The British Constitution: Delivered Before The Georgia Bar Association 1885 by John W. Park

Alexis-de-Tocqueville1Adding this article to help the American people better understand our history, heritage and the beginnings of America.

The British Constitution. Delivered Before The Georgia Bar Association, At Its Annual Session In Atlanta, Georgia, by John W. Park. (Published 1885 in “Report of the Annual Session of the Georgia Bar Association” By Georgia Bar Association, John Wesley Akin, Orville Augustus Park)

Mr, President and Gentlemen:

There are few subjects upon which more crude and incorrect opinions are entertained by the average American than that of the English government and the British Constitution. Justice proud of the free institutions of his own country, and cherishing the traditional prejudices of our revolutionary period, he is prone to regard the English government as a tyranny, and her monarch as a despot. Familiar with the idea of a written Constitution as the fundamental law of a republican state, he conceives that a government without such a Constitution or with an unwritten Constitution, virtually has none at all and is destitute of fundamental laws.

The Declaration of Independence, that terrible indictment against George III., is a convincing argument to him that the King, at least, was a tyrant. But how often are indictments preferred against the innocent! That instrument was framed to justify the authors of it in the opinions of their countrymen and of posterity; and was intended to present the cause of the colonies to the world in a way that would at once command attention, enlist sympathy and call forth admiration. Pardonable grounds, truly, for somewhat of exaggeration in so momentous a state paper!

Besides, this immortal paper, with laborious ability, heaps charge after charge upon the head of the King, ignoring alike his Ministers and his Parliaments. Whereas, by the theory of that government, the former were responsible for whatever was wrong in the executive administration, and the latter for whatsoever legislation was odious and oppressive. The theory of the colonists was, that their relation to the parent country was similar to that of Scotland and Ireland before their consolidation and respective unions—owing allegiance to the Crown, but having a right to separate legislative assemblies. They denied the power of Parliament to legislate for them; and no single act of the Parliament was more obnoxious than the one that relieved them from every burden, save the mere bagatelle of a tax of three pence a pound on tea; and it was so obnoxious because the preamble of that Act claimed the right to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever. Independent, as they always claimed to be of Parliament, their only tie was to the King; this tie they determined to sunder [cut], and hence their charge of grievances was preferred against the King. The declaration makes no mention of Parliament, but holds up the King as the author of all their wrongs.

This theory of the colonists, which has been elaborately set forth in a speech of Daniel Webster, however correct it may have been, has greatly tended, in an instrument so widely read, to perpetuate among our people erroneous ideas of the powers of an English King. The truth is, as early as the reign of Henry the III., about 650 years ago, Bracton, afterwards an English Judge, had written—” The King is subject to God and the law.” “The King,” he says, “can do nothing on earth but what he can do by law.” He reckoned the great court of Parliament as his superior, and affirmed “that if the King were without a bridle, that is the law, they should put a bridle upon him.” Later, but far back in the reign of Henry VI., another Judge said, “If the King command me to arrest a man, and I arrest him, he shall have an action of false imprisonment against me, though it were done in the King’s presence.” And in the very next reign, that of Edward IV., a Chief Justice of England had declared to that monarch “That the King could not arrest a man even upon suspicion of felony or treason, because if he should wrong a man by such arrest, he can have no remedy against him.” And a long time after this, it is true, but still a hundred years before our revolution, after the old common law writ of habeas corpus, [1679, court order that requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court] had been perfected by the statute of 31st [year, in the reign of] Charles II., it has been impossible for anyone to be wrongfully imprisoned, though by warrant under the sign-manual [signature] of the King, without obtaining an almost immediate discharge. Such, and so small, has been for ages, a King of England’s legal power to inflict injury upon the persons of his subjects! The great right of property has been just as secure and for as long a period from any invasion at his hands. And his power to obstruct legislation and thus thwart the wishes of his people by the exercise of the veto; a power possessed by our Presidents and all of our Governors, and exercised by them time and again at almost every session of every legislative body throughout the land, has been employed by no English King since the reign of William of Orange; and its exercise now, in any case, would perhaps cost him his throne. Surely our American will concede, upon more study and reflection, that an English King is no despot, but simply the ruler of a very limited monarchy!

