Albemarle County Patriots

July 13, 2009

Revolutionary War Image

The image above, from the Library of Congress, shows the signatures of three of my Albemarle County ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, who were supporters of the American Revolution during its earliest and darkest days. They were calling for the English Church to be disestablished as the State Church. An image of the additional signers is here: 1 November 1776. A transcript of the entire document is available here: TRANSCRIPT. With the loss of so many historical documents during the wars fought on Virginia soil, these petitions give us a snapshot of which Virginians were in support of the Revolutionary cause by their opposition to the established Church of England.

Many historians write that the American Revolution was, to a considerable extent, a religious quarrel, between Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers and other Dissenters whose religious principles and politics were in opposition to the established Church and its government. The King of England was the head of the English church. Anglican priests swore allegiance to the King and The Book of Common Prayer offered prayers for the monarch, beseeching God “to be his defender and keeper, giving him victory over all his enemies.” In 1776, those enemies of the King were American soldiers and friends and neighbors of American Anglicans. Loyalty to the Anglican church and to its head, the British monarch, was often seen as treason to the American cause, hence the need to disestablish the English Church in America. See “Religion and the American Revolution” at the Library of Congress site.

A description of these Virginia petitions and how they are tied to the Revolutionary War spirit for liberty is also at the Library of Congress web site, where is “Petitioning in Eighteenth-Century Virginia:”

Although both Anglicans and dissenters frequently petitioned the legislature to address a variety of religious concerns, the relationship of church and state did not assume great importance until the Revolutionary period. As the number of dissenters and their political needs increased, and as Enlightenment ideals gained ground among certain political leaders, complete religious freedom emerged as a common goal for a heterogeneous group of Virginians.

My three ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, are amongst the signatories on this Albemarle County, Virginia petition, dated on 1 November 1776. This point in time was less than four months after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. These Albemarle – Amherst petitioners were well aware of the threatening arrival of 30,000 British troops at New York and the enemy’s occupation of the city, that American forces had been roundly defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn, that the American ragtag army was routed at the Battle of Harlem Heights, defeated by the British at Lake Champlain, and that American troops were forced to retreat at the Battle of White Plains just three days prior.

In the face of all of that, they addressed their words to the “Delegates & Senators, Representatives of the Common Wealth of Virginia at the City of Williamsburg” stating “in consequence of our having thrown off our dependence on the Crown & Parliament of Great Britain.” They closed by ardently wishing that the new Virginia “Commonwealth may become the envy of the Nations & the Glory of the World.” I count these men as Patriots of the Revolution because, if the Rebels had lost the fight, as it indeed appeared they would, and England successfully stopped the rebellion, they would have been considered traitors and suffered consequences.

In pre-Revolutionary America, the Church of England was the staunch defender of the British monarchy. When England tried to strengthen the Church of England in the Colonies, in a ploy to turn the colonies into royal provinces, the locals became more antagonistic towards their own mother country.

In the colony of Virginia the Anglican Church was established by law; Virginia was the stronghold of the English system of church and state. The Anglican faith and worship were prescribed by law. The Anglican church was sustained by taxes imposed on all Virginians. Although Jews, Catholics, and Protestant dissenters were barely tolerated in Virginia, they slowly persisted, eventually gaining minimal acceptance. By the advent of the American Revolution, religious dissenters outnumbered adherents to the established English church.

The English Church had become powerful in the colonies because it was supported by the British government and the official ruling class sent to govern the colonials. The Anglican bishops and archbishops in England were appointed by the monarch, and church rituals and services were governed by acts of Parliament. The British government depended upon its loyal clergy to fend off or report to the authorities any rebellious spirits that might foment in America. The Church, therefore, served as a strong bulwark of the state, playing a political role in the Virginia Colony as well as in England. In the mid eighteenth-century, Revolutionary fervor was rising in Virginia, resulting in the English church redoubling its efforts to strengthen its influence in affairs of the Colony. These methods did not sit well with the larger number of dissenting Protestants, who had bitter remembrances of the religious conflicts they had experienced in Great Britain before immigrating. In addition, loyal members of the English Church in Virginia, witnessing the harsh treatment by their parish leaders against their Dissenter neighbors, became sympathetic.

The image, Albemarle County Signatories 1776, is posted here by barneykin.

Battle of Iron Works Hill

December 17, 2008

In December 1776, after significant victories over the Americans, the British army, resting upon its laurels, went into winter quarters in New York and New Jersey. The British wrongly assumed that Washington’s forces in Pennsylvania were also in winter quarters.

