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6 May 2009, "Mapping the American Revolution."
The program was presented by W. Scott Smith, commander of the Department of the Geographer to the Army, 1777-1783, a military living history unit of the Brigade of the American Revolution that was founded in 2004.
His presentation outlined the formation of Washington's mapmaking staff, described how this small department conducted their operations, and what instruments they used.
Mr. Smith described how The American Revolution created many technical and logistical issues for Congress' Army, including the need for both strategic and tactical level intelligence through the form of maps and surveys, as such matters were handled by the British military prior to the commencement of hostilities. Recognizing the challenge, Washington wrote to Congress in early 1777 that, "A good geographer to Survey the Roads and take Sketches of the Country where the Army is to Act would be extremely useful… …" The Continental Congress responded in July 25, 1777, with a Resolution"
..."That General Washington be empowered to appoint Mr. Robert Erskine, or any other person that he may think proper, geographer and surveyor of the roads, to take sketches of the country, the seat of war, and to have the procuring, governing and paying the guides employed under him; the General to affix the pay of the said geographer, &c. and the allowance that shall be made to the guides."...
Mr Smith emphasized that the Continental Army Geographers should not be confused with military engineers. Engineers were trained in the construction and reduction of fortifications, while Geographers (cartographers, surveyors, or topographical engineers) specialized in reconnaissance, mapmaking, and surveying distances. In the Continental Army, military engineers were generally recruited from Europe, whereas the geographers were generally able to find skilled surveyors in the colonies. More detail can be found in an excellent and well illustrated webpage article authored by Scott Smith at http://http://www.armygeographer.org/history/index.htm.
Mr. Smith's unit of the Brigade of the American Revolution has three regional survey parties based in Virginia, Ohio, and New York. Mr. Smith works for the Region 2000 Local Government Council (regional planning commission) in Lynchburg, VA, where he works in community planning, development, and project management. Mr. Smith is also Managing Partner of 'The Antiquaries, LC', an historic resources consulting firm. He serves on the City of Lynchburg Historic Preservation Commission; is President of the Virginia Downtown Development Association; and is the Southern Section Director for the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association.. With his wife Emily and son, Carter, Scott lives in a circa 1813 house in Lynchburg that they restored.
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4 March 2009, "A Striped Ensign in Philadelpia in 1754?"
. The program was presented by Peter Ansoff, member of the ARRT and former president of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA)
, an international organization dedicated to the study of flags.
Mr. Ansoff described his search to solve a long standing puzzle confronting historians to explain how a 1754 engraving of the Philadelphia waterfront could show a ship anchored in the Delaware River, flying a flag with the union crosses in the canton and stripes in the field. [see image vdg.jpg]. This flag is generally recognized by historians as "Continental Colours" flown by American ships and forts during the first year and a half of the Revolution. However, the "Continental Colours" was not created until 1775, and the flag's appearance in an engraving made 21 years earlier presents a mystery. Mr. Ansoff's investigation spanned examining 18th century art and maritime history involving three continents.
The first clue was to recognize that the flag flown at the ship's stern in the 1754 engraving was similar to the flags flown on ships of the British East India Company (EIC). Mr. Ansoff located a 1732 painting of an EIC ship in Bombay harbor which had a strong similarity to the ship in the 1754 engraving. Another feature also associated the image with the EIC is that the ship's bow was distinctively that of a "Bombay Grab" – typical for the regions in which the EIC operated, but not the North Atlantic. Further, EIC ships were not allowed to deploy to North America. So the question was now limited to why was this particular type of EIC ship in Philadelphia waters in 1754? The key to the mystery was an engraving of the Bombay painting that was made in 1736, by the same engraver who made the Philadelphia engraving 18 years later. Apparently, the engraver re-used the 1736 Bombay image to illustrate the Philadelphia engraving, a sort of 18th-century equivalent of "photoshopping." Mr. Ansoff discussed several details of the images that supported this conclusion. One interesting aspect of the transfer process
was that the engraver had to redo the flags to make them consistent with the wind direction in the Philadelphia engraving. Comparison shows that the
flags in the latter are much more simply and crudely depicted than their counterparts in the Bombay engraving. This presentation was published as an article in volume 15 of the NAVA's Raven, a Journal of Vexillology in 2008.
Mr. Ansoff is the former president of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA), an international organization dedicated to the study of flags. He is particularly interested in the early history of the flag of the United States and other flags that were used during the Revolution. His is a member of ARRT, and spoke to us in 2005 about his analysis of the flag raising on Prospect Hill in January 1776. His article on that subject has since been published in the NAVA's Raven, and is available among a selection offered on the NAVA web site at http://www.nava.org/Flag%20Information/articles/Index.php.
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5 November 2008, " First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry in the Revolutionary War."
. The program was presented by Historian Joe Seymour, on the staff of the US Army Center of Military History
. Mr. Seymour reviewed how the ‘First Troop' originated as a response of the a few select equestrian citizens of Philadelphia decided to form a ‘private cavalry unit in defense of the city even before open war [armed rebellion] broke out. The unit was organized on 17 November 1774, by 28 gentlemen who gathered in Carpenters' Hall and formed the ‘Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia', a name that was later changed to ‘First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry' (FTPCC) – often referred to as the ‘Philadelphia Light Horse'. The initial members were volunteers – many were businessmen and merchants who had sufficient financial means to supplied themselves with uniforms, military equipment and horses. Initially, the First Troop's mission was envisioned a reconnaissance role directed at defending Philadelphia and its immediate environs. Related duties would be escorted for payroll deliveries and prisoner transfers. It was this troop that escorted George Washington from Philadelphia to New York, as the General traveled to take command of the Continental Army assembled at Cambridge outside of Boston in June 1775.
The troop's first commander was Abraham Markoe, a prominent figure in Philadelphia who had previous Danish military experience. Markoe's brief tenure influenced the uniform of the unit, their prescribed equipment, and the design of the unit's standard. Markoe had been born in the Danish West Indies, where he continued to have plantations. These land holdings were threatened with confiscation by the King of Denmark who issued an edict prohibiting his subjects to rebel against the King of England. This forced Markoe resign his command in 1776. The Troop's next elected commander was Samuel Morris, a Quaker and president the Gloucester fox-hunting club, which comprised a dominant presence in the initial First Troop. Captain Morris led The Troop through the rest of the war. The Troop was mustered into Continental service in July 1776 as part of the ‘Flying Camp' in the New Jersey Campaign.
