Important people of Rev. war


Sir William Howe


08/10/1729 in Cumberland, England


07/12/1814 in Plymouth, England



William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (10 August 1729 – 12 July 1814) was a British General who was Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American Revolutionary War, one of the three Howe brothers. He was knighted after his successes in 1775 and was henceforth Sir William, inheriting the viscountcy only upon his brother Richard's death in 1799.

Howe's record in the war was marked by the costly assault on Breed's Hill known as the Battle of Bunker Hill and the successful capture of New York City and Philadelphia - the latter of which would have significant strategic implications.

Early life and career

William was born in England, the third son of Emanuel Howe, 2nd Viscount Howe and Charlotte, the daughter of Sophia von Kielmansegg, Countess of Leinster and Darlington - a half-sister of King George I. This connection with the crown may have improved the careers of all three sons, but all were also very capable officers. William's eldest brother was General George Howe, who was killed at Ticonderoga in 1758. His next brother was Admiral Richard Howe, who joined him in America during the revolution.

He entered the army when he was seventeen by buying a Cornet's commission in the Duke of Cumberland's Dragoons in 1746. By the next year, he was fighting as a Lieutenant in Flanders as a part of the War of the Austrian Succession. After this war, he joined the 20th Regiment of Foot where he became a friend of James Wolfe.

During the Seven Years' War, Howe's service first brought him to America. His service in this conflict did much to raise his reputation. William commanded a regiment at the siege of Louisbourg and led a successful amphibious landing. This action, carried out under fire, won the attackers a flanking position and earned Howe his commander's praise.

Howe commanded the light infantry under Major General James Wolfe at the Battle of Quebec, Canada on September 13, 1759. He led a fighting ascent to gain position on the Plains of Abraham, clearing the way for Wolfe's army to assemble before that battle. His actions here earned him the rank of Brigadier General. He earned further fame in the capture of Montreal under Jeffrey Amherst before returning to England. Howe also served in the capture of Belle Isle, off the French coast, in 1761. He was adjutant-general of the force that captured Havana in 1762.

In 1772, Howe was elected a Member of Parliament for Nottingham. This was not unusual, as the election of 1761 sent more than 60 army officers to the British House of Commons. He was generally sympathetic to the American colonies. He opposed the Coercive Acts, and, in 1774, assured his constituents that he would resist active duty against the Americans. But when the time came and King George called in 1775, he sailed for America.

The American Revolutionary War

Major General Howe arrived at Boston, on May 15, at the head of the 4,000 additional troops sent to General Thomas Gage. Gage's orders were to clear the American Army and break their Siege of Boston. Howe's plan was to take Cambridge, but the Americans fortified the high ground above the town.

Bunker Hill

Howe planned to crush the American's position by massive assault. He was thus in command at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Personally leading the left wing of the attack, Howe's assault gained the objective, but the cost was appallingly heavy. General Henry Clinton called it "A dear bought victory, another such would have ruined us."

While Howe was not injured in the battle, it had a pronounced effect on his spirit. The daring, aggressive commander, who had served with Wolfe, became the slow moving General who was reluctant to seek direct confrontation. His concept that those in open rebellion were a small minority of Americans who would fold with a display of force was shattered. Howe's report to Lord Germain called for 19,000 additional troops and included the prophecy that "...with a less force....this war may be spun out until England will be heartily sick of it." This "genial six-footer with a face some people described as 'coarse'" in private revealed a marked lack of self-confidence combined, not surprisingly, with a noted dependence on his brother Admiral Lord Howe and the elder Howe's opinions.

The New York Campaign

On October 10, 1775, he replaced Lieutenant General Thomas Gage as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in America when Gage returned to England. He became Sir William when he was knighted in 1775. In April of 1776, the appointment was made permanent, although forces in Canada were placed under Guy Carleton. He defeated General George Washington at the Battle of Long Island in the summer of 1776. But Howe's refusal to allow his army to follow up their victory with an assault on Washington's lines on Brooklyn Heights allowed the Continental Army to successfully accomplish a nighttime strategic withdrawal across the East River, aided by thick fog the next morning. Had Howe attacked Brooklyn Heights, as his subordinate General Henry Clinton and others urged him, with his full force of 33,000 men, he may well have captured Washington's entire army and possibly even ended the Revolutionary War there and then. His failure to do so is generally considered to be the greatest missed opportunity of the War. In September 1776, he ordered the execution of Nathan Hale for espionage.

The Philadelphia Campaign

On 30 November 1776, Howe wrote George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, Secretary of State for America, that he would send a 10,000 man force up the Hudson River to capture Albany, New York. Howe later changed his mind and informed Germain that the Albany Expedition would be postponed until after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was secured. Germain received this letter on 23 February 1777.

Howe's campaign began at Head of the Elk Maryland, southwest of Philadelphia. On September 11, 1777, Washington attempted to stop the British movement near Chadds Ford along the Brandywine Creek in the Battle of Brandywine. Howe defeated Washington, and after several weeks of maneuver, Howe entered the city.

Consequences of the Philadelphia Campaign

Concommittant with the Philadelphia Campaign, General John Burgoyne led an expedition - the Saratoga Campaign south from Montreal to capture Albany and join the cancelled New York-Albany expedition. Burgoyne's campaign had been approved 28 February 1777, after Germaine had been notified that Howe was not moving up the Hudson to Albany. Whether Germain told Burgoyne about Howe's revised plans is unclear; presumably he did. Whether Germain, Howe, and Burgoyne had the same expectations about the degree to which Howe was supposed to support the invasion from Canada is also unclear. Some have argued that Howe failed to follow instructions and essentially abandoned Burgoyne's Army; others suggest that Burgoyne failed on his own and then tried to shift the blame to Howe and Clinton.

Regardless of which claim is true, the defeat and surrender of Burgoyne's expedition at Saratoga, New York dramatically altered the strategic balance of the conflict. Support for the Continental Congress, suffering from Howe's successful occupation of Philadelphia, was strengthened and the victory encouraged France to enter the war against Britain. Spain and the Netherlands soon did the same. The loss also further weakened the current British government under Lord North.

After the revolution

Howe resigned in 1778, and, on May 20, Sir Henry Clinton took over as commander-in-chief of British armies in America. (See also Commander-in-Chief, North America)

Howe returned to England. In 1782, he was sworn a Privy Counsellor. When his brother, Richard, died in 1799 without surviving male issue, he inherited the Irish title and became the 5th Viscount Howe. In 1814, he was governor of Plymouth where he died. He is buried at Holly Road, Garden of Rest in Twickenham, England. Since he died without surviving male issue, and having no further living brothers, the Viscountcy died with him.

George Washington


02/22/1732 in Westmoreland County, Colony of Virginia, British America


12/14/1799 in Mount Vernon, Virginia, United States


*George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) served as the first President of the United States of America, (1789–1797), and led the Continental Army to victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

The Continental Congress appointed Washington commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. The following year, he forced the British out of Boston, lost New York City, and crossed the Delaware River in New Jersey, defeating the surprised enemy units later that year. As a result of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured the two main British combat armies at Saratoga and Yorktown. Negotiating with Congress, the colonial states, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and failure. Following the end of the war in 1783, Washington retired to his plantation on Mount Vernon, prompting an incredulous King George III to state, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."

Dissatisfied with the Articles of Confederation, he presided over the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787. Washington became President of the United States in 1789 and established many of the customs and usages of the new government's executive department. He sought to create a great nation capable of surviving in a world torn asunder by war between Britain and France. His unilateral Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793 provided a basis for avoiding any involvement in foreign conflicts. He supported plans to build a strong central government by funding the national debt, implementing an effective tax system, and creating a national bank. Washington avoided the temptation of war and began a decade of peace with Britain via the Jay Treaty in 1795; he used his prestige to get it ratified over intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs and was its inspirational leader. Washington's farewell address was a primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against partisanship, sectionalism and involvement in foreign wars.

Washington is seen as a symbol of the United States and republicanism in practice. His devotion to civic virtue made him an exemplary figure among early American politicians. Washington died in 1799, and in his funeral oration, Henry Lee said that of all Americans, he was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Washington has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

Early Life

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 [O.S. February 11, 1731] the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, on the family's Pope's Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was educated in the home by his father and older brother.