But in the next place, as to the British Constitution and her fundamental laws. If by Constitution our American means the name of an instrument or book containing the fundamental laws of the State, then indeed England has no Constitution, for she has no instrument or book of that name. Nor if the terms means a few pages of parchment or an instrument similar to our Federal and State Constitutions, containing the principles on which the government is founded and regulating the decisions of the sovereign powers, directing to what persons each of these powers is to be confided, and the manner it is to be exercised, then England has no Constitution. If, again, is meant, that modern idea of a Constitution, viz: “A body of law promulgated at once by the sovereign power,” as was for instance the Code Napoleon, then England has no Constitution. In the Roman sense, which during the empire denominated a single imperial decree a Constitution, England might be said to have as many Constitutions as were compiled in the Code of Theodosius. Not indeed, that her statute book abounds in imperial decrees, but because she has quite a number of Acts of Parliament of a fundamental or constitutional character.

If a Constitution is, as it has been defined, a system of law, established by the sovereign power of a State for its own guidance, fixing in those laws the limits and defining the relations of the legislative, the judicial and the executive powers of the State, both amongst themselves and with reference to the subjects or citizens of the State as a governed body”—then England has a Constitution, unwritten though it may be, and not embraced in any one statute, instrument or book. Sometimes the British Constitution is spoken of as a kind of intangible essence, the resultant of the manhood of the English people and the spirit of their laws. When employed in this sense, the same idea is conveyed to the mind, as when we speak of the constitution of a man, or that of a horse. At other times the British Constitution is declared to be the whole body of the public law, consuetudinary [customs, law where the rule of law is determined by long-standing custom as opposed to case law or statute] as well as statutory, which has grown up during the course of ages, and is continually being modified by the action of the general will, as interpreted and expressed by the representatives of the nation in Parliament.

The average American forgets, perhaps never knew, that the great body of the English common law, though unwritten, Lex non scripta,[Latin: The law was not written] is still in writing, and that the English Constitution is part of that common law. That the sovereignty or legislative power of England resides in Parliament, that Parliament consists of King, Lords and Commons; that the Crown is hereditary; that the King is the executive branch of the government; that he must govern according to law; that his prerogative stretcheth not to the doing of any wrong; that the King never dies; that he is the head of the army and declares war and makes peace; that he is the fountain of justice and appoints the Judges; that Parliament is summoned, prorogued and dissolved by the King; that it is supreme in the making and repealing of laws; that it can change its succession, and, in the language of Delome, do anything but make a man a woman and a woman a man; that each house is the judge of the qualification of its own members; that no member shall be held to answer in any other place, for words spoken in debate in either house, and the various privileges of Parliament and the manner of making laws; the right of the people to representation in Parliament; that no tax can be laid except by its authority, and a thousand and one other principles, embracing the absolute rights of every Englishman to personal security, personal liberty and private property, and the many provisions, including the sacred right of trial by jury, for their maintenance—although parts of an unwritten Constitution, are at the same time parts of the English common law, having their foundation in immemorial usage, and are laid down by the sages and institutional writers of that country with the same clearness and precision, as their classification of estates, the rules of inheritance or the requisites of a deed.

These maxims and laws, and others like these, dating back, many of them, a thousand years, to the age of Alfred, the builder, and Edward, the Confessor, the restorer of the English law, together with some constitutional laws, explanatory and declaratory of the Constitution, among the greater and more important of which may be reckoned Magna Carta, [1215, Latin: Great Charter, also called  Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England] that great charter which was ratified and confirmed by Parliament, according to Sir Edward Coke, thirty-two several times; and one of the very confirmatory statutes, 25th [year, in the reign of] Edward I., which is called Kat’ezoxen, confirmatio cartarem; the Petition of Right [1628, Parliamentary declaration of the rights and liberties of the people] in the reign of Charles I.; the Habeas Corpus in that of Charles II.; the Bill of Rights, enacted into a statute in the reign of William and Mary, and the Act of Settlement in that of William III.—these are the fundamental laws of England, and form the skeleton of the British Constitution.