The presentation focused on The Troop's participation in General George Washington's master-stroke counteroffensive which culminated in the victories at Trenton (26 December 1776) and Princeton (3 January 1777). During the American Christmas night advance on Trenton, The Troop escorted General Washington and his staff. The battle next morning lasted less than an hour, resulting in capture of nearly a thousand Hessians and the loss of two Americans. The Troop served as the Army's rearguard as it re-crossed the Delaware, returning to the southwest. The Troop was with Washington when the Americans again crossed the Delaware to re-occupied Trenton on 30 December. As Lord Cornwallis moved his British army in position to attack the American encampment at Trenton, Washington slipped his Army away during a night march toward Princeton. Washington's strategic maneuver was almost exposed when a unit of British Dragoons came across and routed some American militia at the rear of the Continental Army. Fortunately the Philadelphia Light Horse was nearby and drove off the British Dragoons, allowing Washington's advance to continue unimpeded. At the Battle of Princeton, many of the Troop were at General Washington's side in a "fine Fox-chase" charge that routed three British regiments. Washington withdrew his Army to winter quarters at Morristown. During the march, The Troop engaged British advance patrols in a rear guard action that saved the American artillery train. After its return to Philadelphia the Troop engaged in months of arduous service. The Troop served under Maxwell's command at the Battle of Brandywine (11 Sep 1777) and assisted in maintaining communications during the unsuccessful Battle of Germantown (4 October 1777). With the British occupation of Philadelphia, The Troop served as detachments during the winter at the American Valley Forge encampment. One group narrowly escaped capture with General Lafayette and his small force when they were nearly surrounded in the woods at Barren Hill (May 1778). When the British withdrew from Philadelphia (18 June 1778), the Light Horse were the first troops to reenter the city with Major General Benedict Arnold.
First City Troopers have served in all of the American wars and are also notable for their civilian accomplishments as community leaders. More can be learned from their websites at: http://www.ftpcc.com/FTPCC/History.htm and http://www.firsttroop.com/.
Joe Seymour is an historian in the Unit Histories Branch, Field Programs Division, at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. He is a long-time member of the Army National Guard and of the Philadelphia First Troop. He is the author of the popular book "First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry: Images of America: Philadelphia."
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3 September 2008, " The Peace Treaties of 3 September 1783."
. The program was presented by Albert D. McJoynt, a military historian and member of the ARRT
. It was noted that this program concluded a series of ARRT programs commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the American War for Independence, and that our ARRT program was being conducted on the very date the anniversary of these definitive treaties was being celebrated in Paris. Great Britain signed two separate treaties that essentially ended the War for American Independence. One treaty, signed in Paris, was with the new American Republic; the treaty, signed at nearby Versailles, was with the Kingdom of France -- the American's only official (by the treaty of 1778) wartime ally. Mr McJoynt announced that his focus would be on the negotiations associated with the 1783 Treaty of Paris both in terms as the events unfolded and as some controversial aspects of the peace negotiations are presented in many popular narrative American histories.
The speaker's opening remarks explained that the general public appears to have a vague understanding of the treaties that ended this epic struggle, and this may be in part due to misunderstanding when and how the war ended and American Independence was acknowledged by Great Britain. The audience was reminded of a recent TV miniseries on John Adams, wherein two scenes expressed prevailing misunderstandings about the war's end. One scene has John Adam's wife learning of the British surrender at Yorktown on October 1781 and immediately announces to her family that the ‘war is over'. The miniseries follows with some brief scenes of Adams' only successful initiative as a diplomat in Europe in The Netherlands during 1780-1782. Then in a remarkable truncating of time, Adam's wife joins him and Thomas Jefferson in Paris in 1784, and the script allows a brief reference to a peace treaty having been negotiated. The speaker observed that is was unfortunate that highly publicized TV production – proclaiming association with some popular historians – should contribute to further promotion of this myth, and ignore a critical phase in the American winning of Independence.
Of course the war did not end with, nor was American Independence achieved at Yorktown 1781. George Washington and other leaders at the time certainly knew otherwise, given that New York City and Charleston remained occupied by a British army that still outnumbered the allied American and French armies in North America. It would not be until late in 1782 before serious peace talks began and a formal peace that acknowledged American Independence was signed in Paris on 3 September 1783. The speaker believed that it was important for the general American public to be reminded of critical military/naval campaigns and diplomatic actions during the last years of the American War for Independence. The ARRT has committed two presentations to cover these topics as part of commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the war. The description of the global military and naval aspects of the American War for Independence form 1781 to 1783 were addressed in Mr. McJoynt's 4 April 2007 presentation to the ARRT: "After Yorktown, 1781: The 'War Beyond the Horizon'". Understanding any serious consideration of peace had to await until Britain, France, and Spain had exhausted themselves in the Caribbean, the western Mediterranean, and India before they were ready to end the conflict.
During 1782, Britain gained temporary relief in successfully warding off major assaults on Jamaica and Gibraltar, but these were tenuous outcomes if the war were to linger. Often misunderstood is that the British Parliament's vote in February 1782 against "further ... offensive" warfare in North America was not a recognition of American Independence – the fundamental objective of the Franco American Alliance of 1778. May British leaders envisioned some political accommodation whereby the colonies remained part of the Empire – somewhat as was done with Ireland. While many British histories of the war emphasize a few military and naval victories in 1782, the fact is that their empire was on the global strategic defensive and risked losing some possessions considered more valuable than the 13 colonies if the war continued. Britain not only failed to gain alliances (an essential element in her previous war with France), but witnessed even Holland (generally an historic ally of England) recognizing the United States in October 1782.
Mr McJoynt's talk for this September program took up the efforts when serious peace negotiations began in 1782 and then completed in 1783. His approach was to review the sequence of key events as outlined in his handout packet [listed below review]. Important issues affecting the negotiations were introduced during the presentation. The negotiations were complicated. There were complex challenges to resolve old boundary disputes as to what geographic limits defined the new American Republic (where to draw the lines between British Canada to the north, and Spanish possessions to the south and west?). Further, the Americans wanted rights to the Mississippi and fishing off Newfoundland. The British wanted Loyalists and English merchants re-compensated. The French had to persuade Spain to accept Minorca in place of Gibraltar, and to be satisfied with re-gaining Florida in place of Jamaica. While fundamentally tied [by the 1778 alliance] to obtain American Independence from England, the French aims [as specified in their 1778 alliance treaty] were to maintain their prewar positions in the West Indies and fishing rights off Newfoundland.
Equally as important as these negotiating issues were controversial personality conflicts among the negotiators. The British Government experienced forced turnovers in ministerial leaders from March to July of 1782, and then in April 1783. The internal British political discord was certainly no less disturbing than the questionable personality characteristics of the American negotiators – factors often omitted in popular historical narratives. In contrast to summary remarks addressing the treaty in popular American narrative histories, less widely read scholarly publications introduce an array of controversial initiatives injected in the negotiations by a jealous John Adams and a suspicious John Jay.