In his youth, Washington worked as a surveyor, and acquired what would become invaluable knowledge of the terrain around his native Colony of Virginia. Washington embarked upon a career as a planter and in 1748 was invited to help survey Baron Fairfax's lands west of the Blue Ridge. In 1749, he was appointed to his first public office, surveyor of newly created Culpeper County, and through his half-brother, Lawrence Washington, he became interested in the Ohio Company, which aimed to exploit Western lands. In 1751, George and his half-brother travelled to Barbados, staying at Bush Hill House, hoping for an improvement in Lawrence's tuberculosis. This was the only time George Washington travelled outside what is now the United States. After Lawrence's death in 1752, George inherited part of his estate and took over some of Lawrence's duties as adjutant of the colony.

Washington was appointed a district adjutant general in the Virginia militia in 1752, which made him Major Washington at the age of 20. He was charged with training the militia in the quarter assigned him. At age 21, in Fredericksburg, Washington became a Master Mason in the organization of Freemasons, a fraternal organization that was a lifelong influence.

In December 1753, Washington was asked by Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to carry a British ultimatum to the French on the Ohio frontier. Washington assessed French military strength and intentions, and delivered the message to the French at Fort Le Boeuf in present day Waterford, Pennsylvania. The message, which went unheeded, called for the French to abandon their development of the Ohio country, setting in motion two colonial powers toward worldwide conflict. Washington's report on the affair was widely read on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boyhood home

Memorial to Washington at the United States Military Academy.Archaeologists and an excavation team, led by Philip Levy, associate professor of history at the University of South Florida, and David Muraca, director of archeology for the George Washington Foundation, owner of the National Historic Landmark site Ferry Farm, announced on July 2, 2008, the discovery of remains of George's boyhood home just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, VA, 50 miles south of Washington. Built in the 1740s 113-acre Ferry Farm, the county-level gentry house was a 1 1/2-story residence perched on a bluff. George was 6 when the family moved to the farm in 1738. George inherited the farm and lived in the house until his early 20s, though he also stayed with his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Washington’s mother lived in the house until 1772, when she moved to Fredericksburg, and the farm was sold in 1777. As goal, they were set to restore the house.

French and Indian War

In 1754, Dinwiddie commissioned Washington a lieutenant colonel and ordered him to lead an expedition to Fort Duquesne to drive out the French. With his American Indian allies led by Tanacharison, Washington and his troops ambushed a French scouting party of some 30 men, led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville. Washington and his troops were overwhelmed at Fort Necessity by a larger and better positioned French and Indian force. The terms of surrender included a statement that Washington had assassinated Jumonville after the ambush. Washington could not read French, and, unaware of what it said, signed his name. Released by the French, Washington returned to Virginia, where he was cleared of blame for the defeat, but resigned because he did not like the new arrangement of the Virginia Militia.

In 1755, Washington was an aide to British General Edward Braddock on the ill-fated Monongahela expedition. This was a major effort to retake the Ohio Country. While Braddock was killed and the expedition ended in disaster, Washington distinguished himself as the Hero of the Monongahela. While Washington's role during the battle has been debated, biographer Joseph Ellis asserts that Washington rode back and forth across the battlefield, rallying the remnant of the British and Virginian forces to a retreat. Subsequent to this action, Washington was given a difficult frontier command in the Virginia mountains, and was rewarded by being promoted to colonel and named commander of all Virginia forces.

In 1758, Washington participated as a brigadier general in the Forbes expedition that prompted French evacuation of Fort Duquesne, and British establishment of Pittsburgh. Later that year, Washington resigned from active military service and spent the next sixteen years as a Virginia planter and politician.

Between the wars

George Washington was introduced to Martha Dandridge Custis, a widow who was living at the White House Plantation on the south shore of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia, by friends of Martha when George was on leave from the French and Indian War. George only visited her home twice before proposing marriage to her 3 weeks after they met. George and Martha were each 27 years old when they married on January 6, 1759 at her home, known as The White House, which shares its name with the future presidential mansion. The newlywed couple moved to Mount Vernon, where he took up the tuckahoe life of a genteel planter and political figure. They had a good marriage, and together they raised her two children by her previous marriage to Daniel Parke Custis, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, affectionately called "Jackie" and "Patsy." George and Martha never had any children together — an earlier bout with smallpox followed by tuberculosis may have left him sterile. Later the Washingtons raised two of Mrs. Washington's grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis ("Nelly") and George Washington Parke Custis ("Washy") after their father died in 1781.

Washington's marriage to a wealthy widow greatly increased his property holdings and social standing, and after his marriage, George Washington was the wealthiest man in Virginia, if not in the colonies. He acquired one-third of the 18,000 acre (73 km²) Custis estate upon his marriage, and managed the remainder on behalf of Martha's children. He frequently purchased additional land in his own name, and was granted land in what is now West Virginia as a bounty for his service in the French and Indian War. By 1775, Washington had doubled the size of Mount Vernon to 6,500 acres (26 km²), with over 100 slaves. As a respected military hero and large landowner, he held local office and was elected to the Virginia provincial legislature, the House of Burgesses, beginning in 1758, and he served as a justice of Fairfax, and held court in Alexandria, Virginia between 1760 and 1774.

Washington first took a leading role in the growing colonial resistance in 1769, when he introduced a proposal drafted by his friend George Mason which called for Virginia to boycott imported English goods until the Townshend Acts were repealed. Parliament repealed the Acts in 1770. Washington also took an active interest in helping his fellow citizens. On September 21, 1771 Washington wrote a letter to Neil Jameson on behalf of Jonathan Plowman Jr., a merchant from Baltimore whose ship had been seized for exporting non-permitted items by the Boston Frigate, and requested his help toward recovery of Plowman's ship. Washington regarded the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774 as "an Invasion of our Rights and Privileges." In July 1774, he chaired the meeting at which the Fairfax Resolves were adopted, which called for, among other things, the convening of a Continental Congress. In August he attended the First Virginia Convention where he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.

The American Revolution

After fighting broke out in April 1775, Washington appeared at the Second Continental Congress in military uniform, signaling that he was prepared for war. Washington had the prestige, the military experience, the charisma and military bearing, the reputation of being a strong patriot, and he was supported by the South, especially Virginia. Although he did not explicitly seek the office of commander and even claimed that he was not equal to it, there was no serious competition. Congress created the Continental Army on June 14, 1775; the next day, on the nomination of John Adams of Massachusetts, Washington was appointed Major General and elected by Congress to be Commander-in-chief.

Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in the field at Cambridge, Massachusetts in July 1775, during the ongoing siege of Boston. Realizing his army's desperate shortage of gunpowder, Washington asked for new sources. British arsenals were raided (including some in the Caribbean) and some manufacturing was attempted; a barely adequate supply (about 2.5 million pounds) was obtained by the end of 1776, mostly from France. Washington reorganized the army during the long standoff, and forced the British to withdraw by putting artillery on Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. The British evacuated Boston and Washington moved his army to New York City.

Although negative toward the patriots in the Continental Congress, British newspapers routinely praised Washington's personal character and qualities as a military commander. Moreover, both sides of the aisle in Parliament found the American general's courage, endurance, and attentiveness to the welfare of his troops worthy of approbation and examples of the virtues they and most other Britons found wanting in their own commanders. Washington's refusal to become involved in politics buttressed his reputation as a man fully committed to the military mission at hand and above the factional fray.

Bust of Washington by Jean-Antoine Houdon based on a life mask cast in 1786.In August 1776, British General William Howe launched a massive naval and land campaign designed to seize New York and offer a negotiated settlement. The Continental Army under Washington engaged the enemy for the first time as an army of the newly-declared independent United States at the Battle of Long Island, the largest battle of the entire war. This and several other British victories sent Washington scrambling out of New York and across New Jersey, leaving the future of the Continental Army in doubt. On the night of December 25, 1776, Washington staged a counterattack, leading the American forces across the Delaware River to capture nearly 1,000 Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington followed up his victory at Trenton, with another one at Princeton in early January. These winter victories quickly raised the morale of the army, secured Washington's position as Commander, and insprised young men to join the army.

British forces defeated Washington's troops in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. Howe outmaneuvered Washington and marched into Philadelphia unopposed on September 26. Washington's army unsuccessfully attacked the British garrison at Germantown in early October. Meanwhile, Burgoyne, out of reach from help from Howe, was trapped and forced to surrender his entire army at Saratoga, New York. France responded to Burgoyne's defeat by entering the war, openly allying with America and turning the Revolutionary War into a major world-wide war. Washington's loss of Philadelphia prompted some members of Congress to discuss removing Washington from command. This attempt failed after Washington's supporters rallied behind him.

