briefly returned to Williamsburg on May 12 as a sign of good faith, relations between Dunmore and the House of Burgesses continued to deteriorate. On June 8, Dunmore and his family fled the governor’s mansion in the middle of the night and took up residence aboard the Fowey.[15] The Burgesses had been deliberating the Conciliatory Resolution, a proposal that was an attempt by the North Ministry to divide the colonies. In the wake of Dunmore’s flight, the Burgesses rejected the proposal.[16]

Dunmore continued to make vigorous attempts to regain control of the colony, but after a decisive defeat of British forces at Great Bridge in December, he was reduced to raiding operations and eventually abandoned the colony for good in August 1776.[17] Virginia’s government was first taken over by a Committee of Safety, chosen by the Third Virginia Convention in July 1775; Patrick Henry became the independent state’s first governor in July 1776.[18]


  1. Russell, pp. 45–46
  2. Richmond, p. 6
  3. Russell, p. 48
  4. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 1
  5. Williamson, p. 54
  6. Russell, p. 52
  7. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 2
  8. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 3
  9. Russell, p. 53
  10. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 4
  11. Kibler, J. Luther (April 1931). “Numerous Errors in Wilstach’s ‘Tidewater Virginia’ Challenge Criticism”. The William and Mary Quarterly, 2nd Ser. (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 11 (2): 152–156. doi:10.2307/1921010. JSTOR 1921010.
  12. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 5
  13. Vaughan, p. 88
  14. Vaughan, p. 89
  15. Selby and Higginbotham, pp. 41–43
  16. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 44
  17. Russell, pp. 68–76
  18. Selby and Higginbotham, pp. 52,121


  • Richmond, Robert P (1971). Powder Alarm 1774. Princeton, NJ: Auerbach. ISBN 9780877690733. OCLC 162197.
  • Russell, David Lee (2000). The American Revolution in the Southern colonies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 9780786407835. OCLC 248087936. http://books.google.com/?id=5DFy0eWaPxIC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72.
  • Selby, John E; Higginbotham, Don (2007). The Revolution in Virginia, 1775–1783. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. ISBN 9780879352332. OCLC 124076712. http://books.google.com/books?id=WfCBYZs_jIMC&pg=PA62.
  • Vaughan, David (1997). Give Me Liberty: the Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing. ISBN 9781888952223. OCLC 36372369.

Major Henry Latimer, Revolutionary War "Flying Hospital" mobile surgical unit

April 24, 2013

Dr. Henry Latimer was a physician and politician from Newport, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was elected to the Continental Congress from Delaware, and was a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as U.S. Representative from Delaware, and U.S. Senator from Delaware.


Latimer was born April 24, 1752 in Newport, Delaware, son of James Latimer, Sr. and Sarah Geddes. His father was a wealthy grain shipper and politician, who was a member of the House of Assembly in the 1778-79 session and a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution on December 7, 1787. Latimer’s brother, George, also served in the House of Assembly from the 1779-80 session through the 1781-82 session. Later he moved to Philadelphia where he became Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1794.

Latimer studied medicine, and attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia and graduated in 1770, going to Edinburgh College in Scotland in 1775 to complete his education. Returning in the midst of the American Revolution, he served in the “Flying Hospital,” a mobile surgical unit of the Continental Army. He was at the Battle of Brandywine and continued through the end of the war.

Elected to the Continental Congress on April 8, 1784, Latimer never attended the session that spring in Annapolis, Maryland and was replaced. Like his father and brother, he was elected to the House of Assembly and served from the 1787-88 session through the 1790-91 session. He was the Speaker in that last session.

Latimer lost the 1792 election for the U.S. House to Major John Patten by thirty votes, but contested Patton’s election to the U.S. House. The Federalist majority there reviewed the ballots cast, and based on a confusing law requiring the names of two candidates on the ballot, disqualified enough of Patton’s votes to award the seat to Latimer. Amidst considerable bitterness, he was seated February 14, 1794. After once again losing an election to Patten in 1794, Latimer resigned from the U.S. House on February 7, 1795 when he was elected by the Delaware General Assembly to the disputed and long vacant U.S. Senate seat of retired U.S. Senator George Read. After finishing Read’s term, he was reelected in 1796, and served until February 28, 1801, when he also resigned. Some believe that the reason for his resignation was that he was unhappy over the tactics of his political opponents who were still bitter over the circumstances of the contested election in 1792.

At various times Latimer was a member of the Wilmington Academy board, director of the Bank of Delaware, president of the First Agricultural Society of New Castle County, and president of the Board of Trustees of Newark College. He was a charter member of the Delaware Medical Society.

Latimer died December 19, 1819 at Philadelphia and was buried first in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Wilmington. This cemetery is now the location of the Wilmington Institute Library and his remains were then moved to the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery.


Even though he was a physician and a Presbyterian, Latimer was a member of a prominent and well-to-do merchant family and was very much in agreement with the prevailing Federalist positions on such controversial issues as the Jay Treaty and other measures of the Adams administration. The burgeoning party of Thomas Jefferson, now known as the Democratic-Republicans, was increasingly popular and vocal in heavily Irish and “Country Party” New Castle County, and they never seemed to forgive him his apparent theft of the 1792 congressional election. Consequently, upon celebrating election victories in 1802, they fired cannon, loaded with potatoes and herring, in mock salute to Latimer, remembering his reputed statement that “the laboring classes lived too well to be happy and should be reduced to the fare of the Irish.” [2]


  1. this seat was vacant from September 18, 1793 until February 7, 1795.
  2. Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
  3. contested election, seated February 14, 1794, resigned February 7, 1795
  4. elected to fill vacancy, February 7, 1795


  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin.
  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress. Middletown, DE: Roger A. Martin. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
  • Wilson, W. Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, MA: Deltos Publishing Company.

William Williams, signer of the Declaration of Independence

April 23, 2013

The family of William Williams is said to have been originally from Wales. A branch of it came to America in the year 1630, and settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His grandfather, who bore the same name, was the minister of Hatfield, Massachusetts; and his father, Solomon Williams, D. D. was the minister of a parish in Lebanon, where he was settled fifty-four years. Solomon Williams, the father, married a daughter of Colonel Porter, of Hadley, by whom he had five sons and three daughters. The sons were all liberally educated. Of these, Eliphalet was settled, as a minister of the gospel, in East-Hartford, where be continued to officiate for about half a century. Ezekiel was sheriff of the county of Hartford for more than thirty years; he died a few years since at Wethersfield, leaving behind him a character distinguished for energy and enterprise, liberality and benevolence.

William Williams, the subject of this memoir, was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on the April 8, 1731. [Some sources list his birth date as April 23, 1731.] At the age of sixteen, he entered Harvard college. During his collegiate course, he was distinguished for a diligent attention, and, at the proper period, was honorably graduated. From the university he returned home, and, for a considerable time, devoted himself to theological studies, under the direction of his father.


by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress

In September, 1755, was fought, at the head of Lake George, a celebrated battle between the provincial troops, under command of major general, afterwards Sir William Johnson, aided by a body of Indians led by the celebrated Hendrick, and a body of French Canadians and Indians, commanded by Monsieur le Baron de Dieskau. At this time, Colonel Ephraim Williams commanded a regiment of provincial troops, raised by Massachusetts, with which he was engaged in the above battle. William Williams, the subject of our memoir, belonged to his staff.

Colonel Williams was an officer of great merit. He was much beloved by his soldiers, and highly respected by the people of Massachusetts, in the place where be resided. Williams’ college owes its existence to him. As he was proceeding through Albany, to the head of Lake George, he made his will in that city. In this instrument, after giving certain legacies to his connections, he directed that the remainder of his land should be sold at the discretion of his executors, within five years after an established peace, and that the interest of the monies arising from the sale, together with some other property, should be applied to the support of a free school, in some township in the western part of Massachusetts. This was the origin of Williams’ college. Both the college, and the town in which it is situated, were named after their distinguished benefactor.

Previous to the battle of Lake George, Colonel Williams was dispatched with a party of twelve hundred men, to observe the motions of the French and Indian army, under Baron Dieskau. He met the enemy at Rocky Brook, four miles from Lake George. A tremendous battle now ensued. The English soldiers fought with great courage, but at length they were overpowered, and obliged to retreat. During the contest, Colonel Williams was shot through the head by an Indian, and killed. The command of the detachment now devolved upon Colonel Whiting, of New-Haven, Who succeeded in joining Sir William Johnson, with the force which had escaped the power of the enemy. The issue of this day is well known. The French army was finally repulsed, and the Baron Dieskau was both wounded and taken prisoner.

William Williams

Soon after the death of Colonel Williams, the subject of this memoir, returned to Lebanon, where be resolved to fix his permanent residence. In 1756, at the age of twenty-five years, he was chosen clerk of the town of Lebanon, an office which he continued to hold for the space of forty-five years. About the same time, he was appointed to represent the town in the general assembly of Connecticut. In this latter capacity, he served a long succession of years, during which he was often chosen clerk of the house, and not infrequently filled, and always with dignity and reputation, the speaker’s chair. In 1780, he was transferred to the upper house, being elected an assistant; an office to which he was annually re-elected for twenty-four years. It was recorded of him, what can probably be recorded of few, and perhaps of no other man, that for more than ninety sessions, he was scarcely absent from his seat in the legislature, excepting when he was a member of the Continental Congress, in 1776 and 1777, During the years last mentioned, he was a member of the national council; and in the deliberations of that body took a part, during the memorable period, when the charter of our independence received the final approbation of congress.

At an early period of the revolution, he embarked with great zeal in the cause of his country. During the campaign of 1755, while at the north, he had learned a lesson, which he did not forget. He was at that time disgusted with the, British commanders, on account of the haughtiness of their conduct, and the little attachment which they manifested for his native country. The impression was powerful and lasting. At that time he adopted the opinion, that America would see no days of prosperity and peace, so long as British officers should manage her affairs. On the arrival of the day, therefore, when the revolutionary struggle commenced, and a chance was presented of release from the British yoke, Mr. Williams was ready to engage with ardor, in bringing about this happy state of things. He had for several years been interested in mercantile pursuits. These he now relinquished, that he might devote himself to the cause of his country. He powerfully contributed to awaken public feeling, by several essays on political subjects and when an occasion called him to speak in public, his patriotic zeal and independent spirit were manifested, in a powerful and impressive eloquence.