Adams' resented Franklin's success in obtaining and smoothly maintaining the French alliance, and sought to have himself be acclaimed as ‘the George Washington of diplomacy'. Jay's entrenched anti-Catholic bias was re enforced by his failed mission to obtain either recognition or meaningful money directly from the Spanish Government after two years in Madrid. When Jay joined the ill Franklin in Paris, he was predisposed to suspect deceit on the part of the French. Jay falsely – as historical records show – suspected the French were undercutting the American's claims in the forthcoming negotiations. Jay easily succumbed to British negotiators suggestions to break the alliance with France. Jay even invited the British to use their army in North America to retake Florida before the final peace was signed. Fortunately neither gambit succeeded. To a large degree, a special relationship between the two more skilled diplomats – Vergennes for France and Franklin for the Americans – managed to overcome the negative encumbrances injected by the other American negotiators.
Controversy about the treaty negotiations continues as found expressed by modern biographers and historians who report on the peace negotiations of 1782-1783. While they may agree as to dates of specific events, historians seem to lean toward different ‘spins' as to what was really unfolding. Perceptions and delusions entered in the memoirs and biographies of some icons among the American Founders have been used by many modern editors and authors to suggest that the ‘militia diplomacy' conducted by Jay and Adams in 1782-1783 was "a kind of Yankee morality play." The speaker did not proceed into the debate further, but called attention to the list of ‘sources' in the handout package [see below]. For this last controversy one can examine: The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774-1787. By Jonathan R. Dull. (Princeton University Press); and Lawrence S. Kaplan's review of Professor Dull's work in "Diplomacy of the American Revolution: the Perspective from France" printed in Reviews in American History (September 1976, The Johns Hopkins University Press).
Unfortunately, many modern authors leave unexamined the contemporary writings of the negotiators and diplomats which distort the actual motives and intentions of diplomats. Contrary to Adams' claims that the French wanted the war to continue, Vergennes was doing all he could to bring and end to the conflict. French communications that expressed reservations in supporting some of the American geographical border delineations were due to the French minister's doubts that the British would agree, and the dispute would only prolong the war. The French minister never faltered in supporting American Independence. When he learned of the separate preliminary articles of treaty signed between the British with the Americans in November 1782, Vergennes expressed his disappointment with the American negotiators furtiveness but complimented the Americans on acquiring far better arrangements with the British than he had thought possible. The French Diplomat's real sentiments were reflected in forwarding the Americans another large loan.
Mr. McJoynt has spoken previously to the ARRT about the French participation in the American Revolution, and in particular on events being commemorated during the 225th Anniversary of the Yorktown victory and less publicized subsequent developments. His most recent presentation was in April 2007 on "After Yorktown, 1781: the 'War Beyond the Horizon'" that explain the global aspects of the war between October 1781 and the start of serious peace negotiations in September 1782. Earlier presentations to the ARRT were: 5 April 2006, on "Allied Strategic Decisions and Actions Leading to the Yorktown Campaign in 1781; and 5 February 2003, on "The French-American Alliance Treaty of 1778". He authors the website for the Expédition Particulière Commemorative Cantonment Society.
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7 May 2008, "Tarleton's Charlottesville Raid, 1781"
. The program was presented by Dr. John R. Maass, Ph.D, on the staff of the US Army Center of Military History
The speaker began with a brief background of Banastre Tarleton, who was born in 1754.
In 1775 Tarleton purchased a commission in the 1st Dragoon Guards, where he proved to be a fine horseman and an aggressive leader. He deployed with the British army to America in 1775. The speaker emphasized that Tarlton was a relatively young officer, which might explain both his energetic performance and daring, but at times hasty mis-carried actions. During the 1780 British campaign in South Carolina, Tarleton commanded the ‘British Legion' -- a mixed force of cavalry and light infantry. At times, Tarleton's immaturity prevailed over any benefit his dynamic prowess may have derived from his swift moving mounted troops. Atrocities were attributed to him that incited anti-British sentiments among many who had been relatively neutral in support of the Revolution. His actions inspired the famous Rebel rallying cry of "Tarleton's quarter"– meaning no quarter would be offered to British and Loyalist Soldiers.
Tarlton served Cornwallis well in the campaign of 1780. However, in January 1781, Tarleton's force took a ‘whipping' at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina, where Tarleton was out maneuvered in an open tactical engagement. The dashing cavalry leader fled, leaving his surrounded men to their fate. This ‘embarrassment' contributed to Cornwallis' fruitless pursuit to defeat the American Southern Army under the nimble leadership of General Nathanael Greene. The effort ended unsuccessfully with the Cornwallis' Pyrrhic victory at Guilford Court House (March1781), North Carolina. Tarlton remained with Cornwallis, who after refitting his British army at Wilmington, North Carolina, launched a campaign to subdue Virginia.
Upon entering Virginia in May 1781, Cornwallis was confronted by a small American force of a few Continentals and some militia under the command of the French volunteer, General Lafayette. The young Marquis surprised almost everyone – except perhaps General George Washington, who made the daring decision to give Lafayette the command. Though 3 years younger than Tarlton, Lafayette proved to be an astute military leader, managing to evade being outmaneuvered by the larger British army commanded by the experienced Cornwallis – considered by many as one of the better British senior officers deployed to America in the war.
The Speaker's topic centered on what happened after Cornwallis reached Cook's Ford [a point on the North Anna River, north west of Hanover Junction (today's Doswell)] on 30 May, abandoned the fruitless pursuit of Lafayette and altered his objective. Cornwallis directed Lt. Col. Tarlton to raid Charlottesville (about 60 miles to the west) and nearby Monticello, so as to capture then-Governor Thomas Jefferson and to disrupt the meeting of the Virginia legislature. Dr. Maass conducts guided tours of this historic event, which was reflected in his detailed account of the raid. Since many of the 1781 Virginia locations have changed names, or vanished from modern maps, the speaker's handout maps were most welcome in tracking the events.
On 3 June, Tarleton departed the British camp 180 cavalrymen and 70 mounted infantry. The British raiders moved along the main route, via Louisa CH, Boswell's Tavern, and Castle Hill. Tarleton's force rode into Louisa County the evening of 3 June. A Captain John Jouett of the Virginia militia, who was visiting his father's home [or as some versions relate, Jouett was asleep on the lawn of the Cuckoo Tavern – also known as ‘Pendeldon's Tavern'] heard the approaching cavalry. Jouett recognized the troops as British, and correctly suspected this was an intended raid on undefended Charlottesville to capture members of Virginia's government. Jouett mounted his horse at about 10 P.M. to ride the 40 miles from Louisa to Charlottesville. He took a backwoods route to the south of the main road that the British were expected to take. Fortunately, there was a full moon and Jouett was familiar with the trail. It was also fortunate that Tarlton did not push his march as fast as he could have. The British rested as Louisa CH from 11 PM to 2 AM of 4 June. Tarleton's raiders encountered and burnt some supply wagons bound for Nathanael Greene's American army in South Carolina.