Washington's army camped at Valley Forge in December 1777, staying there for the next six months. Over the winter, 2,500 men of the 10,000-strong force died from disease and exposure. The next spring, however, the army emerged from Valley Forge in good order, thanks in part to a full-scale training program supervised by Baron von Steuben, a veteran of the Prussian general staff. The British evacuated Philadelphia to New York in 1778 but Washington attacked them at Monmouth and drove them from the battlefield. Afterwards, the British contiuned to head towards New York. Washington moved his army outside of New York, and in the summer of 1779, at Washington's direction, General John Sullivan, in retaliation for Iroquois and Tory attacks against American settlements earlier in the war, carried out a decisive scorched earth campaign that destroyed at least forty Iroquois villages throughout what is now upstate New York. He delivered the final blow in 1781, after a French naval victory allowed American and French forces to trap a British army in Virginia. The surrender at Yorktown on October 17, 1781 marked the end of most fighting. Though known for his successes in the war and of his life that followed, Washington suffered many defeats before achieving victory.

Depiction by John Trumbull of Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief.In March 1783, Washington used his influence to disperse a group of Army officers who had threatened to confront Congress regarding their back pay. The Treaty of Paris (signed that September) recognized the independence of the United States. Washington disbanded his army and, on November 2, gave an eloquent farewell address to his soldiers. On November 25, the British evacuated New York City, and Washington and the governor took possession. At Fraunces Tavern on December 4, Washington formally bade his officers farewell and on December 23, 1783, he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief, emulating the Roman general Cincinnatus, an exemplar of the republican ideal of citizen leadership who rejected power. During this period, the United States was governed under the Articles of Confederation without a President, the forerunner to the Constitution.

Washington's retirement to Mount Vernon was short-lived. He made an exploratory trip to the western frontier in 1784, was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, and was unanimously elected president of the Convention. He participated little in the debates involved (though he did vote for or against the various articles), but his high prestige maintained collegiality and kept the delegates at their labors. The delegates designed the presidency with Washington in mind, and allowed him to define the office once elected. After the Convention, his support convinced many, including the Virginia legislature, to vote for ratification; the new Constitution was ratified by all 13 states.


The Electoral College elected Washington unanimously in 1789, and again in the 1792 election; he remains the only president to receive 100% of electoral votes. John Adams was elected vice president. Washington took the oath of office as the first President under the Constitution for the United States of America on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City although, at first, he had not wanted the position.

The 1st United States Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year—a large sum in 1789. Washington, already wealthy, declined the salary, since he valued his image as a selfless public servant. At the urging of Congress, however, he ultimately accepted the payment, to avoid setting a precedent whereby the presidency would be perceived as limited only to independently wealthy individuals who could serve without any salary.

Washington attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were suitably republican and never emulated European royal courts. To that end, he preferred the title "Mr. President" to the more majestic names suggested.

Washington proved an able administrator. An excellent delegator and judge of talent and character, he held regular cabinet meetings to debate issues before making a final decision. In handling routine tasks, he was "systematic, orderly, energetic, solicitous of the opinion of others but decisive, intent upon general goals and the consistency of particular actions with them."

Washington reluctantly served a second term as president. He refused to run for a third, establishing the customary policy of a maximum of two terms for a president which later became law by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Washington was not a member of any political party, and hoped that they would not be formed out of fear of the conflict and stagnation they could cause governance. His closest advisors, however, formed two factions, setting the framework for the future First Party System. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton had bold plans to establish the national credit and build a financially powerful nation, and formed the basis of the Federalist Party. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Jeffersonian Republicans, strenuously opposed Hamilton's agenda, but Washington favored Hamilton over Jefferson.

In 1791, Congress imposed an excise on distilled spirits, which led to protests in frontier districts, especially Pennsylvania. By 1794, after Washington ordered the protesters to appear in U.S. district court, the protests turned into full-scale riots known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The federal army was too small to be used, so Washington invoked the Militia Act of 1792 to summon the militias of Pennsylvania, Virginia and several other states. The governors sent the troops and Washington took command, marching into the rebellious districts. There was no fighting, but Washington's forceful action proved the new government could protect itself. It also was one of only two times that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field. These events marked the first time under the new constitution that the federal government used strong military force to exert authority over the states and citizens.

Foreign affairs

A statue of George Washington in the Place d'Iéna, Paris, FranceIn 1793, the revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called "Citizen Genêt," to America. Genêt issued letters of marque and reprisal to American ships so they could capture British merchant ships. He attempted to turn popular sentiment towards American involvement in the French war against Britain by creating a network of Democratic-Republican Societies in major cities. Washington rejected this interference in domestic affairs, demanded the French government recall Genêt, and denounced his societies.

Hamilton and Washington designed the Jay Treaty to normalize trade relations with Britain, remove them from western forts, and resolve financial debts left over from the Revolution. John Jay negotiated and signed the treaty on November 19, 1794. The Jeffersonians supported France and strongly attacked the treaty. Washington and Hamilton, however, mobilized public opinion and won ratification by the Senate by emphasizing Washington's support. The British agreed to depart their forts around the Great Lakes, the Canadian-U.S. boundary was adjusted, numerous pre-Revolutionary debts were liquidated, and the British opened their West Indies colonies to American trade. Most importantly, the treaty delayed war with Britain and instead brought a decade of prosperous trade with Britain. It angered the French and became a central issue in political debates.

Farewell Address

A bust of Washington by Giuseppe Ceracchi.Washington's Farewell Address (issued as a public letter in 1796) was one of the most influential statements of American political values. Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with help from Hamilton, it gives advice on the necessity and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the evils of political parties, and the proper virtues of a republican people. While he declined suggested versions[44] that would have included statements that there could be no morality without religion, he called morality "a necessary spring of popular government". He said, "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Washington's public political address warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs. He warned against bitter partisanship in domestic politics and called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. He called for an America wholly free of foreign attachments, saying the United States must concentrate primarily on American interests. He counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but warned against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term "entangling" alliances. The address quickly set American values regarding religion and foreign affairs.

Retirement and death

After retiring from the presidency in March 1797, Washington returned to Mount Vernon with a profound sense of relief. He devoted much time to farming and, in that year, constructed (or oversaw the construction of) a 2,250 square foot (75-by-30 feet, 200 m²) distillery, which was one of the largest in the new republic, housing five copper stills, a boiler and 50 mash tubs, at the site of one of his unprofitable farms. At its peak, two years later, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of corn and rye whiskey worth $7,500, and fruit brandy.

On July 13, 1798, Washington was appointed by President John Adams to be Lieutenant General and Commander-in-chief of all armies raised or to be raised for service in a prospective war with France. He served as the senior officer of the United States Army between July 13, 1798 and December 14, 1799. He participated in the planning for a Provisional Army to meet any emergency that might arise, but did not take the field.

Mount Vernon.On December 12, 1799, Washington spent several hours inspecting his farms on horseback, in snow and later hail and freezing rain. He sat down to dine that evening without changing his wet clothes. The next morning, he awoke with a bad cold, fever and a throat infection called quinsy that turned into acute laryngitis and pneumonia. Washington died on the evening of December 14, 1799, at his home aged 67, while attended by Dr. James Craik, one of his closest friends, and Tobias Lear V, Washington's personal secretary. Lear would record the account in his journal, writing that Washington's last words were Tis well.

Modern doctors believe that Washington died largely because of his treatment, which included calomel and bloodletting, resulting in a combination of shock from the loss of five pints of blood, as well as asphyxia and dehydration. Washington's remains were buried at Mount Vernon. To protect their privacy, Martha Washington burned the correspondence between her husband and herself following his death. Only three letters between the couple have survived.

Following his death, the British Navy lowered their flags at half mast, the American army wore black armbands for 6 months and Napoleon ordered 10 days of mourning throughout France.

During the United States Bicentennial year, George Washington was posthumously appointed to the grade of General of the Armies of The United States by the congressional joint resolution Public Law 94-479 of January 19, 1976, approved by President Gerald R. Ford on October 11, 1976, and formalized in Department of the Army Order Number 31-3 of March 13, 1978 with an effective appointment date of July 4, 1976. This restored Washington's position as the highest ranking military officer in U.S. history, which had been undone when General John J. Pershing was made General of the Armies at the end of World War I.