Nor was Mr. Williams one of those patriots with whom words are all. He was ready to make sacrifices, whenever occasion required. An instance of his public spirit is recorded, in the early part of the revolution. At this time the paper money of the country was of so little value, that military services could not be procured for it. Mr. Williams, with great liberality, exchanged more than two thousand dollars in specie, for this paper, for the benefit of his country. In the issue, he lost the whole sum.

A similar spirit of liberality marked his dealings, in the settlement of his affairs, on the eve and during the course of the revolution. He was peculiarly kind to debtors impoverished by the war; and from the widow and the fatherless, made so by the struggle for freedom, he seldom made any exactions, even though he himself suffered by his kindness.

At the commencement of the war, it is well known, there was little provision made for the support of an army. There were no public stores, no arsenals filled with warlike instruments, and no clothing prepared for the soldiers. For many articles of the first necessity, resort was had to private contributions. The selectmen in many of the towns of Connecticut volunteered their services, to obtain articles for the necessary outfit of new recruits, for the maintenance of the families of indigent soldiers, and to furnish supplies even for the army itself.

Mr. Williams was, at this time, one of the selectmen of the town of Lebanon, an office which he continued to hold during the whole revolutionary war. No man was better, fitted for such a station, and none could have manifested more unwearied zeal than he did, in soliciting the benefactions of private families for the above objects. Such was his success, that he forwarded to the army more than one thousand blankets. In many instances, families parted with their last blanket, for the use of the soldiers in the camp; and bullets were made from the lead taken from the weights of clocks. Such was the patriotism of the fathers and mothers of the land, in those days of trial. There were no comforts, which they could not cheerfully forego, and no sacrifices which they did not joyfully make, that the blessings of freedom might be theirs, and might descend to their posterity.

In confirmation of the above evidence of the firmness and patriotism of Mr. Williams, the following anecdote may be added. Towards the close of the year 1776, the military affairs of the colonies wore a gloomy aspect, and strong fears began to prevail that the contest would go against them. In this dubious state of things, the council of safety for Connecticut was called to sit at Lebanon. Two of the members of this council, William Hillhouse and Benjamin Huntington, quartered with Mr. Williams.

One evening, the conversation turned upon the gloomy state of the country, and the probability that, after all, success would crown the British arms. “Well,” said Mr. Williams, with great calmness, “if they succeed, it is pretty evident what will be my fate. I have done much to prosecute the contest, and one thing I have done, which the British will never pardon — I have signed the Declaration of Independence. I shall be hung.” Mr. Hillhouse expressed his hope, that America would yet be successful, and his confidence that this would be her happy fortune. Mr. Huntington observed, that in case of ill success, he should be exempt from the gallows, as his signature was not attached to the Declaration of Independence, nor had he written any thing against the British government. To this Mr. Williams replied, his eye kindling as he spoke, “Then, sir, you deserve to be hanged, for not having done your duty.”

At the age of 41, he became settled in domestic life, having connected himself with the daughter of Jonathan Trumbull, at that time governor of the state. His lady, it is believed, is still living. Three children were the offspring of this marriage. Of these children, Solomon, the eldest, died in New-York, in 1810, a man greatly beloved by all who had the pleasure to know him. The only daughter is respectably connected in Woodstock, and the remaining son resides in Lebanon.

The demise of his eldest son was a great affliction to the aged and infirm father. The intelligence produced a shock from which he never recovered. From this time, he gradually declined. Four days before his death, he lost the power of utterance, nor was it expected that he would again speak on this side the grave. A short time, however, previously to his death, he called aloud for his deceased son, and requested him to attend his dying parent. In a few moments he closed his life. This event occurred on the 2d day of August, 1811, in the 81st year of his age.

William Williams

William Williams’ grave, Old Cemetery, Lebanon, Connecticut

To this biographical sketch of Mr. Williams, we have only to add a word, respecting his character as a Christian. He made a profession of religion at an early age, and through the long course of his life, he was distinguished for a humble and consistent conduct and conversation, While yet almost a youth, be was elected to the office of deacon, in the congregational church to which he belonged, an office which he retained during the remainder of his life. His latter days were chiefly devoted to reading, meditation, and prayer. At length the hour arrived, when God would take him to himself. He gave up the ghost, in a good old age, and was gathered to his fathers.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 174 – 179. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


Colonel Ebenezer I. Webster, New Hampshire militiaman and father of Daniel Webster

April 22, 2013

Colonel Ebenezer I. WEBSTER, American patriot, father of Daniel Webster, born in Kingston, N. H., on April 22, 1739, died in Salisbury (now Franklin), N. H., in April 22, 1806.

He served under Gen. Amherst in the “old French war,” and in 1761 was one of the original settlers of that part of the town of Salisbury now known as Franklin, then the northernmost New England settlement. He was a farmer and innkeeper, and at the outbreak of the revolution led the Salisbury militia to Cambridge. Subsequently he fought at White Plains and Bennington, was at West Point during the treason of Arnold, and served in other campaigns until the close of the war, when he had attained the rank of colonel of militia. He was at various times a member of one or the other branch of the legislature, and from 1791 till his death was judge of the court of common pleas of Hillsborough County.

Ezekiel, eldest son of the preceding by his second wife, born in Salisbury, March 11, 1780, died in Concord, April 10, 1829. He graduated at Dartmouth college in 1804, studied law, and rose to eminence in his profession. He also served in the state legislature. He died instantaneously of disease of the heart while trying a cause in Concord.

Another son, Daniel Webster, statesman, born in Salisbury (now Franklin), New Hampshire, 18 January, 1782; died in Marshfield, Massachusetts, 24 October, 1852, was the second son of Ebenezer Webster by his second wife, Abigail Eastman.

Ebenezer Webster died April 22, 1806, in the town now known as Franklin, New Hampshire. He is buried at Webster Place Cemetery in Merrimack County.


The white quartz rock is a memorial stone in front of the Abigail and Ebenezer head stone in the back ground.

Ira Allen, Father of the University of Vermont

April 21, 2013

Ira Allen was one of the founders of Vermont, and leaders of the Green Mountain Boys; and was the brother of Ethan Allen.


Engraving of Ira Allen

Ira Allen was born April 21, 1751 in Cornwall, Connecticut, the youngest of six sons born to Joseph and Mary (Baker) Allen. In 1771 Allen went to Vermont as surveyor for the Onion River Land Company. The Allen brothers established the company in order to purchase lands under the New Hampshire Grants. Through this Allen was involved in a dispute with New York over conflicting land claims in the region.[1]

He was a member of the Vermont Legislature, in 1776-1777, and was a leading figure in the declaration of the Vermont Republic in 1777. He and his brother Ethan were implicated in potentially treasonous actions when they entered into negotiations with Frederick Haldimand that suggested they might turn Vermont over to the British.

Allen designed the Great Seal of Vermont and the seal of the University of Vermont.


The Great Seal of the State of Vermont

In 1780 he presented to the Legislature a memorial for the establishment of the University of Vermont.[2] He contributed money and a fifty-acre site at Burlington. He was called the “Metternich of Vermont” and the “Father of the University of Vermont.”[3] Ira Allen pledged 4000 British pounds sterling to the University of Vermont, but never donated that money. In response, the Trustees of the University of Vermont secured a Writ of Attachment on his title to the town of Plainfield to try to extract payment of his original 4000 pound pledge.[4]

He served as the first Surveyor General of Vermont from 1779 to 1787.[5][6]

He went to France in 1795, and sought French army intervention for seizing Canada, to create an independent republic called United Columbia.[7] He bought 20,000 muskets and 24 cannon, but was captured at sea, taken to England, placed on trial, charged with furnishing arms for Irish rebels,[8] but was acquitted after a lawsuit which lasted eight years.[9]

He owned undeveloped land including a stake in Barton, Vermont and was a major stakeholder in Irasburg, Vermont which was named after him.


Ira Allen Miniature

He published two books:

Ira Allen passed away January 7, 1814. He is buried at Wetherills Cemetery in Audubon, Pennsylvania.



  1. “Ira Allen(1751-1814)”. Virtual Vermont. 2010. http://www.virtualvermont.com/history/iallen.html
  2. A.J.H Dyer (1896). “General Ira Allan”. The American Monthly Magazine, Daughters of the American Revolution (R.R. Bowker Co.): 61. http://books.google.com/?id=PZ_iKWr8dCoC&pg=PA61&dq=Statements+Appended+to+the+Olive+Branch.
  3. John Howard Brown (1900). Lamb’s biographical dictionary of the United States. James H. Lamb Co.. pp. 66–67. http://books.google.com/?id=XGBkAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA67&dq=ira+allen+irish+rebels+1795#PPA66,M1.
  4. Graffagino, J. Kevin (1991). “A Hard Founding Father to Love”. In Daniels. The University of Vermont, The First Two Hundred Years. Hanover NH: University of Vermont, distributed by University Press of New England. ISBN 0-087451-549-1.
  5. William W. Stickney (1901). “Farewell address of William W. Stickney”. Vermont Journal of the Joint Assembly (Montpelier, VT: Vermont State Archives and Records Administration): 14. http://www.vermont-archives.org/govhistory/gov/govinaug/farewells/pdf/Stickney1902.pdf.
  6. Vermont Historical Society Collections. Montpelier: Vermont Historical Society. 1871. p. 427. http://books.google.com/?id=nlgSAAAAYAAJ&dq=Vermont+Historical+Society+Collections&printsec=frontcover.
  7. Robert E. May (2002). Manifest Destiny’s Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. U. of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807827037. http://www.ibiblio.org/uncpress/chapters/may_manifest.html Chapter 1
  8. Benson John Lossing (1851). The pictorial field-book of the revolution. Harper & Bros.. p. 161. ISBN 0871520567. http://books.google.com/?id=-dMmAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA161&dq=ira+allen+irish+rebels+1795.
  9. Ethan Allen Hitchcock, William Augustus Croffut (1909). Fifty years in camp and field: diary of Major-General Ethan Allen Hitchcock, U.S.A.. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. p. 31. http://books.google.com/?id=VhJ-4yKyrhoC&pg=PA31&dq=ira+allen+irish+rebels+1795.

