Thomas Cooper: "a learned ingenious scientific and talented madcap"

October 22, 2014

 

 

Thomas Cooper was an economist, college president and political philosopher. Cooper was described by Thomas Jefferson as “one of the ablest men in America” and by John Adams as “a learned ingenious scientific and talented madcap.” Dumas Malone stated that “modern scientific progress would have been impossible without the freedom of the mind which he championed throughout life.”[1] His ideas were taken very seriously in his own time: there were substantial reviews of his writings, and some late eighteenth-century critics of materialism directed their arguments against Cooper, rather than against the better-known Joseph Priestley.

Cooper was born in Westminster, England, on October 22, 1759. He attended University College, Oxford, but did not graduate, supposedly refusing the religious test. He then studied law at the Inner Temple, medicine and the natural sciences. He travelled the northern court circuit for a few years; it is unclear in the records whether he practiced as a qualified barrister. At the same period he went into the calico printing business at Raikes near Bolton, Lancashire.[2]

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Engraving of Thomas Cooper by A.B. Durand from a painting by C. Ingham, October 22, 1829.

Cooper took on a prominent role in the reforming politics of the time. In early 1790 he took part in the campaign by Dissenters for greater religious tolerance. His approach was considered too extreme by some, and he shed much moderate support after a meeting in Cheshire. Edmund Burke mentioned Cooper in the House of Commons in March of that year.[3] In October 1790 the Manchester Constitutional Society was set up, with Cooper, author of Letters on the Slave Trade (1787), and other members such as Thomas Walker, noted as radicals and abolitionists.[2][4] The Constitutional Society had members in common with the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. But in July 1791 the Priestley Riots took place, driving Joseph Priestley from his home. The whole radical group resigned en masse, in 1791, when the Literary and Philosophical Society refused to send Priestley a message of sympathy.[5]

In the rapid developments stemming from the French Revolution, Cooper was sent to Paris in 1792 with James Watt Jr., by the Constitutional Society of Manchester. They travelled with an introduction from Walker to political circles through Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve, and another to a man of science, Antoine Lavoisier, from Priestley. Cooper was for some purposes a representative of the British democratic clubs to those of France, but the situation on both sides of the Channel was by now becoming complex. The Manchester group favored the Jacobins in the emerging split with the Girondins. Edmund Burke again censured Cooper in the House of Commons, and Cooper replied with a vehement pamphlet.[6]

Cooper came to represent the Society for Constitutional Information (SCI) alone, in dealings with the Jacobins. The Whig Friends of the People took steps to exclude him, out of concerns that its membership should not overlap with that of the more radical SCI: Burke had called the Manchester reformist group “some of the worst men in the kingdom” to score a political point off Charles Grey, who had been instrumental in setting up the Friends in April 1792.[7] While in France Cooper learned the process of obtaining chlorine from sea salt. He tried to apply this knowledge on his return to England to bleaching of textiles, but was unsuccessful.

By 1793, Cooper became disillusioned with the violent course of events in France. Both he and Watt later represented themselves as always favoring moderate elements (which is doubted now by scholars). But Cooper was in some danger of prosecution at home because of his views. He ruled out France as a destination, and made a preliminary journey to the United States in early 1794.[8]

Cooper came to a decision, and emigrated to America with Joseph Priestley later in 1794. He began the practice of law in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Like his friend Priestley, who was then also living in Northumberland, he sympathized with the Jeffersonian Republicans, and took part in the agitation against the Alien and Sedition Acts.

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Faculty portrait of Thomas Cooper, circa 1810, artist unknown. Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania.

On October 26, 1799, the Reading, Pennsylvania Advertiser published a strong attack he wrote against President John Adams. This led to his being tried for libel under the Sedition Act, and he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, with a fine of $400. It was during this trial that Cooper stated that he knew the king of England could do no wrong, “but I did not know till now that the President of the United States had the same attribute.”[9]

In 1806 Cooper was appointed a land commissioner and succeeded in overcoming the difficulties with the Connecticut claimants in Luzerne county. That year he was also appointed president-judge of the Fourth District of Pennsylvania in 1806. In 1811, having become obnoxious to the members of his own party, he was removed from his position as judge on a charge of arbitrary conduct.

Like Priestley, Cooper was very highly esteemed by Thomas Jefferson, who secured for him the appointment as first professor of natural science and law in the University of Virginia — a position which Cooper was forced to resign under the fierce attack made on him by the Virginia clergy. He later served as the chair of chemistry at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1811–1814) and at the University of Pennsylvania (1818–1819).

He became a professor of chemistry at South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in 1819. Later he would also provide instruction in political economics. In 1820, he became acting president of this institution and was president from 1821 until 1833, when he resigned owing to the opposition within the state to his liberal religious views. In December 1834, owing to continued opposition, he resigned his professorship. Though he became increasingly controversial during his tenure as president, he was very popular with his students. Most of them came to his defense in the years of 1831–33, when Cooper was frequently challenged by the state legislature. Although many students disagreed with Cooper’s philosophies, they liked the man personally.

Upon his arrival in America, Cooper had a positive outlook towards the country saying he preferred America because, “There is little fault to find with the government of America, either in principle or in practice…we have no animosities about religion; it is a subject about which no questions are asked…the present irritation of men’s minds in Great Britain, and the discordant state of society on political grounds is not known there. The government is the government of the people and for the people”. By 1831 his perspective had changed: “In no other country is the wise toleration established by law, so complete as in this. But in no country whatever is a spirit of persecution for mere opinions, more prevalent than in the United States of America. It is a country most tolerant in theory, and most bigoted in practice”, not that this made him feel obliged to return to Mother England.

He was a born agitator. In 1832, he had been formally tried for infidelity. Before his college classes, in public lectures, and in numerous pamphlets, he constantly preached the doctrine of free trade, and tried to show that the protective system was especially burdensome to the South. His remedy was state action. Each state, he contended, was a sovereign power and was in duty bound to protest against the tyrannical acts of the Federal government.

Cooper was a relentless campaigner for political freedom. He believed freedom of speech was the most fundamental of those freedoms and that America had major improvements to make in this area: “the value of free discussion is not yet appreciated as it ought to be in these United States”. He blamed the clergy in particular for this state of affairs: “the clergy of this country…are united in persecuting every man who calls in question any of their metaphysical opinions, or who hints at their views of ambition and aggrandizement”. Not surprisingly, the evangelical Charles Colcock Jones, who was a missionary to slaves as well as a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, was unimpressed with Cooper. Jones called him “the Father” of the “infidel Party” in South Carolina. “That old man,” he wrote, “has done this state more evil than fifty years can remove. He has a world of iniquity to answer for in poisoning the State with his infidel principles.”[10]

Cooper was at the center of the nullification movement and taught South Carolina about the dangers of consolidation. In 1827, as the tariff controversy grew, Cooper publicly questioned the benefit of the Union. In a speech, he described the South as the perennial loser in an “unequal alliance.” Cooper predicted that South Carolina would in the near future “be compelled to calculate the value of our union.” The idea that the South should withdraw “received its first extensive advertising as a result of that speech.”[11]

He exercised considerable influence in preparing the people of South Carolina for nullification and secession; in fact he preceded Calhoun in advocating a practical application of the state sovereignty principle. By nature of being an adamant advocate of states’ rights was in favor of Interposition. Cooper was one of the most vocal supporters of secession. Cooper’s political views made him enemies, and his religious views made even more.

He supported the institution of slavery, although he had strenuously opposed the slave trade. In the mid to late 1780s Cooper fought passionately against “that infamous and impolitic traffic”. He wrote that “negroes are men; susceptible of the same cultivation with ourselves”, claimed that “as Englishmen, the blood of the murdered African is upon us, and upon our children, and in some day of retribution he will feel it, who will not assist to wash off the stain”. But in America Cooper accepted slavery itself, as he doubted that “in South Carolina or Georgia…the rich lands could be cultivated without slave labour”.