A Constitution not as harmonious and symmetrical indeed, as if it had sprung full grown, like Minerva, from the brain of Jove; spoken into existence by a single act of the legislative power, and all embraced in one separate instrument, but still, a Constitution, whose admirable provisions, for the security of life, liberty and property, far surpass anything that Greece or Rome ever saw. A Constitution which is the model of every free Constitution now existing in the world. A Constitution which provides for a House of Commons, that great matrix of liberty, which is at once the type and archetype of every free legislature that now meets in either hemisphere. A Constitution which confines all legislation to a parliament; which suffers no tax to be imposed save by a parliament; which requires its executive administration to be conducted according to the laws, and holds the agents and advisers of that administration responsible for every infraction of the laws.

That such a Constitution, a Constitution of freedom, whose origin is so remote as to be lost in the mists of antiquity, should have survived so many ages of ignorance and violence; should have constantly grown in all the attributes of perfection, until it became the pride of England, and the pattern of the world; should have flowed onward through the centuries, conferring the blessings of liberty and happiness upon a populous nation of prosperous subjects, is the peculiar glory of Englishmen, and the most beautiful phenomenon in the annals of the human race.

This Constitution, which had attained its full beauty and vigor a hundred years before our revolution, was justly prized as a rich heritage by our fathers. In the first Continental Congress, which satin Philadelphia, in 1774, a Declaration of Rights was passed, (which is sometimes assigned as a reason why our Federal Constitution is not preceded by a Bill of Rights). In this declaration, they claimed, as English colonists, under the principles of the English Constitution, that they were entitled to life, liberty and property, and to all the rights, liberties and immunities of free and natural born subjects within the realm of England; they claimed that the foundation of English liberty was a right in the people to participate in their legislative council, and as the Colonists were not, and could not, from their local circumstances, be properly represented in Parliament, that they were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their Provincial legislatures; they denied all power of taxation without representation; they claimed that they were entitled to the common law, and especially the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage; they claimed to be entitled also to the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of their colonization, and which by experience were found to be appropriate to their local and other circumstances; they claimed the right of petition; denounced the keeping of a standing army in time of peace, as contrary to the Constitution; and affirmed that it was essential under the English Constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other. All this they claimed, demanded and insisted on, as their indubitable rights of liberty. They were not claimed, by purchase, but by descent. They were not insisted on as an acquisition of their own; on the contrary, they were recognized by them as an inheritance from their British ancestors.

After this Declaration of Rights, came the Declaration of Independence, followed in its turn, by an eight years war, fought, as has been truly said, upon a preamble. When this war ended, and the thirteen Colonies were recognized as independent States, our fathers soon laid the foundation of our present government, by the foundation and adoption of the Federal Constitution—an instrument which is the pride of every true American, and upon which the world has bestowed the most lavish praise. But while engaged in this great work, notwithstanding the heat and hatred engendered by a cruel and protracted war, our fathers never forgot the free principles of the British Constitution under which they were born, but clung to them “as the sheet-anchor of their political safety.” They provided, as did their English fathers, for the distribution and independence of the three great forms of government: they made the Legislative to consist of two houses, the one of long term, the other of short term members, but both elective; they made the Executive a single head, but elective, instead of hereditary; the Judiciary held their offices as in England, quamdiu se bene gesserint.[ As long as he shall behave himself well.; A clause inserted in commissions, when such instruments were written in Latin] The general executive powers of the President, and the legislative powers of the Congress, with some modifications, mutatis mutandis, might have been written of an English King and House of Commons.

The mode of enacting laws, the privileges of the two Houses, and of the individual members, including the fundamental right of free speech, are almost transcripts from the English Constitution. The right to the writ of habeas corpus, to trial by jury in civil cases and review only by the rules of the common law; the rights of petition, to bear arms, to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizure; the rights of one accused of crime to presentment or indictment by a grand jury, to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, with timely information of the cause of accusation, to be confronted with witnesses against, and to have compulsory process for, those in his favor, with the benefit of counsel in such cases, all these were English constitutional rights, well settled a century before our Constitution was adopted; and some of them were even hoary with age, before the continent of America was discovered by Columbus. That it was illegal to quarter troops on the people, to compel one to testify against himself in a criminal cause, to take his property for even public use without just compensation, to impose excessive bail, or inflict cruel and unusual punishments, had all been learned by the framers of our Constitution from the English Common or Statute Law. The very definition of Treason in our Constitution, is taken from an English statute as old as the reign of Edward III.; and the rule of evidence on trials in such cases, from decisions of English courts under it, enacted into a statute in the days of the Third William. The right to investigate, and chastise abuses of administration, by impeachment, which impeachment should be made by the lower house and tried by the upper house, had existed in England since 1376, four hundred years before our Constitution embodied this form of procedure.