William Bartram, American Naturalist

April 20, 2013

William Bartram was an American naturalist. The son of Ann (née Mendenhall) and John Bartram, William Bartram and his twin sister Elizabeth were born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia on April 20, 1739.[1] As a boy, he accompanied his father on many of his travels, to the Catskill Mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, New England, and Florida. From his mid-teens, Bartram was noted for the quality of his botanic and ornithological drawings. He also had an increasing role in the maintenance of his father’s botanic garden, and added many rare species to it.

In 1773, he embarked upon a four-year journey through eight southern colonies. Bartram made many drawings and took notes on the native flora and fauna, and the native American Indians. In 1774, he explored the St. Johns River, where he had memorable encounters with aggressive alligators which he recorded in one of his journals, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, and also visited a principal Seminole village at Cuscowilla, where his arrival was celebrated with a great feast. He met Ahaya the Cowkeeper, chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe. When Bartram explained to the Cowkeeper that he was interested in studying the local plants and animals, the chief was amused and began calling him Puc-puggee (the flower hunter). Bartram continued his explorations of the Alachua Savannah, or what is today Payne’s Prairie.


Portrait of Bartram by Charles Willson Peale

On April 22, 1776 Bartram left Charleston, South Carolina on horseback to explore the Cherokee Nation.[2] After passing through Augusta May 10,[3] Dartmouth on May 15[4] a few days later he left Fort Prince George and Keowee after not being able to procure a guide .[5]

In addition to his botanizing, Bartram aptly described the journey:

“…all alone in a wild Indian country, a thousand miles from my native land, and a vast distance from any settlements of white people.”[6]

“It was now after noon; I approached a charming vale, amidst sublimely high forests, awful shades! Darkness gathers around, far distant thunder rolls over the trembling hills; the black clouds with august majesty and power, moves slowly forwards, shading regions of towering hills, and threatening all the destructions of a thunderstorm; all around is now still as death, not a whisper is heard, but a total inactivity and silence seems to pervade the earth; the birds afraid to utter a chirrup, and in low tremulous voices take leave of each other, seeking covert and safety; every insect is silenced, and nothing heard but the roaring of the approaching hurricane; the mighty cloud now expands its sable wings, extending from North to South, and is driven irresistibly on by the tumultuous winds, spreading his livid wings around the gloomy concave, armed with terrors of thunder and fiery shafts of lightning; now the lofty forests bend low beneath its fury, their limbs and wavy boughs are tossed about and catch hold of each other; the mountains tremble and seem to reel about, and the ancient hills to be shaken to their foundations: the furious storm sweeps along, smoaking through the vale and over the resounding hills; the face of the earth is obscured by the deluge descending from the firmament, and I am deafened by the din of thunder; the tempestuous scene damps my spirits, and my horse sinks under me at the tremendous peals, as I hasten for the plain.”[7]

“I began to ascend the Jore Mountains, which I at length accomplished, and rested on the most elevated peak; from whence I beheld with rapture and astonishment, a sublimely awful scene of power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains. Having contemplated this amazing prospect of grandeur, I descended the pinnacles…”[8](probably Wayah Bald)

Bartram returned to Philadelphia in January 1777, and assisted his brother John in all aspects of running Bartram’s Garden.


Frontispiece and title page of “Travels”

In the late 1780s, he completed the book for which he became most famous, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc.. It was considered at the time to be one of the foremost books on American natural history. Many of Bartram’s accounts of historical sites were the earliest records, including the Georgia mound site of Ocmulgee. In addition to his contributions to scientific knowledge, Travels is noted for its original descriptions of Numerous places and sites are named in his honor:

  • The William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway runs along the east side of the St. Johns River from Jacksonville, Florida south in to northwestern St. Johns County on State Road 13.
  • Bartram Trail High School in Switzerland, Florida (just south of Jacksonville.)
  • The Bartram Trail is a hiking trail in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina that commemorates his journeys through the area.
  • The Bartram Canoe Trail system of canoe and kayak trails in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation.
  • The William Bartram Arboretum is located within Fort Toulouse Park, near Wetumpka, Alabama.
  • Bartram Hall on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida.


Franklinia alatamaha by William Bartram (1782)

Bartram passed away on July 22, 1823, at Bartram’s Garden.[1]

The standard author abbreviation W.Bartram is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.[9]


  • Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc. Philadelphia, James & Johnson, 1791. Modern editions include:
    • The Travels of William Bartram: Naturalist’s Edition. ed. Frances Harper. Yale University Press: New Haven, CT, 1958. ISBN 0-8203-2027-7
    • William Bartram: Travels and Other Writings. Thomas Slaughter, editor. Library of America, 1996. ISBN 978-1-88301111-6.
    • Travels and Other Writings: Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida… Ronald E. Latham, editor. Penguin, 1988. ISBN 0140170081
    • Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. University of Virginia Press, 1980. ISBN 081390871X
    • William Bartram, 1739-1823: Travels etc. Documenting the American South, University Library, University of North Carolina.
    • OELAND, Glenn;


  • Bell, Whitfield J., Jr., Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 1, 1743-1768. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1997, “William Bartram (1739-1823), pp. 414–24.
  • Borland, Hal. The Memorable Bartrams. American Heritage Magazine. April, 1975. Volume 26, Issue 3. Accessed March 2, 2007.
  • Cashin, Edward J. William Bartram in Georgia. New Georgia Encyclopedia. Accessed March 2, 2007.
  • Ewan, Joseph, ed., William Bartram Botanical and Zoological Drawings, 1756-1788. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1968.
  • Fagin, N. Bryllion, William Bartram: Interpreter of the American Landscape. The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1933.
  • Hallock, Thomas. From the Fallen Tree: Frontier Narratives, Environmental Politics, and the Roots of a National Pastoral. University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
  • Hallock, Thomas and Nancy E. Hoffmann, eds. William Bartram, The Search for Nature’s Design: Selected Art, Letters, and Unpublished Writings. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, 2010.
  • Harper, Francis, “Travels in Georgia and Florida, 1773-74. A Report to Dr. John Fothergill.” Edited by Francis Harper. Trans. of the American Philosophical Society, n. s. vol. 33, part 2 (November 1943), p. 121-242.
  • Braund, Kathryn E. Holland and Charlotte M. Porter, eds. Fields of Vision: Essays on the “Travels” of William Bartram (University of Alabama Press; 2010; 273 pages), essays by scholars
  • Lowes, John Livingston, The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of Imagination. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1927.
  • Magee, Judith, The Art and Science of William Bartram. The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA, in association with the Natural History Museum, London, 2007.
  • Savage, Henry Jr. Discovering America, 1700-1875. p. 63-70. Harper & Row, 1979.
  • “William Bartram” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 37: American Writers of the Early Republic. Emory Elliot, ed. The Gale Group, 1985, pp. 31–38.
  • “William Bartram 1739-1823″ Dictionary of American Biography. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.
  1. Waselkov, Gregory A.; Kathryn E. Holland Braund (1995). William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. OCLC 30979411., p. 2
  2. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p306
  3. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p318
  4. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p324
  5. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p331
  6. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Athens: University of Georgia Press. LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p329
  7. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p341
  8. Bartram, William (1980). Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press (by arrangement with The Beehive Press). LCC F213 .B282 1792a.LCCN 73-685 p360
  9. “Author Query”. International Plant Names Index. http://www.ipni.org/ipni/authorsearchpage.do.

Patriot’s Day, honoring Lexington and Concord

April 19, 2013

Patriots’ Day (officially Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts[1] and Patriot’s Day in Maine[2]) is a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is observed on the third Monday in April in Massachusetts[3] and Maine[4] (once part of Massachusetts), and is a public school observance day in Wisconsin.[5] Observances and re-enactments of these first battles of the American Revolution occur annually at Lexington Green in Lexington, Massachusetts, (around 6:00 am) and The Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, (around 9:00 am). In the morning, mounted re-enactors (National Lancers – Massachusetts) with state police escorts retrace the rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes, calling out warnings the whole way.


The battles of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, marked the beginning of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775. This is a legal holiday in Massachusetts and Maine. Although no one really knows who fired the first shot on the Lexington green—”the shot heard ’round the world,” in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson—the British proceeded from Lexington to Concord, where there was a second bloody confrontation at North Bridge.

Residents of Maine and Massachusetts have observed Patriots’ Day since the 18th century with costume parades, flag-raising ceremonies, and reenactments of the battles and the famous rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes, who were sent to warn their comrades in Concord of the British troops’ approach. The Boston Marathon, one of the most famous of the world’s marathon races, is run each year on Patriots’ Day. Sometimes this day is referred to as Lexington Day or Battles of Lexington and Concord Day.

Since 1969, the holiday has been observed on the third Monday in April, providing a three-day long weekend, as well as being the first day of public school vacation week in Maine and Massachusetts. Previously, it had been designated as April 19 in observance of the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is also a school holiday for many local colleges and universities, both public and private.


1. “Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 6, § 12J.”. Massachusetts General Laws. The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

2. “Maine Stat. Rev. 9-B, § 145.”. Maine Revised Statutes. Maine State Legislature

3. “Massachusetts Legal Holidays”. Citizen Information Service. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

4. “Holidays”. Human Resources Policy and Practices Manual. Maine Bureau of Human Resources.