In addition to Thomas Jefferson, he was friends with James Madison and several Governors of South Carolina. As a philosopher he was a follower of David Hartley, Erasmus Darwin, Priestley, and François-Joseph-Victor Broussais; he was a physiological materialist, and a severe critic of Scottish metaphysics.

The last years of his life were spent in preparing an edition of the Statutes at Large of the state, which was completed by David James McCord (1797–1855) and published in ten volumes (1836–1841). Cooper died in Columbia on May 11, 1839.

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He is interred in the churchyard at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

Notes

  1. Quoted in Cohen (2000)
  2. Newman, Stephen L. “Cooper, Thomas”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6231. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Graham, p. 150
  4. David Turley (14 January 2004). The Culture of English Antislavery, 1780-1860. Taylor & Francis. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-203-16933-9
  5. Eric Robinson, An English Jacobin: James Watt, Junior, 1769-1848, Cambridge Historical Journal Vol. 11, No. 3 (1955), pp. 349-355, at p. 351. Published by: Cambridge University Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3021128
  6. Graham, p. 261
  7. Graham, p. 303, p. 307 and p. 311
  8. Graham, pp. 511–3
  9. Hoffer (2011)
  10. Erskine Clarke, Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 172
  11. Malone, Dumas. The Public Life of Thomas Cooper (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1926), pp. 309-310

Bibliography

  • Anderson, P. R. and M. H. Fisch, Philosophy in America (1939), pp. 247–71
  • Cohen, Seymour S. “Cooper, Thomas” American National Biography Online Feb. 2000
  • Conkin, Paul K. Prophets of Prosperity (1980), pp. 141–52
  • Dorfman, Joseph. The Economic Mind in American Civilization, vol. 2 (1946), pp. 527–39
  • Hoffer Peter Charles. The Free Press Crisis of 1800: Thomas Cooper’s Trial for Seditious Libel (University Press of Kansas; 2011) 149 pages; history of the landmark case involving the Sedition Act of 1798
  • Hollis, D. W. University of South Carolina, vol. 1 (1951), pp. 74–118
  • Encyclopedia Dickinsonia biography of Thomas Cooper
  • Malone, Dumas. The Public Life of Thomas Cooper (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1926)
  • Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). “Cooper, Thomas”. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton

Attribution

  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Cooper, Thomas (educationalist)”. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press

Reference

  • Jenny Graham (2000). The Nation, the Law, and the King: Reform Politics in England, 1789-1799 (two volumes). University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-1484-1

Continental Association created by the Articles of Association

October 20, 2014

 

 

The Continental Association, often known simply as the “Association“, was a system created by the First Continental Congress on October 20, 1774, for implementing a trade boycott with Great Britain. Congress hoped that by imposing economic sanctions, Great Britain would be pressured to redress the grievances of the colonies, and in particular repeal the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament. The Association aimed to alter Britain’s policies towards the colonies without severing allegiance.

The boycott became operative on December 1, 1774. The Association was fairly successful while it lasted. Trade with Great Britain fell sharply, and the British responded with the New England Restraining Act of 1775. The outbreak of the American Revolutionary War effectively superseded the attempt to boycott British goods.

The British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774 to reform colonial administration in British America and, in part, to punish the Province of Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. Many American colonists saw the Coercive Acts as a violation of the British Constitution and a threat to the liberties of all of British America, not just Massachusetts. As they had done during the 1760s—most effectively during the Stamp Act crisis of 1765—colonists turned to economic boycotts to protest what they saw as unconstitutional legislation. The word boycott had not yet been coined; colonists referred to their economic protests as, depending upon the specific activity, “non-importation”, “non-exportation”, or “non-consumption”.

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Portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley, 1772

On May 13, 1774, the Boston Town Meeting, with Samuel Adams acting as moderator, passed a resolution that called for an economic boycott in response to the Boston Port Act, one of the Coercive Acts. The resolution said:

That it is the opinion of this town, that if the other, Colonies come, into a joint resolution to stop all importation from Great Britain, and exportations to Great Britain, and every part of the West Indies, till the Act for blocking up this harbour be repealed, the same will prove the salvation of North America and her liberties. On the other hand, if they continue their exports and imports, there is high reason to fear that fraud, power, and the most odious oppression, will rise triumphant over right, justice, social happiness, and freedom.[1]

Paul Revere, who often served as messenger, carried the Boston resolutions to New York and Philadelphia.[2] Adams also promoted the boycott through the colonial committees of correspondence, through which advocates of colonial rights in the various provinces kept in touch. The First Continental Congress was convened at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, to coordinate a response to the Coercive Acts. Twelve colonies were represented at the Congress.

On October 20, 1774, Congress created the Association, based on the earlier Virginia Association. The Association signified the increasing cooperation between the colonies. As a sign of the desire still prevalent at the time to avoid open revolution, the Association notably opened with a profession of allegiance to the king, and they placed the blame for “a ruinous system of colony administration” upon Parliament and lower British officials rather than the king directly. The Association alleged that this system was “evidently calculated for enslaving these colonies, and, with them, the British Empire.”

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The Association adopted by the Continental Congress was published and often signed by local leaders. Thomas Jefferson, who was not yet a delegate to Congress, signed this copy (lower left) with other Virginians.

From Thomas Jefferson’s papers, this is a broadside copy of the w:Continental Association that was signed by Jefferson and other Virginians

The articles of the Continental Association imposed an immediate ban on British tea, and a ban on importing or consuming any goods (including the slave trade) from Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies to take effect on December 1, 1774. It also threatened an export ban on any products from the American colonies to Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, to be enacted only if the complained of acts were not repealed by September 10, 1775; the Articles stated that the export ban was being suspended until this date because of the “earnest desire we have not to injure our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain, Ireland, or the West-Indies.” This was a recognition of the need and demand for American goods abroad, though the ban was likely deferred to avoid inflicting immediate economic hardship on American merchants. All American colonists were to direct their agents abroad to also comply with these restrictions, as would all ship owners.

The Association set forth policies by which the colonists would endure the scarcity of goods. Merchants were restricted from price gouging. Local committees of inspection were to be established in the colonies by which compliance would be monitored, through strong-arming local businesses. Any individual observed to violate the pledges in the Articles would be condemned in print and ostracized in society “as the enemies of American liberty.” Colonies would also cease all trade and dealings with any other colony that failed to comply with the bans.

The colonies also pledged that they would “encourage frugality, economy, and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of this country, especially that of wool; and will discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation,” such as gambling, stage plays and other frivolous entertainment. Specific instructions were even set forth on properly frugal funeral observations, pledging that no one “will go into any further mourning-dress, than a black crepe or ribbon on the arm or hat, for gentlemen, and a black ribbon and necklace for ladies, and we will discontinue the giving of gloves and scarves at funerals.”

These delegates signed the Association in Congress. Many local signings also took place.

President of Congress

1. Peyton Randolph

New-Hampshire

2. John Sullivan 3. Nathaniel Folsom

Massachusetts Bay

4. Thomas Cushing 5. Samuel Adams 6. John Adams 7. Robert Treat Paine

Rhode-Island

8. Stephen Hopkins 9. Samuel Ward

Connecticut

10. Eliphalet Dyer 11. Roger Sherman 12. Silas Deane

New-York

13. Isaac Low 14. John Alsop 15. John Jay 16. James Duane 17. Philip Livingston 18. William Floyd 19. Henry Wisner 20. Simon Boerum

New-Jersey

21. James Kinsey 22. William Livingston 23. Stephen Crane 24. Richard Smith 25. John De Hart

Pennsylvania

26. Joseph Galloway 27. John Dickinson 28. Charles Humphreys 29. Thomas Mifflin 30. Edward Biddle 31. John Morton 32. George Ross

The Lower Counties

33. Caesar Rodney 34. Thomas McKean 35. George Read

Maryland

36. Matthew Tilghman 37. Thomas Johnson, Junr. 38. William Paca 39. Samuel Chase

Virginia

40. Richard Henry Lee 41. George Washington 42. Patrick Henry, Junr. 43. Richard Bland 44. Benjamin Harrison 45. Edmund Pendleton

North-Carolina

46. William Hooper 47. Joseph Hewes 48. Richard Caswell

South-Carolina

49. Henry Middleton 50. Thomas Lynch 51. Christopher Gadsden 52. John Rutledge 53. Edward Rutledge

The Continental Association went into effect on December 1, 1774. The ban did succeed for the time it was in effect. However, the British retaliated by blocking colony access to the North Atlantic Fishing Area.