Congressman Henry Lee, a Revolutionary War comrade and father of the Civil War general Robert E. Lee, famously eulogized Washington as:

First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues…Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Lee's words set the standard by which Washington's overwhelming reputation was impressed upon the American memory. Washington set many precedents for the national government and the presidency in particular.

As early as 1778, Washington was lauded as the "Father of His Country."

He was upheld as a shining example in schoolbooks and lessons: as courageous and farsighted, holding the Continental Army together through eight hard years of war and numerous privations, sometimes by sheer force of will; and as restrained: at war's end taking affront at the notion he should be King; and after two terms as President, stepping aside.

Washington manifested himself as the exemplar of republican virtue in America. More than any American he was extolled for his great personal integrity, and a deeply held sense of duty, honor and patriotism. He is often seen more as a character model than war hero or founding father. One of Washington's greatest achievements, in terms of republican values, was refraining from taking more power than was due. He was conscientious of maintaining a good reputation by avoiding political intrigue. He rejected nepotism or cronyism. Jefferson observed, "The moderation and virtue of a single character probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

Monuments and memorials

Today, Washington's face and image are often used as national symbols of the United States, along with the icons such as the flag and great seal. Perhaps the most prominent commemoration of his legacy is the use of his image on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. Washington, together with Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, is depicted in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. The Washington Monument, one of the most well-known American landmarks, was built in his honor. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, constructed entirely with voluntary contributions from members of the Masonic Fraternity, was also built in his honor.

Many things have been named in honor of Washington. Washington's name became that of the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and the State of Washington, the only state to be named after an American (Maryland, the Virginias, the Carolinas and Georgia are named in honor of British monarchs). George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis were named for him, as was Washington and Lee University (once Washington Academy), which was renamed due to Washington’s large endowment in 1796. Countless American cities and towns feature a Washington Street among their thoroughfares.

The Confederate Seal prominently featured George Washington on horseback, in the same position as a statue of him in Richmond, Virginia.

Washington and slavery

On the death of his father in 1743, the 11-year-old inherited 10 slaves. At the time of his marriage to Martha Custis in 1759, he personally owned at least 36 (and the widow's third of her first husband's estate brought at least 85 "dower slaves" to Mount Vernon). Using his wife's great wealth he bought land, tripling the size of the plantation, and additional slaves to farm it. By 1774 he paid taxes on 135 slaves. (This does not include the "dowers".) The last record of a slave purchase by him was in 1772, although he later received some slaves in repayment of debts.

Before the American Revolution, Washington expressed no moral reservations about slavery, but by 1778 he wrote to his manager at Mount Vernon that he wished "to get quit of negroes." Maintaining a large, and increasingly elderly, slave population at Mount Vernon was not economically profitable. Washington could not legally sell the "dower slaves," however, and because these slaves had long intermarried with his own slaves, he could not sell his slaves without breaking up families.

As president, Washington brought 7 slaves to New York City in 1789 to work in the first presidential household -- Oney Judge, Moll, Giles, Paris, Austin, Christopher Sheels, William Lee. Following the transfer of the national capital to Philadelphia in 1790, he brought 9 slaves to work in the President's House -- Oney Judge, Moll, Giles, Paris, Austin, Christopher Sheels, Hercules, Richmond, Joe (Richardson). Oney Judge and Hercules escaped to freedom from Philadelphia, and there were foiled escape attempts from Mount Vernon by Richmond and Christopher Sheels.

Pennsylvania had begun an abolition of slavery in 1780, and prohibited non-residents from holding slaves in the state longer than 6 months. If held beyond that period, the state's Gradual Abolition Law gave those slaves the power to free themselves. Washington argued (privately) that his presence in Pennsylvania was solely a consequence of Philadelphia's being the temporary seat of the federal government, and that the state law should not apply to him. On the advice of his attorney general, Edmund Randolph, he systematically rotated the President's House slaves in and out of the state to prevent their establishing a 6-month continuous residency. This rotation was itself a violation of the Pennsylvania law, but the President's actions were not challenged.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 established the legal mechanism by which a slaveholder could recover his property, a right guaranteed by the Fugitive Slave Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 2). Passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by Washington, the 1793 Act made assisting an escaped slave a federal crime, overruled all state and local laws giving escaped slaves sanctuary, and allowed slavecatchers into every U.S. state and territory.

Washington was the only prominent, slaveholding Founding Father who succeeded in emancipating his slaves. His actions were influenced by his close relationship with the Marquis de La Fayette. He did not free his slaves in his lifetime, however, but included a provision in his will to free his slaves upon the death of his wife. At the time of his death, there were 317 slaves at Mount Vernon -- 123 owned by Washington, 154 "dower slaves," and 40 rented from a neighbor.

Martha Washington bequeathed the one slave she owned outright -- Elisha -- to her grandson George Washington Parke Custis. Following her death in 1802, the dower slaves were inherited by her grandchildren.

Washington did not speak out publicly against slavery, argues historian Dorothy Twohig, because he did not wish to risk splitting apart the young republic over what was already a sensitive and divisive issue. Even if Washington had opposed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, his veto probably would have been overridden. (The Senate vote was not recorded, but the House passed it overwhelmingly, 47 to 8.)

Personal life

In addition to Martha's biological family noted above, George Washington had a close relationship with his nephew and heir Bushrod Washington, son of George's younger brother John Augustine Washington, who became an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court after George's death.

As a young man, Washington had red hair. A popular myth is that he wore a wig, as was the fashion among some at the time. Washington did not wear a wig; instead he powdered his hair, as represented in several portraits, including the well-known unfinished Gilbert Stuart depiction.

Washington suffered from problems with his teeth throughout his life. He lost his first tooth when he was twenty-two and had only one left by the time he became President. According to John Adams, he lost them because he used them to crack Brazil nuts, although modern historians suggest it was probably the mercury oxide he was given to treat illnesses such as smallpox and malaria. He had several sets of false teeth made, four of them by a dentist named John Greenwood. Contrary to popular belief, none of the sets were made from wood. The set made when he became President was carved from hippopotamus and elephant ivory, held together with gold springs. The hippo ivory was used for the plate, into which real human teeth and also bits of horses and donkeys teeth were inserted.[75] Dental problems left Washington in constant discomfort, for which he took laudanum, and this distress may be apparent in many of the portraits painted while he was still in office, including the one still used on the $1 bill.

One of the most enduring myths about George Washington involves him as a young boy chopping down his father's cherry tree and, when asked about it, using the famous line "I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet." In fact, there is no evidence that this ever occurred. It, along with the story of Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River, was part of a book of stories authored by Mason Weems that made Washington somewhat of a legendary figure.

Captain William Clark, the red-haired co-captain of the Corps of Discovery, was born on August 1, 1770, the sixth son and ninth child from a family of 10 children. Originally from the same area of Virginia that was home to both Jefferson and Lewis, Clark’s parents relocated their family near the Rappahannock River, where William was born. All of Clark’s brothers were Revolutionary War veterans, including the famed George Rogers Clark, who commanded Virginia’s troops in the Kentucky region during Jefferson’s term as Virginia governor. After the War was over, the Clark family migrated across the Allegheny Mountains and down the Ohio River to Mulberry Hill, near Louisville. Clark learned about wilderness skills and natural history from his older brother, George.

Clark began his military career at age 19 when he joined the Kentucky Militia. He later joined the regular army and was promoted to lieutenant. During this strenuous time, Clark “learned how to build forts, draw maps, lead pack trains through enemy country, and fight the Indians on their ground.” On two occasions, Clark was sent to spy on the Spanish, who at the time were exploring and building forts high up the east bank of the Mississippi. By 1795, he had received successive promotions to leadership positions, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. Ensign Meriwether Lewis was among men assigned to Clark. The two struck up a lasting friendship that would lead to their co-commanding the Corps of Discovery.

William Clark possessed many physical and mental qualities that were beneficial as a leader of the Corps. Clark was over six feet tall and had a strong and muscular physical frame. The only major exception to his physical health was an obscure digestive ailment from which he suffered. He was quite proficient at eliciting information from native tribes during the expedition, which he recorded in his journal-writing and sketches. With less formal educational training than Lewis, Clark filled his journals with frequent grammatical and spelling errors, and long and confusing language.