Around dawn, Tarleton reached the plantations of Castle Hill and Belvoir, where the British captured some important figures -- including Daniel Boone, a legislator from what would become Kentucky. Legend has it that Doctor Thomas Walker connived to detain Tarlton at his home at Castle Hill with a slowly prepared breakfast. Tarleton's account says he paused at Castle Hill for only a half-hour. Whatever, this was about 4:30 AM in the morning when Jouett reached Monticello to warn Jefferson and his guests of several more Virginia legislators. Jouett then rode on two further miles to warn the town of Charlottesville. Jefferson was casual about departing his home -- reportedly sharing breakfast with his guests and not departing until the British detachment led by Captain Kenneth McLeod entered the front lawn of Monticello.
Departing Monticello, Jouett rode to the Swan Tavern (owned by Jouett's father) where most of legislators were staying. The legislators fled and reconvened 3 days later in Staunton, 35 miles west. Jouett's warning allowed most legislators to escape. The capture of seven legislators and the dispersing the Assembly could qualify Tarleton's raid a partial success. However, more successful was a concurrent raid Cornwallis directed in sending Simcoe's loyalist legion, the Queen's Rangers (300 men), to attack the Rebel supply depot at Point of Fork [now ‘Columbia', where the Fluvanna and Rivanna join to form the James River]. On 5 June Simcoe forced Steuben, who had only a small force of recruits, to abandon Point of Fork. While the Tarleton and Simcoe raids were being executed, Cornwallis led the rest of his army towards Goochland CH to destroy supplies stored there. On 9 June Tarleton joined Cornwallis at Elk Hill, a plantation owned by Jefferson, located 30 miles SE of Charlottesville. Here the British engaged in wanton destruction of livestock and buildings. This essentially ended the spaker's main theme.
The speaker's summation explained that Cornwallis led his army back to Williamsburg. The maneuvering between Cornwallis and Lafayette continued and merged into the decisive Yorktown Campaign of 1781. Tarleton returned to England, enjoyed a successful political career, eventually became a full general in the British army, and was awarded knighthood in 1820. He fought to maintain the slave trade in England and died in 1833.
Dr. John R. Maass holds a B.A. from Washington and Lee University and an M.A. in history from UNC-Greensboro. His Doctorate is in Early American History, from Ohio State University (2007), and his dissertation was on Revolutionary N.C. He is also an Editorial Assistant for The Journal of Backcountry Studies, and served on several committees associated with the preservation of the Camden, SC battleground. Dr. Maass has authored: "All this Poor Province Could Do: North Carolina and
the Seven Years War, 1757-1762," which was in the North Carolina Historical Review (January 2002); "To Disturb the Assembly: Tarleton's Charlottesville Raid and the British Invasion of Virginia, 1781," in Virginia Cavalcade (Autumn 2000); and "That Unhappy Affair:" Horatio Gates and the Battle of Camden (published in 2001).
The 7 June "Tarleton's Charlottesville Raid of 1781" day bus tour sponsored by the ARRT of Richmond was sold out well in advance. However, a September 1781 trip is being planned and anyone interested can contact Dr. Maass directly at his Ft. McNair office: 202-685-2337.
Of interest are the following:
Dr. Maass' article on Tarleton published in the Autumn 2000 issue of Virginia Cavalcade magazine at http://fusilier.wordpress.com/banastre-tarleton-article-2000/
and a report [with photos] of Dr. Maass' June 2008 tour Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton's June 1781 raid at http://fusilier.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/tarleton-tour-08/
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2 April 2008, "Suffren's 1781-1783 Naval Campaign in Indian Ocean"
. The program was presented by David Bongard, long time ARRT member.
The presentation focused on the French admiral Pierre Andre de Suffren Saint-Tropez's remarkable naval campaign in Indian Ocean between 1781 and 1783. The speaker used handouts of a timeline of the major events in the admiral's life and a map of the campaign area for 1782-83 in the Bay of Bengal, western Indian Ocean along the Coromandel Coast.
Mr Bongard provided a brief review of Suffren's career and noted that he was among the younger French naval leaders at the time. Being from a noble family in Provence, he rotated naval service between the Order of Malta, cruising against the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, becoming a Knight and Commander within that Order; and alternatively service in the Royal French navy when France was at war. He saw action against the English in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and Seven Years' War (1756-1763) before the War for American Independence, which France formally engaged against England in 1778. He was made a prisoner in the first war, and took part in capturing English held Minorca in the second war before again being mad a prisoner.
Suffren took part in a series naval training exercises designed to improve naval tactics and part of the post Seven Years' War reforms inaugurated by the new French Navy Minister, Castries. Suffren commanded a ship in d'Estaing's 1778-1779 deployment to North America and Caribbean. Though Suffren was outspoken in criticizing d'Estaing's naval competence, it was d'Estaing who recommended Suffren receive command of a squadron that deployed in 1781 to aid the French war effort in India, with an additional task to aid the Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope. It was this expedition, wherein, Suffren gained his reputation as an aggressive naval commander. Enroute to The Cape of Good Hope, he took advantage of the poorly anchored British squadron he discovered Porto Praya, in the Portuguese Cape Verde islands. The French attack so seriously damaged the large British force, that Johnstone failed to succeed in the British planned assault against the Dutch port at the Cape. Arriving at Isle de France (Mauritius), Suffren assumed command of the French squadron that he led to the Bay of Bengal, where he engaged a British fleet under admiral Sir Edward Hughes in a series of naval battles until June of 1783, when news arrived of the Peace Treaty having been signed earlier in the year.
Mr Bongard described in detail four naval actions that took place in 1782 and 1783. Three indecisive naval actions took place in 1782: on 17 February off Madras (or Sadras); 6 April off Providien (Trincomalee); 6 August, off Cuddalore (Negapatam). Suffren managed to maintained his squadron without the help of a port to refit until landing a force that captured Trincomalee in late August 1782. In early September, Suffren drove off Hughes' attempt to retake Trincomalee. In June 1783, Suffren again repelled Hughes' squadron off Cuddalore allowing the French and their Indian ally land force to captured that port town. Soon after news of the Peace arrived and Suffren returned to France a hero. He was awarded the rank of vice-admiral of France that was created for him. He had been promoted bailli in the Order of Malta during his absence. His death occurred suddenly on 8 December 1788, though there later surfaced a rumor that he might have been killed in a duel. The speaker was asked where was Suffren buried. The answer is that Suffren was buried in Paris, in a chapel of the Chevaliers de Malte had there. It was probably in the Eglise du Temple, which was destroyed and ransacked during the French Revolution. The post presentation discussion also addressed how Suffren's operations illustrated the global reach of the American War for Independence – to regions were no Americans were involved.
Mr. Bongard is a past president of the ARRT and a current member of the Executive Committee. He has spoken to the Roundtable before on "The Care and Feeding of Armies and Fleets" for the March 1999 program, and "The Logistics of the Continental Army" for the October 1994 program. Mr. Bongard is a published military historian. His article on Suffren is among others he contributed to the International Military and Defense Encyclopedia (Brasseys, 1993). Dave has particular interest in a range of historical and military topics, including the history of food (and drink), coastal, amphibious, and riverine naval and military operations, oar-powered naval warfare, and the evolution of military and tactical organization.
