May 5, 2006

George Washington Searches

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1.  Site Name: Martha Dandridge Custis Washington   


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Description:  Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

"I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else, there is certain bounds set for me which I must not depart from...” So in one of her surviving letters, Martha Washington confided to a niece that she did not entirely enjoy her role as first of First Ladies.  She once conceded that, "many younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased" in her place; she would "much rather be at home."  But when George Washington took his oath of office in New York City on April 30, 1789, and assumed the new duties of President of the United States, his wife brought to their position tact and discretion developed over 58 years of life in Tidewater Virginia society.


Oldest daughter of John and Frances Dandridge, she was born June 2, 1731, on a plantation near Williamsburg.  Typical for a girl in an 18th-century family, her education was almost negligible except in domestic and social skills, but she learned all the arts of a well-ordered household and how to keep a family contented.  As a girl of 18--about five feet tall, dark-haired, gentle of manner--she married the wealthy Daniel Parke Custis. Two babies died; two were hardly past infancy when her husband died in 1757.


From the day Martha married George Washington in 1759, her great concern was the comfort and happiness of her husband and children.  When his career led him to the battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War and finally to the Presidency, she followed him bravely.  Her love of private life equaled her husband's; but, as she wrote to her friend Mercy Otis Warren, " I cannot blame him for having acted according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his country."  As for her, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."


At the President's House in temporary capitals, New York and Philadelphia, the Washingtons chose to entertain in formal style, deliberately emphasizing the new republic's wish to be accepted as the equal of the established governments of Europe. Still, Martha's warm hospitality made her guests feel welcome and put strangers at ease. She took little satisfaction in " formal compliments and empty ceremonies" and declared, "I am fond of only what comes from the heart."  Abigail Adams, who sat at her right during parties and receptions, praised her as "one of those unassuming characters which create Love and Esteem."


In 1797 the Washingtons said farewell to public life and returned to their beloved Mount Vernon, to live surrounded by kinfolk, friends, and a constant stream of guests eager to pay their respects to the celebrated couple.  Martha's daughter Patsy had died, her son Jack at 26, but Jack's children figured in the household.  After George Washington died in 1799, Martha assured a final privacy by burning their letters; she died of "severe fever" on May 22, 1802.  Both lie buried at Mount Vernon, where Washington himself had planned an unpretentious tomb for them.


2.  Site Name: A Biography of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Aide-de-camp to Washington (1777-1781)


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Description:  As Hamilton was settling in at headquarters in New Jersey in the early spring of 1777, Washington was resisting General Howe's attempts to engage his forces in open battle.  Washington moved his headquarters numerous times around New York State and Pennsylvania, trying to second-guess Howe's next move, which was to be on Philadelphia rather than New York as he had anticipated.  After parrying with Howe most of the summer, Washington engaged him, and was defeated, at Brandywine Creek in September.


On September 18, Hamilton led a small force to destroy a flour warehouse before the advancing British troops could confiscate it, and was almost killed when British scouts fired on his party.  His horse was shot, and Hamilton was forced to swim across the Schuylkill River to safety.  He then dashed off a note to the Continental Congress advising them to abandon the capitol, which they did.


The British marched into Philadelphia on September 26 unopposed, and Washington's army was defeated again at Germantown in early October.


That same month, General Horatio Gates, who led the American forces in the north, accepted the surrender of General Burgoyne's entire army at Saratoga in a brilliant and morale-boosting victory.  Gates was hailed as the hero of the revolution, and there were grumblings among the troops, and in congress, that Gates should take Washington's place as Commander-in-Chief.  Gates himself challenged Washington's position by sending notification of his victory directly to Congress, rather than through Washington, as was proper protocol.


More hurt than indignant, Washington found himself in the embarrassing position of needing Gates' assistance.  With the northern positions secure, he needed extra troops to defend the area around Philadelphia.  Knowing the delicacy of the mission, the General sent Hamilton to request the troops from Gates.