It will thus be seen, and the more critical the examination, the more fully it will appear that almost every precious principle of our Federal Constitution was borrowed, bodily, from the Constitution of England. The limits for this paper constrain us to speak in general terms. Of course the dissolution of Church and State; the inhibition of Bills of Attainder, and of the grant of titles of nobility, were improvements— steps forward in the direction of governmental progress. But the great engines of government in both countries, their fundamental principles of action, and the ends and aims of their creation, are almost identical; while the mere names of the respective officers who run the machine, the tenure by which they hold their trusts, and the appliances by which they are lifted into place are, in a measure, variant.

Would we then depreciate the great work of our fathers? Not at all. They builded a splendid temple to freedom; but they found the stones, ready hewn to their hands. Their own noble English fathers had, long beforehand, prepared the materials; and the glory of our fathers was, that in rearing and embellishing their own edifice, they had the wisdom to make those stones, which so many other Constitution builders had rejected, “the head of the corner “; and the glory of their children will be, to forever keep them there!

It may be out of place now, and, perhaps, will appear hypercritical in a matter of so little practical importance, but there is one power granted by our Constitution to Congress, that strikes us with some surprise, viz: the power to legislate in all cases whatsoever over the District, where should be located the seat of government, and over places purchased for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, etc. So soon, it seems, did our fathers forget the preamble to that Act of Parliament, upon which they had fought their revolution! As this power to legislate in all cases whatsoever, includes the power to tax, and has been construed to extend to the territories of the United States, and as no representation is provided for the District of Columbia, or the territories, the framers of the Constitution violated, in that instrument, the most fundamental principle of the revolution, by authorizing taxation without representation. In this particular, the framers of our Constitution were scarcely as considerate of the rights of others, as were the sturdy Barons at Runnymede, who wrested Magna Carta from King John. The rights which they claimed were not for themselves alone, but for all the nation at large. It was agreed, “that every liberty and custom which the King had granted to his tenants, as far as concerned him, should be observed by the clergy and laity towards their tenants, as far concerned them.” This equal distribution of civil rights to all classes of freemen, in the opinion of Hallam, constituted the peculiar beauty of that great charter. And Chatham thought sufficient justice could not be done the Barons, in not confirming this great acknowledgment of national rights to themselves, but in delivering it as a common blessing to the whole people. The three words of the charter, nullus liber homo,[a free man] that were so uncouth, and sounded so poorly in the ears of scholars, he declared, were worth all the classics!

It would be needless to say, that the Constitutions of the several States, like the Federal Constitution, were all modeled after the same great original. Those States which varied most, like Georgia, whose first Constitution provided for but one house of legislation, and for an executive council instead of a single administrative head, from the inconveniences resulting, were soon glad to retrace their steps.

The first Constitution of Georgia also declared, “That no clergyman of any denomination should be allowed a seat in the Legislature.” [possibly because of their stance against slavery, still researching] This deviation from the mother model, was either not so fundamental, or the inconveniences resulting were not so soon apparent, for it remained an article in our fundamental law for twenty-two years, and was not abrogated until she made her third Constitution, in 1798.

