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The Capture of Ticonderoga (1775)

The Capture of Ticonderoga (1775)
By:  James Still

Fort Ticonderoga was located on a key military corridor between Canada and the Hudson River.  Military supplies captured at Ticonderoga were later used to force the British to evacuate Boston.  Ethan Allen recorded the event:

Ft

“… the first systematical and bloody attempt at Lexington, to enslave America, thoroughly electrified my mind, and fully determined me to take part with my country[.]…  directions were privately sent to me… to raise the Green Mountain Boys, and, if possible, to surprise and take the fortress of Ticonderoga.  This enterprise I cheerfully undertook; and… arrived at the lake [Champlain] opposite to Ticonderoga, on the evening’ of the ninth day of May, 1775, with two hundred and thirty valiant Green Mountain Boys[.]…  I landed eighty-three men near the garrison, and sent the boats back for the rear guard… but the day began to dawn, and I found myself under a necessity to attack the fort, before the rear could cross the lake…

The garrison being asleep, except the sentries, we gave three huzzas which greatly surprised them.  One of the sentries made a pass… with a charged bayonet[.]…  My first thought was to kill him with my sword; but in an instant, I altered the design and fury of the blow to a slight cut on the side of the head; upon which he dropped his gun, and asked quarter, which I readily granted him, and demanded of him the place where the commanding officer [was] kept; he showed me a pair of stairs in the front of a barrack… which led up a second story… to which I immediately… ordered the commander… to deliver me the fort…  he then complied, and ordered his men to be forthwith paraded without arms…  This surprise was carried into execution in the grey of the morning of the tenth day of May, 1775.” Ethan Allen, The Capture of Ticonderoga, Mar 25, 1779

James Still (May 2015), JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“The sun seemed to rise that morning with a superior luster; and Ticonderoga and its dependencies smiled on its conquerors, who tossed about the flowing bowl, and wished success to Congress, and the liberty and freedom of America.” Ethan Allen, The Capture of Ticonderoga, March 25, 1779

“… the barrack doors were beat down, and about one third of the garrison imprisoned… [and] about one hundred pieces of cannon, one thirteen inch mortar, and a number of swivels.”  Ethan Allen, The Capture of Ticonderoga, March 25, 1779

Lexington & Concord (1775)

LexingtonBy:  James Still

After reviewing eyewitness accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress summarized events in an address to the citizens of Great Britain:

“By the clearest depositions… it will appear, that, on the night preceding the 19th of April… a body of the king’s troops, under command of colonel Smith, were secretly landed at Cambridge, with an apparent design to take or destroy the military and other stores, provided for the defense of this colony… at Concord[.]   …the town of Lexington… was alarmed, and a company of the inhabitants mustered on the occasion[.]   …the regular troops, on their way to Concord, marched into… Lexington, and… on their approach, [the inhabitants] began to disperse[.]   …the regulars [however] rushed on with great violence, and… continued their fire until those of the said company, who were neither killed nor wounded, had made their escape[.]   …colonel Smith, with the detachment, then marched to Concord, where a number of provincials [Minute Men] were again fired on by the troops… before any of the provincials fired on them; and that these hostile measures of the troops produced an engagement that lasted through the day…

To give a particular account of the ravages of the troops, as they retreated from Concord to Charles Town, would be very difficult, if not impracticable; let it suffice to say, that a great number of the houses on the road were plundered, and rendered unfit for use; several were burnt; women in child-bed were driven by the soldiery naked into the streets; old men, peaceably in their houses, were shot dead, and such scenes exhibited, as would disgrace the annals of the most uncivilized nations.”   Massachusetts Provincial Congress, To the Inhabitants of Great Britain, April 26, 1775

James Still (Apr 2015), JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

… it being of the greatest importance, that an early, true, and authentic account of this inhuman proceeding should be known to you, the congress of this colony… think it proper to address you on this alarming occasion.”  Massachusetts Provincial Congress, To the Inhabitants of Great Britain, April 26, 1775

“… the Battle of Lexington on the 19th of April, changed the Instruments of Warfare from the Pen to the Sword.”  John Adams, Autobiography, Part 1, (April 1775)

GIVE ME LIBERTY!