On December 17th, General Washington ordered 600 of his forces, mostly untrained men and boys from nearby towns augmented by two companies of Virginia soldiers, to cross the Delaware River and march via Moorestown to Mount Holly, New Jersey.  At Mount Holly the rebels set up a few “3-pounder” artillery pieces on Iron Works Hill, causing the Hessian commanders at Black Horse and Bordentown to believe they were being opposed by 3,000 men. By Christmas Eve, Washington’s plan had lured 2,000 Hessians to the The Mount in Mount Holly, to engage the supposed “thousands” of rebel forces occupying Iron Works Hill. Then at nighttime, while the Hessians were making merry, indulging in the confiscated contents of a local brewery, the Americans stealthily evacuated their positions and marched to Moorestown. On December 26, Washington’s army was able to wax victorious at the Battle of Trenton, capturing 1,000 prisoners. Part of that victory by the Americans is attributed to Washington’s plan a week earlier at the Battle of Iron Works Hill.

I am sorry to report that the photograph that was here of the reenactment of the Battle of Iron Works Hill in Mount Holly, New Jersey that took place on 13 December 2008, has been removed from Flickr’s public viewing.

Tales of Revolution

August 31, 2008

Revolutionary War Image

Slideshow of The Battle of White Plains

During September and October of 1776, rebel troops led by George Washington who was seeking the safety of higher ground, took up positions in the hills of the New York village of White Plains. They were being hotly pursued by British and Hessian troops under command of General Sir William Howe, who attacked the Americans on October 28th. The Battle of White Plains was fought primarily on Chatterton Hill, located west of a swamp in the Bronx River Valley, which is now the downtown area of White Plains. Washington, seeing that the Americans were greatly outnumbered, retreated on 31 October 1776.

When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the piazza, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories about the war.

“This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of those highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great men. The British and American line had run near it during the war; it had, therefore, been the scene of marauding and infested with refugees, cowboys, and all kinds of border chivalry. Just sufficient time had elapsed to enable each storyteller to dress up his tale with a little becoming fiction, and, in the indistinctness of his recollection, to make himself the hero of every exploit.

“There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-bearded Dutchman, who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron nine-pounder from a mud breastwork, only that his gun burst at the sixth discharge. And there was an old gentleman who shall be nameless, being too rich a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who, in the battle of White Plains, being an excellent master of defence, parried a musket-ball with a small sword, insomuch that he absolutely felt it whiz round the blade, and glance off at the hilt; in proof of which he was ready at any time to show the sword, with the hilt a little bent. There were several more that had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy termination.” (THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW by Washington Irving)

The image, BackShot, is subject to copyright by Snowshoeman. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, an administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

Montgomery’s Memorial of 1776

May 6, 2008

Revolutionary War Image

Saint Paul’s Chapel, New York City, New York

General Richard MONTGOMERY was the first American officer to die in the Revolutionary War. He fell at the Battle of Quebec on New Year’s Eve of 1775. Immediately following, on 25 January 1776, the Continental Congress commissioned the first American war memorial – a monument to the fallen General MONTGOMERY. The General’s remains were eventually interred at Saint Paul’s Chapel, New York City, where his memorial was installed by a grateful nation.

Learn More: The American Revolution

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The image, Montgomery’s Memorial of 1776, is subject to copyright by barneykin. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

Patriot Haym Solomon

January 24, 2008

Revolutionary War Image

Haym Solomon (Salomon) was born in Poland about 1740. At the beginning of America’s Revolution, Mr. Solomon was operating a financial brokerage in New York City. He immediately sided with the Sons of Liberty, and in 1776, was arrested by the British as a spy, and was required to serve them as a German interpreter for Hessian soldiers. However, at the same time he was helping prisoners of the British to escape and encouraging German soldiers to desert. When this was discovered in 1778, the British sentenced him to death. He was able to escape to Philadelphia, which was controlled by the American rebels, and there he resumed his brokerage enterprises.

Solomon was an influential member of the Mikveh Israel congregation, founded in 1740, in Philadelphia and he was a leader in the fight to overturn restrictive Pennsylvania laws barring non-Christians from holding public office. He married Rachel Franks in 1777, and they had four children together.

Haym Solomon performed patriotic service to his adopted land in both New York and Pennsylvania by helping to finance the war. He loaned and contributed large sums of money to the cause of liberty during the American Revolution. He lived at both New York City and Philadelphia and died in that latter city on 6 January 1785, penniless, probably as a result of his loans to the American government. His descendants were never successful in obtaining compensation from Congress for his financial sacrifices.

The remains of Haym Solomon now repose at Mikveh Israel Cemetery. From the photograph, it appears that his grave or place of burial was marked by the Haym Solomon Masonic Lodge in 1976. In the past 100+ years numerous of his female descendants have joined the Daughters of the American Revolution on his service.