Only one colony failed to establish local enforcement committees; in the others, the restrictions were dutifully enforced—by violent measures on some occasions. Trade with Britain subsequently plummeted. Parliament responded by passing the New England Restraining Act, which prohibited the northeastern colonies from trading with anyone but Britain and the British West Indies, and they barred colonial ships from the North Atlantic fisheries. These punitive measures were later extended to most of the other colonies as well.

The outbreak of open fighting between the colonists and British soldiers in April 1775 rendered moot any attempt to indirectly change British policies. In this regard, the Association failed to determine events in the way that it was designed—Britain did not cave to American demands but instead tried to tighten its grip, and the conflict escalated to war. However, the true long-term success of the Association was in its effective direction of collective action among the colonies and expression of their common interests. This recognition of union by the Association, and its firm stance that the colonies and their people had rights that were being infringed by Britain, made it a direct precursor to the 1776 Declaration of Independence, which by contrast repudiated the authority of the king once it was clear that no other solution would preserve the asserted rights of the colonies.

Notes

  1. Ammerman, Common Cause, 24; for full text of Boston resolutions, see Peter Force, American Archives, 1:331
  2. Ammerman, Common Cause, 24

Bibliography

  • Ammerman, David. In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Acts of 1774. New York: Norton, 1974

Colonel Hans Christian Febiger, confidante of George Washington

October 19, 2014

 

 

Hans Christian Febiger (or Fibiger) was an American Revolutionary War commander, confidante of General George Washington and an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati. Known by the moniker “Old Denmark”, Febiger also served as Treasurer of Pennsylvania from November 13, 1789 until his death nearly seven years later.

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Hans Christian Febiger

Febiger (born Fibiger) was born in Faaborg on Funen Island in Denmark on October 19, 1749, and was the son of organist Jørgen Mathiasen Fibiger (1705-1776) and Sophie Dorthea Pedersdatter Østrup (1718-1781). After receiving the Studentereksamen, he journeyed with his uncle, Henrik Jakob Fibiger, somewhere in the late 1760s, to the Danish possession of St. Croix, where the latter had been appointed Customs duty manager. In 1772 Febiger traveled to the American colonies (possibly New England) and was engaged in several businesses when the American Revolution started. Febiger joined with the Massachusetts Militia on April 28, 1775, following the Lexington Alarm where he fell under the command of Col. Samuel Gerrish and soon became adjutant.

Febiger next became engaged in the Battle of Bunker Hill and proved a capable commander at several battles throughout New England. Febiger was soon afterward appointed to accompany General Benedict Arnold on his Quebec Expedition, which eventually led to the infamous Battle of Quebec. During the raid on December 31, 1775, Febiger was taken prisoner by the British and held captive in and around New York City until January 1777.

After his release, Febiger re-joined the Continental forces as the lieutenant colonel of the 11th Virginia Regiment under the command of Col. Daniel Morgan.

Febiger and his regiment fought with the Continental Army in the Philadelphia campaign before moving on to other engagements. Following his performance at the Battle of Brandywine, Febiger was promoted to the rank of colonel on September 26, 1777 and took command of the 2nd Virginia Regiment, a post he held until the end of the war though it is speculated that he did not accept his Colonelcy until after the Battle of Germantown.

In later parts of the American Revolutionary War Col. Febiger commanded the 2nd Virginia Regiment through several significant battles. He also fought with Major General Nathanael Greene at Germantown on the right wing; he led 4,000 men with two canon at the Battle of Monmouth; and he commanded the right column in the Battle of Stony Point where he distinguished himself by taking the British commander prisoner in person.

Febiger later served under General Peter Muhlenberg as a recruiting coordinator for the State of Virginia, and oversaw much of the shipment of supplies through the battle lines after being removed to Philadelphia. As with most of his military service, Febiger distinguished himself as master of the stores and transport of much of the Continental supply.

Febiger’s military career for much of the rest of the War was engaged in his recruiting and oversight efforts; however, he was in the field at intervals and present at the Battle of Yorktown and the official surrender of General Cornwallis. Febiger is listed in a February 1942 newspaper article under the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! section as having been the “only soldier who took part in every important battle of the Revolutionary War from Bunker Hill to Yorktown.”

Colonel Febiger finally retired from active duty, following eight years of service to the Revolutionary cause, on January 1, 1783. He was officially discharged from the Continental Army on November 30. During that period, the Continental Congress conferred to Febiger the rank of Brigadier General by brevet. Febiger, however, never truly assumed that title saying, it is “more to one’s business advantage’s in America to be known as ‘Colonel.'”

Following the war, “Old Denmark” settled in Philadelphia and engaged in several business ventures, many of which proved rather successful. Febiger also joined the Virginia branch of the Society of the Cincinnati, but later switched his affiliation to the Pennsylvania group. After briefly serving as Auctioneer of the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia (succeeding David Rittenhouse), he eventually came to hold the post of Treasurer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was appointed to that post for every successive year until he died on September 20, 1796. The cause of death is not quite clear. According to the Sons of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania Society, website, Febiger is buried in the historic Mount Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Col. Febiger was married to the former Miss Elizabeth Carson and though they had “no issue” by this marriage, they adopted Mrs. Febiger’s nephew, Christian Carson Febiger (son of Dr. John Carson, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania). Febiger was the grandfather of the Civil War hero, Admiral John Carson Febiger who later became Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

References

  • Christian Febiger Bio
  • Salmonsens konversationsleksikon Anden Udgave / Bind VII, p. 939
  • The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries, 1881
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not! (February 20, 1942)
  • Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. VI
  • The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. I (1892, pg. 86)
  • The Writings of George Washington, 1889
  • “Febiger, Christian”. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900

Brigadier General Daniel Brodhead IV

October 17, 2014

 

 

Daniel Brodhead IV was an American military and political leader during the American Revolution and early days of the United States.

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Daniel Brodhead IV

Brodhead was born on October 17, 1736, in Marbletown, New York, the son of Daniel Brodhead III and Hester (Wyngart) Brodhead. Brodhead’s father moved his family to what is now East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1737. Life in the frontier settlement was difficult, as Native American bands, mostly Lenape and Susquehannock, resisted settlers’ encroachment. The Brodhead homestead was attacked by natives numerous times during Daniel’s youth. When his father died in 1755, Brodhead was left with 150 acres from the estate. He sold his land share to brother Garret. This became the site of the Flory home at 170 North Courtland Street, the oldest home in East Stroudsburg.

Brodhead married Elizabeth Dupui (Dupuy) in April 1756. They had three children who survived to adulthood.

Brodhead had a relatively unremarkable career before the American Revolutionary War. He farmed, ran a grist mill, and worked as a deputy surveyor for Pennsylvania.

In the years leading up to the outbreak of hostilities, Brodhead began to take part in the protest movements against British taxation. In 1774, Brodhead was elected to represent Bucks County at a provincial meeting held in Philadelphia on July 15, 1774.

In 1776 as war broke out, Brodhead was commissioned as an officer of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of colonial troops with the rank of lieutenant colonel. His first action came at the Battle of Long Island, where he was recognized by George Washington for his bravery and initiative. At the battle, Brodhead’s only son, also named Daniel, was wounded and captured. He was soon exchanged, but died of his wounds shortly after being released.