Patrick Henry
Give Me Liberty! (1775)
BY:  JAMES STILL

Lord Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, had allowed the Virginia Militia act to lapse. Should Virginia raise a new Militia? Patrick Henry addressed the Second Virginia Convention:

“… This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country… it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth… Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? … For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

… Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other… Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming… If we wish to be free… we must fight! … An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! … we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

… The war is actually begun!… Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death, March 23, 1775

James Still (Feb 2015), JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.” Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death, March 23, 1775


“Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love?” Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death, March 23, 1775

The Minute Men (1775)

By:  James Still

Tensions were high as the Colonists awaited a response from England.  Minute Men, hand-selected within the militia, were prepared to respond to an emergency given only a moment’s notice.

“… General Gage, whether from his own Motives or the Instructions of the Minister, thought proper to assemble all the Kings Troops then on the Continent, in this Town [Boston] and has declared to the Selectmen & others his Resolution to put the [Intolerable] Acts in Execution. The People on the other hand resolve that they will not submit to them and the Continent applauds them…  Thus we appear to be in a state of Hostility…  Regiments with a very few Adherents on one side & all the rest of the Inhabitants of the Province backed by all the Colonies on the other!

The People are universally disposed to wait ‘till they can hear what Effect the Applications [Articles of Association] of the Continental Congress will have, in hopes that the new Parliament will reverse the Laws & measures of the old, abolish that System of Tyranny which was planned in 1763 (perhaps before), confirm the just Rights of the colonies and restore Harmony to the British Empire.  God grant they may not be disappointed!

Lest they should be, they have been, & are still exercising themselves in military Discipline and providing the necessary Means of Defense.  I am well informed that in every Part of the Province there are selected Men, called Minute Men– that they are well disciplined & well provided – and that upon a very short Notice they will be able to assemble a formidable Army.  They are resolved however not to be the Aggressors in an open Quarrel with the Troops; but animated with an unquenchable Love of Liberty they will support their righteous Claim to it, to the utmost Extremity.”  Samuel Adams, Letter to Arthur Lee, January 29, 1775

James Still (Jan 2015), JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“The People are recollecting the Achievements of their Ancestors and whenever it shall be necessary for them to draw their Swords in the Defense of their Liberties, they will show themselves to be worthy of such Ancestors.”  Samuel Adams, Letter to Arthur Lee, Jan 29, 1775

“Went to see a Company of Men exercising upon the Hill, under the Command of a green coated Man, lately a Regular.  A Company of very likely stout men.”  John Adams, Entry in Diary, November 5, 1774

First Congressional Address to Nation – Dec. 2014

By: James Still

Articles of Association

To explain the Articles of Association, Congress included an address to the nation:  “To the INHABITANTS of the COLONIES… In every Case of Opposition by a People to their Rulers, or of one State to another, duty to Almighty God, the Creator of all, requires that a true and impartial Judgment be formed of the Measures leading to such Opposition…  that neither Affection on the one hand, nor Resentment on the other, being permitted to give a wrong bias to Reason, it may be enabled to take a dispassionate view of all Circumstances, and to settle the public Conduct on the solid Foundations of Wisdom and Justice…

Though the State of these Colonies would certainly justify other Measures than we have advised… we have chosen a Method of opposition, that does not preclude a hearty Reconciliation with our Fellow-Citizens, on the other side of the Atlantic. We deeply deplore the urgent Necessity, that presses us to an immediate interruption of Commerce, that may prove injurious to them. We trust they will acquit us of any unkind Intentions towards them, by reflecting, that… we are contending for Freedom, so often contended for by our Ancestors…

Your own Salvation, and that of your Posterity, now depends upon yourselves. You have already shown that you entertain a proper Sense of the Blessings you are striving to retain.  Against the temporary Inconveniencies you may suffer from a Stoppage of Trade, you will weigh in the opposite Balance, the endless Miseries you and your Descendants must endure, from an established arbitrary Power…

Above all Things, we earnestly entreat you, with Devotion of Spirit, penitence of Heart, and amendment of Life, to humble yourselves and implore the Favor of Almighty God: and we fervently beseech his Divine Goodness, to take you into his gracious Protection.”  Journals of Congress, October 21, 1774

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“In making our choice of these distressing difficulties, we prefer the Course dictated by Honesty, and a Regard for the Welfare of our Country.”  Journals of Congress,
October 21, 1774