5. “Wisconsin Public School Observance Days”. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

General Ebenezer Learned

April 18, 2013

Ebenezer Learned was born in Oxford, Massachusetts on April 18, 1728, the son of Colonel Ebenezer Learned and Deborah (Haynes) Learned. In his early life, he devoted much of his time to the study of books and as he matured, sat in on the discussions of his father and other men in the community. As a teen developing into manhood, he realized the difficulties faced by the Colonies from an unfriendly governmental ministry in London. He became and earnest advocate of the colonial cause as the crisis developed over taxation and representation. September 29, 1774, Learned became a member of the Provincial Congress which assembled at Concord. The assembly determined that Massachusetts must stand firm for its liberties. The First Continental Congress later met in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, where the members pledged loyalty to England, but also demanded that their liberties be preserved — and asked Parliament to adjust their difficult conditions. May 1775 was set as a deadline if the government failed to act.

It was April 19, in the meantime, that the battles of Lexington and Concord occurred and the news of them reached all over the Thirteen Colonies — inspiring patriots into action everywhere. The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts was in assembly at the time of Lexington and Concord and at once resolved to raise and equip an army of thirteen thousand six hundred men. Learned was at home in Oxford and not in the assembly. When he heard news of the battles, he immediately marched to Cambridge, leading a substantial force of minute men. Learned had been preparing for the possibility of fighting, so the troops were a disciplined and trained group of men. The Massachusetts Assembly sent messengers and proclamations for the assembling of a large army at Cambridge and within a short time, some thirty thousand men from various parts of New England were camped at Cambridge under the command of Major-general Artemas Ward. The men were eager to serve, but lacked real military discipline. Learned gave much needed assistance to General Ward, and the immediate plan was to contain the British forces in Boston.

General Ward stationed soldiers from Roxbury, Cambridge and to the north, blocking Boston. To strengthen the American position, they made plans to fortify Bunker Hill. On June 17, a careful survey was made and they began to erect fortifications on Breed’s Hill, with plans to fortify Bunker Hill with the thought it would be a good location to cover a retreat if necessary. Officers and men began the work of building the fortifications and by dawn they had established strong entrenchments.

When the British discovered the fort, General Gage, the British commander, called a council of war where it was decided to attack and destroy the American position at once. Following orders, the American soldiers held their fire until the attacking enemy was close to the entrenchments. The Americans held off two separate attempts and on the third ran out of ammunition. They retreated slowly. The British losses were unusually heavy, greater than the American losses. Learned held his position at Roxbury, under fire, but their training prevented panic.

Continental Congress, meanwhile, was assembled in Philadelphia in the state house (Independence Hall). On June 15, 1775, Congress resolved to appoint a general. It was John Adams, a leading delegate from Boston who suggested that the forces all over the colonies form a Continental Army in which the appointed general would be in command. The selection of the general was a difficult task as General Ward was already in command of the forces around Boston. Adams favored Colonel George Washington of Virginia as the most capable and efficient officer. Thomas Johnson of Maryland nominated Colonel Washington and he was unanimously elected. Thus, George Washington became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. He accepted his appointment reluctantly:

“As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that, as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept the arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make a profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I desire.”

Washington left for Cambridge June 21 and arrived July 2. He met with various leaders concerning possible military actions in the future and assumed leadership of the army. July 9, Washington summoned a council of war, attended by the higher officers of the army. Learned was not of sufficient rank to attend, but Washington met him and came to know his ability and efficiency as they worked around Boston.

In January 1776, Ebenezer Learned was made Colonel of the Third Continental Infantry. At this time also, Washington was more encouraged to begin carrying out his plans, as a result of the success of Colonel Knox in procuring cannon and military supplies from Ft. Ticonderoga. The army was ordered to begin a bombardment campaign on March 3 and 4, 1776 as well as the seizure of an important position, known as Dorchester Heights. The troops were readied for a potential attack, but heavy rains prevented one.

Howe decided to evacuate Boston. They were receiving threats of attack and retaliated with the threat of the destruction of the city if they were molested as they evacuated Boston. Four influential Boston citizens [John Scollay, Timothy Newell, Thomas Marshall and Samuel Austin] secured an appointment with the British that the city would not be destroyed if the Americans assured Howe that the troops would not attack as they evacuated. Howe gave his promise and the conditions were written down. The letter was taken to Colonel Learned at Roxbury, who in turn, carried it to Washington at his headquarters. Since the letter set forth no official obligation from the Select Council of Boston, nor Howe, he could not receive it officially. So, Learned returned to Roxbury and wrote the Council the following letter: “Agreeably to a promise made to you at the lines yesterday, I waited upon his Excellency General Washington and presented to him the paper handed to me, by you, from the Selectmen of Boston. The answer I received from him was to this effect: — That as it was an unauthorized paper, without an address, and not obligatory upon General Howe, he would take no notice of it, I am with esteem and respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant, Ebenezer Learned”. Nevertheless, Learned’s work created an unofficial plan for the evacuation of the British from Boston on March 17, 1776. Learned was given the honor to unbar the gates of Boston which admitted Washington’s army into the city. His force also kept a careful watch upon the British fleet until it sailed away.

Washington decided that he must protect New York, for if the British got hold of it, they would have the best port to carry out expeditions all over the thirteen colonies. Washington moved his army to New York to protect the city and the Hudson River. Colonel Learned traveled to New York with his regiment. However, as a result of the campaign in Boston, he had to return home to Oxford due to ill health. Learned helped the American cause as best he could at home and was anxious to return to service as he learned of the victories of Washington at Trenton and Princeton. On April 2, 1777, news reached Learned that Congress had promoted him to Brigadier-General in the Continental Army.

Late spring 1777: General Burgoyne organized his forces from Canada by way of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. General Learned and his troops were ordered north to save the militia at Fort Edward and Fort Anne. He was successful in the removal of supplies from Ticonderoga. Burgoyne’s forces numbered about 6700 requiring them to carry a lot of baggage, which slowed them down. The Americans, numbering approximately 4000 under General Schuyler, slowed them down even more by felling trees across roads, trails and paths. General

Schuyler urged the rural residents to burn their crops and hide their cattle. In time, Burgoyne began to feel the shortage of food and supplies. The British in New York did not realize Burgoyne’s position was becoming precarious. General Howe in the meantime decided to make a move towards Philadelphia, ordering General Clinton in New York to make a drive toward the north to scatter the American army, believing Burgoyne would decisively defeat the Americans at his location. Burgoyne, sent forces against Bennington, Vermont, where American supplies were stored — he no longer had enough. The Americans defeated the British there.

A second invasion was rebuffed when the troops under General Herkimer held off the British troops under St. Leger at Ft. Stanwix. The British forces heard that General Learned and his troops were coming to aid the fort, and they fled in confusion.

In the meantime the American army was maneuvering for battle. Additional forces increased their number so they were in a position to fight the British. The Americans were at Bemis’ Heights, south of Saratoga. The first struggle took place on September 19. Each army waited upon its conclusion — the Americans could wait because of their position and knowledge that the British supplies were exceptionally low. Eventually, on October 17, Burgoyne was compelled to surrender after being pushed back to Saratoga. Burgoyne and his men were marched away…under the Stars and Stripes, the flag officially adopted on June 14, 1777. Learned and his men were commended publicly and later ordered south to join Washington north of Philadelphia.

At Valley Forge, Learned is ordered to form one division with General Patterson’s Brigade under Baron DeKalb. Learned was Brigade Major for Christmas day, serving several times after that as well. In the spring of 1778, Learned’s health failed and he was forced to resign his commission. He returned home to Oxford and served his community and state in various capacities as a member of the state constitutional convention 1779, state legislature, selectman, assessor, justice of the peace, moderator of town meetings, and was deeply interested in church affairs.

General Ebenezer Learned died on April 1, 1801 in Oxford.

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

Samuel Chase, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Supreme Court Justice

April 17, 2013

Samuel Chase was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and earlier was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence as a representative of Maryland. Early in life, Chase was a “firebrand” states-righter and revolutionary.[2] His political views changed over his lifetime and in the last decades of his career he became well-known as a staunch Federalist, and was impeached for allegedly letting his partisan leanings affect his court decisions. Chase was acquitted.


Justice Samuel Chase

Born on April 17, 1741,Samuel was the only child of the Reverend Thomas Chase (c. 1703 – 1779) and his wife, Matilda Walker (?-by 1744), born near Princess Anne, Maryland.[3]

His father was a clergyman who immigrated to Somerset County to become a priest in a new church. Samuel was educated at home. He was eighteen when he left for Annapolis where he studied law under attorney John Hall.[3] He was admitted to the bar in 1761[4] and started a law practice in Annapolis. It was during his time as a member of the bar that his colleagues gave him the nickname of “Old Bacon Face.”[5]

In May 1762, Chase married Ann Baldwin, daughter of Thomas Baldwin and his wife Agnes. Samuel and Anne had had three sons and four daughters, with only four surviving to adulthood.[3] Anne died in 1776.

In 1784, Chase traveled to England to deal with Maryland’s Bank of England stock, where he met Hannah Kilty, daughter of Samuel Giles, a Berkshire physician. They were married later that year and had two daughters. The couple begot daughter Hannah and daughter Elisa into the world.[6][3]

In 1762, Chase was expelled from the Forensic Club, an Annapolis debating society, for “extremely irregular and indecent” behavior.[3] This was only the first of the major controversies to surround his life.

In 1764, Chase was elected to the Maryland General Assembly where he served for twenty years.[4]

In 1766, he became embroiled in a war of words with a number of loyalist members of the Maryland political establishment. In an open letter dated July 18, 1766 Chase attacked Walter Dulany, George Steuart (1700–1784), John Brice (1705–1766) and others for publishing an article in the Maryland Gazette Extraordinary of June 19, 1766, in which Chase was accused of being: “a busy, reckless incendiary, a ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and faction, a common disturber of the public tranquility”. In his response, Chase accused Steuart and the others of “vanity…pride and arrogance”, and of being brought to power by “proprietory influence, court favour, and the wealth and influence of the tools and favourites who infest this city.” [7]

In 1769 he started construction of the mansion that would become known as the Chase-Lloyd House, which he sold unfinished in 1771. The house is now a National Historic Landmark.