Although feigning cheerful compliance with the order delivered by the young aide (Hamilton was twenty-two at the time), Gates apparently tried to take advantage of Hamilton's youth by passing off his smallest and weakest brigade.  Hamilton, wise beyond his years, was not so easily fooled.  He demanded that Gates hand over better men:


"When I preferred your opinion to other considerations, I did not imagine you would pitch upon a brigade little more than half as large as the others; and finding this to be the case I indispensably owe it to my duty, to desire in His Excellency's name, that another brigade may go instead of the one intended."


3.  Site Name: General Horatio Gates


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Description:  Brigadier General Horatio Gates


Horatio Gates (1727–1806) was an American general in the American Revolution.  He was born at Maldon, Essex, England.  Entering the British Army, he first served in Nova Scotia in 1749–1750.  During the French and Indian War he was severely wounded attacking the French at Fort Duquesne in 1755 but helped capture French Martinique in 1761.


Gates retired from the army on half pay in 1765 as a major and in 1772 moved with his family to Virginia, following the advice of his old comrade-in-arms George Washington. Gates accepted appointment as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia, and when the Revolution broke out, he took the American side.  In June 1775 he was made adjutant general of the army, with the rank of Brigadier General.  He was a capable and experienced administrator and a conscientious worker.


Commander of the Northern Army:  After the evacuation of Boston in 1776, Gates, now a major general, was appointed to command the northern American army, which had retreated from Canada.  Here he came into jurisdictional conflict with Gen. Philip Schuyler, commander of the Northern Department. Congress settled the matter in favor of Schuyler, and Gates served for a time in Philadelphia.


In the spring of 1777 rivalry again occurred between Schuyler and Gates.  Finally, in August 1777, Gates took command of Schuyler's defeated army as it fell back from Ticonderoga before Gen. John Burgoyne's advance.  Two battles near Saratoga and Burgoyne's surrender followed, adding luster to Gates' reputation, although some critics whispered that he personally had little to do with winning the battles.


Gates was appointed president of the Board of War late in 1777.  At this time the “Conway Cabal,” involving Gen. Thomas Conway, is supposed to have sought to replace Washington with Gates.  Some members of Congress did wish Washington's removal as commander in chief, but there is considerable doubt whether any real conspiracy existed.


Commander of the Southern Army:  In October 1778, Gates was appointed to the command in Boston.  A year later he left the army for a period and retired to his plantation.  In the spring of 1780 he took the field again as commander of the southern army, which was an almost destitute force consisting largely of untrained militia. Near Camden, S.C., on August 16, the British attacked Gates' army, which broke and ran in wild confusion. Gates has received much blame for this defeat, but it seems probable that few generals could have done better, given the condition of the troops under his command.


Gates was soon replaced by Gen. Nathanael Greene and did not return to active duty until August 1782.  His only son died during the war, and his wife shortly after.  In 1786, Gates married a wealthy widow.  He sold his Virginia plantation in 1790, emancipated his slaves, and moved to a farm within the limits of what is now New York City.  Gates served one term in the New York legislature.  He died on his farm on April 10, 1806.


4. Site Name: The French and Indian War    


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Description:  Fort Detroit Under Siege - 1763


In the continuing colonial rivalry, attention soon focused on the Forks of the Ohio River, a strategically crucial area claimed by both the British and the French but effectively occupied by neither.  In 1754 the Ohio Company of Virginia, a group of land speculators, began building a fort at the Forks only to have the workers ejected by a strong French expedition, which then proceeded to construct Fort Duquesne on the site.  Virginia militia commanded by young George Washington proved no match for the French and Indians from Fort Duquesne.  Defeated at Fort Necessity (July 1754), they were forced to withdraw east of the mountains.


The British government in London, realizing that the colonies by themselves were unable to prevent the French advance into the Ohio Valley, sent a force of regulars under Gen. Edward Braddock to uphold the British territorial claims.  In July 1755, to the consternation of all the English colonies, Braddock's army was disastrously defeated as it approached Fort Duquesne.


