Monday, March 4, 2019

18C Early American Timeline 1770-1779

The Bloody Massacre by Henry Pelham

Population of the colonies is 2,210,000

Boston Massacre. British troops fire point blank into an unruly crowd in Boston, Massachusetts, killing five and injuring 6. Escaped slave, Crispus Attucks, is killed & is one of the first colonists to die in the war for independence. After the incident, the new Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, at the insistence of Sam Adams, withdraws British troops out of Boston to nearby harbor islands. The captain of the British soldiers, Thomas Preston, is then arrested along with eight of his men & charged with murder.

27-year-old Thomas Jefferson begins constructing a mansion on a hilltop in Charlottesville, calling it Monticello ('little mountain')

The Townshend Acts are repealed by the British. All duties on imports into the colonies are eliminated except for tea. Also, the Quartering Act is not renewed.

Trial begins for the British soldiers arrested after the Boston Massacre. Colonial lawyers John Adams & Josiah Quincy successfully defend Captain Preston and six of his men, who are acquitted. Two other soldiers are found guilty of manslaughter, branded, then released.

Phillis Wheatley writes "An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of That Celebrated Divine, and Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the Reverend and Learned George Whitefield." Wheatley's moving tribute to the leading minister of the religious revivalist movement of the 1740s-1750s, known as the Great Awakening, earns her the attention of Boston's literary elite and establishes her as a literary prodigy.

Jane Fenn Hoskens (1694-c. 1750) writes The Life and Spiritual Sufferings of that Faithful Servant of Christ. Jane Hoskens is a public preacher among the Quakers. Like other traveling ministers, Hoskens believes her mission is to share the Quaker gospel with the largest possible audience, and she depends on other Quaker women for a female support network.

British customs schooner, the Gaspee, runs aground off Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay. Colonists from Providence row out to the schooner & attack it, set the British crew ashore, then burn the ship. In September, a 500 pound reward is offered by the English Crown for the capture of those colonists, who would then be sent to England for trial. The announcement that they would be sent to England further upsets many American colonists.

A Boston town meeting assembles, called by Sam Adams. During the meeting, a 21 member committee of correspondence is appointed to communicate with other towns & colonies. A few weeks later, the town meeting endorses three radical proclamations asserting the rights of the colonies to self-rule.

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw's writes the first autobiographical slave narrative.

Samson Occom (1732-1792) writes "A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul, an Indian Who Was Executed at New Haven." The first publication in America by a Native American is a sermon warning of the evils of alcohol, based on an incident in which an Indian killed a white man while drunk. Occom also condemns racial intolerance, which he says corrupts the minds of both whites & Indians.

About 8000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them Royal Governor Hutchinson has repeated his command not to allow the ships out of the harbor until the tea taxes are paid. That night, the Boston Tea Party occurs as 50 colonial activists disguise themselves as Mohawk Indians then board the ships & dump all 342 containers of tea into the harbor. These colonials are also angered by the East India Company's monopoly on the tea trade.

Virginia House of Burgesses appoints an eleven member committee of correspondence to communicate with the other colonies regarding common complaints against the British. Members of that committee include, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry & Richard Henry Lee. Virginia is followed a few months later by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut & South Carolina.

Virginia Resolutions Establishing A Committee of Correspondence; March 12

Resolutions of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Agreeing to the Virginia Proposal; May 28

The Philadelphia Resolutions; October 16

Association of the Sons of Liberty in New York; December 15

Frontiersman Daniel Boone leaves his Yadkin River North Carolina home to begin exploring Kentucky & within the next 2 years, with a party of thirty men, Boone constructed a nearly 300 mile passage, aptly called the "Wilderness Road," through a natural gap in the Cumberland Mountains. Until the middle of the next century, almost 100,000 pioneers would migrate into the new territories of Kentucky, western Tennessee,

New England Yearly Meeting directs that Quakers owning slaves will be disowned.

The first separate black church in America is founded in South Carolina.

Bridget Richardson Fletcher (1726-1770) writes Hymns and Spiritual Songs. This posthumously published collection, presumed to be written by a Massachusetts woman, includes verses in uniform ballad stanzas that are suitable for singing but unimpressive as poetry. The book's editor condescendingly asks readers "to make allowances for the many inaccuracies of a female pen."

Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) writes The Adulateur. The Boston poet, dramatist, and historian makes her most noted contribution as a writer of political satires in dramatic form. Published in the manner of all her plays--anonymously in newspapers or as broadsides & not meant to be performed--the drama attacks the colonial government & especially Thomas Hutchinson. To avoid libel & sedition laws, Warren writes anonymously & masks her targets with thinly veiled pseudonyms.

Slaves in Massachusetts unsuccessfully petition the government for their freedom.

Phillis Wheatley writes Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. After being freed by the Wheatley family in 1772, the poet takes a trip financed by her former owners to England, where she is celebrated by the nobility & in literary circles. Though she had not been able to secure a publisher for her work in America, a British publisher is eager to print this defining collection of her poems. It is the first published poetry collection by an African American. Included is "On Being Brought from Africa to America."

Boston Port Act causes British forces to occupy the town & close the port. Great Britain : Parliament - The Boston Port Act : March 31, 1774

English Parliament passes the first of a series of Coercive Acts (called Intolerable Acts by Americans) in response to the rebellion in Massachusetts.

The Boston Port Act effectively shuts down all commercial shipping in Boston harbor, until Massachusetts pays the taxes owed on the tea dumped in the harbor & also reimburses the East India Company for the loss of the tea.

Bostonians at a town meeting call for a boycott of British imports in response to the Boston Port Bill. May 13, General Thomas Gage, commander of all British military forces in the colonies, arrives in Boston & replaces Hutchinson as Royal governor, putting Massachusetts under military rule. He is followed by the arrival of four regiments of British troops.

The English Parliament enacts the next series of Coercive Acts, which include the Massachusetts Regulating Act and the Government Act virtually ending any self-rule by the colonists there. Instead, the English Crown & the Royal governor assume political power formerly exercised by colonists. Also enacted; the Administration of Justice Act which protects royal officials in Massachusetts from being sued in colonial courts, & the Quebec Act establishing a centralized government in Canada controlled by the Crown and English Parliament. The Quebec Act greatly upsets American colonists by extending the southern boundary of Canada into territories claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut & Virginia.

The English Parliament passes a new version of the 1765 Quartering Act requiring all of the American colonies to provide housing for British troops in occupied houses & taverns and in unoccupied buildings. In September, Massachusetts Governor Gage seizes that colony's arsenal of weapons at Charlestown.

Circular Letter of the Boston Committee of Correspondence; May 13

Proceedings of Farmington, Connecticut, on the Boston Port Act; May 19

Great Britain : Parliament - The Administration of Justice Act; May 20

Great Britain : Parliament - The Massachusetts Government Act; May 20

Letter from the New York Committee of Fifty-One to the Boston Committee of Correspondence; May 23

Letter from Lieutenant-Governor Colden to the Earl of Dartmouth; June 1

Great Britain : Parliament - The Quartering Act; June 2

Proceedings of the Inhabitants of Philadelphia; June 18

The Association of the Virginia Convention; August 1-6

Great Britain : Parliament - The Quebec Act: October 7

The First Continental Congress of fifty-five representatives (except from the colony of Georgia) meets in Philadelphia to discuss relations with Britain, the possibility of independence, & the hope of a peaceful solution. King George III scorns the thought of reconciliation & declares the colonies to be in a state of open rebellion. Attendees include George Washington, Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, & John Hancock.

Many Quakers feel great sympathy for the democratic, if not revolutionary, sentiments of their fellow colonists. They are constrained, however, because many view their stance on peace as extending to opposing revolution. Quakers at this time tend to believe that when one's conscience does not force one to oppose a government, one should be obedient to it. This extends not just to a refusal to serve in the militias but also to refusing to use the currency printed by the new American government. This leads their fellow Americans to view Quakers as British sympathizers.

Janet Schaw (c. 1735-c. 1801) keeps a journal as she travels which becomes Journal of a Lady of Quality; Being a Narrative of a Journey from Scotland to the West Indies, North Carolina, and Portugal, in the Years 1774 to 1776. Published in 1921, this collection of letters by the Scottish-born travel writer includes a travel account, diary, & literary opinions.

Mercy Otis Warren writes "The Squabble of the Sea Nymphs; or, The Sacrifice of the Tuscaroroes." The poem commemorates the Boston Tea Party while critiquing the role of the British and the colonial government.