It would be interesting, not only to the antiquary but to the constitutional lawyer as well, to inquire into the original of the English Constitution; but we have not time to explore, if we could, these ancient springs, which Sir Matthew Hale regarded as undiscoverable as the sources of the Nile. Suffice it to say, that a few centuries after the Christian era, we find the elements of a free constitution—limitations on the royal authority, representative assemblies, fundamental laws. At the conquest almost all was lost; what remained was by the sufferance of William and his immediate successors. The second birth of English liberty came with John, and Magna Carta; and it is pleasant to think that this great charter is forever associated with the purity of home, and owes its origin to the love which the sturdy barons bore their families. The marriage of female wards, and the compulsory marriage of widows were grievous feudal hardships. But the barons suffered yet greater ills at the hands of John. He was the sum, of ever infamy while living; and when dead, a single sentence expressed the public abhorrence that clung to his name—”foul as hell is, it is itself defiled, by the fouler presence of John.” He was, withal, an accomplished villain, handsome in his person, fascinating in his manners, and with a strange gift, it is said, in winning the love of women. In his unbridled lust, he debauched the wives and daughters of the barons, and with singular imprudence, even in a king, boasted of the favors that he won! It was to avenge such injuries as these and to defend the honor of their homes, that the barons placing the Earl of Pembroke and the Archbishop of Canterbury at their head, marched against John and wrung from him with an iron hand, that charter, which forever after became the immovable foundation of English liberty, and an imperishable monument to themselves. Liberty was now no longer of free grace, it had become a matter of contract of covenant. And hereafter, when their rights were invaded, they ceased to implore as a favor the laws of Alfred and of Edward, but they demanded, again and again, as a right, the re-enactment and ratification of the great charter.

It would be a pleasant task to examine the various causes which have contributed to perpetuate, for so long a period, English liberty, or the English Constitution, for they are in fact convertible terms. We can glance for but a moment at some of them. England owes much to her insular position, which has obviated the necessity of a standing army. Largo standing armies, in time of peace, had swept away in Western Europe, a number of free Constitutions, somewhat similar to her own. The English were wise enough to be warned by examples, and they set their faces like flint against this auxiliary of despotism.

But much as she owes to her insular position, she has owed far more to the lofty and intrepid spirit of her people, and their devotion to her laws, a devotion born of the excellence of those laws. I have already stated that Magna Carta was confirmed thirty-two times by Parliament. It was actually re-enacted eleven times, during the reign of one ambitious and warlike Prince, Edward III. Can all history furnish another such example of devotion to human rights!

Obsta principiis, [Latin: Resist the beginnings, or Slang: nip in the bud] seems to have been the great maxim of their political faith; and they appear to have known from intuition, what the experience of ages, has at last taught mankind that, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” They were, it is true, frequently overborne, and their laws trampled underfoot; but when the elements appeared darkest the national spirit would again flame forth; at one time dethroning and imprisoning a Richard II., at another beheading a Charles I., and still at another driving into exile and abdication a James II.! Time would fail us to mention the individual instances of heroism—the names, of even one tithe of those, whose glorious deeds have illustrated the manhood of her people on the pages of her history. Her Russels and her Sidneys, who poured out their hearts’ blood, a rich libation in liberty’s cause. We shall call to mind but one or two. All are familiar with John Hampden, whose dauntless spirit determined him to incur the heavy expense and certain danger of a great controversy with the Crown, rather than pay a few shillings of an illegal tax; but the high and inflexible spirit of the wife of Coke, is net so generally known. Her husband was one of the Justices that presided in Hampden’s case—a case which in its consequences involved the liberties of the entire people of England. She withheld the judgment of that time-serving Judge, her husband, in favor of the King, “by imploring him not to sacrifice his conscience from fear of any danger or prejudice to his family; declaring herself content to suffer any misery, rather than be the occasion for him to violate his integrity.” But perhaps no example of English manhood is as grateful to a lawyer as that of Sir Edward Coke, whose labors have “shed the gladsome light of jurisprudence” on so many legal minds. Coke, with true loyalty, falls upon his knees and acknowledges to an incensed King the error, as’ to the form of a letter; but he rises upon his feet and defends the substance of that letter, which had declined to delay right and justice at the command of his sovereign; and all that insulted Majesty could extort from him, with suspension from office, and dismissal in disgrace staring him in the face, as to what he would do, in a certain proposed case, was that sublime answer: “When the case happens, I shall do that which shall be fit for a Judge to do.”