Again the British looked to the Iroquois League for assistance, working through William Johnson, the superintendent of Indian affairs in the north. As usual, the Iroquois responded but without much enthusiasm.  Other tribes, impressed with French power, either shifted allegiance to the French or took shelter in uneasy neutrality.  In 1755 the British forcibly deported virtually the entire French peasant population of Nova Scotia (Acadia) to increase the security of that province.  But it was not until May 1756, nearly two years after the outbreak of hostilities on the Virginia frontier, that Britain declared war on France.  For the time being Spain remained uncommitted in the conflict, which was part of the larger Seven Years War.


Under the effective generalship of the marquis de Montcalm, New France enjoyed victory after victory.  In 1756, Montcalm forced the surrender of the British fort at Oswego on Lake Ontario, thereby breaking the British finger hold on the Great Lakes.  A year later he destroyed Fort William Henry at the south end of Lake George, dashing British hopes for an advance through the Champlain Valley to Crown Point.  The northern frontier seemed to be collapsing in upon the British colonies.


William Pitt (the Elder), Britain's new prime minister, had adopted a policy of drastically increasing aid to the American colonies, and he was able to do so because the Royal Navy kept the sea-lanes open.  France, in contrast, found itself unable to maintain large-scale support of its colonies.  As a result, by 1758 the period of French ascendancy was coming to an end. T he British, employing increasing numbers of regulars, sometimes in conjunction with provincial troops, began gaining important victories under the military leadership of Jeffrey, Lord Amherst.


In 1758 a British expedition forced the surrender of Louisbourg, and another expedition advancing west from Philadelphia caused the French to abandon the Forks of the Ohio. This latter victory, in turn, convinced many Indians that Britain would prevail after all, accelerating a shift of tribal support away from the French.  Only at Ticonderoga, south of Crown Point, did British arms suffer a major defeat.


For the British, 1759 proved to be a year of stunning successes in America.  One British expedition took Niagara.  Another, led by Amherst himself, seized both Ticonderoga and Crown Point, thereby opening the way to Montreal.  A third, commanded by young Gen. James Wolfe, sailed up the Saint Lawrence and, after much difficulty, defeated Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham just outside Quebec.  The surrender of Quebec itself soon followed.  In 1760, Amherst completed the conquest of Canada with a successful three-pronged offensive against Montreal.


By the end of 1760, French resistance in North America had virtually ceased.  The only fighting still going on was between the British and the Cherokee Indians in the south, and that ended in a British victory in 1761.  The Seven Years' War did continue elsewhere, with Spain becoming involved against Britain early in 1762.  The overwhelming strength of British sea power, however, rapidly eroded French hopes of success. Britain, too, needed peace, primarily for financial reasons.


The war-weary nations began negotiations that in February 1763 produced the decisive Treaty of Paris.  Britain gained all of North America east of the Mississippi River, including Canada and Florida, so that a bright future for its colonists seemed assured. With the French and Spanish menace now removed from their frontiers and the Indians deprived of foreign support in their resistance to British expansion, the inhabitants of the coastal colonies could feel less dependent on Britain and better able to fend for themselves.


Their experience with British regular forces during the war, moreover, had generated mutual dislike, which was not softened by the American habit of trading with the enemy in the Caribbean.  At the same time, Britain's costly struggle with France had depleted the British treasury, a fact that soon would lead Parliament to seek additional revenue by taxing the American colonies.  Clearly, then, conditions arising from the French and Indian Wars helped set the stage for the American Revolution.


Author: Douglas Edward Leach

Picture Credit: The Granger Collection

Bibliography:  Hamilton, Edward, The French and Indian Wars (1962); Jennings, Francis, Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies, and Tribes in the Seven Years War in America (1988; repr. 1990); Leach, Douglas, Arms for Empire (1973); Parkman, Francis, France and England in North America, 9 vols. (1865-92); Peckham, Howard, The Colonial Wars, 1689-1762 (1964).


5. Site Name: George Washington Quotations


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Description: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, 
and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation”; “
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company”; It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one”; “TLabor to keep” alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience”.    