Elizabeth Sampson Ashbridge’s work Some Account of the Fore-Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge is published. She had died in 1755. Written from 1746 to 1753, it is one of the most readable & interesting of the Quaker journals & among the earliest autobiographies by an American woman.

"The Peculiar Circumstances of the Times" a letter from Mercy Warren, dated 29 December 1774, to Catharine Macaulay. Warren described the impact of the closing of the port of Boston and of the Coercive Acts.

October 25: Fifty-one "patriotic ladies" gather in Edenton to announce in writing their boycott of East Indian tea as long as it is taxed by the British. This protest, known as the Edenton Tea Party, is one of the first political activities in this country staged by women.

Flora MacDonald, famous for saving the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrives in Wilmington, North Carolina. After urging her fellow Highland Scots to fight for England & then suffering financial & personal loss during the Revolutionary War, she leaves the state in 1778.

Anonymous. A dialogue, between a southern delegate, and his spouse, on his return from the grand Continental congress…inscribed to the married ladies of America, by their most sincere, and affectionate friend, and servant, Mary V .V. [pseud.]. This is a Tory satire in verse which may or may not have been penned by a woman. [New York]: [James Rivington?], 1774.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, & Georgia prohibit the importation of slaves. And Virginia takes action against slave importation.

New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King George III, requiring New England colonies to trade exclusively with England & also bans fishing in the North Atlantic.

The first shot of the American Revolution is fired in a skirmish between redcoats & militiamen at Lexington, on the road to Concord resulting in the Battles of Concord & Lexington, Seige of Boston, & Bunker Hill. Black minutemen participate in the fighting.

Resolutions of the Provincial Congress of Virginia; March 23

Patrick Henry - Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death Speech to the Virginia General Assembly; March 23

The Mecklenburgh Resolutions; May 20

The Charlotte Town, North Carolina Resolves; May 31

A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms.; July 6

Resolution of Secrecy Adopted by the Continental Congress, November 9

Delegates from the states reassemble in Philadelphia, with hostilities against the British already under way in Massachusetts & select George Washington as commander of the army

Francis Salvador, the first Jew to hold elective office in America, is elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress.

Take the Money and Run: April/May 1775 -- Rachel Revere to Paul Revere

An American Post Office is established with Ben Franklin as Postmaster General.

The slave population in the colonies is nearly 500,000. In Virginia, the ratio of free colonists to slaves is nearly 1:1. In South Carolina it is approximately 1:2.

Georgia takes action against slave importation.

The first abolition society is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery (PAS) is the world's first antislavery society and the first Quaker anti-slavery society. Benjamin Franklin becomes Honorary President of the Society in 1787. Thomas Paine speaks out against slavery & joins the PAS with Benjamin Rush.

In July, George Washington announces a ban on the enlistment of free blacks & slaves in the colonial army. By the end of the year, he reverses the ban, ordering the Continental Army to accept the service of free blacks.

In November, Virginia Royal Governor John Murray, Lord Dunmore, issues a proclamation announcing that any slave fighting on the side of the British will be liberated.

The American Navy is established by Congress. The next day, Congress appoints a secret committee to seek help from European nations.

Anna Young Smith (1756-1780) writes "An Elegy to the Memory of the American Volunteers." The Philadelphia poet's only published poem is a tribute to the American heroes at Lexington and Concord.

The Group, as lately acted, and to be re-acted to the wonder of all superior intelligences, nigh head-quarters at Amboyne. Boston: Edes and Gill, 1775. Mercy Otis Warren writes The Group which criticizes the Massachusetts Government Act, one of the Intolerable Acts, which suspended the existing provincial government.

In Salem, Massachusettes, E. Russell publishes A Cry for Boston by a Young lady, who was late a resident in that unhappy town, An humble intercession for the distressed town of Boston, now almost deserted by its former rightful inhabitants, many of whom have fled, chusing to take refuge in the woods and caves, for the sake of liberty, rather than to live in splendor and affluence among slaves and tyrants; which place is at present under the government of a lawless British soldiery ... who, under the sanction of martial law, exercise every cruelty that can possibly be invented by the most uncultivated savages or fiercest barbarians, on the remaining miserable inhabitants, who are obliged to dwell there contrary to the faith of that perfidious arch-traitor and truce-breaking T. Gage…Now published by the earnest request of a great number of its late inhabitants.