But the devotion of the English people to their laws, and the manhood which they have displayed in their maintenance, have been, in great measure, due to the excellence of those laws; and perhaps no one principle of the British Constitution has been dearer to the people, and contributed more to the preservation of all the others, than that of trial by jury, which has deservedly been denominated, the palladium of their civil rights. Sir James Mcintosh, in that great forensic effort in defence of M. Pettier, which will ever be admired by the legal profession as a master-piece, gives an instructive instance illustrative of its inestimable value. During the protectorate, Cromwell, who had waded through slaughter to a throne, twice sent to the Court of King’s-bench, then called the upper bench, “a satirist on his tyranny, to be convicted and punished as a libeller. But in that Court, which sat almost in sight of the scaffold streaming with the blood of his sovereign, within hearing of the clash of his bayonets which drove out a Parliament with contumely two successive juries rescued the intrepid satirist from his fangs; and sent out with defeat and disgrace, the usurper’s Attorney-General, from what he had the insolence to call his Court.”

The language and literature of England have gone hand in hand with her laws, to the mutual advantage of each; and it would be difficult to over-estimate for good, the influence of her free press for the last two hundred years. Indeed, tyranny cannot long exist in any country that is blessed with facilities for rapid communication, and which can boast of an unshackled press.

The restriction of suffrage to free agents, has doubtless preserved England from much faction and corruption, and contributed, in no small degree, to the preservation of her Constitution; and the greatest danger which has threatened her during the present century, and which still threatens her, arises from the constant extension of suffrage, to those who are unworthy of it.

I should be unjust to our profession, and recreant to truth, if I failed to acknowledge the invaluable services to law and liberty, that have been rendered, by the learning and integrity of the English Bar. They have stood as sentinels on the watchtowers to warn of danger, whenever the Constitution has been assailed, and foremost in every breach of that citadel, “to repair it or perish in it.” In the language of Erskine, “they have been ready at all times, and upon every possible occasion, whatever might be the consequences to themselves, to stand forward in defence of the meanest man in England, when brought for judgment before the laws of the country.”

King's mountain battle

History of the Battle of King’s Mountain and it’s Heroes: Part XV October-November, 1780

Part XV includes: Colonel Campbell Denounces Plundering.— Complaints against Tory Leaders.— Their Outrages on the Whigs.—A Court called to Consider the Matter.—Retaliation for British Executions Demanded.— A Law Found to Meet the Case.—Charges against Mills, Gilkey, and Ale Fall.— Colonel Davenport Noticed.—Number of Tories Tried and Condemned.— Case of fames Crawford.—One of the Prisoners Released.—Cleveland Favoring Severe Measures.— Motives of the Patriots Vindicated.—Shelby’s Explanation.— Tories Executed—their Names and Residence.—Paddy Carr’s Remarks, and Notice of Him.—Baldwin’s Singular Escape.— Further Executions Stopped.— Tories Subsequently Hung.—Rumor of Tarleton’s Approach.— Whigs Hasten to the Catawba.—A Hard Day’s March—Sufferings of Patriots and Prisoners.—Major McDowell’s Kindness.—Mrs. McDowell’s Treatment of British Officers.—Some of the Whig Troops Retire.—Disposition of the Wounded. —Prisoners Escape—One Re-taken and Hung.—March to the Moravian Settlements.—Bob Powell’s Challenge.—Official Account of the Battle Prepared.— Campbell and Shelby Visit General Gates. — Cleveland left in Command.—His Trial of Tories.—Escape of Green and Langum.— Cleveland Assaults Doctor Johnson.—Colonel Armstrong Succeeds to the Command.—Escape of British Officers.

battle_kings_mt

See also October 7, 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain

While encamped at [Captain Aaron] Bickerstaff’s, on Saturday, the fourteenth, Colonel [William] Campbell issued a General Order, deploring the “many deserters from the army,” and the felonies committed by them on the poverty-stricken people of the country. “It is with anxiety,” he adds, “that I hear the complaints of the inhabitants on account of the plundering parties who issue out of the camp, and indiscriminately rob both Whig and Tory, leaving our friends, I believe, in a worse situation than the enemy would have done;” and appeals to the officers “to exert themselves in suppressing this abominable practice, degrading to the name of soldiers.” He further orders that none of the troops be discharged, till the prisoners can be transferred to a proper guard. fn1  But some of the prisoners were soon to be disposed of in a manner evidently not anticipated when the order just issued was made known to the army.