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5 March 2008, "Rebellion in the Ranks, Mutinies of the American Revolution."
. The program was presented by John A. Nagy member of the ARRT of Philadelphia and author of the recently published book Rebellion in the Ranks Mutinies of the American Revolution
, The speaker began with a general overview, explaining that a ‘mutiny' are to be distinguished from mere ‘disorderly conduct'. His research found that mutinies in the American Revolutionary armies were usually traced to command and control problems; expirations of service commitment [enlistments were for specified periods]; accumulated grievances over inadequate provisions of food, clothing, and pay. Instigation due to infiltration of spies were rare. His book Rebellion in the Ranks
, which was available for purchase at the meeting, covered over 110 mutinies in the American ranks. For this Mr. Nagy briefly addressed about 12 events that were listed on his PowerPoint slides.
Mr. Nagy began with an interesting introduction to mutinies experienced aboard the Continental Navy's warship Alliance, commanded by the erratic French naval captain Pierre Landais. Most in the audience were familiar with notorious incident during the famous September 1779 encounter between John Paul Jones' Bonhomme Richard and the British Serapis, during which Landais directed broadside fire from the Alliance against its allied ship the Bonhomme Richard. However, it seems that under Landais' command the Alliance experienced a mutiny in early 1779 during the voyage that took Lafayette back to France. Though Franklin removed Landais from command of the Alliance after the Bonhomme Richard incident. A spiteful Arthur Lee overrode Franklin and placed Landais back in command of the Alliance that was taking Lee back to America in 1780. Landais' behavior forced another near mutiny, which finally ended the Frenchman's career in the US service. The speaker noted that there were many naval mutinies, but only quickly noted one other in the Virginia State navy in 1776.
The rest of the program topics dealt with army mutinies. George Washington had experienced mutinies during his service in the French and Indian War and was prepared to deal swiftly with them. At the Siege of Boston, in September 1775, Washington confronted a mutiny of ‘over the mountain' riflemen at Prospect Hill (Cambridge). Washington's approach to the mutinies was to punish the authors of the mischief – inflict instant punishment – and reclaim the rest by clemency. This guidance was generally followed by the American commanders as they had some empathy with the grievances of the rank and file, and the officers desired to retain the initial loyalty of their troops. The speaker quickly touched on the famous 1781 mutinies of the Pennsylvania Line (1-10 January) and the New Jersey Line (20-25 January). In summation, the speaker noted that the mutinies were led and incited by sergeants and reflected resentment within the ranks as to failures in the senior military and political authorities in providing the necessary basic support. Many commissioned officers sympathized with the grievances, but were obligated to take necessary actions to quell the disruptions. In the case of commissioned officers, the very few problems were treason – Benedict Arnold being the notorious case. The question arose as how to classify the March 1783 incident at New Windsor camp, where Washington was able to quell a near revolt of the senior officers due to failed back pay and Congress cutting promised pensions. The speaker admitted this was a close call, but it failed the ‘mutiny' classification test in that it never evolved into overt action.
Mr. Nagy is an expert in antiques and antique manuscripts and is also a consultant for the Clements Library at the University of Michigan and has appeared on the History Channel. Mr. Nagy was the founder of the American Revolutionary Roundtable in Philadelphia and is its current president. His book, titled the same as the presentation, is available in bookstores. See link to the Philadelphia ARRT website from the ARRT DC gateway page.
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11 February 2008, "George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters."
. The program was presented by Edward G. Lengel, associate professor at University of Virginia and an editor of the Papers of George Washington
, who explained the significance of his recent book This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters
. This work contains some of Washington's most important and interesting wartime correspondence – from among about 140,000 personal and official documents written during the Revolutionary War. The selection includes several letters never published before. Those who are familiar with Lengel's earlier, excellent book, General George Washington: A Military Life
(2005) can be assured that the professor is well qualified to make a judicious selection of representative letters to illustrate insightful moments in General Washington's epic career. As Lengel explained his selection was meant to reveal a broad scope of Washington's character and several of the letters exhibit some surprisingly candid observations about the General's wife and family, friends, Congress, fellow soldiers, and war opponents. In essence, Lengel's theme was to explain that Washington is portrayed as such a towering figure in so many historical narratives that the true measure of the man is obscured as a superficial symbol, and that the best way to know the real George Washington is to read what he wrote. Fortunately Washington's fine prose makes reading his letters a rewarding, as well as educational, experience. The lecture was followed by a reception and book signing. Most of the tightly packed audience was eager to purchase a copy of Professor's Lengel's book and it became necessary for the program sponsors to rush out and procure more copies from a nearby book store to satisfy the demand.
Dr. Lengel's previous programs to the ARRT were on 7 September 2005, the topic was "General George Washington: A Military Life;" and 1 September 1999, the topic was "The George Washington Papers and the Battle of Brandywine." His work has received praising reviews in journals and newspapers as well as by members of the ARRT. He took some time of his 11 February 2008 program to address the challenges faced by the Papers of George Washington Project and to explain efforts making Washington's documents more accessable on line. More information can be found at The Papers of George Washington website is at http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/.
It should be noted that the this February 2008 program was a change [date and location] from the regular ARRT of DC venue, in that interested ARRT members were invited to attend an event hosted by Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street, in Alexandria, Virginia. The ARRT appreciates the museum's society sharing their event. Gadsby's Tavern Museum's website is at http://www.gadsbystavern.org .
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5 December 2007, "The Green Water Revolution: Naval Warfare on the Waters of the Southern Chesapeake Bay during the American Revolution."
The program was presented by Dr. Thomas C. Long, PhD, professorial lecturer in history and international affairs at The George Washington University; and member of the ARRT of DC.
, Dr. Long began his presentation by describing the 20-21 April 1775 night raid of British sailors that seized the gunpowder supplies at Williamsburg, Virginia, as directed by the Royal Governor of colony, John Murray, Fourth Earl of Dunmore. The speaker explained that Dunmore, was following London issued directives, received in early February, instructing the royal governors to interdict the flow of arms into the colonies; as well as reacting to the events of the Second Virginia Convention (held in Richmond on 20 March 1775), wherein Patrick Henry made his impassioned speech ("Give me liberty, or give me death") and called for military preparations against the British in support of concurrent incidents of rebellion taking place in the northern colonies. In Massachusetts, the British authorities had already seized militia gunpowder weapons' stores at Salem (February 1775) and attempted the same at Concord (19 April). Employing British army units from their sizable garrison at Boston, the British were only partly successful in Massachusetts as they met armed resistence and were forced back to their garrison. Most narrative accounts of the American Revolution focus on the dramatic developments following the Lexington-Concord opening shots in the war that were ‘heard around the world', leading to the siege of Boston in June 1775. The ARRT's speaker addressed the war's lesser known early engagements of the Rebellion in Virginia, and described operational trends in this theater up until the final climatic campaign of 1781. While Lord Dunmore succeeded in seizing the Williamsburg gunpowder, he was immediately confronted by outraged local citizens. Fearing mob violence, Dunmore sent his family aboard a British warship on 30 April. Virginia Rebel militia, led by Patrick Henry, marched on Willliamsburg on 4 May. The royal Governor 'outlawed' Henry on 6 May, but was forced to ‘reimburse' the colony's citizens for the seized powder, explaining that his action was taken it to prevent a rumored slave uprising.