Once the terms of the Louisiana Purchase were agreed upon on April 30, 1803, it became clear that the expedition’s mission was not simply driven by scientific inquiry, geographic mapping, and commercial development of the unexplored territory. The mission was to be concurrently a diplomatic one. The transfer of sovereignty from the French/Spanish administration to United States hands would need to be communicated to every Indian tribe and foreign interest occupying the lands within the Missouri River watershed.

The increased importance of the exploration warranted an additional commander to assist Lewis, President Jefferson’s first choice to lead the journey. Lewis wanted William Clark. On June 19, 1803, Lewis penned a letter to Clark, who was then out of the army, expressing his desire that Clark share command of the expedition and help recruit able-bodied, qualified men to enlist in the Corps. Lewis, with the President’s concurrence, offered Clark a permanent commission as Captain. Responding to Lewis in Pittsburgh on July 29, where he was readying boats and supplies for the journey, Clark wrote, “My friend I assure you no man lives with whome I would perfur to undertake Such a Trip &c as your self.”

Lewis, with a “party of eleven hands” and his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, departed Pittsburgh in a specially designed keelboat, accompanied by a pirogue (small riverboat), August 30, 1803. Navigating down the Ohio River during a period of low water, Lewis experienced several instances of grounding in the shallow water that required hiring teams of horses to refloat the keelboat. To lighten the cargo, Lewis purchased a second pirogue at Wheeling (West Virginia). The two pirogues would, during the course of the expedition, be navigated up the Missouri, nearly 2,500 miles, to the Great Falls of the Missouri (Montana).

In mid-October, Clark joined Lewis at Clarksville, Indiana Territory, opposite Louisville. Here, after making interim preparations for the journey and enlisting several recruits, Clark, together with his black manservant, York (who had been willed to Clark by his father), boarded the keelboat. Considered an equal among members of the expedition, York was allowed to vote and participate in many of same activities as the others.

Proceeding on, the embryonic Corps of Discovery reached St. Louis in mid-December, 1803. The Spanish commandant at St. Louis denied the explorers entry to Louisiana Territory due to their lack of a Spanish passport. Consequently, they established their camp on the east side of the Mississippi, at River Dubois, Illinois Territory, opposite the confluence of the Missouri River with the Mississippi. Clark, the more rugged frontiersman, would supervise the building of their 1803-1804 winter camp.

Over the winter the men were disciplined in army regimen, and trained for the rugged conditions that they would encounter. Supplies and equipment for the journey that came in from the east were packed and sorted for the three vessels that would take them upriver.

On May 7, 1804, Clark, to the agonizing disappointment of both leaders, received his commission. It was for the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Artillerists. Clark had been addressed as “Captain” by both Lewis and the men, continuously, since Clark had boarded the keelboat, October 26, 1803, and he would remain “Captain” throughout the journey. To legitimize the pseudo rank, an organizational unit designation to which Clark would be attached was necessary when he signed official documents, such as detachment orders, court martial proceedings, “Indian Certificates,” and similar formal records.

The captains, accordingly, conceived the title: “Corps of Volunteers on an Expedition of North Western Discovery.” Clark’s signature, and rank of captain, appears in the journals with that organizational designation, usually abbreviated to: "Wm Clark Capt on E. N. W. D." (See p. 170, Vol. 3, Moulton Edition) This arrangement, which confirms Lewis’ promise to Clark in offering him a co-captaincy, “...your situation if joined with me in this mission will in all respects be precisely such as my own.” Clark’s pseudo-captaincy was never revealed to the men throughout the mission.

The short version of the organizational designation, “Corps of Discovery,” is not found in any of the explorers’ original longhand manuscript journals. Sergeant Patrick Gass is credited with popularizing that term, which appears on the title page of his 1807 published journal.

The expedition broke camp at River Dubois on May l4, 1804. Clark wrote in his journal: “...set out at 4oClock P.M, and proceeded on under a jentle brease up the Missouri.” At the end of October, the explorers reached the villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians, near modern Bismarck, North Dakota. Here, they built their 1804-1805 winter quarters, which they named Fort Mandan, in honor of the local inhabitants. The explorers spent five months at Fort Mandan, hunting and obtaining information from the Indians and French-Canadian traders who lived nearby. The blacksmiths set up a forge and made tools and implements, which were traded for the Indians’ garden crops of corn, melons and beans.

A French-Canadian named Toussaint Charbonneau visited the captains with his young, pregnant Shoshone Indian “wife,” Sacagawea. The captains knew that there would be high mountains to cross on the westward journey. The two Charbonneaus were enlisted as an interpreter team for the purpose of negotiating for horses, in the event the explorers encountered her Shoshoni tribe, who lived near the Continental Divide of the Rockies. On April 7, 1805, as the Corps prepared to proceed westward with the two pirogues and six dugout canoes, the keelboat was sent downstream with collected specimens, maps, and detailed reports they had compiled since their departure.

Of the two captains, Clark was the expedition’s cartographer. The first significant map he drafted was completed during the Corps’ stay at Fort Mandan during the winter of 1804-05. Though highly conjectural, this map contained all the new information and corrections from their explorations and conversations with traders and Indians. The map focused on the areas between the upper Mississippi and the Missouri, and the major tributaries of the lower and middle Missouri, with less detail provided for the upper Missouri and the Continental Divide, which had yet to be explored by the Corps. There were several inaccuracies in the map, mostly due to miscommunication and cultural differences in describing geography between the American and Indians. Even so, this updated map was a valuable reference.

As the Corps proceeded on to the Pacific, Clark continued to keep careful compass records, measure distances and produce detailed strip maps for areas between major landmarks. One of the more detailed mappings was done on the Great Falls of the Missouri, where Clark led a surveying team to measure the chasm’s length, the elevation of the Falls, and the total drop of the cascade. The maps included notes on native botanical and zoological specimens and on potential mineral deposits. These strip maps were incorporated into the larger map drafted at Fort Mandan. This map would be of critical importance to U.S. expansionist forces in years to come.

In late October 1806, after completing the expedition and returning to St. Louis, Lewis and Clark led a cavalcade eastward that included Mandan and Osage Indian representatives. The packtrain was loaded with whatever “plants, seeds, bird skins, animal skeletons, and furs [that] had not been ruined in water-soaked caches,” in addition to their journals and Clark’s large map of the American West. Clark and York stopped in Louisville to meet Clark’s family and visit with Julia “Judy” Hancock, Clark’s future wife.

In mid-January 1807, Clark visited Washington to receive his rewards for having successfully completed the expedition: double pay while on service with the Corps (amounting to $1,228); a warrant for 1,600 acres of land; and a double appointment as Brigadier General of Militia and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Upper Louisiana, which was put into effect in early March 1807.


William Clark

On January 5, 1808, Clark married Julia Hancock in Fincastle, Virginia. Julia would later bear Clark a son, whom they would name Meriwether Lewis Clark in honor of his father’s closest partner. That summer, Clark became a business partner in the newly-formed Missouri Fur Company, which planned to send militia units, hunters, and boatsmen up the Missouri to develop the American fur trading industry.

In Louisville, on October 11, 1809, the Clark family was told of Lewis’ death. Upon hearing the news, Clark traveled to Washington to visit the grieving Jefferson and Lewis family members. He would later go to Philadelphia to arrange for the rewriting of their journals, which were finally published in 1814 with Clark’s map as a supplement.

Clark’s final years were the opposite of Lewis’. In 1813, Clark was named Governor of the Missouri Territory until the state of Missouri was created in 1820. Although he was defeated in the first election for state governor, Clark continued enjoy his Brigadier General rank, and to serve as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Throughout the remainder of his life, he garnered the respect of Native Americans, traders and trappers alike. They brought new information to him regularly, which he was able to use to update his master map of the American West, a map that reflected the fast-changing face of a nation that now stretched from coast to coast. Clark died of natural causes in St. Louis, September l, 1838.

Meriwether Lewis


Meriwether Lewis by Charles Willson Peale, from life, 1807.

Independence National Historical Park

Diplomat, explorer, scientist, governor, soldier, Virginia gentleman, student, secretary to the president: during his 36 years, Meriwether Lewis bore each of these titles. Born into a prominent Virginia family, Lewis faced the world with opportunity and advantage. By the time of his death in late 1809, he struggled with “melancholy,” financial troubles and alcohol. Complex and often contradictory, the incarnations of Meriwether Lewis provide insight into the man behind the titles.