He co-founded Anne Arundel County’s Sons of Liberty chapter with his close friend William Paca as well as leading opposition to the 1765 Stamp Act.[3]

From 1774 to 1776, Chase was a member of the Annapolis Convention. He represented Maryland at the Continental Congress, was re-elected in 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence.[4]


by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress

He remained in the Continental Congress until 1778. The involvement of Chase in an attempt to corner the flour market, using insider information gained through his position in the Congress, resulted in his not being returned to the Continental Congress and damaging his reputation.

In 1786, Chase moved to Baltimore, which remained his home for the rest of his life. In 1788, he was appointed Chief justice of the District Criminal Court in Baltimore and served until 1796. In 1791, he became Chief Justice of the Maryland General Court, again serving until 1796.[4]

On January 26, 1796, President George Washington appointed Chase as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Chase served on the Court until his death on June 19, 1811.[4]

President Thomas Jefferson, alarmed at the seizure of power by the judiciary through the claim of exclusive judicial review, led his party’s efforts to remove the Federalists from the bench. His allies in Congress had shortly after his inauguration repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801, abolishing the lower courts created by the legislation and terminating their Federalist judges despite lifetime appointments; Chase, two years after the repeal in May 1803, had denounced it in his charge to a Baltimore grand jury, saying that it would “take away all security for property and personal liberty, and our Republican constitution will sink into a mobocracy[.]“[8] Jefferson saw the attack as indubitable bad behavior and an opportunity to reduce the Federalist influence on the judiciary by impeaching Chase, launching the process from the White House when he wrote to Congressman Joseph Hopper Nicholson of Maryland asking: “Ought the seditious and official attack [by Chase] on the principles of our Constitution . . .to go unpunished?”[9]

Virginia Congressman John Randolph of Roanoke took up the challenge and took charge of the impeachment. The House of Representatives served Chase with eight articles of impeachment in late 1804, one of which involved Chase’s handling of the trial of John Fries. Two more focused on his conduct in the political libel trial of James Callender. Four articles focused on procedural errors made during Chase’s adjudication of various matters, and an eighth was directed at his “intemperate and inflammatory … peculiarly indecent and unbecoming … highly unwarrantable … highly indecent” remarks while “charging” or authorizing a Baltimore grand jury. The Jeffersonian Republicans-controlled United States Senate began the impeachment trial of Chase in early 1805, with Vice President Aaron Burr presiding and Randolph leading the prosecution.

All the counts involved Chase’s work as a trial judge in lower circuit courts. In that era, Supreme Court justices had the added duty of serving as individuals on circuit courts, a practice that was ended in the late 19th century. The heart of the allegations was that political bias had led Chase to treat defendants and their counsel in a blatantly unfair manner. Chase’s defense lawyers called the prosecution a political effort by his Republican enemies. In answer to the articles of impeachment, Chase argued that all of his actions had been motivated by adherence to precedent, judicial duty to restrain advocates from improper statements of law, and considerations of judicial efficiency.

The Senate voted to acquit Chase of all charges on March 1, 1805. He is the only U.S. Supreme Court justice to have been impeached.[4]

The impeachment raised constitutional questions over the nature of the judiciary and was the end of a series of efforts to define the appropriate extent of judicial independence under the Constitution. It set the limits of the impeachment power, fixed the concept that the judiciary was prohibited from engaging in partisan politics, defined the role of the judge in a criminal jury trial, and clarified judicial independence. The construction was largely attitudinal as it modified political norms without codifying new legal doctrines.[10]

The acquittal of Chase — by lopsided margins on several counts — set an unofficial precedent that many historians say helped ensure the independence of the judiciary. As Chief Justice William Rehnquist noted in his book Grand Inquests, some senators declined to convict Chase despite their partisan hostility to him, apparently because they doubted that the mere quality of his judging was grounds for removal. Furthermore, federal judges became much more cautious by avoiding the appearance of political partisanship.[11] All impeachments of federal judges since Chase have been based on allegations of legal or ethical misconduct, not on judicial performance.

Samuel Chase died of a heart attack on June 19, 1811, and was interred in St. Paul’s Cemetery, which today is the name of a large, semi-rural cemetery southeast of the Baltimore Inner Harbor. However, in Chase’s lifetime, “St. Paul’s Cemetery” referred to a downtown churchyard on West Lombard Street. Notwithstanding, the cemetery entrance—open only on Saturday mornings—is on Redwood Street.[12][13][14]



  1. “Federal Judicial Center: Samuel Chase” http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/tu_sedbio_chase.html
  2. “Samuel Chase, Freedom Firebrand”. Delmarva Heritage Series by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.. Salisbury Times. March 23, 1959. http://nabbhistory.salisbury.edu/resources/wroten/wroten_schase.html
  3. “Chase, Samuel (1741–1811)”. Maryland Online Encyclopedia (MdOE). Maryland Online Encyclopedia, a joint project of the Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Humanities Council, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the Maryland State Department of Education. 2005. http://www.mdoe.org/chasesamuel.html
  4. “Samuel Chase”. The Supreme Court Historical Society. http://web.archive.org/web/20070713052523/http://www.supremecourthistory.org/02_history/subs_timeline/images_associates/007.html
  5. “Marbury v. Madison: Nail-Biting Drama?”. Legalities, ABC News Blog. http://blogs.abcnews.com/legalities/2009/02/marbury-v-madis.html
  6. http://colonialhall.com/chase/chaseAnn.php
  7. Sanderson, John J, p.67, Biography of the Signers To the Declaration of Independence, Volume 5, published by R W Pomery (1823)
  8. Rehnquist, William H. Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson. Quill: 1992, p.52
  9. Jerry W. Knudson, “The Jeffersonian Assault on the Federalist Judiciary, 1802-1805: Political Forces and Press Reaction,” American Journal of Legal History 1970 14(1): 55-75; Richard Ellis, “The Impeachment of Samuel Chase,” in American Political Trials, ed. by Michael R. Belknap (1994) pp. 57-76, quote on p. 64.
  10. Keith E. Whittington, “Reconstructing the Federal Judiciary: The Chase Impeachment and the Constitution,” Studies in American Political Development 1995 v9#1: 55-116.
  11. Richard Lillich, “The Chase Impeachment,” American Journal of Legal History 1960 4(1): 49-72.
  12. Samuel Chase at Find a Grave
  13. Christensen, George A. (1983) Here Lies the Supreme Court: Gravesites of the Justices, Yearbook Supreme Court Historical Society at Internet Archive.
  14. See also, Christensen, George A., Here Lies the Supreme Court: Revisited, Journal of Supreme Court History, Volume 33 Issue 1, Pages 17 – 41 (19 Feb 2008), University of Alabama.

Sybil Ludington and her midnight ride

April 16, 2013

Sybil Ludington, daughter of Col. Henry Ludington, was a heroine of the American Revolutionary War who became famous for her night ride on April 26, 1777 to alert American colonial forces to the approach of enemy troops. Her action was similar to that performed by Paul Revere,[1][2][3][4][5][6] though she rode more than twice the distance of Revere and was only 16 years old at the time of her action. Born April 16, 1761, she was an aunt of Harrison Ludington.


Statue of Sybil Ludington in Carmel, New York by Anna Hyatt Huntington.

Ludington’s ride started at 9:00 P.M. and ended around dawn.[7] She rode 40 miles, more than twice the distance of Paul Revere, into the damp hours of darkness. This is especially remarkable because modern-day endurance riders using lightweight saddles can barely ride such distances in daylight over well-marked courses. She rode through Carmel on to Mahopac, thence to Kent Cliffs, from there to Farmers Mills and back home. She used a stick to prod her horse and knock on doors. She managed to defend herself against a highwayman with her father’s musket. When, soaked with rain and exhausted, she returned home, most of the 400 soldiers were ready to march.[8][9]

The memoir for Colonel Henry Ludington states,

“Sybil, who, a few days before, had passed her sixteenth birthday, and bade her to take a horse, ride for the men, and tell them to be at his house by daybreak. One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of “Cowboys” and “Skinners” abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury. There is no extravagance in comparing her ride with that of Paul Revere and its midnight message. Nor was her errand less efficient than his. By daybreak, thanks to her daring, nearly the whole regiment was mustered before her father’s house at Fredericksburgh, and an hour or two later was on the march for vengeance on the raiders.[1]“

The men arrived too late to save Danbury, Connecticut. At the start of the Battle of Ridgefield, however, they were able to drive General William Tryon, then governor of the colony of New York, and his men to Long Island Sound.[8][9]

Sybil was congratulated for her heroism by friends and neighbors and also by General George Washington.[8][10][11][12][13] [14][15][16][17]

After the war, in 1784, “when she was twenty-three years old, Sybil Ludington married Edmund Ogden, with whom she had six children. Edmund was a farmer and innkeeper, according to various reports. In 1792 Sybil settled with her husband and six children in Catskill, where they lived until her death on February 26, 1839, at the age of 77. She was buried near her father in the Patterson Presbyterian Cemetery in Patterson, New York.[7] Her tombstone, at right, shows a different spelling of her first name.

In 1935 New York State erected a number of markers along her route. A statue of Sybil, sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington, was erected near Carmel, New York, in 1961 to commemorate her ride. Smaller originals[18] of the statue exist on the grounds of the Daughters of the American Revolution Headquarters in Washington, DC; on the grounds of the public library, Danbury, Connecticut; and in the Elliot and Rosemary Offner museum at Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.