6 Site Name: Emancipation of Slaves, From George Washington's Last Will


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Description:  Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the slaves, which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom.  To emancipate them during her life, would, tho' earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages with the dower Negroes, as to excite the most painful sensations, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same Proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the Dower Negroes are held, to manumit them.  And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves.  It is my will and desire that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living.  Or if living they are unable, or unwilling to provide for them shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty five years.  In cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court, upon its own view of the subject, shall be adequate and final. 


The Negroes thus bound, are (by their Masters or Mistresses) to be taught to read and write and be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphan and other poor children. I do hereby expressly forbid the sale, or transportation out of the said Commonwealth, of any slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever.  


And I do moreover most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the Survivors of them, to see that this clause respecting slaves and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place; without evasion, neglect or delay, after the crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm, seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the uncertain provision to be made by individuals. 


And to my Mulatto man William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom; or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which have befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so: In either case however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, which shall be independent of the victuals and cloths he has been accustomed to receive, if he chuses the last alternative; but in full, with his freedom, if he prefers the first; & this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.  Reprinted W.W. Abbot, ed., The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series, vol. 4, April - December 1799. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999), 477-492. 


7.  Site Name: Time Line: The Colonial Period


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Description: 1748 March, begins career as surveyor in a venture to the Shenandoah Valley on behalf of prominent Virginia landowner, Lord Thomas Fairfax. Accompanies James Genn, surveyor for Prince William county, and George William Fairfax, the son of Lord Fairfax.


April-May 1754 - Leads Virginia forces against French at Fort Duquesne in the upper Ohio River Valley.  Builds Fort Necessity at Great Meadows, Pennsylvania.

May 27, defeats French scouting party but is subsequently forced to surrender Fort Necessity after brief battle. October, Washington resigns commission when Virginia colonial forces are reduced to separate autonomous companies.


8.  Site Name: Time Line, the American Revolution


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1774 July 6-18, attends meetings in Alexandria, Virginia, which address the growing conflict between the Colonies and Parliament.  Washington co-authors with George Mason the Fairfax County Resolves, which protest the British "Intolerable Acts"--punitive legislation passed by the British in the wake of the December 16th, 1773, Boston Tea Party.  The Fairfax Resolves call for non-importation of British goods, support for Boston, and the meeting of a Continental Congress.

July 18, the Resolves are presented to the public at the Fairfax County Courthouse. Fairfax Resolves

September 5 - October 26, the First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. Washington serves as a delegate from Virginia.

October 9, while attending the First Continental Congress, Washington responds to a letter from Captain Robert Mackenzie, then in Boston. Mackenzie, a fellow Virginia officer, criticizes the behavior of the city's rebellious inhabitants.  Washington sharply disagrees and defends the actions of Boston's patriots. Yet, like many members of Congress who still hope for reconciliation, Washington writes that no "thinking man in all North America," wishes "to set up for independency."


9.  Site Name: The Washington Monument


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Description:  Washington Monument


Of all the Presidents of the United States, George Washington is the most celebrated. Efforts to commemorate his legacy began during his lifetime and continue to this day. Down through the years they have taken on many forms.  His leadership and service to the republic have been distinguished through the naming of the federal capital, universities, streets, counties, and a state.  In addition to these honors, he had been remembered in works of art, monumental buildings, and historic preservation, involving Americans of all walks of life.  But none have captured the imagination of the people worldwide like the Washington Monument.


10.  Site Name: History of the Washington Monument     


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Description: Early Proposals:  By 1783 the fame of George Washington, Commanding General and first President of the United States, was assured in the pantheon of statesmen of the world.  The Continental Congress recognized Washington's services and his unique role in the founding of the new Republic and, following numerous public and private suggestions to honor him, proposed in 1783 that an equestrian statue be erected "at the place where the residence of Congress shall be established."  At the time the future of the infant Nation was as fraught with uncertainty as the location of its permanent seat.