“… if the peaceable Mode of Opposition recommended by us be broken and rendered ineffectual… you must inevitably be reduced to chose, either a more dangerous Contest, or a final, ruinous, and infamous submission…”  Journals of Congress, October 21, 1774

ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION – NOV. 2014

BY:  JAMES STILL

Encouraged by the Suffolk Resolves, the First Continental Congress passed the Articles of Association in hopes that a boycott of British goods would encourage a redress of grievances and repeal of the Intolerable Acts.  Abraham Lincoln noted the significance of this moment: “The Union is much older than the Constitution.  It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774.” Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

“WE, his majesty’s most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies… avowing our allegiance to his majesty, our affection and regard for our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain and elsewhere, affected with the deepest anxiety, and most alarming apprehensions, at those grievances and distresses, with which his Majesty’s American subjects are oppressed; and having taken under our most serious deliberation, the state of the whole continent, find, that the present unhappy situation of our affairs is occasioned by a ruinous system of colony administration, adopted by the British ministry about the year 1763…

To obtain redress of these grievances, which threaten destruction to the lives liberty, and property of his majesty’s subjects, in North-America, we are of opinion, that a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, faithfully adhered to, will prove the most speedy, effectual, and peaceable measure: And, therefore, we do, for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several colonies, whom we represent, firmly agree and associate, under the sacred ties of virtue, honor and love of our country…

And we do solemnly bind ourselves and our constituents, under the ties aforesaid, to adhere to this association, until such parts of the several acts of parliament… are repealed.” Journals of Congress, Oct 20, 1774

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“We will in our several Stations encourage Frugality, Economy, and Industry, and promote Agriculture, Arts [Trades] and the manufactures of this Country…”  Journals of Congress, Oct 20, 1774

 

The Suffolk Resolves – Oct 2014

By:  James Still

With British oppression escalating, leaders within Suffolk County, Massachusetts, approved nineteen resolutions.  The    Resolutions were carried to Philadelphia and endorsed by the Continental Congress.

“… the most sacred obligations are upon us to transmit [this new World]… unfettered by power, unclogged with shackles, to our innocent and beloved offspring.  …if we arrest the hand which would ransack our pockets… if we successfully resist that unparalleled usurpation of unconstitutional power… posterity will acknowledge that virtue which preserved them free and happy…  Therefore, we have resolved…

2.  That it is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations…

11.  … for the honor, defense and security of this county and province, advise… persons, be elected in each town as officers in the militia…  and that the inhabitants of those towns and districts, who are qualified, do use their utmost diligence to acquaint themselves with the art of war…

15.  … it is incumbent on us to encourage arts [trades] and manufactures amongst us, by all means in our power… 

18.  … we would heartily recommend to all persons of this community, not to engage in any routs, riots, or licentious attacks upon the properties of any person whatsoever… our conduct shall be such as to merit the approbation of the wise, and the admiration of the brave and free of every age and of every country.”  Journals of Congress, September 17, 1774

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“Last Friday Mr. [Paul] Revere brought us the spirited and patriotic Resolves of your County of Suffolk.  We laid them before the Congress.  They were read with great applause…”  Samuel Adams, Letter to Charles Chauncy, September 19, 1774

“This was one of the happiest Days of my Life.  In Congress We had generous, noble Sentiments, and manly Eloquence.  This Day convinced me that America will support the Massachusetts or perish with her.”  John Adams, Entry in Diary, September 17, 1774

The Continental Congress 1774

Cont. Congress
The Continental Congress – September 1774

By:  James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

Delegates, appointed by the “Several Colonies and Provinces”, met in Philadelphia at Carpenter’s Hall. What was their first order of business?

Monday “The Congress proceeded to the choice of a President… [and] Secretary. The gentlemen from the several Colonies produced their respective credentials, which were read and approved…” Journals of Congress, September 5, 1774

Tuesday “Resolved, That in determining questions in this Congress, each Colony or Province shall have one Vote… Resolved, That no person shall speak more than twice on the same point… Resolved, That the Revd. Mr. Duché be desired to open the Congress tomorrow morning with prayers…” Journals of Congress, September 6, 1774

Wednesday “Agreeable to the resolve of yesterday, the meeting was opened with prayers by the Revd. Mr. Duché.” Journals of Congress, September 7, 1774

“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords… look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee…