In 1975 Sybil Ludington was honored with a postage stamp in the “Contributors to the Cause” United States Bicentennial series.[7][8]

Each April since 1979, the Sybil Ludington 50-kilometer footrace has been held in Carmel, New York. The course of this hilly road race approximates Sybil’s historic ride, and finishes near her statue on the shore of Lake Gleneida, Carmel, New York.[8]


  1. Johnson, “Memoir,” Colonel Henry Ludington, Google Books
  2. It was first mentioned by Lewis S. Patrick (Connecticut historian and Ludington descendant, great nephew of Sybil Ludington) in The Connecticut Magazine II (no. 2, 1907) and credit was given to Patrick by Willis Fletcher Johnson in the memoirs of Colonel Henry Ludington. Hauntings of the Hudson River Valley: An Investigative Journey By Vincent T. Dacquino, p. 93
  3. Ludington Daily News front page, Saturday, August 15, 2009
  4. Ludington – American Revolutionary War heroine, remembered for her valiant role in defense against British attack
  5. Sybil’s Story, footnotes 20, 21, 23
  6. American National Biography Online – Sybil Ludington
  7. Historic Patterson, New York – Sybil Ludington
  8. Sybil Ludington
  9. Sybil Ludington: a Revolutionary Hero
  10. Sybil Ludington article by Jone Johnson Lewis
  11. Sybil Ludington – Her Midnight Ride
  12. Miller, p. 18, Later, America’s general George Washington came to Sybil’s house to thank her.
  13. Moore, p. 300, Afterward, General George Washington made a personal visit to Ludington’s Mills to thank Sybil for her courageous deed.
  14. Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, Biography – Sybil Ludington 1761—1839, Unit 3, Chapter 5, The American Revolution Later, Sybil was thanked personally by General George Washington.
  15. Binkley, p. 18, Afterward, General George Washington made a personal visit to Ludington’s Mill to thank Sybil for her courageous deed.
  16. Smithsonian Source – Confirmation Readings (Sybil Ludington)
  17. Weatherford, p. 31, … After the battle at Danbury, George Washington and French General Rochambeau came to the Ludington home to thank Sybil.
  18. “Original” defined as a sculpture cast under the supervision of original artist during his/her lifetime


  • Binkley, Marilyn R., Reading Literacy in the U.S.: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study, DIANE Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0788145126
  • Bohrer, Melissa Lukeman, Glory, passion, and principle: the story of eight remarkable women at the core of the American Revolution, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743453301
  • Johnson, Willis Fletcher (1907). Colonel Henry Ludington: A Memoir. Connecticut: self-published. http://books.google.com/books?id=NIeEKMRxxX4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Johnson,+Willis+Fletcher,+Henry+Ludington:+A+Memoir&cd=2#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Miller, Brandon Marie, Growing up in revolution and the new nation, 1775 to 1800, Lerner Publications, 2003, ISBN 0822500787
  • Moore, David W., Developing readers and writers in the content areas K-12, Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2006, ISBN 0205494749
  • Weatherford, D., Milestones : A chronology of American women’s history. New York: Facts on File, 1997, ISBN 0816032009

Charles Willson Peale, painter of the American Revolution

April 15, 2013

Charles Willson Peale was an American painter, soldier and naturalist. He is best remembered for his portrait paintings of leading figures of the American Revolution, as well as establishing one of the first museums.


Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827), self-portrait from c. 1782-85

Peale was born on April 15, 1741 in Chester, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, the son of Charles Peale and his wife Margaret. He was an older brother of James Peale (1749–1831). Charles became an apprentice to a saddle maker when he was thirteen years old. Upon reaching maturity, he opened his own saddle shop; however, when his Loyalist creditors discovered he had joined the Sons of Liberty, they conspired to bankrupt his business.


George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, 1781. Yale University Art Gallery

Finding that he had a talent for painting, especially portraiture, Peale studied for a time under John Hesselius and John Singleton Copley. John Beale Bordley and friends eventually raised enough money for him to travel to England to take instruction from Benjamin West. Peale studied with West for three years beginning in 1767, afterward returning to America and settling in Annapolis, Maryland. There, he taught painting to his younger brother, James Peale, who in time also became a noted artist.

Peale’s enthusiasm for the nascent national government brought him to the capital, Philadelphia, in 1776, where he painted portraits of American notables and visitors from overseas. His estate, which is on the campus of La Salle University in Philadelphia, can still be visited. He also raised troops for the War of Independence and eventually gained the rank of captain in the Pennsylvania militia by 1777, having participated in several battles. While in the field, he continued to paint, doing miniature portraits of various officers in the Continental Army. He produced enlarged versions of these in later years. He served in the Pennsylvania state assembly in 1779–1780, after which he returned to painting full-time.

Peale was quite prolific as an artist. While he did portraits of scores of historic figures (such as James Varnum, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton), he is probably best known for his portraits of George Washington. The first time Washington ever sat for a portrait was with Peale in 1772, and there would be six other sittings; using these seven as models, Peale produced altogether close to 60 portraits of Washington. In January 2005, a full length portrait of “Washington at Princeton” from 1779 sold for $21.3 million dollars, setting a record for the highest price paid for an American portrait.

One of his most celebrated paintings is The Staircase Group (1795), a double portrait of his sons Raphaelle and Titian painted in the trompe l’oeil style.[1] It is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


The Artist in His Museum (self-portrait, 1822) is displayed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Peale had a great interest in natural history, and organized the first U.S. scientific expedition in 1801. These two major interests combined in his founding of what became the Philadelphia Museum, and was later renamed the Peale Museum.

This museum is considered the first. It housed a diverse collection of botanical, biological, and archaeological specimens. Most notably, the museum contained a large variety of birds which Peale himself acquired, and it was the first to display North American mastodon bones (which in Peale’s time were referred to as mammoth bones; these common names were amended by Georges Cuvier in 1800, and his proposed usage is that employed today).

The display of the “mammoth” bones entered Peale into a long standing debate between Thomas Jefferson and Comte de Buffon. Buffon argued that Europe was superior to the Americas biologically, which was illustrated through the size of animals found there. Jefferson referenced the existence of these “mammoths” (which he believed still roamed northern regions of the continent) as evidence for a greater biodiversity in America. Peale’s display of these bones drew attention from Europe, as did his method of re-assembling large skeletal specimens in three dimensions.

The museum was among the first to adopt Linnaean taxonomy. This system drew a stark contrast between Peale’s museum and his competitors who presented their artifacts as mysterious oddities of the natural world.

The museum underwent several moves during its existence. At various times it was located in several prominent buildings including Independence Hall and the original home of the American Philosophical Society.

The museum would eventually fail, in large part because Peale was unsuccessful at obtaining government funding. After his death, the museum was sold to, and split up by, showmen P. T. Barnum and Moses Kimball.


Rachel, his 1st wife, weeping over their daughter Margeret, who died of smallpox (Charles Willson Peale, 1772-1776)


Raphaelle and Titian Peale in a Trompe l’oeil (Charles Wilson Peale, 1795)

In 1762, Peale married Rachel Brewer (1744–1790), who bore him ten children. The sons included Raphaelle Peale (1774–1825), Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860), and Rubens Peale (1784–1865). Among the daughters: Angelica Kauffman Peale married Alexander Robinson, Priscilla Peale wed Dr. Henry Boteler, and Sophonisba Peale became the wife of Coleman Sellers.


His 2nd wife, Elizabeth DePeyster Peale (1765 – 1804), (Charles Willson Peale, 1798)

In 1791, he married Elizabeth de Peyster (d. 1804), his second wife, with whom he had another six children. One son, Franklin Peale, born on October 15, 1795, became the Chief Coiner at the Philadelphia Mint. His last son, Titian Ramsay Peale (1799–1885), became an important naturalist and pioneer in photography. Their daughter, Elizabeth De Peyster Peale (1802–57), married William Augustus Patterson (1792–1833) in 1820.

Hannah More, a Quaker from Philadelphia, became Peale’s third wife in 1804. She helped raise the children from his previous two marriages.

In 1810, Peale purchased a farm in Germantown where he intended to retire. Peale named this estate ‘Belfield’, and cultivated extensive gardens there. After Hannah’s death in 1821, Peale lived with his son Rubens and sold Belfield in 1826.


Peale as he appears at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A Renaissance man, Peale had expertise not only in painting but also in many diverse fields, including carpentry, dentistry, optometry, shoemaking, and taxidermy. In 1802, John Isaac Hawkins patented the second official physiognotrace, a mechanical drawing device, and partnered with Peale to market it to prospective buyers. Peale sent a watercolor sketch of the physiognotrace, along with a detailed explanation, to Thomas Jefferson. The drawing now sits with the Jefferson Papers in the Library of Congress.[2]

Around 1804, Peale obtained the American patent rights to the polygraph from its inventor John Isaac Hawkins, about the same time as the purchase of one by Thomas Jefferson. Peale and Jefferson collaborated on refinements to this device, which enabled a copy of a handwritten letter to be produced simultaneously with the original.

Peale wrote several books, among which were An Essay on Building Wooden Bridges (1797) and An Epistle to a Friend on the Means of Preserving Health (1803). Peale named all of his sons for artists or scientists, and taught them to paint. Three of them, Rembrandt, Raphaelle, and Titian, became noted artists in their own right.

He was the brother-in-law of Nathaniel Ramsey, a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation. The World War II Liberty Ship SS Charles Willson Peale was named in his honor.


  1. National Gallery of Art – Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l’Oeil Painting
  2. Paper Profiles: American Portrait Silhouettes

John Hanson, signer of the Articles of Confederation and President of the Continental Congress

April 14, 2013

John Hanson was a merchant and public official from Maryland during the era of the American Revolution. After serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland, in 1779 Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the other states in ratifying them. In November 1781, he was the first person to be elected as the presiding officer, leading some historians to claim he was the first President of the United States.[2] Stiverson (2000) states that Hanson was little more than the first among equals in Congress and had no executive power. His duties were largely ceremonial, and his correct title was President of the Continental Congress.[3]


Portrait of John Hanson, attributed to John Hesselius, c. late 1760s

John Hanson, Jr.[3] was born April 14, 1721[1] at “Mulberry Grove” in Port Tobacco Parish in Charles County in the British Province of Maryland. The American National Biography lists Hanson’s birth date as April 3, 1721,[3] which in the modern calendar system is equivalent to April 14, although the older Dictionary of American Biography gives the date as April 13, 1721.[4] Some older sources list a birth year of 1715. Hanson’s parents were Samuel and Elizabeth (Story) Hanson.[3] Samuel Hanson was a planter who owned more than 1,000 acres,[3] and held a variety of political offices, including serving two terms in the Maryland General Assembly.[4]

John Hanson was of English ancestry; his grandfather, also named John, came to Charles County, Maryland, as an indentured servant around 1661.[5] In 1876, a writer named George Hanson placed John Hanson in his family tree of Swedish Americans descended from four Swedish brothers who emigrated to New Sweden in 1642.[5][6] This story was often repeated over the next century, but scholarly research in the late 20th century suggested that John Hanson was of English heritage and not related to these Swedish American Hansons.[7][8]

Hanson had no extended formal education while growing up in Maryland, but he read broadly in both English and Latin. He followed the family tradition as a planter, extending and improving his holdings. About 1744 he married Jane Contee, with whom he would have eight children.[3] Their son Alexander Contee Hanson, Sr. (1749–1806) was a notable essayist.[9] Alexander Hanson is sometimes confused with his son, Alexander Contee Hanson, Jr. (1786–1819), who became a newspaper editor and US Senator.