Geography played a particular role in influencing early events of the Revolution in Virginia lower Chesapeake Bay area. Williamsburg, the seat of the British colonial government in Virginia, was located in a region marked by the confluence of rivers emptying into the lower Chesapeake Bay – a large part of the region known as the ‘Virginia Tidewater'. The many rivers and associated swamp lands restricted overland the movements of regular troops and militias. The navigation of naval warships were restricted by narrow and shallow river ways, where smaller water craft [‘boats', barges, and oar-powered galleys] provided the most effective means of conveying combatants. Such geography dictated adapting to amphibious operations – conditions intuitively understood by the civilian-merchants and watermen that made up the ‘state navy' in service of the Virginia Rebel ‘militias'. The Virginia British Royal Governor had only a small number of army troops and a few – eight at most – British warships at his disposal. Employing British naval marines, launched from war ships and transported ashore in boats, was Lord Dunmore's principle tactical option in subduing the Rebellion.
Dunmore's pleas for a more robust British naval presence in the southern Chesapeake were ignored by the senior British military and naval commanders in North America who were focused on the disturbances in their immediate northeastern theater. On 8 June 1775, the Virginia Royal Governor re-locate his entire seat of governemnt to join his family aboard the HMS Fowley. By Fall of 1775, Lord Dunmore attempted to moved his headquarters and assembled Loyalists south of the James River to Norfolk, where he expect to find larger Tory support and make use of the nearby shipyards at Portsmouth and Gosport. On October, 24-25 Oct, Dunmore sent forces to the northern shore of the James in an attempt to destroy Rebel stores at Hampton. The venture was repelled by strong Rebel rifle fire from the shore, and a humiliating loss of some British ships. The Governor declared Martial Law (7 Nov) and offered to free Rebel-owned slaves and indentured servants to serve in his volunteer army of Loyalist supported by a few British regulars. The Governor's forces won a skirmish on 14 November, at Kemp's Landing (now Kempsville, southeast of Norfolk). Dunmore launched raids, seizing the colonial press in Norfolk and emancipating the slaves in the surrounding countryside. About 20 miles south of Norfolk, Lord Dunmore constructed a stockade fort near the tiny village of Great Bridge, a small island in the southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, twelve miles southeast of Norfolk – a location chosen to block the main road between Virginia and North Carolina in the midst of an otherwise vast swampland. A Patriot Virginia Regiment constructed a breastwork on the southern bank of the river. A narrow causeway connected the two opposing camps. With grenadiers in front, supported by two cannon, the British launched two frontal assaults across the narrow causeway on 9 December, and suffered serious casualties – losing a number of commanding officers – from unexpected massed Rebel rifle fire. The disaster forced Dunsmore to withdraw from Norfolk. In departing, on 1 January 1776, the British naval artillery barraged the town to destroy stores being seized by the Virginia Patriot forces.
Increasing numbers of Patriot forces dominated the shores of the Elizabeth and James Rivers, thus denying food and water to Dunmor's ever growing ‘Floating Town' of evacuating Loyalists. On 25 May 1776, Dunmore's ‘fleet', numbering some 100 ships, roughly 700 soldiers and nearly 2,000 Royalists, sailed from the Hampton Roads and out into the Bay. Bearing north, they landed at Gwynn's Island, a small strip of sand and scraggly trees near the confluence of the Piankatank River into the Chesapeake. Virginia Patriot forces continued to harass the expanding number of Tories fleeing the mainland and gathering on the island,. In August 1776, scarcity of food and water, outbreak of smallpox in the crowded Tory camp, along with the advancing summer heat, forced Dunmore to lead his Tories and British troops out from the Chesapeake.
The speaker emphasized that the 1775-1776 Virginia campaign revealed some inescapable aspects of military and naval operations in the lower Chesapeake Bay. The conditions continued as the British launched raids into the colony in an effort to destroy the tobacco holdings and maritime smuggling trade that helped to sustain the Rebellion. The speaker summarized these two British raids. In May 1779, Admiral Collier's British fleet brought 1,800 troops led by General Matthews into the bay. The British raid managed to burn Portsmouth's shipyard. Suffolk and the surrounding towns also suffered. The raid exposed Virginia's military weakness and the caused the state capital to be relocated inland to Richmond. The state navy managed to save many assets by moving further up river streams and out of reach of larger war ships. The raid alerted Virginia militia to be better prepared for the next raid that came in October 1780, led by British Major General Leslie with 2,500 troops and orders to destroy Rebel stores at Richmond and Petersburg. Apparently Leslie perceived the venture not worth the effort and he departed Virginia in mid November to join Cornwallis in the Carolinas. At about the same time, General Von Steuben arrived in Richmond to take command of all Patriot military forces in Virginia. The speaker summarized these two British raids as Collier's being devastating in aggressively attacking the Virginia militia and infrastructure; whereas, Leslie simply waited for orders, failed to establish a permanent post in the Hampton Roads area, conducted no serious raids and did little damage.
Evidence of this assessment is found in observing the effectiveness of British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold's late December 1781arrival in the Chesapeake Bay with 27 ships and an expeditionary force of about 1,600. The typically energetic Arnold launched a dynamic campaign, moving aggressively up the James River pushing aside the Virginia militia and burning parts of Richmond. The same fate was in store for Petersburg. The speaker emphasized that Arnold's effectiveness was his skill in conducting amphibious warfare and dynamic leadership. Arnold's aggressive offensive pushed seamlessly over land and water, effectively reduced the Virginia naval assets and out maneuvered the colony's militia.
Dr. Long did not address details of 1781, but noted that Arnold's incursion into Virginia reflected Collier's aggressiveness and had the advantage of orders that permitted him to stay. Arnold's 'invasion' of Virginia compelled Washington to deploy a force of Continentals to the theater, Almost concurrently, Clinton reinforced Arnold with more British troops. An escalation continued as Cornwallis entered Virginia in April 1781 with more British forces. French naval assets began to deploy to the lower Chesapeake Bay, eventually leading to major naval operations between British and French fleets. The increased concentration of larger and naval fleets, dramatically changing the theater and evolved into the well known Yorktown Campaign of 1781.