Virginia gentleman: Born in 1774, in Albemarle County, Virginia, Meriwether Lewis was the first child of Lucy Meriwether and William Lewis. After William’s death in 1781, Lucy remarried and moved the family to Georgia. As a young teenager, Lewis returned by himself to Virginia to manage his family’s estate. Upon the death of his stepfather, Lewis, not yet out of his teens, became the head of a household that included his mother and four siblings.

Soldier: Enlisting in 1794, Meriwether Lewis served in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. During this time, he met and befriended one of his commanding officers, William Clark. Army life suited Lewis and by 1800 he had been promoted to captain.

Secretary to the President: Shortly after his election, President Jefferson invited Lewis to serve as his personal secretary. Explaining the selection, Jefferson wrote that a “personal acquaintance with [Lewis], owing to his being of my neighborhood, has induced me to select him…” Lewis served as secretary for less than two years before being reassigned. Jefferson had selected Lewis to be the “intelligent officer…fit for the enterprise and willing to …explore…to the Western Ocean.”

Student: In 1803, preparing for his journey to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis spent a month in Philadelphia studying with the eminent scientists of the day. His education included intensive courses in medicine, preservation of plant and animal samples, the use of navigation instruments for determining latitude and longitude, and the study of fossils.

Explorer, Diplomat and Scientist: Between 1804 and 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery from Wood River, Illinois, to the Pacific Ocean. As they traveled, Clark mapped their route and Lewis recorded information about and collected samples of the unfamiliar plants and animals they encountered. The explorers met with the tribes of the Louisiana Purchase to tell them of the changes that would transpire under U.S. ownership. Lewis and Clark also tried to establish peace between tribes. Not understanding complex intertribal relations and tribal structures, few of these peace-making efforts met with enduring success.

Governor: In 1806, Jefferson appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory. Taking up his post nearly two years later, Lewis faced challenges almost immediately. Personality conflicts, political differences, and questions about the appropriation of government funds all contributed to his difficulties. Hoping to resolve the financial questions, Lewis set out for Washington D.C. in late 1809. The "melancholy" Lewis experienced throughout his life reappeared to such an extent that his traveling companions worried for Lewis's safety. On October 11, 1809, Meriwether Lewis died in his lodgings in Tennessee. Although questions remain, it is generally believed that he died at his own hand.

William Clark


William Clark by Charles Willson Peale, from life, 1807.

Independence National Historical Park

One hundred sixty three years after his death, William Clark received a promotion. In 2001, President Clinton promoted Clark from Lieutenant to Captain. Although Clark’s captaincy was late in coming, to have called the famous journey of 1803 to 1806 simply the Lewis Expedition would have been inaccurate in spirit, if not in fact. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark shared equally in the tasks and responsibilities of their cross-continental journey.

Twenty years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Thomas Jefferson asked William Clark’s older brother and Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark, to head an overland expedition to the Pacific. General Clark declined the offer. When Meriwether Lewis accepted command for the 1803 Expedition, however, it wasn’t the eldest Clark brother he sought as co-commander, but a younger member of the Clark clan, William. Anticipating the rigors of a journey to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis informed Clark that “…under those circumstances in this enterprise, …it’s fatigues, it’s dangers and it’s honors, believe me there is no man on earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing them as with yourself.”

Lewis’s regard for Clark grew out of shared service. Only a few years earlier, when both men had served in the U.S. Army in Ohio, Clark had been Lewis’s commanding officer. Although the two men believed they would share the captaincy of the Expedition, word that Clark would remain a lieutenant arrived shortly before they departed St. Louis. The men of the Expedition, having spent a winter addressing “Captain Clark” were not told of the difference between their two leaders.

William Clark’s contributions to the Expedition are those of a captain. The map he created as they traveled was, at the time, the most accurate map of the trans-Missouri West. His stable personality balanced Lewis’s moodiness. And when Lewis’s pen fell silent during many months of the journey, Clark’s words, straightforward and creatively spelled, became the record of the Expedition.

William Clark also left his mark along the Trail. On July 25, 1806, Clark scratched his signature into a sandstone formation along the Yellowstone River in Montana. Recording the event in his journal, Clark noted that “[t]his rock I ascended … had a most extensive view in every direction...I marked my name and the day of the month and year." He called the formation Pompey’s Tower, using a nickname Clark had bestowed on Sacajawea’s son Jean Baptiste, or Pomp. The etched signature can still be seen at the site, now called Pompeys Pillar, near Billings, Montana. Clark’s signature is believed to be the only remaining on-site physical evidence of the expedition.

Having crossed a continent, Clark returned to St. Louis to build a successful and varied life of family and work. In addition to fathering seven children, William Clark temporarily cared for Sacagawea’s son, Jean Baptiste. After Lewis’s death, Clark completed the work of the Expedition by helping to prepare the journals for publication. Clark’s fair diplomatic relations with American Indians during his years as brigadier general of the militia, Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Upper Louisiana Territory, and Governor of the Missouri Territory, gained him the esteem of his peers.

Although the second-ranked commander of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Clark proved to be a first rate leader, both during the Expedition and after. Like his signature on Pompey’s Pillar, William Clark’s life has left a lasting imprint on our history.


*”...Our political machine, composed of thirteen independent sovereignties, have been perpetually operating against each other and against the federal head ever since the peace. The powers of Congress are totally inadequate to preserve the balance between the respective States, and oblige them to do those things which are essential for their own welfare or for the general good...." -- Letter from Henry Knox to Gen. Washington (1786)

"I hope you will not consider yourself as commander in chief of your own house, but be convinced that there is such a thing as equal command" – Lucy Knox, August 1777

Early Life

Henry Knox was born in Boston to William Knox and Mary Campbell Knox in 1750. His parents were pioneers from North Ireland. Henry was the seventh of ten children. William Knox was a shipmaster, carrying on trade with the West Indies. Suffering from financial difficulties and all the mental stress and burdens that go with money woes, William died at the age of fifty. Henry gave up school and became the sole support for his mother. He became a clerk in a Boston bookstore, and eventually opened one himself. He was an avid reader, fond of history, but his main interest later settled on artillery.

Revolutionary War

Knox supported the American cause, and as early as 1772, he became a member of the Boston Grenadier Corps. He was a volunteer in June 1775 at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He served under General Ward, in charge of the colonials around Boston.

In 1775, Washington arrived in Boston, taking command of the army. There he met and developed a friendship with Knox, a friendship that would last a lifetime. Washington realized the need of artillery in the American forces and found Knox to be well versed on the subject. Washington asked his opinion on what the army should do. The thought of Knox was to use the cannon from the captured Fort Ticonderoga. Thus, Knox was commissioned a colonel, placed in charge of artillery, and given the task to bring cannon from Ticonderoga to Boston. By way of ox sleds, Knox successfully brought fifty cannon to the city.

In March 1776, Washington seized Dorchester Heights (the key to Boston) and Knox placed the cannon in position there. Howe realizing the danger of an impending American bombardment, withdrew his troops from the city. On March 17, he embarked his troops for Halifax. Boston was entered the following day by triumphant Americans. After the capture of Boston, Knox helped place Connecticut and Rhode island in proper defense, in preparation for the return of the British. Washington took his forces to defend New York. Knox joined the army there, as the British fleet arrived in New York, with men numbering 30,000. The American forces numbered about 18,000 with very little experience. Knox had 520 officers and soldiers to handle his (approximately) 120 cannon...with little experience as well. The American forces were so outnumbered, they were forced to retreat which did not end until the crossing of the Delaware River at Trenton on December 8, 1776. The Americans had seized all the boats along the Delaware, so the British were unable to follow. With severly reduced forces, who were scantily clothed and poorly armed, the American troops were depressed.

Washington did not give up hope, and Knox followed his lead--the would be no reason for despondency. It was on Christmas night that Washington made his famous trip across the Delaware, directed by Knox, to surprise the Hessian forces at Trenton, capturing 1000 men as well as supplies. The American army of 2500, the captives and stores were all carried back across the Delaware. This event gave a much needed boost to the American morale. Knox, himself, was promoted to brigadier-general as a result of his service. At the same time, Washington was under the threat of losing his army to the expiration of enlistments. The troops had not been paid, so Washington wrote to his friend Robert Morris, a Philadelphia banker, for aid. $50,000 was sent to Washington and a massive departure of the troops was averted. Washington was now in a position to make another strike against the British. The army crossed the Delaware once more into New Jersey. Cornwallis withdrew a portion of his troops and pursued Washington. Washington was located between the Delaware and Trenton. Thinking the Americans were trapped, Cornwallis planned their capture for the morning. Washington had other plans: the Americans built blazing fires to deceive the British and made their escape, marching to Princeton. On January 3, 1777, Washington attacked the British army, but they were driven back. Washington rallied the troops...and the British in turn, were driven back and defeated.