Ann Lee founds the Shaker settlement in America in the woods of Watervliet, Niskeyuna, New York.

British evacuate Boston.

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) drafts the Declaration of Independence which is adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4.

On 27 August, the colonial army suffers a serious defeat at the Battle of Long Island.

On 16 September, having already decided to remove the army from New York City, Washington repels the British forces of General Howe in the Battle of Harlem Heights.

On 21 September, fire spreads over New York, destroying from 300-1,000 buildings. Early in the morning of this day, Nathan Hale is captured by the British & executed as a spy the next day, September 22. According to an 1848 memoir by a friend, his last word were these: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Abigail Adams' "Remember the Ladies" letter to John Adams, 31 March 1776. Massachusetts Historical Society. She declares that women, "will not hold ourselves bound by any laws which we have no voice."

In Common Sense Thomas Paine moved many to the cause of independence with his pamphlet. In a direct, simple style, he cried out against King George III & the monarchical form of government.

George Washington raises on Prospect Hill a new American flag, the British red ensign on a ground of thirteen stripes – one for each colony

Congress appoints Jefferson, Franklin & Silas Deane to negotiate treaties with European governments. Franklin & Deane then travel to France seeking financial & military aid.

In North Carolina, the Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) denounces slavery & appoints a committee to aid Friends in emancipating their slaves. Forty slaves are freed, but the courts declare them still enslaved & resell them.

Jewish population: between 1,000 and 2,500 (.04-.10 percent of the total population.)

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, forbids its members from holding slaves.

Delaware prohibits the importation of African slaves.

July 2: New Jersey gives "all inhabitants" of adult age with a net worth of 50 pounds the right to vote. Women property holders have the vote until 1807, when the state limited the vote to "free, white males."

Friends from New England, the south & rural areas overwhelmingly supported the colonists' cause with the stronghold of British sympathy in the Society being in Philadelphia & New York. Six members of the Religious Society of Friends are disowned for joining the British forces, whilst between four & five hundred are expelled from their meetings for participating in the American cause.

Phillis Wheatley writes "To His Excellency General Washington" celebrating George Washington upon his appointment as the head of the army.

Virginia General Assembly restricts the vote to adult white men.

The US Congress agrees the final version of the Articles of Confederation, defining the terms on which states join the Union. Under the Articles, Congress is the sole authority of the new national government.

Congress adopts a new flag for independent America – the stars & stripes.

Marquis de Lafayette, a 19 year old French aristocrat, arrives in Philadelphia & volunteers to serve without pay. Congress appoints him as a major general in the Continental Army. Lafayette will become one of Gen. Washington's most trusted aides.

Mary Katherine Goddard, the Baltimore printer publishes the first copy of the Declaration of Independence, including the names of all the signers.

Vermont is the first of the thirteen colonies to abolish slavery & enfranchise all adult males.

New York enfranchises all free propertied men regardless of color or prior servitude.

On June 28, Mary McCauly (“Molly Pitcher”), wife of an American gunner, brings water to the troops at the Battle of Monmouth Court House. Legend claims that she takes her husband's place after he collapses.

Virginian Hannah Lee Corbin declares that widows should be allowed to vote & not be taxed without representation.

Ratification of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France 1778

Ben Franklin is appointed to be the American diplomatic representative in France.

Frances Slocum, a 5 year old Quaker girl, is kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania, by Native Americans. (See her story in this blog.)

John Adams is appointed by Congress to negotiate peace with England.

Treaty With the Delawares; September 17

Rhode Island forbids the removal of slaves from the state.

Virginia prohibits the importation of slaves.

Sarah Wister (1761-1804) writes a journal, which becomes one of the most valued looks into the daily life of a typical Quaker teenager of the period.Molly Gutridge (fl. 1778) who lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, writes A New Touch on the Times. This poetic broadside describes three things about American life during the Revolutionary War: the absence of men & the hardships borne by women as a result; the economic troubles of life during war; and the faith that God had placed these hardships on Americans but will someday reward the new nation


Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) writes "On the Equality of the Sexes," a description of women's involvement in history & literature. The essay traces women's contributions to public events in the world just as the new American nation debates the limitations of women's sphere. Murray finishes her essay before Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) completes her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792); Murray's account would be published in 1790.

Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.
HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University).