The speaker summarized by noting that the British leadership in London was late in appreciating importance of the Chesapeake Bay in the War. Equally, the southern Chesapeake theater and related operations of the Royal Navy and the Colonial state navies have been overlooked in most historical narratives of the war. The speaker reminded the audience that modest resources of the Royal Navy were engaged in the region from the earliest days of the war. He quickly reviewed the ventures of HMS Fowey (24 guns), an ageing frigate, that supported Lord Dunmore in his escape from Williamsburg and in his subsequent campaign. The Fowey participated in operations from Boston to Savannah. In 1780, she accompanied Benedict Arnold up the James River on his second offensive against central Virginia, and participated in the final defense of Yorktown, where she was scuttled on 13 October 1781. Eight British warships took part in Chesapeake wartime operations . They ranged from the schooner Magdalen (14 guns) to the two-decker Roebuck (50-guns). Only two of the British ships survived the war. The Royal Navy was opposed by the fifty-two craft and roughly 1,800 men of the Virginia Navy. The state navy included oar-powered galleys and ocean-going three-masted ships --- some of which sailed to France and the Caribbean in service to the colony.
Dr. Long is a native of Denver, with a fascination for the sea. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1965 in mathematics and then served in the United States Navy. After Harvard Law School (1970), while he practiced corporate and banking law until his retirement at the end of 1998, he pursued his interest in military history as an amateur historian. He received his Ph.D. in naval and colonial history from The George Washington University in 2005. He has conducted extensive research on both the Virginia and Royal Navies of the period. He is an assistant professorial lecturer in history and international affairs at The George Washington University, where he teaches Colonial America, the Era of the Revolution, Military History, Naval History, Strategy and Policy, and America and the Wars in Indochina (1945-1975). He also taught at St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2005 and 2006. He resides in Great Falls, Virginia with wife Susan.
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7 November 2007, "'Give Them as Much Trouble as You Possibly Can': The Battle of Cooch's Bridge, 3 September 1777."
The program was presented by Mr. Wade P. Catts, an Associate Director of Cultural Resources with John Milner Associates in their West Chester office
. Cooch's Bridge was the opening action of the fall 1777 Philadelphia campaign, and the only American Revolutionary War battle fought on Delaware soil. The engagement was short and spirited as the newly formed American Light Infantry Corps attempted to delay the a more powerful vanguard of the British army and allow the American army more time to establish a stonger defensive position to protect Philadelphia. Mr. Catts' illustrated lecture presented information, based upon on going research, regarding the composition of the American forces and the advanced guard of the British Army that was marching from Head of Elk (now Elk Landing), Maryland, to take the American Rebel's Capitol city. The presentation used contemporary accounts to reconstruct how the landscape influenced the course of the battle, to placed the battle's outcome in the broader context of the campaign, and to explain how generations of Delawarean's view the battle in the context of their state's history. One unusual aspect of the episode wase General Washington's ad hoc
creation, late in August, of a light infantry corps under the Brigadier General William Maxwell – a necessity since Morgan's Rifles had been sent to the Northern Department to confront the advance of Burgoyne's British army descending upon Albany, New York. The battle also inspired a legend that the recently adopted 'Stars and Stripes' reportedly made one of its earliest appearances in this event – a thesis that the speaker find unlikely
For an excellent review of the full presentation, please visit the webpage of the Delaware Society of the Sons of the American Revolution posted at http://www.rsar.org/military/cooch.pdf.
This is Adobe Acrobat Reader file is an excellent article by Ralph Nelson that was pubished in The SAR Magazine (Fall 2003): "Give Them as Much Trouble as You Possibly Can", a presentation by Wade Catts on Aug 23, 2002 for the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Cooch's Bridge.
Mr. Catts is a Registered Professional Archeologist, and has worked in the field of cultural resource management for over twenty-five years. His Revolutionary War historical and archeological experience spans several states. In Pennsylvania he has worked at Valley Forge and the site of Camp Security, a British POW camp near York. In New Jersey his work has included researched at Morris County's Beverwyck Plantation – where Washington, his officers, and the French ambassadors were entertained – and at Raritan Landing, where British forces cantoned during the winter-spring of 1777. A long-time resident of Newark, he earned a Master's degree in American History from the University of Delaware in 1988. He is a member of Society for Historical Archeology, the Council for Northeast Historical Archeology, the Company of Military Historians (US), and the Society for Army Historical Research (UK). With the assistance of a McKinstry Award from the Delaware Heritage Commission, he is completing a book of The History and Archeology of The Battle of Cooch's Bridge, Delaware's only Revolutionary War Engagement.
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3 October 2007, "John Jay: Peripatetic Revolutionary."
The program was presented by Mr. Walter B. Stahr, an international lawyer and author of John Jay: Founding Father (Hambledon & London, 2005).
chose the title 'Peripatetic' Revolutionary to emphasize the many different places Jay worked and visited during the Revolution which included: upstate New York, Philadelphia, Madrid, Paris, and London. The time period Mr. Stahr covered roughly spanned the fall of 1774, when Jay participated in the First Continental Congress, through the summer of 1784, when Jay returned to the United States from his long service abroad.
Jay participated in the First Continental Congress, which he attended with little intention of taking the Rebellion as far as Independence. He hopped that the British would ‘re-think' their unpopular policies. Reluctant to call for Independence, Jay drafted the ‘Olive Branch Petition' and sought re-establishment. He often saw the revolution as a ‘civil war'. Jay did not sign the Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, when the rupture occurred, Jay threw himself in to serving the Colonists' cause. As a trained lawyer, he was called upon to undertake a variety of assignments. Initially he was sent to Connecticut to get cannon from foundries. He was an active member of the Continental Congress' secret ‘Conspiracies Committee', to gather counter-intelligence on British and Loyalist activities.
Jay served as the first chief justice of the New York Supreme Court from April 1777 to December 1778, when he went to Philadelphia and was elected President of the Continental Congress.
In 1779 he, accompanied by his wife Sara, Jay was sent to represent the US Congress at Madrid. He failed to obtain Spanish recognition for the US and received less that desired financial aid. In June 1781 he was sent to Paris to join in the peace negotiations. With Adams, Jay prevailed over Franklin to negotiate separately with British. The resulting Preliminary treaty managed to obtain very favorable Western boundaries for the US.
In 1784 Jay returned to the US and served as the second Secretary of Foreign Affairs, an office which after 1789 became Secretary of State. He argued for a more effective government structure than The Articles of Confederation and co-wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Though he did not attend the Constitutional Convention, Jay supported its adoption. He served on the U.S. Supreme Court as the first Chief Justice of the United States from 1789 to 1795. In 1794 he negotiated the controversial Jay Treaty (1795) with the British. A leader of the new Federalist party, Jay was elected Governor of New York state, 1795-1801. He was the leading opponent of slavery and the slave trade in New York, and finally succeeded in 1799 in obtaining a law that eventually emancipated the slaves of New York. Jay was offered a spot on the Supreme Court by President Adams, but Jay declined and retired from public life. He died in 1829.
Walter Stahr is an international lawyer who grew up in Arcadia and Newport Beach. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 1978 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1982. Since graduation, he has lived and worked in Washington, DC, and Hong Kong.