Brodhead took over command of the 8th Pennsylvania after the death of its commander, Aeneas Mackay, and was promoted to colonel. Brodhead led his troops during the defense of Philadelphia in 1777 and wintered with the Continental Army at Valley Forge in 1777–78.

In April 1778, Brodhead led a successful expedition against the Lenape bands around the Muskingum River in the Ohio Country. In June 1778, Washington sent Brodhead and the 8th Pennsylvania to rebuild and re-garrison the frontier outpost of Fort Muncy, in what is now Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Brodhead defended local settlers from British-allied tribes.

Brodhead commanded the 8th Pennsylvania in Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh’s failed attempt to capture the British stronghold of Fort Detroit. On March 5, 1779, Brodhead replaced McIntosh as commander of the Western Department. His command included frontier forts such as Fort Pitt (present Pittsburgh), Fort McIntosh (Beaver, Pennsylvania), Fort Laurens (near Bolivar, Ohio), Fort Tuscarora (near Lisbon, Ohio), Fort Henry (Virginia) (Wheeling, West Virginia), Fort Armstrong (near Kittanning, Pennsylvania), and Fort Holliday’s Cove, along with dozens of lesser outposts.[1]

The Wyandot, Mingo, Shawnee, and Lenape allied with the British and regularly raided settlements on the Ohio Country frontier. The British were strong at Fort Detroit and other outposts, and had most of the Iroquois Confederacy as allies. In addition, Brodhead faced a tenuous alliance with Iroquois tribes such as the Oneida, a large population of Tory-sympathizing settlers, and a delicate truce with the powerful Lenape-Delaware tribe. Its friendly chief had signed a treaty with the US as an ally.

From his headquarters at Fort Pitt, Brodhead directed numerous raids against hostile native tribes, often leading the expeditions personally. His most famous raid came against the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy between August 11 and September 14, 1779. Brodhead left Fort Pitt with a contingent of 605 soldiers and militia to go into northwestern Pennsylvania. He followed the Allegheny River up into New York, where he drove the Seneca out of their villages. As most of the warriors were away fighting the Sullivan Expedition further east in New York, Brodhead met little resistance in destroying the villages, crops and people at the heart of the Seneca nation.

In 1781, some of the Lenape-Delaware ended their neutrality and sided with the British. In retaliation, Brodhead mounted the Coshocton Expedition, invading their territory in central Ohio and destroying the main village of Coshocton in what is now east-central Ohio. As a result of Brodhead’s campaign, the Delaware fled from eastern Ohio. They also vowed vengeance.[2]

He retained command of the Western Department until September 17, 1781, when he was replaced by General John Gibson. He had turned over command in May 1781, but returned in August and tried to regain control from Gibson, in the process arresting Gibson. However George Washington sent orders which led to Brodhead’s permanent removal from command at Fort Pitt.[3] Brodhead was removed from his command over allegations of mishandling supplies and money. Brodhead had made impressment (the forced sale of supplies) a policy. He had spent money intended for bonuses to recruit new militiamen to purchase supplies for his existing troops. Brodhead was acquitted of all charges except misspending the recruiting money. George Washington had been aware of the impressment and had given his tacit approval, as the Continental Army was struggling to keep going. Furthermore, the court martial ruled Brodhead justified in spending the recruiting money on supplies, and he was not punished.

A short time later, George Washington brevetted him a brigadier general. Brodhead spent the remainder of the war as commander of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.

After the war, Brodhead, by then a widower, married Rebecca Mifflin, the widow of General Samuel Mifflin. Brodhead was one of the founders of the Society of the Cincinnati. He later served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. On November 13, 1789, he was appointed Surveyor General of Pennsylvania and held the post for the next eleven years.

He died on November 15, 1809, at Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania, and was buried in Milford.[4]

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References

  1. http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/smithproject/bios/brodheadd.html
  2. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=51
  3. David Curtis Skaggs and Larry L. Nelson. The Sixty Years’ War for the Great Lakes, 1754-1814. (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2001) p. 196-197
  4. General Daniel Brodhead: Patriot in War, Civil Servant in Peace by Dr. John C. Appel Milestones, Vol. 17 No 2 Summer 1992

Colonel Nathaniel Gist

October 15, 2014

 

 

Nathaniel Gist was born in Maryland and fought during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. He was reputed to be the father of Sequoyah the famous Cherokee by Wut-teh. Like his father Christopher Gist (1706–1759). He served in Braddock’s Expedition in 1755 and the Forbes Expedition in 1758. The outbreak of the American Revolution found him on the frontier. At first suspected of sympathizing with the British, he convinced the Americans of his loyalty.

George Washington, a close friend of his father, authorized him to form Gist’s Additional Continental Regiment in January 1777. Gist probably participated in Light Horse Harry Lee’s Paulus Hook Raid in 1779. He and his regiment were captured at the Siege of Charleston in May 1780. After the war, he took an American wife Judith Cary Bell (1750–1833) and the couple had four daughters, one of whom married Francis P. Blair. He is variously said to have died in 1796, 1812, or at the end of the War of 1812. He is confused with his uncle Nathaniel Gist (1707–1780). He was a first cousin of Mordecai Gist.

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Re-enactment of then-Captain Nathaniel Gist during the French and Indian War

Born on October 15, 1733 in Baltimore, Maryland, Gist’s parents were Christopher Gist (1706–1759) and Sarah Howard (b. 1711).[1] The surname was sometimes rendered Guest. In 1753 his father made a remarkable trek through the wilderness with George Washington.[2] By this time the 20-year old Nathaniel Gist was a trader living with the Overhill Cherokee near Echota. He and a partner Richard Pearis sold his father’s goods to the native Americans. Both men coveted the land at Long Island in the Holston River (now Kingsport, Tennessee) and soon fell out. While Gist was on a peace mission to the Iroquois, Pearis stole his merchandise and stirred up trouble. Governor Robert Dinwiddie blamed the quarrel for the failure of the Cherokees to aid the British against the French.[3] In 1755 Gist accompanied Braddock’s Expedition in 1755, serving as a lieutenant in his father’s ranger company in Washington’s colonial regiment. He continued his military service in 1756, protecting the frontier against raids by pro-French Indians.[4]

In 1757, Gist received promotion to captain and was given responsibility for 200 Cherokees living in Virginia. He was credited with leading these native peoples as an auxiliary force during the successful Forbes Expedition of 1758.[5] In 1760, Gist accompanied Daniel Boone and other hunters on a trek to Abingdon, Virginia, then called Wolf Hill. The two then split up, with Boone going on to Long Island and Gist traveling to Cumberland Gap.[6] He was said to have sired Sequoyah in 1760 or 1761, but this is unlikely because the Anglo-Cherokee War was raging and Gist was serving in Adam Stephen’s colonial Virginia regiment against the Cherokees. This unit advanced as far as Long Island before peace was made between the two sides.[7]

Samuel C. Williams believed that Gist fathered Sequoyah around 1775 by his mother Wut-teh. Of a prominent clan, she was related to Old Tassel and John Watts. Williams dismissed the story that Sequoyah’s father was an itinerant German peddler by the name of Guess. He noted that Sequoyah went by George Guess, Guest, and Gist, and that he finished the Cherokee alphabet in 1821 when he was about 40. This was much too young for a man born in 1761. Williams noted that a letter showed that in 1828 Sequoyah visited Gist relatives in Kentucky and was acknowledged as a family member.[8]