Thus it was that when the French landscape engineer, Maj. Charles Pierre L'Enfant, drew up at Washington's request his first landscape plan for the future capital, the site for such an equestrian statue was included as one of the principal features of the Federal District. On his well-known plan L'Enfant had made the following notation with approval of Washington: "The equestrian statue of George Washington, a monument voted in 1783 by the late Continental Congress." [1] This same area, south of the Nation's principal residence, the Executive Mansion, is the site of one of the noblest architectural structures of the country, the Washington Monument.


Congress took no action until December 1799, when eight days after the death of Washington, United States Representative John Marshall, later the distinguished Chief Justice, proposed that "a Marble monument, be erected by the United States in the Capitol, at the City of Washington, and that the family of George Washington be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it. " No action was taken on this proposal other than the preparation of a catafalque which now rests in a crypt in the depths below the central dome of the Capitol and which is used on occasion for state funerals.


In 1800 it was proposed that a "mausoleum of American granite and marble, in pyramidal form 100 feet square at the base and of proportionate height," be erected to Washington's memory.  In 1801 the House appropriated $200,000 for the construction of such a mausoleum, but the Senate opposed it.  In 1816 and again in 1832 Congress considered the placing of a tomb for Washington's remains in the Capitol building.  On both occasions, however, members of the Washington family who refused to permit the removal of Washington’s remains from his Mount Vernon estate where the will of the late President specifically requested that he be interred opposed this.


Throughout the Nation there was a deep sense of disappointment over the failure of Congress to provide for the erection of an appropriate memorial to the Founding Father in the District of Columbia.  Other communities had already erected monuments to the memory of Washington, the most pretentious being the 204-foot Doric column memorial erected at a cost of $150,000 in neighboring Baltimore, Md.  The money for this was raised by popular subscription, lottery proceeds, and by a final appropriation from the State of Maryland.


11.  Site Name: continental Army  


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Description:  The Second Continental Congress, then meeting at Philadelphia, (the lawmakers) chose as commander of the "Continental Army" George Washington, a 43-year-old delegate from Virginia, a planter and a ranking militia officer in the French and Indian Wars.


Britain seemingly had enormous advantages in a war against its colonies.  It possessed a well-established government, a sizable treasury, a competent army, the most powerful navy in the world, and a large Loyalist population in the colonies.  By contrast, the American rebels had no chief executive such as the king, or a cabinet whose members had assigned responsibilities.  In fact, the Americans had no separate or independent departments of government such as war, treasury, and foreign affairs until near the end of the conflict.


The Continental Congress itself had as its rivals the 13 state legislatures, which often chose not to cooperate with their delegates in Philadelphia.  Indeed, Congress was an extralegal body, existing at the pleasure of the states before the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781.


The Americans, however, were not without their own advantages.  A vast reservoir of manpower could be drawn upon.  For the most part, men preferred short-term enlistments--and many who served came out for a few weeks or months--but they did serve: the best estimates are that over 200,000 participated on the patriot side.  General Washington was often short of shoes and powder, but rarely were he and other commanders without men when they needed them most, although at times American leaders had to take into the army slaves, pardoned criminals, British deserters, and prisoners of war.  Moreover, Americans owned guns, and they knew how to use them.


American Colonial Soldier (Left):  If the Continental Army won few fixed battles, it normally fought reasonably well; it extracted a heavy toll on the enemy, who usually could not easily obtain reinforcements. Although only Washington and Major General Nathanael Greene were outstanding commanders, many others were steady and reliable, including Henry Knox, Benjamin Lincoln, Anthony Wayne, Daniel Morgan, Baron von Steuben, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Benedict Arnold, before he defected to the enemy in 1780.


The Americans also were fighting on their own soil and consequently could be more flexible in their military operations than their opponents.  Washington and other Continental Army commanders usually followed the principle of concentration, that is, meeting the enemy in force wherever British armies appeared.  In the interior, however, against bands of Loyalists and isolated British outposts and supply trains, the American militia not infrequently employed guerrilla or partisan tactics with striking successes.       