Knox and his men rendered aggressive service, earning him a commendation from the Commander-in-Chief. The American army went into winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. Knox had a commission while the army was in winter quarters at Morristown: he was sent to Massachusettes to raise a battalion for the artillery. He was also given the task of creating an arsenal, and Knox did so at Springfield. It became a valuable source in the production and repair of arms for the remaining years of the Revolution. Knox was almost displaced of his position in charge of artillery by a Frenchman named Ducondray, secured by Silas Deane, the American Minister to France. Ducondray interviewed with Washington and then headed to lay his credentials before Congress.

Washington wrote Congress on behalf of Knox on May 31, 1777: "General Knox, who has deservedly acquired the character of one of the most valuable officers in the service, and who combating almost innumerable difficulties in the department he fills has placed the artillery upon a footing that does him the greatest honor; he, I am persuaded, would consider himself injured by an appointment superseding his command, and would not think himself at liberty to continue in the service. Should such an event take place in the present state of things, there would be too much reason to apprehend a train of ills, such as might confuse and unhinge this important department."

Generals Green and Sullivan supported Washington, and Ducondray was permitted to join the troops under Washington as a volunteer. He was to prove his ability as an engineer, but not given any preference over Knox. Unfortunately, in the late summer of 1777, Ducondray was riding a spirited horse in search of Washington in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As he was about to enter a flat bottom boat to cross the Schuylkill River, he lost control of the horse, the horse and rider plunged into the river and Ducondray was drowned. Knox was involved in fighting at both the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. He had a limited number of cannon. At Brandywine he placed them well near Chadds Ford, but the British forced a retreat. The Americans held them in check at Birmingham Meeting House and were able to retreat to Chester. At Valley Forge, Knox was invaluable in organizing and erecting forts to safeguard the winter encampment from British attack.

In the Weedon Orderly Book under January 3, 1778 at Valley Forge there is written of a General Court Martial, of which Colonel Scammel was President: "Capt. Courtley of artillery appeared before the Court, charged with leaving his Hoitz in the field in the action of Brandywine in a cowardly unsoldierly like manner. The Court having considered the charge and evidence are of opinion that Capt. Courtly is guilty of the charge exhibited against him and do sentence him as he has ever supported the character of a brave man to be reprimanded by Gen. Knox in presence of all the artillery officers." "The Commander in Chief is indeed from a state of all the evidence to disapprove the sentence and orders Capt. Courtley to be discharged from his arrest without censure."

Knox was given permission to leave Valley Forge for a time to visit his family in Massachusetts, but particularly to speed supplies for the army from the New England states. Knox returned and immediately began to assist Steuben in his drilling of the troops, particularly the artillery men. The troops left Valley Forge on June 19 and headed for battle at Monmouth. Much later, Knox was sent as a representative of Washington to secure aid from the northern states in what Washington hoped would be the last campaign of the war. January 1, 1781, from New Windsor, Washington wrote Knox: "...You will generally represent to the supreme executive powers of the States, through which you pass, and to gentlemen of influence in them, the alarming crisis to which our affairs have arrived, by a too long neglect of measures essential to the existence of the army, and you may assure them, that, if a total alteration of system does not take place in paying, clothing and feeding the troops, it will be in vain to expect a continuance of their service in another campaign. Knox was successful. Eventually, the British army was forced in siege at Yorktown. Knox had placed the artillery in fine strategic position.

After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, Knox was advanced to major-general, an honor well earned. In 1782, Knox was stationed at West Point and remained there with the troops until the agreement was made for the British to evacuate New York. In the fall of 1783, Knox was able to leave as they followed the British out of New York. On December 4, the officers assembled at Fraunces Tavern to take final leave of their Commander-in-Chief. Knox stood by Washington. Washington withdrew and Knox returned to Boston, well-received.

Secretary of War

Knox was elected Secretary of War by Congress in 1785, and in 1789 he was appointed Secretary of War in President Washington's new cabinet. Knox found his service as Secretary of War to deal with growing unrest in the western frontier of the little country. When a treaty was finally reached, the leadership of Knox was manifested in his aid in promoting law and order. Knox officially wrote to the President on December 28, 1794: ..."After having served my country nearly twenty years, the greatest portion of which under your immediate auspices, it is with extreme reluctance, that I find myself constrained to withdraw from so honorable a station. But the natural and powerful claims of a numerous family will no longer permit me to neglect their essential interest. In whatever situation I shall be, I shall recollect your confidence and kindness with all the power and purity of affection, of which a grateful heart is susceptible." Washington accepted Knox's resignation with regret. Timothy Pickering, who was Postmaster General at this time, was appointed the successor to Knox as Secretary of War and took office January 2, 1795.


General Knox and his family settled on an estate at Thomaston, Maine in 1796, which he called "Montpelier." He was engaged in various types of businesses during the latter part of his life such as: brick-making, cattle-raising and ship-building. He entertained numerous guests and gave some time in service to his state in General Court and Governor's Council. Washington desired to appoint Knox as a Commissioner to St. Croix, but Knox declined. Knox died unexpectedly in 1806. He was buried in Thomaston.


Many incidents in Knox's career attest to his character, both good and bad. As one example, when he and Lucy were forced to leave Boston in 1775, his home was used to house British officers who looted his bookstore. In spite of personal financial hardships, he managed to make the last payment of 1,000 pounds to Longman Printers in London to cover the price of a shipment of books that he never received. In Maine, however, he would be remembered as a grasping tyrant and was forever immortalized in Nathanial Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, for which he served as the model for Col. Pynchon.

Two separate American forts, Fort Knox (Kentucky), and Fort Knox (Maine) were named after him. Knox Hall at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, home of the Field Artillery Center and Field Artillery School, is also named after him. Knoxville, Tennessee, is named in his honor. There are counties named for Knox in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

Biography Paul Revere

Early LifeAn obituary in the Boston Intelligence commented, "seldom has the tomb closed upon a life so honorable and useful". This seems an accurate representation of the life of one of the more modest and trustworthy men who ever walked the face of the earth.

Born in Boston's North End in December, 1734, Paul Revere was the son of Apollos Rivoire, a French Huguenot (Protestant) immigrant, and Deborah Hitchbourn, daughter of a local artisan family. Rivoire, who changed his name to Paul Revere some time after immigrating, was a goldsmith and eventually the head of a large household. Paul Revere was the second of at least 9, possibly as many as 12 children and the eldest surviving son.

EducationRevere was educated at the North Writing School and learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father. When Revere was nineteen (and nearly finished with his apprenticeship) his father died, leaving Revere as the family's main source of income. Two years later, in 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, New York, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery.


In August, 1757, Revere married Sarah Orne. Together, they had eight children. Soon after Sarah's death in 1773, Revere married Rachel Walker with whom he had eight children.


Revere's primary vocation, a trade he learned from his father, was that of goldsmith/silversmith, meaning he worked in both gold and silver. His silver shop was the cornerstone of his professional life for more than 40 years. As the master of his silversmith shop, Revere was responsible for both the workmanship and the quality of the metal alloy used. He employed numerous apprentices and journeymen to produce pieces ranging from simple spoons to magnificent full tea sets. His work, highly praised during his lifetime, is regarded as one of the outstanding achievements in American decorative arts.

Revere also supplemented his income with other work. During the economic depression before the Revolution, Revere began his work as a copper plate engraver. He produced illustrations for books and magazines, business cards, political cartoons, bookplates, a song book and bills of fare for taverns. He also advertised as a dentist from 1768 to 1775. He not only cleaned teeth, but also wired in false teeth carved from walrus ivory or animal teeth. Contrary to popular myth, he did not make George Washington's false teeth. Fabricating a full set of dentures was beyond his ability.

Revolutionary War

Revere's political involvement arose through his connections with members of local organizations and his business patrons. As a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew, he was friendly with activists like James Otis and Dr. Joseph Warren. In the year before the Revolution, Revere gathered intelligence information by "watching the Movements of British Soldiers," as he wrote in an account of his ride. He was a courier for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, riding express to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He also spread the word of the Boston Tea Party to New York and Philadelphia.