The year 1775 found Gist living with the Overhill Cherokees. After a trip to West Florida, he returned to Cherokee country with Henry Stuart, the brother of John Stuart, the British agent to the southern tribes. At this time, the Stuarts and another agent Alexander Cameron were trying to get the white settlers on the Nolichucky and Watauga Rivers to move to West Florida. When the American Revolution broke out, the British agents desired to separate the American loyalist settlers from the rebels, so that the Indians could attack the rebels. They apparently hoped to enlist Gist in the effort. Jarret Williams, a settler got back to Virginia with the news that Gist was working with the British. In fact, Gist was in the pay of Cameron at the time. For his part, Gist warned the Cherokees not to start a war, but they began attacking the settlements anyway.[9]

In 1776, Virginia sent an expedition under William Christian against the Cherokees. He was enjoined to capture the Stuarts, Cameron, and Gist as enemies. When the column reached the French Broad River, Gist came into the Virginian camp under a flag of truce. On October 15, 1776, Christian reported to Governor Patrick Henry that some of the Virginia troops recalled Gist’s exploits on the frontier in a good light, while most of the soldiers wanted to lynch him as a British spy. Christian thought Gist was remorseful for becoming involved with the British agents, but did not entirely trust him. Nevertheless, he kept him from harm and Gist later regained his popularity. Gist maintained that it was impossible for him to escape so he appeared to go along with the enemy purpose, a story that was accepted by Governor Henry and the Virginia council in December.[10]

Washington appointed Gist colonel in command of Gist’s Additional Continental Regiment on January 11, 1777.[11] The regiment was intended to be a light infantry unit. Four companies of southern frontier rangers would be enrolled. In addition, Gist was to recruit 500 natives from the Cherokee and other tribes to serve as scouts. Aside from the military purpose, it was believed that enlisting the braves would bind the tribes in an alliance with the American cause.[12] Only three companies were formed from Virginians and Marylanders. The regiment did not fight as a whole. Instead, the companies of Captains John Gist and Joseph Smith were attached to the 3rd Maryland Regiment while the company of Captain Samuel Lapsley served with the 11th Virginia Regiment. The three companies that comprised the regiment fought with the main army in the Philadelphia Campaign in the summer and fall of 1777 and at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778.[13]

On April 22, 1779, Gist’s Regiment absorbed Grayson’s Additional Continental Regiment and Thruston’s Additional Continental Regiment. The consolidated regiment reformed in the strength of eight companies. The unit was assigned to the 1st Virginia Brigade on 12 May.[13] Gist preferred charges against Light Horse Harry Lee after the latter’s capture of British prisoners at the Battle of Paulus Hook on 19 August 1779. Brigadier General George Weedon, who evidently disagreed with the charges, called Gist “the head of the Wrongheads”.[11][note 1] On 4 December, the regiment was ordered to march to Charleston, South Carolina.[13] On 6 April 1780, William Woodford’s contingent of 750 Virginia Continentals arrived, having marched 500 miles (805 km).[14] Gist and his regiment were captured on 12 May 1780 at the Siege of Charleston. He retired from the army on 1 January 1783.[11]

Gist received 7,000 acres in Kentucky for his services in the war. He moved there in 1793 with a large contingent of slaves and built an estate called Canewood. At that time he was described as six feet tall and “stout-framed”, with a dark complexion. Williams believed that he died around the end of the War of 1812.[15] Historian Francis B. Heitman asserted that Gist died in 1796.[16] A third source gave his date of death as 1812 in Kentucky.[1]

Nathaniel had two brothers, Richard Gist, who was born on 2 September 1729 and died at the Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780, and Thomas Gist, who moved to Kentucky after the American Revolutionary War.[2] Heitman states that it was Nathaniel Gist, Jr., an ensign in his father’s regiment, who died at King’s Mountain.[16] His father had two brothers, Nathaniel Gist (1707–1780) and Thomas Gist (1712–1787).[17] Nathaniel is sometimes confused with his uncle Nathaniel.[2] In 1783, Gist married Judith Cary Bell and the couple had four daughters,[18] Eliza Violet (1794–1877),[1] Sarah Howard, Anne Cary, and Maria. Eliza married Francis Preston Blair and was the mother of Montgomery Blair who served in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet and Francis Preston Blair, Jr. a Union general and US Senator. Sarah married Jesse Bledsoe who became a US Senator, Anne wed Dr. Joseph Boswell, and Maria married Benjamin Gratz.[18] The noted Maryland officer Mordecai Gist was his first cousin.[11]

Note

  • This suggests that Gist’s regiment either formed part of the attacking column or part of Lord Stirling’s relief force. But this is not stated by Boatner.

References

  1. Mechling & Fazzini, Nathaniel Gist
  2. Williams (1937), 3
  3. Williams (1937), 3-5
  4. Williams (1937), 6
  5. Williams (1937), 7
  6. Williams (1937), 8
  7. Williams (1937), 9
  8. Williams (1937), 10-11
  9. Williams (1937), 12-14
  10. Williams (1937), 14-15
  11. Boatner (1994), 436
  12. Wright (1989), 101
  13. Wright (1989), 321
  14. Boatner (1994), 209
  15. Williams (1937), 18-19
  16. Heitman (1914), 249
  17. Fazzini, Richard Gist
  18. Williams, 19

Bibliography

  • Boatner, Mark M. III (1994). Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0578-1
  • Mechling, Patricia; Fazzini, P. “Find-a-grave: Nathaniel Gist”
  • Fazzini, P. “Find-a-grave: Richard Gist”
  • Heitman, Francis Bernard (1914). Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Rare Book Shop Publishing Company
  • Williams, Samuel C. (1937), Chronicles of Oklahoma, The Father of Sequoyah: Nathaniel Gist
  • Wright, Robert K. Jr. (1989). The Continental Army. Washington, D.C.: US Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 60-4

General Casimir Pulaski, Father of the American Cavalry

October 11, 2014

 

 

 

Casimir Pulaski, or Kazimierz Pułaski, was a Polish soldier, nobleman, and politician who has been called “the father of American cavalry”.[2][3]

A member of the Polish landed nobility, Pulaski was a military commander for the Bar Confederation and fought against Russian domination of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he emigrated to North America as a soldier of fortune. During the American Revolutionary War, he saved the life of George Washington[4] and became a general in the Continental Army. He died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah. Pulaski is one of only seven people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship.

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Casimir Pulaski by Jan Styka

Pulaski was born on March 6, 1745[1][5] in the now-nonexistent Pulaski manor house, located near the present address 53 Nowy Świat St. near Warecka St.[6] in Warsaw, Poland.[7][8][9] His father, Józef Pułaski, was a well-known lawyer – the Advocatus at Crown Tribunal and the Starosta of Warka and one of its most notable inhabitants. Early in his youth, Casimir Pulaski studied at the local college of Theatines in Warsaw.

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Ślepowron coat-of-arms.

In 1762, he started his career as a page of Carl Christian Joseph of Saxony, Duke of Courland and a vassal of the Polish king. However, soon after his arrival at Mitau, the ducal court was expelled from the palaces by the Russian forces occupying the area. Pulaski returned to Warsaw, where he took part in the 1764 election of the new Polish monarch, Stanisław II August.

A skilled military commander and a son of one of the notable families, Pulaski became one of the co-founders of the Bar Confederation, together with his father, on February 29, 1768. The confederation, aiming to curtail Russian hegemony over the Commonwealth, was actively opposed by the Russian forces stationed in Poland. As the Marshal of Nobility of the Land of Łomża, Pulaski became one of the best commanders of the confederate forces. That year, he was besieged in a monastery in Berdyczów, which he defended for two weeks against overwhelming odds. Taken captive by the Russians, he was set free after being forced to pledge that he would not return to the confederates.

However, he did not consider such a forced pledge binding and fought against the Russian forces for four more years. In 1769, he was again besieged by numerically superior forces, this time in the old fortress of Okopy Świętej Trójcy. However, after a brave defense, he was able to break through the Russian siege and lead his men to the Ottoman Empire, whence they returned to Lithuania. There, Pulaski incited yet another revolt against Russia, with many local nobles joining the Confederation. Between September 10, 1770, and January 9, 1771, Pulaski also commanded the Polish forces in the siege of Jasna Góra monastery, which he successfully defended.