12.  Site Name: Marquis de Lafayette


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Description:   Marquis de Lafayette


"The play, sir, is over." October 1781


The French general the Marquis de Lafayette, called the hero of two worlds, was prominent in both the American Revolution and the French Revolution.  Born on Sept. 6, 1757, to a noble family in the Auvergne, he defied the French authorities in 1777 by crossing the Atlantic to offer his services to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia.  He was a friend of George Washington, who became his model, and served under him at the Battle of the Brandywine and at Valley Forge.


In 1779 he went to France to expedite the dispatch of a French army, but he returned to distinguish himself again at Yorktown (1781).  Brave in battle and staunch in adversity, Lafayette won enduring popularity in America, and his fame did much to make liberal ideals acceptable in Europe.


As discontent in France mounted, Lafayette (left) advocated the convocation of the States-General in 1789.  He became a deputy and proposed a model Declaration of Rights.  Elected commander of the National Guard on July 15, 1789, he appeared gallantly with his troops at the Festival of Federation on July 14, 1790, to celebrate the apparent coming of age of a free and united community.


However, Lafayette proved unable to fulfill the promise of his youth. Although he had enormous potential power as a mediator, he had neither a realistic policy of his own nor the flexibility to support the more practical comte de Mirabeau.  Despised by the court as a renegade aristocrat whose bourgeois army was unable to protect the royal family, he was also hated by the populace for trying to suppress disorder, especially after he fired on a crowd in Paris in July 1791.


In 1792, as an army commander, Lafayette made a futile attempt to save the monarchy and then deserted to the Austrians, who promptly imprisoned him as a dangerous revolutionary.  Released in 1797 at Napoleon Bonaparte's insistence, Lafayette was allowed to return to France in 1799.


In 1815 he was one of those who demanded Napoleon I's abdication.


In 1824, Lafayette made a triumphant tour of the United States. By then his home, La Grange, was a place of pilgrimage for liberals throughout the world.  When the July Revolution of 1830 occurred, he was again called on to command the National Guard, to identify the monarchy of Louis Philippe with the ideals of 1789.


He died in Paris on May 20, 1834; his name continues to signify freedom.


13.  Site Name: Benedict Arnold


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Description:  Benedict Arnold


Benedict Arnold (January 14, 1741 – June 14, 1801) was a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.  He is most known for what is seen as an act of treason against the United States — plotting to surrender the American fort at West Point, New York to the British.  Arnold had distinguished himself as a hero of the revolution early in the war through acts of cunning and bravery at Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.  Arnold strongly opposed the decision by the Continental Congress to form an alliance with France, having experienced a bitter defeat at the hands of the French and their Indian allies during the French and Indian War (1754–1763).


Disaffected due to grievances with the Continental Congress and the military; suffering from mounting personal debt, and facing corruption charges filed by the Pennsylvania civil authorities, Arnold also faced pressure at home from his young second wife, a British Loyalist.  In 1780 he formed a plot to obtain the fort at West Point, New York and surrender it to the British. This would have given British forces control of the Hudson River valley and split the colonies in half. The plot was thwarted, but Arnold successfully evaded capture by the Continental army and fled to England. He was given a commission as Brigadier General in the British Army along with a reduced award of £6,000 sterling.


Picture Credit:  Marquis de Lafayette (1779) by Charles Wilson Peale, Washington and Lee University (top); Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia (bottom).

Bibliography: Bernier, Olivier, Lafayette: Hero of Two Worlds (1983); Buckman, Peter, Lafayette: A Biography (1977); Gerson, Noel B., Statue in Search of a Pedestal: A Biography of the Marquis de Lafayette (1976); Gottschalk, Louis R., Lafayette Comes to America (1935; repr. 1974), Lafayette Joins the American Army (1937; repr. 1974), Lafayette and the Close of the American Revolution (1942; repr. 1974), Lafayette between the American and French Revolution (1950; repr. 1974), Lafayette in the French Revolution, through the October Days (1969), and Lafayette in the French Revolution: From the October Days through the Federation (1973); Horn, Pierre, Marquis de Lafayette (1989); Idzerda, Stanley J., et al., eds., Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776-1790, 4 vols. (1977-81).