He now works for Emerging Markets Partnership in Washington, DC, and lives, with his wife and two children, in Northern Virginia.
He has a longstanding interest in the history of the American Revolution, and his biography on Jay has been most favorably reviewed:
"Stahr has succeeded splendidly in his aim of recovering the reputation of John Jay as a major founder. His biography is a reliable and clearly written account [and] makes a persuasive case for including Jay among the first rank of Revolutionary leaders." -- Gordon S. Wood in the New York Review of Books
"Walter Stahr's even-handed account, the first big biography of Jay in decades, is riveting on the matter of negotiating tactics, as practiced by Adams, Jay and Franklin." -- The Economist
"Stahr's Jay is a welcome and worthy biography." -- The Sunday Times
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5 September 2007, "Why Did American Revolutionaries Join Freemasonry?."
The program was presented by Mr. Mark Allen Tabbert, Director of Collections, George Washington Masonic National Memorial
The speaker briefly reviewed the origins of Freemasonry. After the formation of the First [Premier] Grand Lodge of England, in 1717, the history of Freemasonry is sufficiently documented so as to trace the creation of hundreds of Grand Lodges that spread rapidly in Europe and in the North American Colonies. Before this date, and aside from scattered documentation of lodges in Scotland and England in the late seventeenth early eighteenth centuries, the origins of Freemasonry are based upon theories and legends.
Freemasonry is often misunderstood by the general public. Such misunderstanding is partly due to its members being sworn to secrecy about certain rituals. However, membership is not secret and the Freemasons are very active in promoting many public charitable deeds. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a secret or a political organization. It is a ‘brotherhood' [or fraternity] organization structured around ‘lodges' that are affiliated globally by an allegiance to a code of conduct emphasizing positive morale values. The values which the Freemasons espoused emphasized religious tolerance (though believe in a ‘Supreme Being'– otherwise general ‘deism' – was considered essential). Freemasons are to seek self improvement – many of the rituals serving as guides in such a pursuit -- and to aid and assist ‘brethren' members.
Probably one of the causes of misunderstanding the organization has to do with the circumstances under which Freemasonry formed in early modern Wester Europe. The movement was part of the larger ‘Enlightenment', wherein traditional authority of ruling nobility and high clergy was being questioned. The secrecy surrounding the degrees which impart Masonry's lessons date from a time when ideas such as freedom of thought and religion, and the equality of political rights were viewed as subversive and dangerous by institutions in power. These 'subversive' ideas coincided with many of the founding principles of the United States of America. The speaker did not support that Freemasonry ‘made the Revolution', but there is justification to presume that the fraternal order facilitated cooperation among the separate colonial states. There is undeniable evidence of the noticeable number of Freemasons among the leadership. For a fuller coverage of Freemasonry in the American Revolution, the speaker recommended Steven C. Bullock's Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (1996).
The speaker emphasized the personal basis that motivated many Colonial-era Americans to join the Freemasons. The Freemasonry ritual provided a ‘mystic tie' that enhanced an individual's self esteem and provided confidence in adopting the rules of conduct. Joining the organization was an act of seeking self improvement through adopting the tenets of Freemasonry. What appears to have made the organizational popular among politicians, merchants, and tradesmen in the British Colonies was that membership in the Freemasons certified a man of ‘quality', and facilitated social as well as business interaction.
Membership in the Freemasons by ambitious individuals provided opportunities to exchange ideas concerning perceived economic and political abuses of the British authorities. There is evidence that even within the organization of Freemasonry, there was a pattern that paralleled confrontations concerning self-government and economic opportunities – namely that the individuals in the Colonies were never going to be accepted on an equal basis with those in Great Britain. Such intellectual positions openly debated in Freemason lodges undoubtedly encouraged many members of the brotherhood to support a political challenge, and to eventually break with Great Britain. On the other hand, this position certainly was not universally held by all Freemasons, as many in the brotherhood remained Loyalists. Further, despite some exaggerated claims, not all of the American Rebel leaders were Freemasons.
The speaker introduced a distinction that existed between the Freemason lodges at the time of the American Revolution. In 1751, some lodges made up largely of Scotts and Irish viewed the Premier Grand Lodge of London that had formed in 1717 as being too aristocratic and deviating from the earlier [‘ancient'] practices of ‘the Craft' [Freemasonry practices], and decided to join with an alternative group of lodges that were unaffiliated with the ‘Premier Grand Lodge'. These unaffiliated Masons and their Lodges were referred to as ‘Old Masons', and referred to groups affiliated to the Premier Grand Lodge, as ‘The Moderns'. This schism existed in the Colonies, where Benjamin Franklin was a ‘Modern' and Paul Revere an ‘Ancient'. The difference did not seem to prevent cooperation among those supporting the Rebellion,
Another note of interest was mentioned: in 1775 British occupied Boston, Prince Hall and several other Boston free African-Americans were initiated into a military lodge of Irish soldiers. After British troops evacuated Boston in March 1776, Hall and his brothers remained without an official Lodge charter, but supported the Rebel cause and encouraged African-Americans to enlist in the Continental Army. In 1791, Hall became Grand Master of the first African-American Grand Lodge, which was named after him when he died in 1807.
Following his presentation, the speaker identified a website with information about Masons among the ‘Founding Fathers' who were signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Constitution, and Generals in the Continental Army under Washington; see http://bessel.org/foundmas.htm.
Mr. Mark Allen Tabbert was born and raised in Iowa, Mark graduated from Allegheny College with a B.A. in European History in 1986. He received his M.A. in American History and Museum Studies at Duquesne University in 1996 while working at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, PA. Between 1997 and 1998 he worked for the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, Missouri. During this time he became a Mason in Malta Lodge No. 318 AF&AM in Burlington, Iowa. In 1999 he began work at the Scottish Rite Masonic National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA as Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections. Since then he has published numerous articles, given many presentations and curated several Masonic exhibitions. In 2005 the National Heritage Museum and New York University Press jointly published his book American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities. In 2006 Mark accepted the position of Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. As a Freemason, he is a Past Master of Mystic Valley Lodge, Arlington, MA, member of the three York Rite Masonic Bodies, the Masonic Society of Blue Friars and a 33rd Degree in Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. For more information, visit the website for the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA at: http://www.gwmemorial.org/
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ARRT June 2007 ‘FIELD TRIP' to MOUNT VERNON With the special cooperation of the Director and Staff at our local Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, twenty ARRT members participated in an unusual June ‘field trip' in visiting the recently constructed Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon. This was not a guided tour, as the elaborate exhibits are best visited at a pace suitable to individuals' desires. A number of ARRT members who are also members of ‘Friends of Mount Vernon' had already visited the facility. Of particular interest was the special exhibit "A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington" This ‘traveling' exhibit has now moved on to Lafayette College in Easton PA, and will later head to New York City before going to France in 2008.
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