The Midnight Ride

The role for which he is most remembered today was as a night-time messenger on horseback just before the battles of Lexington and Concord. His famous "Midnight Ride" occurred on the night of April 18/April 19, 1775, when he and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the movements of the British Army, which was beginning a march from Boston to Lexington, ostensibly to arrest Hancock and Adams and seize the weapons stores in Concord.

The British army (the King's "regulars") had been stationed in Boston since the ports were closed in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, and was under constant surveillance by Revere and other patriots as word began to spread that they were planning a move. On the night of April 18, 1775, the army began its move across the Charles River toward Lexington, and the Sons of Liberty immediately went into action. At about 11 pm, Revere was sent by Dr. Warren across the Charles River to Charlestown, on the opposite shore, where he could begin a ride to Lexington, while Dawes was sent the long way around, via the Boston Neck and the land route to Lexington.

In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the Old North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. One lantern in the steeple would signal the army's choice of the land route, while two lanterns would signal the route "by water" across the Charles River. This was done to get the message through to Charlestown in the event that both Revere and Dawes were captured. Newman and Captain John Pulling momentarily held two lanterns in the Old North Church as Revere himself set out on his ride, to indicate that the British soldiers were in fact crossing the Charles River that night. Revere rode a horse lent to him by John Larkin, Deacon of the Old North Church.

Riding through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Revere warned patriots along his route - many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own. By the end of the night there were probably as many as 40 riders throughout Middlesex County carrying the news of the army's advancement. Revere did not shout the famous phrase later attributed to him ("The British are coming!"), largely because the mission depended on secrecy and the countryside was filled with British army patrols; also, most colonial residents at the time considered themselves British as they were all legally British subjects. Revere's warning, according to eyewitness accounts of the ride and Revere's own descriptions, was "The Regulars are coming out." Revere arrived in Lexington around midnight, with Dawes arriving about a half hour later. Samuel Adams and John Hancock were spending the night at the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington, and they spent a great deal of time discussing plans of action upon receiving the news. Revere and Dawes, meanwhile, decided to ride on toward Concord, where the militia's arsenal was hidden. They were joined by Samuel Prescott, a doctor who happened to be in Lexington "returning from a lady friend's house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m."

Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were detained by British troops in Lincoln at a roadblock on the way to Concord. Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped into the woods; Dawes also escaped, though soon after he fell off his horse and did not complete the ride. Revere was detained and questioned and then escorted at gunpoint by three British officers back toward Lexington. As morning broke and they neared Lexington Meeting-house, shots were heard. The British officers became alarmed, confiscated Revere's horse, and rode toward the Meeting-house. Revere was horseless and walked through a cemetery and pastures until he came to Rev. Clarke's house where Hancock and Adams were staying. As the battle on Lexington Green continued, Revere helped John Hancock and his family escape from Lexington with their possessions, including a trunk of Hancock's papers.

The warning delivered by the three riders successfully allowed the militia to repel the British troops in Concord, who were harried by guerrilla fire along the road back to Boston. Prescott knew the countryside well even in the dark, and arrived at Concord in time to warn the people there. An interactive map showing the routes taken by Revere, Dawes, and Prescott is available at the Paul Revere House website.

Revere's role was not particularly noted during his life. In 1861, over 40 years after his death, the ride became the subject of "Paul Revere's Ride", a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem has become one of the best known in American history and was memorized by generations of schoolchildren. Its famous opening lines are:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year

Today, parts of the ride are posted with signs marked "Revere's Ride." The full ride used Main Street in Charlestown, Broadway and Main Street in Somerville, Main Street and High Street in Medford, to Arlington center, and Massachusetts Avenue the rest of the way (an old alignment through Arlington Heights is called "Paul Revere Road").

The war erupted and Revere went on to serve as lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts State Train of Artillery and commander of Castle Island in Boston Harbor. Revere and his troops saw little action at this post, but they did participate in minor expeditions to Newport, Rhode Island and Worcester, Mass. Revere's rather undistinguished military career ended with the failed Penobscot expedition.

Post Revolutionary War

Revere expanded his business interests in the years following the Revolution. He imported goods from England and ran a small hardware store until 1789. By 1788 he had opened a foundry which supplied bolts, spikes and nails for North End shipyards (including brass fittings for the U.S.S. Constitution), produced cannons and, after 1792, cast bells. One of his largest bells still rings in Boston's Kings Chapel.

Concerned that the United States had to import sheet copper from England, Revere opened the first copper rolling mill in North America in 1801. He provided copper sheeting for the hull of the U.S.S. Constitution and the dome of the new Massachusetts State House in 1803. Revere Copper and Brass, Inc., the descendent of Revere's rolling mill is best known for "Revereware" copper-bottomed pots and pans. Revereware is now, however, manufactured by another company.

Revere's community and social involvements were extensive. He was a Freemason from 1760 to 1809 and held several offices in St. Andrew's and Rising States Lodges as well as the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. A member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, Revere also served as the association's first president. Founded in 1794, the group was an organization of artisans, and small businessmen who sought to improve the conditions under which their peers worked and aided members in "distressed" circumstances.


In 1811, at the age of 76, Paul Revere retired and left his well-established copper business in the hand of his sons and grandsons. Revere seems to have remained healthy in his final years, despite the personal sorrow caused by the deaths of his wife Rachel and son Paul in 1813. Revere died of natural causes on May 10, 1818 at the age of 83, leaving five children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The son of an immigrant artisan, not born to wealth or inheritance, Revere died a modestly well-to-do businessman and a popular local figure of some note. An obituary in the Boston Intelligence commented, "seldom has the tomb closed upon a life so honorable and useful." Paul Revere is buried in Boston's Granary Burying Ground.

Mercy Otis Warren was born in 1728 into a family of all boys, and there were many of them. She was born in Massachusetts. Mercy became a Patriot writer, and she wrote plays, poems and lots of other writings that supported independence. She used her writing to display her ideas. Her ideas and writings convinced many people in Massachusetts to become Patriots. Of all the people writing to support the patriotic cause, Mercy Otis Warren was the only woman who published plays, books, and poetry.

When she was a small girl, Mercy learned to express her feelings and ideas through reading, writing, and discussing politics. In 1743, she attended the Harvard Commencement and met James Warren. In November, 1754, she married James Warren and went to live in the Warren family estate at Eel River, Plymouth, Mass. She continued her studies with her brother James as he prepared at home for his master's degree.

She and her husband would read the newspaper together. She had a thin, slender complexion. She had dark brown hair and her favorite color was blue. She loved wearing blue dresses and bonnets with lace edges. In 1757, they moved to Winslow house in Plymouth, Massachusetts. On October 18 that year, her son James was born. She had a son named Winslow who was born on March 24, 1759. Her son Charles was born on April 14, 1762.

In 1765, James Warren was elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives. Their son George was born a year later, in 1766. Between March 26 and April 23, 1772, selections from The Adulateur, written by Mercy Otis Warren, appeared in The Massachusetts Spy. Mercy Otis Warren wrote to her friend Abigail Adams about being treated as inferior because they were women.

Mercy Otis Warren continued to write and publish, and in 1790, her collection of Poems: Dramatic and Miscellaneous was published in Boston. In 1805, her History of the... American Revolution was published in Boston. From July through August,1807, ten letters from John Adams and six letters from Mercy were published concerning her treatment of him in the history book. This book contained sharp comments about John Adams. That's why there was a separation of friendship with the Adamses that lasted until 1812.

Two of her plays insulted the Loyalists. She said that Britain's laws and taxes were unfair and that families in the colonies couldn't pay for expensive British goods. She also said that Britain was too far away to understand the colonists' rights and needs. For this reason alone, the colonists would be better off alone with their own independence and freedom. She did not like the fact that Britain would not let women participate in politics. She strongly believed that women would have more rights if the colonies had their independence. Mercy also believed that women should have the right to vote.

Her plays included:

The Adulateur, a five-act play, published in 1773

The Defeat, excerpts from a play, published 1773

The Group, a three-act play, published in 1775

The Blockheads, a three-act play, published in 1776, shortly after the British withdrew from Boston

The Motley Assembly, a farce, published in 1779.

Image courtesy of ArtToday.

Mercy Otis Warren died on October 19, 1814, in Winslow house in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She strongly believed in independence, liberty, and in the power of the written word.