© Copyright "The American Revolution Home Page" - Ronald W. McGranahan 1998 - 2004. All Rights Reserved. 


14.  Site Name: Nathanael Greene and the Supply of the Continental Army


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Description:  Nathaniel Greene and the Supply of the Continental Army

By Edward Payson The Quartermaster Review May-June 1950


It was March 1778 and on the hills of Valley Forge, rising above the Schuylkill River, lay the winter quarters of George Washington 's Continental Army.  On this scenically beautiful spot, commanding a broad panorama of the fertile Pennsylvania countryside, the great Virginian had stood guard all through the winter.  Only twenty miles to the southeast lay Philadelphia, capital and largest city of the newborn United States; since September the British forces of General Sir William Howe had held it.  Sixty miles to the west lay the small Pennsylvania town of York, the meeting place of the fugitive Continental Congress.  From his vantage point at Valley Forge, Washington could observe the movements of his opponents and make any deployments that might be necessary to protect his own forces or the temporary capital at York.


But the greatest menace to the American cause during that long winter came not from Sir William Howe but from the breakdown of the American supply system.  The Quartermaster General's Department, which was responsible for the procurement of tents, spades, shovels, and other camp equipage and of all transportation facilities, was in utter confusion.  Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin, a leading Pennsylvania patriot, was a politician, not a soldier; his talents were better to the hustings than to the administration of a complex supply service.  Discontented in his uncongenial position, he longed to abandon it, after July 1777 did not even pretend to perform the duties of his office. Finally, in November, he submitted his resignation.  Yet Congress took no steps to appoint a successor and let matters drift, thought reports of fraud in the headless department were continually being circulated and the Commissary General was complaining, not without justification, that deficiencies in the food supply, for the procurement of which was his responsible, were attributable to the failure of the Quartermaster General's Department to provide transportation for its carriage.


By January troubles originating in these two departments of the Army were taking up almost as much time in Congress as were all other matters put together.  Washington, in a moment of despair, wrote that he could "declare that no Man, in my opinion, ever had his measures more impeded than I have, by every department in the Army" and singled out the lack of assistance from the Quartermaster General as the outstanding example of the difficulties under which he labored.  Washington was, indeed, obliged to perform many quartermaster duties himself.


A committee of the Continental Congress, investigating the supply situation at Valley Forge, reported that truly alarming conditions prevailed in the Quartermaster General’s Department.  Unless these conditions were speedily improved, this committee warned, not only "the future success'' but also "the present existence" of the Army would be imperiled.  It reported that the supplies of Washington's forces were "dispersed over the whole country; not an encampment, route of the army, or considerable road but abounds with wagons, left to the mercy of the weather and the will of the inhabitants."  The committee noted that three thousand spades and shovels had only recently been discovered in the immediate vicinity of the camp and that huge quantities of tents and tent-cloth had "laid a whole summer in a farmer's barn, and unknown to the officer of the department, was lately discovered and brought to camp by a special order from the General (Washington)."  Had straw been procured in adequate quantities, the report claimed, the ''lives of many soldiers" would have been saved.  ''Unprovided with this or other materials" to protect them from ''cold and wet earth," hundreds of soldiers had fallen ill, and the number of deaths had mounted ''to any extraordinary degree."


As for horses and wagons, the committee found that these essential means of transportation were nearly nonexistent.  "Almost every species of camp transportation," it declared, "is now performed by men, who patiently . . . yoke themselves to little carriages of their own making or load their wood and provisions on their backs."  There was ample pork in New Jersey, the report continued, but owing to the non-availability of wagons, not a single pound could be brought to Valley Forge.  Because of such conditions, the committee warned, there was real danger that the troops would starve or disperse in search of food.


Despite the committee's criticism of the Quartermaster General's Department, it would be unfair to conclude that the alarming shortages it described resulted wholly from Mifflin's administrative incapacity or the irresponsibility of quartermaster agents.   Many conditions militated against a successful administration by any Quartermaster General, no matter how competent he might be.  The American colonies had never developed an adequate system of land transportation.  There were few roads-almost no good ones-and even wagons were scarce in both town and country. 