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Pulaski at Częstochowa, an 1875 painting by Józef Chełmoński

In November 1771, he was accused of being the main organizer of an attempt to take the King of Poland hostage.[10] However, the attempt failed, and the Confederation was disbanded soon afterward. Pulaski was made a public enemy and sentenced to death in absentia for attempted regicide. He fled the country, but no European state would accept him. After a brief stay in Turkey, he moved illegally to France, where he was recruited by Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin for service in America.[10] Modern historians have cleared him of any participation in the attempted abduction.[11]

Franklin recommended that General George Washington accept Pulaski as a volunteer in the American cavalry and said that Pulaski “was renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery he displayed in defense of his country’s freedom.”[12] After arriving in America, Pulaski wrote to Washington, “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.”[12]

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Pulaski on Juliusz Kossak painting 1883

His first military engagement against the British was on September 11, 1777, at the Battle of Brandywine. When the Continental troops began to yield, he reconnoitered with Washington’s bodyguard, and reported that the enemy were endeavoring to cut off the line of retreat. He was authorized to collect as many of the scattered troops as came in his way, and employ them according to his discretion, which he did in a manner so prompt as to effect important aid in the retreat of the army.[11] His courageous charge averted a disastrous defeat of the American cavalry and saved the life of Washington.[13] As a result, on September 15, 1777, Washington promoted Pulaski to brigadier general of the American cavalry.[12]

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Stanisław Batowski Kaczor, Death of Pułaski at Savannah

He saved the army from a surprise at Warren Tavern, near Philadelphia, took part in the Battle of Germantown, and in the winter of 1777/78 engaged in the operations of General Anthony Wayne, contributing to the defeat of a British division at Haddonfield, New Jersey. However, the cavalry officers could not be reconciled to the orders of a foreigner who could scarcely speak English and whose ideas of discipline and tactics differed widely from those to which they had been accustomed.[11] In addition, there was his imperious personality.[14] These circumstances prompted him to resign his general command in March 1778, and return to Valley Forge.[11]

At his suggestion, which was adopted by Washington, Congress authorized the formation of a corps of lancers and light infantry, in which even deserters and prisoners of war might enlist. This corps, which became famous under the name of the Pulaski Cavalry Legion, was recruited mainly in Baltimore. In September, it numbered about 350 men, divided into three companies of cavalry and three of infantry. It was one of the few cavalry regiments in the American Continental Army. Pulaski was put at its head. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow commemorated in verse this episode of Pulaski’s life.[11]

The “father of the American cavalry” demanded much of his men and trained them in tested cavalry tactics. He used his own personal finances when money from Congress was scarce, in order to assure his forces of the finest equipment and personal safety.[15] Congress named him “Commander of the Horse”.

In the autumn he was ordered to Little Egg Harbor with his legion, a company of artillery, and a party of militia. A Hessian deserter, Lt. Gustav Juliet, who held a grudge against Col. de Bosen, the leader of the infantry, betrayed their whereabouts to the British, who made a night attack on De Bosen’s camp.[16] Pulaski heard the tumult and, assembling his cavalry, repelled the enemy, but the legion suffered a loss of forty men. During the following winter he was stationed at Minisink, at that time in New Jersey. He was dissatisfied with his petty command, and intended to leave the service and return to Europe, but was dissuaded by Washington.[11] He was ordered to South Carolina.[11]

In February 1779, the legion ejected the British occupiers from Charleston, South Carolina.[12] Although he had frequent attacks of malarial fever, he remained in active service. Toward the beginning of September, he received orders to proceed to Augusta.[11] There he was to join with General Lachlan McIntosh, and the united force was to move toward Savannah in advance of the army of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln.[17] Before the enemy was aware of his presence, Pulaski captured a British outpost, and, after several skirmishes, established permanent communications with the French fleet at Beaufort. He rendered great services during the siege of Savannah, and in the assault of October 9 commanded the whole cavalry, both French and American.[11] During a cavalry charge, while probing for a weak point in the British lines, Pulaski was mortally wounded by grapeshot. The grape shot is still on display today at The Powder Magazine military museum in Charleston, SC. After he was wounded, Pulaski was carried from the field by several comrades, including Col. John C. Cooper, and taken aboard the privateer merchant brigantine Wasp, where he died two days later, on October 11, 1779, having never regained consciousness.[12]

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Grapeshot which mortally wounded Count Casimir Pulaski, Oct. 9, 1779, extracted from his body by Dr. James Lynah.

According to several contemporary witnesses, including Pulaski’s aide-de-camp, he was buried at sea. Other witnesses however, including Captain Samuel Bulfinch of the Wasp, claimed that the wounded Pulaski was actually later removed from the ship and taken to Greenwich plantation near Savannah, Georgia, where he died and was buried.[4] The alleged remains were later reinterred in Monterey Square in Savannah, Georgia. Remains at Monterey Square alleged to be Pulaski’s were exhumed in 1996 and examined in a lengthy forensic study. The eight-year examination ended inconclusively, and the remains were reinterred with military honors in 2004.

Pulaski is one of the most honored persons in American history, in terms of places and events named in his honor.

Several cities and counties in US states are named after Pulaski, including the cities of Pulaski, Tennessee and Iowa; counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia; as well as villages in Illinois (Mt. Pulaski) and Wisconsin and New York; and many Townships.

Parks

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General Casimir Pulaski

  • In Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., there is a statue dedicated to Pulaski located at Pennsylvania Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets.
  • “Pulaski Park” sits on Main Street between City Hall and the historic Academy of Music Theater, in the town of Northampton, Massachusetts. Northampton and the surrounding area is home to many Polish-American immigrants and their descendants.
  • “Pulaski Park” in Manchester, New Hampshire, located at the corner of Union and Bridge Streets, is home to an equestrian statue of Pulaski.
  • “Casimir Pulaski Memorial Park” is located in Chepachet, Rhode Island, within the 4,000 acres George Washington Management Area. The 100 acres park features the 13 acres Peck Pond, hiking, and cross-country skiing, and general recreation facilities.
  • In Hammond, Indiana, there is a park named in his honor on the north part of Hammond which is 2 blocks square between Sheffield Avenue and Grover Avenue and between 137th St. and 139th St.
  • “Pulaski Park” sits along 20th Street, between Cleveland and Oklahoma Avenues, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Roadways and bridges

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Pulaski Memorial in Patterson Park, Baltimore, Maryland

  • The (General) Pulaski Skyway, a 3.5-mile series of bridges between Jersey City and Newark that connects to the Holland Tunnel, opened in 1932 in his honor. Interstate 93 in Boston has a Pulaski Skyway as well. The North-South Arterial (Rtes 5, 8 and 12) in Utica, New York is also named the Casimir Pulaski Highway. There is also a statue of him on Utica’s Memorial Parkway.
  • The Pulaski Bridge connects the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, one of the largest Polonias in America, to Long Island City, Queens.
  • In Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, the town where the Little Egg Harbor massacre occurred, there is a section of the Mystic Islands development named “Pulaski’s Village”, with a street named “Pulaski Blvd”, which is home to a monument in Pulaski’s honor. The monument is the starting point for the town’s Memorial Day celebration and parade.
  • Other streets named for Pulaski, in various cities including Riverhead, New York, Huntington, New York, Brooklyn, NY, Hamtramck, Michigan, Calumet City, Illinois, Bellingham, Massachusetts, South Bend, Indiana, Columbia, South Carolina, Athens, Georgia, Toledo, Ohio, Pulaski Street in Peabody, Ma, and Pulaski Road in Chicago. Interstate 65 through Lake County, Indiana is designated as Casimir Pulaski Memorial Highway.[18] U.S. Route 40 from Midvale, Delaware, to Baltimore, Maryland, is named Pulaski Highway, and the latter city’s Patterson Park contains a monument in honor of him.

