1700s

George Washington Passes - 12/14/1799

On this day in 1799, one of the founding fathers of United States of America and the first president George Washington dies at the age of 67 in his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Born in 1732 to a family of planters who owned tobacco plantations and slaves, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, George Washington had his first direct military experience as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when on behalf of Virginia governor, he led a small crusade against the French in the Ohio River valley. In 1756, during the French and Indian War, Washington took control of the defenses of the western Virginian frontiers. When the war's battleground moved somewhere else, he resigned from his military post, went back to his family's business and won a seat at Virginia's House of Burgesses. The next two decades saw Washington openly opposed the ever-increasing British taxation and oppression of the American settlements. He was selected to represent Virginia at the Continental Congress in 1774, and after the American Revolution crises began in 1775, Washington was chosen as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. However, some members of the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, arguing that there were men that are more competent and suitable for the position, but he was eventually selected because of his leadership roles as a Virginian who played a key role in uniting the Southern colonies.With his unprepared and poorly equipped civilian army, General Washington led an effective war that the defeated the British forces in America while urging the French army to join forces with the colonists. On October 19, 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis' surrendered the British army at Yorktown, Virginia.When the war ended, Washington returned to his estate at Mount Vernon but returned in 1787 when he was called back into politics to chair the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unknowingly to him, the drafters of the constitution had created the office of the president with his name in mind, and in February 1789, Washington was unanimously chosen as the president of the United States of America.Washington strived to unite the country and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. He said of his administration, "Here I am, walking a new path. There is hardly any piece of my actions, which may not from this point forward be use as a point of reference." He effectively implemented the executive power, and made good use of great minds for example, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet and did not use the presidency to cause tyranny. He won a reelection in 1792 and later rejected a third term bid.He finally retired in 1797 at his estate in Virginia. Two years later, Washington died of acute laryngitis. His longtime friend Henry Lee gave an acclaimed tribute to the father of the United States: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his people."

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1700s

Blackbeard Killed Off North Carolina – 11/22/1718

Have you ever wanted to have a nickname that people would seem meaningful and that it would go down in the history books? What about what does a person have to do in order to achieve such notoriety? Good or bad, people throughout history have been remembered for their deeds as well as the nickname he/she had earned while alive. One such person who has been remembered for almost three hundred years was not because of his good deeds but quite the opposite. Edward Teach, known to the world of the past and present as Blackbeard, is killed around North Carolina’s Outer Banks on November 22nd, 1718 while engaged in a bloody conflict with a British navy force originating from Virginia.Edward Teach was thought of as hailing from England and it was assumed in 1713 that he began his career as a pirate by joining a pirate ship commanded by Benjamin Hornigold of the Caribbean Sloop. Hornigold would soon retire from being a pirate as well as accepting an offer from the British crown of a general amnesty in 1717. Now that Hornigold was retired, Teach decided to take command of a seized twenty-six-gun French merchantman in which he renamed the ship the “Queen Anne’s Revenge” as well as taking its’ armament and increasing it to forty guns. The Queen Anne’s Revenge became the flagship of a fleet of pirates over the next six months that had over 200 men on four vessels. Being the most notorious pirate of his time, he eventually became known as Blackbeard for his obvious long, dark beard but also was said to be able to scare his enemies by setting his beard on fire during battle. His pirate fleet spread terror through the coast of North America as well as the Caribbean while their cruelty towards others was well-known.Despite his reputation, the infamous Blackbeard finally saw his Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwrecked with another vessel. This event forced him to abandon a third vessel and a large number of his force due to lack of supplies. Blackbeard took his last vessel and sent sail to meet with Governor Charles Eden in Bath in North Carolina. The governor made an agreement that Blackbeard must give a part of his sizable treasure to Eden in order to secure a pardon; Blackbeard agreed to the terms.However, the North Carolina planters had other ideas as per their request; Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia sent a British naval force to North Carolina in order to confront Blackbeard under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard. What followed was a bloody battle at Ocracoke Island and Blackbeard’s forces were defeated on November 22nd; Blackbeard was also killed during the conflict. Meanwhile, those who believe in Blackbeard’s legend say that the man responsible for seizing over thirty vessels during his short pirating career; it is said that before dying Blackbeard had received twenty sword lacerations and five musket-ball wounds.