The colonies had relied largely on the sea and the tidal rivers of the coast for transfer of commodities over long distances.  But the British blockade was so effective that practically all American seaborne traffic was paralyzed, and the Continental Army depended on the undeveloped system of land communications.  Moreover, when two large armies occupied the same region, as was the case in the Philadelphia-Valley Forge area in the winter of 1777-78, their demands created a local scarcity of supplies.  Under such conditions American Quartermasters were at a disadvantage, for they had only a depreciating paper currency to offer for supplies, whereas British Quartermasters offered gold or silver.   Inevitably, Howe in Philadelphia obtained the bulk of the available horses, wagons, and camp equipage, while Washington at Valley Forge got very little.   


15.  Site Name: US Treasury - Biography of John W. Snow, Secretary of the Treasury  


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Description:  President George W. Bush nominated John William Snow to be the 73rd Secretary of the Treasury on January 13, 2003 .  The United States Senate unanimously confirmed Snow to the position on January 30, 2003 and he was sworn into office on February 3, 2003.  As Secretary of the Treasury, Snow works closely with President Bush on a broad array of economy policy issues.


Before coming to Treasury, Snow was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSX Corporation, where he successfully guided the global transportation company through a period of tremendous change.  During Snow’s twenty years at CSX, he led the Corporation to refocus on its core railroad business, dramatically reduce injuries and train accidents, and improve its financial performance.


Snow’s previous public service includes having served at the Department of Transportation as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Deputy Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary for the Governmental Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Plans and International Affairs.


Snow served as Chairman of the Business Roundtable, the foremost business policy group comprised of 250 chief executive officers of the nation's largest companies.  During his tenure as Chairman from 1994 through 1996, he played a major role in supporting passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and working on the deficit reduction agreement. 


Snow is also recognized as a leading champion of improved corporate governance practices.  He is a former co-chairman of the influential Conference Board's Blue-Ribbon Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise.  He also served as co-chairman of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement in 1992 that made recommendations following the savings and loan crisis.


John Snow was born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 2, 1939, and graduated in 1962 from the University of Toledo.  He later earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia where he studied under two Nobel Prize winners.  Snow graduated with a law degree from the George Washington University in 1967 and then taught economics at the University of Maryland , University of Virginia , as well as law at George Washington. He also served as a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in 1977 and a Distinguished Fellow at the Yale School of Management from 1978 until 1980


16.  Site Name: Henry Knox  


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Description: Henry Knox


Henry Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 25 July 1750; upon his father’s death left school at twelve to work in a bookstore; joined a local military company at eighteen, was present at the Boston Massacre, 1770, joined the Boston Grenadier Corps in 1772; married Lucy Flucker in 1774; joined the patriot cause and offered his services to General Washington in 1775; was commissioned colonel of the Continental Regiment of Artillery; led the expedition to transfer captured British guns from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston in 1776, a move that forced the British to evacuate the city; led the Delaware River crossing and participated in the Battle of Trenton in 1776; was promoted to brigadier general and Chief of Artillery of the Continental Army, December 1776; participated in the battles of Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown in 1777 and Monmouth in 1778; sat on the court-martial of Major John Andre in 1780; placed the American artillery at the Yorktown siege in 1781; commanded the West Point post, 1782–1783; organized the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783; was commander in chief of the Army, 23 December 1783–20 June 1784; served under the Confederation as Secretary at War, 8 March 1785–11 September 1789; served under the Constitution as first Secretary of War, 12 September 1789–31 December 1794; prepared a plan for a national militia, advocated and presided over initial moves to establish a regular Navy, urged and initiated the establishment of a chain of coastal fortifications, and supervised Indian policy; retired to Thomaston, Maine, 1796; engaged in lumbering, shipbuilding, stock raising, and brick manufacturing; died in Thomaston on 25 October 1806.