Holidays

  • The United States has long commemorated Pulaski’s contributions to the American War of Independence, but Polish immigration in the 20th century heightened the interest. In 1929, Congress passed a resolution recognizing October 11 of each year as “General Pulaski Memorial Day”,[12] dedicated to Pulaski’s memory and to the heritage of Polish-Americans. Each October Grand Rapids, Michigan, celebrates “Pulaski Days”.[5] There is also a statue of Pulaski in Detroit, Michigan, in the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue.
  • The Commonwealth of Kentucky has by law, since before 1942, recognized General Pulaski’s Day. The State of Illinois has since 1977 celebrated Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday of March, when all state government buildings are closed. School districts have the option of observing Pulaski Day as a holiday. Wisconsin and Indiana extend similar recognition, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, also holds an annual parade and school holiday. On this day there is a Pulaski Day parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City.[19]
  • Buffalo, whose population comprises a great percentage of Polish immigrants and their descendants, honors Pulaski with the Casimir Pulaski Memorial Monument at Main and South Division Streets, and an annual parade on Pulaski Day.

Monuments

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Pulaski monument in Savannah, Georgia

  • Fort Pulaski, active during the American Civil War, is named in honor of Casimir Pulaski.
  • Additionally, there is Pulaski Square in downtown Savannah and Fort Pulaski National Monument outside Savannah. In McGlachlin Park, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, stands a statue of Count Casimir Pulaski. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is a Pulaski Days Festival the first weekend of October, including a parade and celebration at local Polish Halls honoring his contribution to the Revolutionary War. There is a small park named in his honor in Northampton, Massachusetts and in South Bend, Indiana.
  • Pulaski Square, erected in 1937 on Mall C, adjacent Cleveland Browns Stadium in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, was built by the Polish Legion of American Veterans and the city’s Polish community.[20]
  • General Casimir Pulaski monument located at Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street, N.W., Washington, District of Columbia dedicated on May 11, 1910.[21]
  • General Casmir Pulaski statue located on the Lackawanna County Courthouse square in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Military

  • One of the first tributes to Pulaski was paid when George Washington on November 17, 1779, issued a challenge-and-password set for identifying friend and foe when crossing military lines: “Query: Pulaski, response: Poland”.
  • A US Navy submarine, USS Casimir Pulaski, has been named for him, as was a 19th-century Revenue Marine (Coast Guard) cutter.[22]

Schools

  • There is a technical university in Poland known as Kazimierz Pulaski Technical University of Radom.
  • Also, there are Casimir Pulaski elementary schools in Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Wilmington, Delaware, Meriden, Connecticut, and Scarsdale, New York, Pulaski High School in Milwaukee, Pulaski Middle School (formerly Pulaski Senior High School) in New Britain, Connecticut, North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville, Arkansas and an industrial park is named for him in nearby Wallingford, Connecticut. Within the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, Pulaski House is the name for a student residential building.

Pulaski Academy in Little Rock Arkansas is one of the top college preparatory schools in the United States, educating children from Pre-K 3 through 12th grade.

Miscellaneous

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Statue at the Kazimierz Pulaski Museum in Warka, Poland.

  • Although there are several disputed birth and baptismal records, Pulaski’s birth is honored in Warka, Poland, by the Kazimierz Pulaski Museum, which opened in 1967.[23] The museum occupies the manor house which Pulaski’s family lived in during the 1760s, and includes rooms dedicated to his activities in Poland and the USA. It also includes rooms dedicated to Polish-American emigration and contributions of Polish émigrés to American culture and history.
  • After a previous attempt failed,[24] the United States Congress passed a joint resolution conferring honorary U.S. citizenship on Pulaski in 2009, sending it to the President for approval.[25] President Obama signed the bill on November 6, 2009, making Pulaski the seventh person so honored.[26]
  • Detroit folk singer Sufjan Stevens released a track called “Casimir Pulaski Day” on his 2005 album “Illinoise”
  • Chicago punk band Big Black released a track called “Kasimir S. Pulaski Day” on their 1987 album Songs About #######; elsewhere in music, Maryland hard rock band Clutch recorded a track titled “Pulaski Skyway” on their 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus.
  • America paid a special millennial tribute to Pulaski in the year 2000 involving a large party in Chicago’s Grant Park. The party included live DJ Food and a varied dance set list—including artists such as Two Hours Traffic alongside Snoop Dogg and Moby—followed by a multimedia presentation on Pulaski’s life and accomplishments set to orchestral music performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and specially composed for the occasion by Yanni.

Notes

  1. Father Stanislaw Makarewicz (1998), “The Four Birth Records of Kazimierz Pulaski”, Archiwa, Biblioteki i Muzea Koscielne (The Catholic University of Lublin (KUL)) 70, http://www.poles.org/birth.html, retrieved 2009-03-04
  2. Casimir Pulaski Day, the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity at Eastern Illinois University. Leszek Szymański, Casimir Pulaski: A Hero of the American Revolution, E207.P8 S97 1994
  3. From Da to Yes, Yale Richmond, p. 72
  4. U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Granting Honorary Posthumous Citizenship to Casimir Pulaski [1][2]
  5. Some sources cite March 4
  6. Some sources cite in Warka-Winiary – which seems to be Pulaski’s vacation residence
  7. The Four Birth Records of Kazimierz Pulaski (Pol., Cztery metryki Kazimierza Pułaskiego) Stanisław Makarewicz
  8. “KAZIMIERZ PUŁASKI [Casimir Pulaski biography on Casimir Pulaski’s Museum in Warka, Poland]” (in Polish) Muzeum im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego w Warce http://www.muzeumpulaski.pl/html/kazimierz_pu3aski.html
  9. “Nowy Świat 53 róg Warecka 2/8 kamienica Mikulskiego [Mikulski’s house near 53 Nowy Świat St. cross 2-8 Warecka St. in Warsaw]” (in Polish) http://www.warszawa1939.pl: Warszawa 1939 (in English Warsaw before 1939) http://www.warszawa1939.pl/index.php?r1=nowy_53&r3=0
  10. Eastern Illinois University: Pulaski Day
  11. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: “Pulaski, Kazimierz”. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900
  12. Resolution of 111th [Congress http://thomas.loc.gov]: 1st Session; S. J. RES. 12 Proclaiming Casimir Pulaski to be an honorary citizen of the United States
  13. Kazimierz Pulaski Granted U.S. Citizenship Posthumously (11 March 2009) – U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Warsaw, Poland http://poland.usembassy.gov/embassy-events/embassy-events-2009/kazimierz-pulaski-granted-u.s.-citizenship-posthumously-11-march-2009
  14. pp. 876-877, Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. XXIV No. 4 Fall 1994
  15. Seidner, Stanley S (1976). In Quest of a Cultural Identity: An Inquiry for the Polish Community. New York: IUME, Teachers College, Columbia University http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED167674&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED167674
  16. http://books.google.com/books?dq=%22little%20egg%20harbor%22%20october%201778&pg=PA16&id=JQIrAAAAYAAJ&output=text
  17. Charles Colcock Jones (1883). The history of Georgia: Revolutionary epoch. 2. p. 378 http://books.google.com/books?id=MxESGlpQikQC&pg=PA378.
  18. http://www.in.gov/indot/2446.htm
  19. [3]
  20. http://www.clevelandpeople.com/groups/polish/polish-pulaski-square.htm
  21. Art Inventories Catalog. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)
  22. Pulaski, 1825; U.S. Coast Guard
  23. http://www.muzeumpulaski.pl
  24. S.J. Res. 5
  25. H.J. Res. 26
  26. Mann, William C. (2009-11-10). “Revolutionary War hero becomes honorary US citizen” http://poland.usembassy.gov/embassy-events-2009/president-obama-signs-resolution-granting-u.s.-citizenship-posthumously-to-kazimierz-puaski-10-november-2009