Campbell
During this day, an important occurrence transpired at Bickerstaff’s. The officers of the two Carolina’s united in presenting a complaint to Colonel Campbell, that there were, among the prisoners, a number who were robbers, house-burners, parole-breakers, and assassins. The British victory near Camden had made, says General Preston, “Cornwallis complete master of South Carolina. This power he was using with cruelty, unparalleled in modern civilized conquest; binding down the conquered people like malefactors, regarding each Rebel as a condemned criminal, and checking every murmur, answering every suspicion with the sword and the fire-brand. If a suspected Whig fled from his house to escape the insult, the scourge or the rope, the myrmidons of Ferguson and Tarleton burned it down, and ravished his wife and daughters; if a son refused to betray his parent, he was hung like a dog; if a wife refused to tell the hiding-place of her husband, her belly was ripped open by the butcher-knife of the Tory; and to add double horror and infamy to the deep damnation of such deeds, Americans were forced to be the instruments for perpetrating them. That which Tarleton (beast, murderer, hypocrite, ravisher as he was,) was ashamed to do, he had done by Americans—neighbors, kinsmen of his victims. I draw no fancy picture—the truth is wilder far than the fabulists imagination can feign.” fn2

Battle of King's Mountain

Bancroft touchingly depicts the sad condition of the people, where unchecked Toryism had borne sway: “The sorrows of children and women,” he says, “robbed and wronged, shelterless, stripped of all clothes but those they wore, nestling about fires they kindled on the ground, and mourning for their fathers and husbands,” were witnessed on every hand; and these helpless sufferers appealed to all hearts for sympathy and protection. Colonel Campbell, on the strength of the complaints made to him, was induced to order the convening of a court, to examine fully into the matter. The Carolina officers urged, that, if these men should escape, exasperated, as they now were, in consequence of their humiliating defeat, they would commit other enormities worse than their former ones. fn3 The British leaders had, in a high-handed and summary manner, hung not a few of the captured patriots at Camden, and more recently at Ninety Six, and Augusta; and now that the Whigs had the means of retaliation at their command, they began to consider whether it was not their duty to exercise it; thinking, probably, that it would have a healthful influence upon the Loyalists—that the disease of Toryism, in its worst aspects, was disastrous in its effects, and heroic treatment had become necessary.

Colonel [Isaac] Shelby, with others, seems to have taken this view of the subject. When the mountaineers “reached Gilbert Town,” says Shelby, ” a week after the battle, they were informed by a paroled officer, that he had seen eleven patriots hung at Ninety Six a few days before, for being Rebels. Similar cruel and unjustifiable acts had been committed before. In the opinion of the patriots, it required retaliatory measures to put a stop to these atrocities. A copy of the law of North Carolina was obtained, which authorized two magistrates to summon a jury, and forthwith to try, and, if found guilty, to execute persons who had violated its precepts.”fn4  This law providing capital punishment, must have had reference to those guilty of murder, arson, house-breaking, riots, and other criminal offences.

“Colonel Campbell,” says Ensign [Robert] Campbell, “complied, and ordered a court-martial to sit immediately, composed of the field officers and Captains, who were ordered to inquire into the complaints which had been made. The court was conducted orderly, and witnesses were called and examined in each case—the consequence was, that thirty-two were condemned.”

King's mountain and Sandy Run

Under the law as cited by Colonel Shelby, while the tribunal was, no doubt, practically, a court-martial, it was nominally, at least, a civil court, with two presiding justices. There was no difficulty on this point, for most of the North Carolina officers were magistrates at home—Colonel [Benjamin] Cleveland, and four or five others, of the Wilkes regiment alone filling that position. The jury was composed of twelve officers—Lieutenant [Anthony] Allaire, in his Diary, denouncing it as “an infamous mock jury.” “Under this law,” says Shelby, ” thirty-six men were tried, and found guilty of breaking open houses, killing the men, turning the women and children out of doors, and burning the houses. The trial was concluded late at night; and the execution of the law was as summary as the trial.”