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1700s

General Lee Is Ordered By George Washington To New Jersey – 11/21/1776

There are those who say that man makes his own destiny while others feel that life has been pre-ordained. Looking back at American history, it makes me wonder which view Continental Commander in Chief General George Washington would believe in if he knew what the end result of a certain decision was. The fateful day in question happened on November 21st, 1776 when Washington sent a letter to General Charles Lee in Westchester County, New York to order Lee to come to New Jersey with his troops because Fort Lee was no longer theirs.Washington was forced to wait impatiently for Lee and his reinforcements to arrive because he took his time to cross the Delaware River in order to get to New Jersey as he wanted to stay in New York as long as possible. Another reason for the delay was his feeling of being slighted by Washington for being given control of the Continental Army. Lee finished military school when he was twelve and was immediately given a commission in the British army as well as serving in the Seven Years’ War in North America; so, he had no desire to rush to Washington’s aid. The Mohawk had named Lee “Boiling Water” for his well-known intemperance and temper. His marriage to a Mohawk woman made him an adopted tribesman although his desire for prostitutes had not changed. This proved to be his downfall as on December 13th, Lee was continuing to waste time before joining Washington and decided to ride into New Jersey, without much protection, to look for female companionship at the Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge. Two days later, Lee found himself that morning being captured by British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and the 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons.Ironically being former soldiers in the British army, Lee and Tarleton were now captive and captor. Lee’s unsuccessful attempts to acquire a lucrative royal position led him to leave in 1773 to the colonies and immediately sided with the Patriot cause. Tarleton in a London club vowed to hunt down the now traitor to Britain and remove his head! Although Lee was originally grateful that Tarleton had not kept his vow, the conceited general might have wanted an immediate end to his humiliation as he was removed from the tavern to New York City clothed only in his nightdress.While Washington tried his best to secure Lee’s release, The British celebrated the capture of the best-trained commander of the Patriots. Surprisingly, Lee was happy with being a prisoner as he offered to his captors a battle plan from fancy accommodations. Also, Lee had his own servant who cleaned his three rooms while most likely served his wine and food in civilized fashion. All things must come to an end as he was set free in May of 1778 and reported to Valley Forge; Britain failed to follow through with his battle plan. Washington and Lee had many quarrels which found Lee being suspended in December of 1778 from the army and in 1780 was finally dismissed.

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1700s

Fort Washington Renamed Fort Knyphausen – 11/19/1776

Traditionally, it is not uncommon for a structure to start off being called one name and then changed to another at a later date. Sometimes the reason can be related to someone’s act of heroism or it may have to do with an individual being disgraced. Looking back in history, there are plenty of examples that demonstrates this which includes one stemming back several centuries earlier. Going back to the days of the American Revolution, there was a structure known at one time as Fort Washington. However, British Commander in Chief General William Howe decides to rename it “Fort Knyphausen” on November 18th, 1776 in honor of Lieutenant General Wihelm von Knyphausen as he has rushed the post five days before.Fort Washington was the scene of an assault launched by Knyphausen on November 16th, 1776 using a force comprised of 5,000 Redcoats and 3,000 mercenaries at the tallest point and the northern end of Manhattan Island. Wihelm met harsh resistance from inside by Patriot riflemen through the course of the morning; however, the Patriots could no longer hold the upper hand by the afternoon and the result was an order of surrender was issued by garrison commander Robert Magaw.  The Hessians were now in control of important supplies and ammunition as well as taking 3,000 Patriots prisoners. Unfortunately, a dire fate was waiting for the captured Patriots as a large number of them were anchored in New York Harbor aboard British prison ships where they died.Patriots Margaret and John Corbin of Virginia were among the 96 wounded and 53 dead. After John had perished in action, Margaret took over for her husband the canyon where she loaded, cleaned and fired the weapon until she became wounded severely. Margaret survived as well as being the first female to have battled for the Continental Army; tragically, she could no longer use her left arm.An officer for Magaw, William Demont, had two weeks prior left the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion and became a traitor by giving information regarding the defense and whereabouts of Fort Washington to British Intelligence. Demont had now for the Patriots become their first traitor and his treachery significantly contributed to the victory for Knyphausen.Presently, Fort Washington stood where now exists Bennet Park that rests in the Washington Heights area of New York City. The park is not far away from the George Washington Bridge while being at the corner of 183rd Street and of Fort Washington Avenue. Another point of interest is that Fort Washington Point and Fort Washington Park reside under the site beside the Hudson River. While tourists may stop to admire the area, historians will remember the location as one of the tragic battles that occurred during the American Revolution.