Learn More: The American Revolution

The image, Mikveh Israel Cemetery – Haym Solomon, is subject to copyright by etacar11. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

December During the Revolution

December 16, 2007

Revolutionary War Image

December seems to have been an important month for most of the years of the Revolutionary War. The following is from the museum at Mount Vernon, Virginia:

  • December 1776 – Washington crossed the Delaware River and captured Trenton, New Jersey.

  • December 1777 – Washington’s troops entered Winter Camp and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

  • December 1778 – Britain carried the war to the southern colonies by occupying Savannah, Georgia.

  • December 1779 – British General Clinton sailed from New York harbor to Charleston, South Carolina with 50,000 troops.

  • December 1783 – General Washington “voluntarily” stepped down as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

Learn More: The American Revolution

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The image, Museum at Mount Vernon, is subject to copyright by barneykin. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

General Washington Defaced

September 18, 2007

Revolutionary War Image

The Signatures of Evil-Doers and America Haters 

At Brooklyn, New York’s Continental Army Plaza this defaced memorial to General George Washington during the freezing winter of 1777-1778, was photographed on 28 July 2007. This public park was named for the equestrian sculpture of America’s greatest patriot, George Washington (1732-1799). Washington spent his entire adult life in service to his people as a military man and finally as the Commander in Chief and first President of the new United States of America.

The statue of George Washington, created by the renown sculptor Henry Mervin Shrady (1871-1922), was dedicated more than 100 years ago, in 1906. Shrady portrayed General Washington during the horrible six-month encampment with his rebel army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That bitterly cold winter took a terrible toll, with an estimated one quarter of Washington’s army perishing, about 2500 men. It was largely because of George Washington’s leadership abilities that his army survived at all.

Washington’s men who suffered and froze to death at Valley Forge made those sacrifices so that “posterity” could someday live free. We are that “posterity”, but are we worthy of such a legacy? Such desecration of a public monument to our country’s founder is unforgiveable. Is there no respect for America’s greatest leader? Is there no help for us to preserve the memory of our forbears? Is there no regard for anything of value in this day and age in America?

Sadly, from this photograph and the one at this site (General Washington Statue), it appears that there has been a constant battle to keep this statue in a respectable condition, as the cleaning and sand-blasting signs show. Because we value freedom and liberty, those who hate and despise America and American values of freedom and liberty, will always be with us, it seems. We will be at war forever against evil doers. 

Continental Army Plaza

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The image, NYC – Brooklyn – Williamsburg: Continental Army Plaza – George Washington at Valley Forge – The Monument, is subject to copyright by wallyg. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

It Was A Great Year

July 4, 2007

Revolutionary War Image

In May of 1776,  George Mason authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the first authoritative formulation of the doctrine of inalienable rights, which was to become the basis for the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. The Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1776, in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was written and members of the Second Continental Congress decided to officially put the colonies in a state of defense. On June 7, 1776, Virginian Richard Henry Lee made his famous proposal to congress: “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” On July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Congress. On July 8th, the Liberty Bell rang out to call the people of Philadelphia to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. The next day, on official orders of General George Washington, the Declaration of Independence was read to his army in New York. Nathan Hale was hanged as traitor on September 22, 1776. On Christmas Day of 1776, Washington led his army across the Delaware River and launched a successful attack against Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey. At the Battle of Trenton which took place on December 26, 1776, Washington chased the British out of New Jersey 

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The image, Flag Banner, is subject to copyright by jonesdlwa. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

Old State House

June 25, 2007

Revolutionary War Image

Circa 1713, Boston, Massachusetts

Beneath this balcony on March 5th 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd of Bostonians who were taunting them. Five men were killed in what became known as The Boston Massacre. Six years later, on July 18th, 1776, the new Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed from this same balcony and the lion and the unicorn and other symbols of British rule were removed and burned in a bonfire at Dock Square.

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The image, Boston – Freedom Trail: Old State House, is subject to copyright by wallyg. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

George Mason

April 19, 2007

Revolutionary War Image

Few of America’s founding fathers have had a more lasting impact upon our nation than a shy, cerebral planter from Virginia, a Fairfax County neighbor of George Washington, George Mason of Gunston Hall.

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights, of which they can not by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; proclaimed George Mason to Virginia’s patriots and to the world, in the spring of 1776.

Closet Tories and aristocrats trembled with fear at the idea of all mankind being equally free, but George Mason’s wondrous words of hope survived, promising human rights for all. When you demand your rights, say a prayer of gratitude to George Mason of Virginia, father of the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Virginia Convention of 1776, on June 12th, adopted George Mason’s Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. On June 29th, the Convention approved the first Constitution of Virginia.

This statue of George Mason is seen at the Welcome Center at his home, Gunston Hall, Mason Neck, Virginia. There is more at My Picasa Albums

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The image, George Mason, is subject to copyright by barneykin. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, an administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.