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish among the people… Amen.” Rev. Jacob Duché, First Prayer of Continental Congress, Sep 7, 1774

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“Voted, That the Thanks of the Congress be given to Mr. Duché… for performing divine Service, and for the excellent prayer, which he composed and delivered on the occasion.” Journals of Congress, September 7, 1774


“I must confess I never heard a better Prayer… for America, for the Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here.” John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, September 16, 1774

 

The Road to Philadelphia – Aug 2014

The Road to Philadelphia–By James Still

During the summer of 1774, the Colonies agreed to send delegates to Philadelphia to form the first Continental Congress. “There is a new, and a grand Scene open before me—a Congress… I will keep an exact Diary, of my Journey, as well as a Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress.” John Adams, Entry in Diary, June 20, 1774

August 10 “The [Massachusetts] committee for the Congress took their departure from Boston… amidst the kind wishes and fervent prayers of every man in the company for our health and success. This scene was truly affecting, beyond all description affecting.” John Adams, Entry in Diary

August 16 “At four We made for N[ew] Haven. 7 Miles out of Town at a Tavern We met a great Number of Carriages and of Horse Men who had come out to meet us… As We came into the Town all the Bells in Town were set to ringing, and… the Cannon were fired, about a Dozen Guns I think. These Expressions of Respect to Us, are intended as Demonstrations of the Sympathy of this People with the Massachusetts Bay and its Capital…” John Adams, Entry in Diary

August 29 “After Dinner We stopped at Frankfort [Frankford] about five Miles out of Town. A Number of Carriages and Gentlemen came out of Philadelphia to meet us… We then rode into Town, and dirty, dusty, and fatigued as we were, we could not resist the Importunity, to go to the Tavern…” John Adams, Entry in Diary

September 5 “At Ten, The Delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters Hall, where they took a View of the Room… The General Cry was, that this was a good Room, and the Question was put, whether We were satisfied with this Room, and it passed in the Affirmative.” John Adams, Entry in Diary

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“… I have taken a long Walk… I wander alone, and ponder… The Objects before me, are too grand, and multifarious [many parts] for my Comprehension… I feel unutterable Anxiety. —God grant us Wisdom, and Fortitude!” John Adams, Entry in Diary, June 25, 1774
“Should the Opposition be suppressed, should this Country submit, what Infamy and Ruin! God forbid. Death in any Form is less terrible.” John Adams, Entry in Diary, June 25, 1774

The Intolerable Acts

By James Still, July 2014

The Intolerable Acts

Following the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed several punitive acts. The colonies referred to them as The Intolerable Acts. The Boston Port Act, the first of these acts, closed Boston Harbor.

Samuel Adams was asked to write the other colonies: “I am desired by the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of this Town to enclose you an Attested Copy of their Vote, passed in Town Meeting legally assembled this day. The Occasion of this Meeting is most alarming: We have received the Copy of an Act of the British Parliament (which is also enclosed) wherein it appears that the Inhabitants of this Town have been tried and condemned and are to be punished by the shutting up of the Harbor, and other Ways, without their having been called to answer for, nay, for aught that appears without their having been even accused of any crime committed by them; for no such Crime is alleged in the Act.

The Town of Boston is now Suffering the Stroke of Vengeance in the Common Cause of America. I hope they will sustain the Blow with a becoming fortitude; and that the Effects of this cruel Act, intended to intimidate and subdue the Spirits of all America will by the joint Efforts of all be frustrated.” Samuel Adams, The Town of Boston to the Colonies, May 13, 1774

“This Attack, though made immediately upon us, is doubtless designed for every other Colony, who will not surrender their sacred Rights & Liberties into the Hands of an infamous Ministry. Now therefore is the Time, when all should be united in opposition to this Violation of the Liberties of all. Their grand object is to divide the Colonies.” Samuel Adams, The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Committee of Correspondence of Philadelphia, May 13, 1774

James Still, JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“… be assured, you will be called upon to surrender your Rights, if ever they should succeed in their Attempts to suppress the Spirit of Liberty here.” Samuel Adams, The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Committee of Correspondence of Philadelphia, May 13, 1774

“If the Spirit of American Liberty is suppressed in this Colony, which is undoubtedly the Plan, where will the Victory lead to, and end?” Samuel Adams, Letter to Stephen Hopkins, May 18, 1774