Bibliography

  • Konopczynski, Wladyslaw; translated by Irena Makarewicz (1947). Casimir Pulaski. Archives and museum. 11. Annals of the Polish Roman catholic union. p. 64. OCLC 459864667
  • (in en) 40 lat Muzeum im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego w Warce : bohater, historia i perspektywy rozwoju: materiały z polsko-amerykańskiego sympozjum w Warce-Winiarach, 13-16 października 2007 [Forty years of the Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka : the hero, history and perspectives for development : papers from the Polish-American symposium in Warka-Winiary, October, 13-16, 2007]. Warka: Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka. 2007. p. 347. ISBN 9788392555155. OCLC 212815661
  • Konopczynski, Wladyslaw; translated by Irena Makarewicz (1947). Casimir Pulaski. Archives and museum. 11. Annals of the Polish Roman catholic union. p. 64. OCLC 459864667
  • (in en) 40 lat Muzeum im. Kazimierza Pułaskiego w Warce : bohater, historia i perspektywy rozwoju: materiały z polsko-amerykańskiego sympozjum w Warce-Winiarach, 13-16 października 2007 [Forty years of the Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka : the hero, history and perspectives for development : papers from the Polish-American symposium in Warka-Winiary, October, 13-16, 2007]. Warka: Casimir Pulaski Museum in Warka. 2007. p. 347. ISBN 9788392555155. OCLC 212815661

Gabriel Prosser, slave rebellion leader

October 10, 2014

 

 

Gabriel, today commonly known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. Information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, and he and twenty-five followers were taken captive and hanged in punishment. In reaction, Virginia and other state legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks, as well as prohibiting the education, assembly, and hiring out of slaves, to restrict their chances to learn and to plan similar rebellions.

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Image of Gabriel courtesy of The Historical Marker Database

Born into slavery at Brookfield, a tobacco plantation in Henrico County, Virginia, in 1776, Gabriel had two brothers, Solomon and Martin. They were all held by Thomas Prosser, the owner. As Gabriel and Solomon were trained as blacksmiths, their father may have had that skill. Gabriel was also taught to read and write.[1]

By the mid-1790s, as Gabriel neared the age of twenty, he stood “six feet two or three inches high”. His long and “bony face, well made”, was marred by the loss of his two front teeth and “two or three scars on his head”. White people as well as blacks regarded the literate young man as “a fellow of great courage and intellect above his rank in life”.[1]

Gabriel planned the revolt during the spring and summer of 1800. On August 30, 1800, Gabriel intended to lead slaves into Richmond, but the rebellion was postponed because of rain. The slaves’ owners had suspicion of the uprising, and two slaves told their owner, Mosby Sheppard, about the plans. He warned Virginia’s Governor, James Monroe, who called out the state militia. Gabriel escaped downriver to Norfolk, but he was spotted and betrayed there by another slave[2] for the reward offered by the state. That slave did not receive the full reward.

Gabriel was returned to Richmond for questioning, but he did not submit. Gabriel, his two brothers, and 23 other slaves were hanged on October 10, 1800.[3]

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Artist’s concept of Gabriel’s Rebellion

Gabriel’s uprising was notable not because of its results—the rebellion was quelled before it could begin—but because of its potential for mass chaos and widespread violence. In Virginia in 1800, 39.2 percent of the total population were slaves; they were concentrated on plantations in the Tidewater area and west of Richmond.[5] No reliable numbers existed regarding slave and free black conspirators; most likely, the number of men actively involved numbered only several hundred.[6]

From 1780 to 1810, the number of slaves freed in the Upper South had grown markedly, as some slaveholders were inspired to free slaves by the American Revolution and its ideals. Methodists and Quakers especially worked to convince slaveholders to manumit slaves. The percentage of free blacks as part of the black population rose from less than 1 percent in 1782 to more than 10 percent by 1810. By that time, Virginia’s free blacks numbered 30,466 or 7.2 percent of the total black population.[7] By 1810 nearly three-quarters of Delaware’s blacks were free.[8]

Some Virginia slaveholders were nervous about the sharp increase in the number of free blacks in the slave state. They were uneasy as well by the violent aftermath of the French Revolution and the uprising of slaves in the 1790s in Saint Domingue. In 1792 France granted social equality to free people of color, and in 1793 French Revolutionary commissioners in Saint-Domingue granted freedom to all the slaves. Whites and free people of color, some of whom were also slaveholders, emigrated as refugees to the US during the years of upheaval, now known as the Haitian Revolution. They added to the population of free people of color in Charleston, Richmond and New Orleans. In addition, slaveholders brought thousands of ethnic African slaves with them, especially adding to the African population of New Orleans. In 1804 the black and mulatto revolutionaries succeeded in gaining freedom, declaring the colony the independent black nation of Haiti.

Gabriel had been able to plan the rebellion because of relatively lax rules of movement for slaves between plantations and the city, as so many had been hired out, and others traveled to and from the city on errands for their masters. After the rebellion, many slaveholders greatly restricted the slaves’ rights of travel when not working. Fears of a slave revolt regularly swept major slaveholding communities.

Prior to the rebellion, Virginia law had allowed education of slaves to read and write, and training of slaves in skilled trades. After the rebellion, and after a second conspiracy was discovered in 1802 among enslaved boatmen along the Appomattox and Roanoke Rivers, the Virginia Assembly in 1808 banned hiring out of slaves and required freed blacks to leave the state within 12 months or face re-enslavement (1806). Free blacks had to petition the legislature to stay in the state, and were often aided in that goal by white friends or allies. In addition to the catalyst of Gabriel’s Rebellion, the law against residency was prompted by the marked increase in population of free people of color in Virginia, as noted above in manumission of slaves after the American Revolution. The very existence of free blacks challenged the conditions of slave states.

Gabriel’s rebellion served as an important example of slaves’ taking action to gain freedom.

In 2002 the City of Richmond adopted a resolution to commemorate the 202nd anniversary “of the execution of the patriot and freedom fighter, Gabriel, whose death stands as a symbol for the determination and struggle of slaves to obtain freedom, justice and equality as promised by the fundamental principles of democratic governments of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America”.[9]

In the fall of 2006, the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP requested Gov. Tim Kaine pardon Gabriel in recognition of his contributions to the civil rights struggle of African Americans and all peoples.[9]

On August 30, 2007, Governor Kaine informally pardoned Gabriel and his co-conspirators. Kaine said that Gabriel’s motivation had been “his devotion to the ideals of the American revolution—it was worth risking death to secure liberty”. Kaine noted that “Gabriel’s cause—the end of slavery and the furtherance of equality of all people—has prevailed in the light of history”, and added that “it is important to acknowledge that history favorably regards Gabriel’s cause while consigning legions who sought to keep him and others in chains to be forgotten”.[10] The pardon was informal because it was posthumous.

Footnotes

  1. Douglas R. Egerton (1993). Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-8078-4422-9
  2. Identified as ‘Will King’ in a letter written to Governor Monroe, September 28, 1800 [1], elsewhere referred to as ‘Billy’.
  3. Eric Foner, Give me liberty!: An American History, Volume I, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006, p. 259
  4. Testimony in the Trial of Gabriel, 6 October 1800 [2] (Testimony given by) ‘Prosser’s Ben:…That if the White people agreed to their freedom they would then hoist a White flag, and He would dine and drink with the merchants of the City, on the day when it should be so agreed to- ‘
  5. “Historical Census Browser”, University of Virginia Library
  6. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, Chapter 14
  7. Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619-1877, New York: Hill and Wang, 1994, p. 81
  8. Kolchin (1994), p. 78
  9. C. Ruth Ebrahim, “Virginia State NAACP Conference requests pardon of Gabriel”, The Caroline Register, Oct 2006
  10. Associated Press, “Gov. ‘Pardons’ Gabriel’s Rebellion Slave”, The Washington Post

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