Hanson’s career in public service began in 1750, when he was appointed sheriff of Charles County.[3] In 1757 he was elected to represent Charles County in the lower house of the Maryland General Assembly, where he served over the next twelve years, sitting on many important committees.[3] Maryland was a proprietary colony, and Hanson aligned himself with the “popular” or “country” party, which opposed any expansion of the power of the proprietary governors at the expense of the popularly elected lower house. He was a leading opponent of the 1765 Stamp Act, chairing the committee that drafted the instructions for Maryland’s delegates to the Stamp Act Congress. In protest of the Townshend Acts, in 1769 Hanson was one of the signers of a nonimportation resolution that boycotted British imports until the acts were repealed.[3]

Hanson changed course in 1769, apparently to better pursue his business interests. He resigned from the General Assembly, sold his land in Charles County, and moved to Frederick County in western Maryland. There he held a variety of offices, including deputy surveyor, sheriff, and county treasurer.[3]

When relations between Great Britain and the colonies became a crisis in 1774, Hanson became one of Frederick County’s leading Patriots. He chaired a town meeting that passed a resolution opposing the Boston Port Act.[3] In 1775, he was a delegate to the Maryland Convention, an extralegal body convened after the colonial assembly had been prorogued. With the other delegates, he signed the Association of Freemen on July 26, 1775, which expressed hope for reconciliation with Great Britain, but also called for military resistance to enforcement of the Intolerable Acts.[4]

With hostilities underway, Hanson chaired the Frederick County committee of observation, part of the Patriot organization that assumed control of local governance. Responsible for recruiting and arming soldiers, Hanson proved to be an excellent organizer, and Frederick County sent the first southern troops to join George Washington’s army.[3]

Hanson was elected to the newly reformed Maryland House of Delegates in 1777, the first of five annual terms.[3] In December 1779, the House of Delegates named Hanson as one of its delegates to the Second Continental Congress. He began those duties when he took his seat in Philadelphia on June 14, 1780, serving until 1782. While Hanson was in Congress, the Articles of Confederation were at last ratified by all the states. When the Congress received notice of this on March 1, 1781, he joined Daniel Carroll in endorsing them for Maryland.


The bronze statue that stands in the United States Capitol

In November 1781, Hanson became the first President of the Continental Congress to be elected for an annual term as specified in the Articles of Confederation,[3] although Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean had served in that office after the ratification of the Articles. Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States had no executive branch; the President of Congress was a mostly ceremonial position within the Confederation Congress, but the office did require Hanson to handle a good deal of correspondence and sign official documents.[10] Hanson found the work tedious and wished to resign, but his departure would have left Congress without a quorum to select a successor, and so, out of a sense of duty, he remained in office.[3]

Because Hanson was the first president elected under the Articles of Confederation, one of his grandsons later promoted him as the first President of the United States.[11][12] This ultimately resulted in Hanson’s statue being one of two representing Maryland in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, even though, according to historian Gregory Stiverson, Hanson was not one of Maryland’s foremost leaders of the Revolutionary era.[3] The idea that Hanson was the forgotten first President of the United States was further promoted in a 1932 biography of Hanson by journalist Seymour Wemyss Smith.[13] Smith’s book asserts that the American Revolution had two primary leaders: George Washington in the military sphere, and John Hanson in politics.[14] This idea is sometimes paired with the claim that Hanson was actually a black man, using a photograph of Senator John Hanson of Liberia to support the claim.[15]

Hanson retired from public office after his one-year term as President of Congress. In poor health, he died a year later at his nephew’s plantation Oxon Hill Manor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on November 22, 1783.[3] The grave site has been lost.

Maryland law specifies that “the Governor annually shall proclaim April 13 as John Hanson’s birthday and dedicate that day to the statesman.”[16][17] Also, U.S. Route 50 between Washington D.C. and Annapolis is named the John Hanson Highway in his honor. There are also middle schools located in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and Waldorf, Maryland, named after him. A former savings bank named for him was merged in the 1990s with Industrial Bank of Washington, D.C. A namesake, John Hanson Briscoe, was a circuit judge and Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.

In 1903 the state of Maryland donated a bronze statue by Richard E. Brooks to the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. It is currently located on the 2nd floor of the Senate connecting corridor. A maquette of the Hanson statue by Brooks resides on the President’s dais in the Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House.[18]


  1. Old Style date April 3, 1721
  2. Art Richardson, “John Hanson: First President of the United States”, OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Winter 1991).
  3. Gregory A. Stiverson, “Hanson, John, Jr.”, American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  4. Newton D. Mereness, “John Hanson”, Dictionary of American Biography vol. 4, pt. 2 (New York: Scribner 1932–64), 231–32.
  5. Alan H. Winquist and Jessica Rousselow-Winquist, Touring Swedish America (Minnesota Historical Society, 2006), 24–25, citing George Ely Russel, “John Hanson of Maryland: A Swedish Heritage Disproved”, The American Genealogist 63:4 (October 1988).
  6. George A. Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland (Forges, 1876), 127.
  7. George Ely Russel, “John Hanson of Maryland: A Swedish Heritage Disproved”, The American Genealogist 63:4 (October 1988), cited in Elisabeth Thorsell (December 30, 2002). “Was the First President of the United States a Swede”. The Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies. http://www.genealogi.se/roots/hanson.htm
  8. John Hanson was said by members of the Hanson family of Yorkshire to be a descendant of the Hansons of Osmondthorpe, West Yorkshire.[1]
  9. Kevin R. Chaney, “Hanson, Alexander Contee”; American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  10. Rick K. Wilson, Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination, and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774–1789 (Stanford University Press, 1994), 76–80.
  11. Morris, Richard B. “The Origins of the Presidency”, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Fall 1987). pp. 673-687.
  12. Essary, J. Frederick. “Maryland’s Part in Founding the Federal Government”, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 19 (1916), pp. 140-155.
  13. “obituary for Seymour Wemyss Smith”. Time. January 18, 1932. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,742964-1,00.html.
  14. Smith, John Hanson, Our First President, 57.
  15. Audrey Peterson, “Black History Urban Legends”, American Legacy, March 6, 2009.
  16. “Article – State Government §13–401.”. http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&13-401.
  17. “CHAPTER 54 (House Bill 51)”. April 13, 1973. http://archive1.mdarchives.state.md.us/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/000001/000709/html/am709–72.html.
  18. “John Hanson”. Architect of the Capitol; also see: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/stagser/s1259/131/html/senchamb.html. http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/nsh/hanson.cfm.

Jonathan Carver, colonial American explorer

April 13, 2013

Jonathan Carver was an American explorer and writer. He was born on April 13, 1710, in Weymouth, Massachusetts and then moved with his family to Canterbury, Connecticut. He later married Abigail Robbins and became a shoemaker. He is believed to have had seven children.

In 1755 Carver joined the colonial militia at the start of the French and Indian War. During the war he studied surveying and mapping techniques. He was successful in the military and eventually became captain of a Massachusetts regiment in 1761. Two years later he quit the army with a determination to explore the new territories acquired by the British as a result of the war.

Initially Carver was unable to find a sponsor for his proposed explorations but in 1766, Robert Rogers contracted Carver to lead an expedition to find a western water route to the Pacific Ocean, the Northwest Passage. There was a great incentive to discover this route. The king and Parliament had promised a vast prize in gold for any such discovery. The eastern route to the Pacific was around the Cape of Good Hope. That route was both lengthy and contested by competing European powers.

Carver, Minnesota and Carver County, Minnesota were named in honor of Jonathan Carver for his exploration and mapping of the region.


Carver left Fort Michilimackinac at present-day Mackinaw City, MI in the spring of 1766. Taking large fur-trading canoes, he traveled the well-utilized trade routes of the French. His route took him along the northern coast of Lake Michigan, cut across to what is now the Door County peninsula in Wisconsin and proceeded along the western edge of the bay until reaching what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin.

There was a small French settlement at the foot of Green Bay (Lake Michigan), as well as a French monastery nearby De Pere, Wisconsin. Carver resupplied here and then continued. He traveled up the Fox River to the Winnebago Indian village at the north end of Lake Winnebago at the site of the present city of Neenah, Wisconsin. Continuing up the Fox River he eventually arrived at the “Grand Portage” a well used portage between the Fox River and the Wisconsin River. This was a major fur trade location because from here (now Portage, Wisconsin) furs could proceed from the Great Lakes to the Wisconsin River, hence to the Mississippi and New Orleans.

Carver crossed to the Wisconsin River and then traveled down the Mississippi emerging at the great trade encampment at Prairie du Chien. Rather than turn south towards New Orleans, his expedition turned north into what is now Minnesota. By the late summer he had reached the Saint Anthony Falls at what is now Minneapolis. He spent some time with the tribe near the falls but turned south, down the Mississippi to find a more suitable place to spend the winter. During this portion of the trip he discovered Carver’s Cave.

He spent the winter in a tribal village in what is now eastern Iowa. The next spring he encountered James Tute and James Stanley Goddard, who had been sent to accompany Carver on his journey. They continued exploring and mapping up the Mississippi River through what is now Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They then headed for Grand Portage on Lake Superior, hoping that Rogers had sent supplies there for them. However, instead of supplies they found a letter from him chiding them for having spent as much money as they already had and warning them to be more thrifty in the future. Unable to proceed without the badly needed supplies, they headed back to Fort Michilimackinac, arriving there on August 29, 1767.