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1700s

States Receive The Articles of Confederation – 11/17/1777

When it comes to compromise, it is almost a guarantee that some time will pass before both sides can agree on a given plan. Sometimes it can be achieved in a short span of time while other times it can be longer; then again, there are cases where no compromise can be reached. One example of this process goes back centuries to the colonial times of our fore-fathers. In fact, Congress had to find a way for everyone to be comfortable with the Articles of Confederation that was finally sent to all of the states for ratification on November 17th, 1777.Congress had signed the Articles two days prior but it took roughly sixteen months of debating before a compromise could be reached. Even though it took Congress about a year-and-a-half before they would sign the Articles, the quarreling between Maryland and Virginia over land claims had postponed the final agreement for roughly four more years. The last state to finally give permission to accept the Articles was Maryland on March 1st, 1781; this would now become the outline for the legitimate government of the United States. This document would lead our nation until 1789 where the present Constitution of the United States was implemented. There is an important distinction between the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation as the states authority can be best comprehended by comparing specific lines of each document. The beginning of the Articles of Confederation says, “To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States…” However, the Constitution starts off in contrast by saying, “We the People of the United States…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”When looking at the Articles of Confederation, it becomes apparent that the emphasis of importance is on the states than on the people or individual. Another line that these claims become more explicit are found in Article II that says, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”Even though the states were committed to the Articles of Confederation, almost five years after this document was ratified saw leading Americans reach the conclusion that a mistake was made. The new system was inadequate to fulfill this new government, so Americans once again overthrew another government in almost twenty years but this time it was done peacefully. The heart of the discussion was should a confederation be formed by sovereign states or should sovereign people create a federal government; the decision of how the government should be shaped was in the hands of the new American people.History would remember how the American Revolution transformed what would become the United States. Americans from 1776-1787 went from existing under a sovereign king, to living in states that were sovereign and finally becoming a sovereign people.

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1700s

Abigail Adams Leads Rhetorical Charge Against The British – 11/12/1775

When finding out that the so-called Olive Branch Petition was rejected by England on November 12th, 1775, Abigail Adams decides to write a letter to her husband. She writes, “Let us separate, they are unworthy to be our Brethren. Let us renounce them and instead of supplications as formerly for their prosperity and happiness, let us beseech the almighty to blast their councils and bring to Nought all their devices.”
The Olive Branch Petition was adopted by Congress the previous July and written by John Dickinson. The purpose of it was directed towards King George III in an effort for reconciliation between Great Britain and the colonies. Dickson desperately hoped to avoid a permanent break with the king explained opposition to British policies from the colonies saying that: “Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defense, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.” Their discontent was phrased this way as Congress attempted to explain to the king it was the ministerial policy that the American colonists were upset over rather than his own. With a last statement of fidelity to the throne, they ended their plea by saying, “That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honor to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.”However, what was presented in the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776 was somewhat different: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”To understand why the language from Congress changed means paying attention to events that occurred roughly one year ago. British Redcoats that were shot at by the militia at Concord and Lexington in April of 1775 were upset with Parliament and not the king. They wanted only great things for each of his subjects around the world since they still trusted him. However, the king’s act of refusing to accept the Olive Branch Petition soon changed their opinion of King George. The main reasons for arms to be taken up by Americans were now different.The response from Abigail Adams basically put to words what the colonists were thinking which was that Patriots prayed that the rights of colonists that were being taking away by Parliament was done without the king’s knowledge; therefore, the petition would give the king the opportunity to come to the defense of his subjects. George III demonstrated to Patriots like Abigail that he knew what Parliament was doing by not even looking at the sent petition. The English-born radical Thomas Paine only increased the patriotic rage of the Americans with his publication of his persuading pamphlet in January of 1776 that was against the monarchy. Paine felt they had permitted “crowned ruffians” to “impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.”

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