He found that his sponsor Royal Governor Robert Rogers was under suspicion of plotting treason against England. On December 6, 1767, Rogers was arrested, charged with treason, placed in irons and put in solitary confinement. While he spent a miserable winter in an unheated guardhouse, Carver probably spent time preparing his journal of the expedition for publication. In the spring of 1768 the first ship of the season took Carver and Rogers both to Detroit. Carver travelled in the relative comfort of a passenger cabin, while Rogers was forced to sit out the journey seated upon the ballast rocks in the hold of the ship. Rogers was taken to Montreal to be court-martialed, and although he was found not guilty of the charges against him, he was not returned to his position as Royal Governor. Carver submitted a list of expenses to his superiors, but payment was denied on the grounds that Rogers had not had sufficient authority to order such an expedition to take place.

Carver was outraged. He believed that he had been legitimately hired by the Crown to map and explore the newly acquired territory. He believed that he had possibly identified a Northwest Passage. He had spent two years working and now had little to show for it but maps and log books. No one seemed interested. In 1769 Carver left for England to petition the government for his promised payment and for a reward for identifying a potential Northwest Passage.

He left his wife Abigail in the colonies and never saw her again. He spent the remainder of his life petitioning the [English] government for his payments. He did in fact ultimately get two separate grants from the crown, although not the great reward for identifying a Northwest Passage. While working at this lobbying endeavor he wrote his Travels… book, and started a second family in London.


A Man and Woman of the Ottigaumies, copperplate from Jonathan Carver’s book, 1781 edition.

Carver’s book was an immediate success when first published in 1778, and a second edition published in Dublin followed the next year; over thirty editions and versions have been published since in several languages. A very important book in the history of the exploration of the American West as Carver was the first English-speaking explorer to venture west of the upper Mississippi River. He anticipated the idea of a continental divide as he was the first to mention a large mountain range to the west (presumably the Rocky Mountains) that blocks the westward passage and serves as a continental divide. Further, the name ‘Oregon’ appears in print here for the first time, both in the text, and on one of the maps. Carver penetrated farther into the West than any other English explorer before the Revolution and stimulated curiosity concerning routes to the Pacific, later satisfied by Mackenzie and Lewis and Clark. The book proved and remained immensely popular. The profits did not come soon enough for him, however. He died in poverty on January 31, 1780 in London.

In the 20th century, the reliability of Carver’s narrative has been debated by scholars; examination of Carver’s manuscript journal establishes that it differs in important respects from the published version. More recent research points to the conclusion that while Carver actually made the tour he describes, he suppressed the fact that he performed it as a hired agent of Royal Governor Major Robert Rogers, rather than on his own responsibility.

E.G. Bourne, in a 1906 essay published in the American Historical Review, summarized his view of Carver’s book: “Scholars are in general agreement that much of the work in this volume is an abridgement or adaptation of historical writings by Charlevoix, Adair, and La Hontan. Entire chapters read as near verbatim text from one or more of these other authors.” [1]

After Carver’s death on January 31, 1780, Dr. John Coakley Lettsom purchased the copyrights to the book and had published a third edition[1781]. Lettsom claimed he had in his possession a deed, signed by two chiefs of the Sioux, giving Carver title to about 10,000 square miles in what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota. The deed could not be located after the death of Carver’s London widow.

In 1804, a group of descendants of Carver petitioned the U.S. Congress for ownership rights to a large tract of land in Wisconsin and Minnesota, claiming that the deed supposedly dated at the “Great Cave, May the 1st, 1767″ entitled Carver and his family to over 10,000 square miles of land. Specifically they identified; “the whole of a certain tract or territory of land, bounded as follows, viz.: from the Falls of St. Anthony, running on the east bank of the Mississippi, nearly southeast, as far as Lake Pepin, where the Chippewa joins the Mississippi, and from thence eastward, five days travel, accounting twenty English miles per day, and from thence again to the Falls of St. Anthony, on a direct straight line.” This triangular tract in northwestern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota would have been bounded by lines running from modern Minneapolis southeast to Pepin, then due east to near Stevens Point, and from there northwest roughly through Eau Claire to Minneapolis.

Congress investigated their claim and ultimately concluded that English law at the time prohibited any land grants to individuals. They also concluded that Carver himself never made any mention of such a grant in his book or afterwards, and finally that no Indians in the region had any knowledge of such a transaction having been made by their grandparents’ generation; in 1817, Sioux elders in St. Paul had even told Carver’s heirs that no chiefs with the names on the deed had ever existed. Congress concluded, on January 29, 1823, not to permit Carver’s heirs the rights to this land in Wisconsin. Land speculators and con-men nevertheless continued to promote the sale of portions of “Carver’s Grant” for another half century.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society:

Modern scholars who have reviewed all the evidence cannot confirm the existence of any such grant to Carver, who never mentioned it in surviving records. They have, however, documented a great deal of deceit, manipulation, and self-delusion by his heirs and their agents as they attempted to sell portions of the land in the decades following his death.[2]


  • Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768, first published in 1778.[1]
  • The Journals of Jonathan Carver and Related Documents, 1766-1770. Edited by John Parker. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1976. This was the original account of Carver’s expedition, from which Travels was distilled. It seems to be much more reliable than the book that was derived from it.
  • A Treatise on the Culture of the Tobacco plant; with the manner in which it is usually cured adapted to northern climates and designed for the use of the landholders of Great Britain. London, 1779 – “Written during the American War of Independence (1775–1783), or as Carver delicately puts it ‘the present unhappy dissentions,’ when trade was disrupted, this treatise details the methods required to grow tobacco in Britain. Carver argues that two acts of parliament from the reign of Charles II prohibiting the cultivation of tobacco should be repealed. Carver felt that the landowner would profit, revenue could be restored to the treasury by means of a duty on the plants, and smokers would be more than satisfied with the ‘powerful aromatic’ tobacco produced in a northern climate.”


  1. Jonathan Carver, exhibit essay
  2. Wisconsin Historical Society Carver’s Grant

Lyman Hall, signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia

April 12, 2013

Lyman Hall, physician, clergyman, and statesman, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a representative of Georgia. Hall County is named after him.


Born on April 12, 1724, Hall graduated from Yale College in 1747, a tradition his six siblings would repeat. In 1749, he was called to the pulpit of Stratfield Parish (now Bridgeport, CT). His pastorate was a stormy one: an outspoken group of parishioners opposed his ordination; in 1751, he was dismissed after charges against his moral character which, according to one biography, “were supported by proof and also by his own confession.” He continued to preach for two more years, filling vacant pulpits, while he studied medicine and taught school.

In 1752, he married Abigail Burr of Fairfield, Connecticut, however, she died the following year. In 1757, he married again to Mary Osborne. He migrated to South Carolina and established himself as a physician at Dorchester, South Carolina, near Charleston, a community settled by Congregationalist migrants from Dorchester, Massachusetts decades earlier. When these settlers moved to the Midway District – now Liberty County – in Georgia, Hall accompanied them. He soon became one of the leading citizens of the newly founded town of Sunbury.


On the eve of the American Revolution, St. John’s Parish, in which Sunbury was located, was a hotbed of radical sentiment in a predominantly loyalist colony. Though Georgia was not initially represented in the First Continental Congress, through Hall’s influence, the parish was persuaded to send a delegate – Hall himself – to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the Second Continental Congress. He was admitted to a seat in Congress in 1775, a seat that he held until 1780. He was one of the three Georgians to sign the Declaration of Independence.

In January 1779, Sunbury was burned by the British. Hall’s family fled to the North, where they remained until the British evacuation in 1782. Hall then returned to Georgia, settling in Savannah. In January 1783, he was elected an early governor of the state – a position that he held for one year. While governor, Hall advocated the chartering of a state university, believing that education, particularly religious education, would result in a more virtuous citizenry. His efforts led to the chartering of the University of Georgia in 1785. At the expiration of his term as governor, he resumed his medical practice.

In 1790, Hall removed to a plantation in Burke County, Georgia, on the Carolina border, where he died on October 19 at the age of 66. Hall’s widow, Mary Osborne, survived him, dying in November 1793.

Lyman Hall is memorialized in Georgia where Hall County, Georgia bears his namesake; and in Connecticut, his native state, where the town of Wallingford honored him by naming a high school after its distinguished native son. Elementary schools in Liberty County, Georgia and in Hall County, Georgia are also named for him.

Signers Monument, a granite obelisk in front of the courthouse in Augusta, Georgia, memorializes Hall and the other two Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence. His remains were re-interred there from his original grave on his plantation in Burke County.


Lyman Hall is portrayed in the 1969 Broadway musical 1776 and in the 1972 film of the same name by Jonathan Moore. As presented in the play and in the film, at a critical point in the struggle of John Adams to convince his fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress to choose independence, Hall re-enters the chamber to change Georgia’s vote. He says he has been thinking: “In trying to resolve my dilemma I remembered something I’d once read, ‘that a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.’ It was written by Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament.” Hall then walks over to the tally board and changes Georgia’s vote from “Nay” to “Yea.”


  • Franklin B. Dexter. 1896. “Lyman Hall.” In BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE GRADUATES OF YALE COLLEGE, 1745-1763. New York: Henry Holt & Company.
  • Charles S. Hall. 1896. HALL ANCESTRY. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Colonel Edward Antill, soldier and statesman

April 11, 2013

Colonel Edward Antill was an American soldier. He was born April 11, 1742, in Piscataqua, New Jersey and died on May 29, 1789, at Saint-Jean, near Montréal, in Canada. He was an American colonist living in Quebec City when in 1775 he joined the 2nd Canadian Regiment and participated in the Battle of Quebec (1775) with General Richard Montgomery.

Antill married to Charlotte Riverin of Quebec City. Their daughter France Antill married Arthur Tappan.

He was sent to the American Congress in Philadelphia after the failed attack on Quebec City.

He was taken prisoner at the second battle of Staten Island in August 1777 so he was not with his regiment at the Battle of Brandywine. He was on a prison ship on the Hudson River for three years.

After his release he followed the 2nd Canadian Regiment at Yorktown.



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