How much of the evidence, hurriedly adduced, was one sided and prejudiced, it is not possible at this late day to determine. Colonel Ambrose Mills, the principal person of those condemned, was a man of fair reputation, and must have been regarded chiefly in the light of being a proper and prominent character upon whom to exercise retaliatory measures; and yet it was necessary to make some specific charge against him—the only one coming down to us, is that related by Silas McBee, one of the King’s Mountain men under Colonel Williams, that Mills had, on some former occasion, instigated the Cherokees to desolate the frontier of South Carolina, which was very likely without foundation. It was proven against Captain Walter Gilkey, that he had called at the house of a Whig; and inquiring if he was at home, was informed by his son, a youth, that he was absent, when the Tory Captain immediately drew his pistol, discharged it, wounding the lad in the arm, and taking his gun from him. Recovering from his wound, this youth was now with the mountaineers, and testified against his would-be murderer. Gilkey’s aged father was present, and offered in vain his horse, saddle and bridle, and a hundred dollars in money, as a ransom for his son.fn5

shout
Another case somewhat similar to Gilkey’s, was that of John McFall, a noted Tory leader of Burke County. Heading a party of mounted Loyalists, McFall dashed up to the house of Martin Davenport, on John’s river, hoping to capture or kill him, as he was a prominent Whig, and had, more than once, marched against the Tories, under Colonel Cleveland and Major [Joseph] McDowell. But they failed to find him, as he was absent in the service. The Tory band vented their spleen and abuse on Mrs. Davenport, and directed her to prepare breakfast for them; and McFall ordered the lad, William Davenport, then in his tenth year, to go to the corn crib, procure some corn, and feed the horses in the trough prepared for such use at the hitching post. After getting their meal, and coming out to start off, McFall discovered that the horses had not been fed, and asked the little fellow roughly why he had not done as he had bidden him? The spirited little Rebel replied: “If you want your horses fed, feed them yourself.” Flying into a passion, McFall cut a switch and whipped him smartly.

Jos M McDowell

At the trial at Bickerstaff’s, when McFall’s case was reached, Major McDowell, as the proper representative of Burke County, whence the culprit hailed, was called on to give his testimony; when, not probably regarding McFall’s conduct as deserving of death, he was disposed to be lenient towards him. Colonel Cleveland, who, it would appear, was one of the presiding justices, had his attention attracted from his paper, upon which he was making some notes, bv hearing McFall’s name mentioned, now spoke up—”That man, McFall, went to the house of Martin Davenport, one of my best soldiers, when he was away from home, fighting for his country, insulted his wife, and whipped his child; and no such man ought to be allowed to live.” fn6 His fate was sealed by this revelation; but his brother, Arthur McFall, the old hunter of the mountains, was saved through the kind intervention of Major and Captain McDowell, believing, as he had been wounded in the arm at King’s Mountain, it would admonish him not to be found in the future in bad company. fn7

Benjamin Sharp represents that the number of Tories condemned to the gallows was upwards of forty, Thomas Maxwell and Governor David Campbell say thirty-nine, Shelby thirty-six, [General William B.] Lenoir and Ensign Campbell thirty-two, while Ramsey’s Tennessee, Lieutenant Allaire, Benjamin Starritt and others, give the number as thirty. Starritt asserts that those upon whom sentence of death had been pronounced, were divided into three classes of ten each—Colonel [Ambrose] Mills heading the first class, and James Crawford the second class. It will be remembered that Crawford, who lived at the head of French Broad river, belonged to Sevier’s regiment; and while at “The Bald” of the Yellow Mountain on their outward march, had enticed Samuel Chambers, an inexperienced youth, to desert with him, and they gave [Major Patrick] Ferguson information of the plans and approach of the mountaineers. It is said, that when Ferguson had taken post on King’s Mountain, and a week had elapsed since the renegades brought the report, that he had caused Crawford to be tried and condemned for bringing false intelligence; and the evening of the seventh of October had been set for his execution. However this may have been, Colonel [John] Sevier interceded in Crawford’s behalf, as he could not bear to see his old neighbor and friend suffer an ignominious death, and had him pardoned. He subsequently removed to Georgia. Young Chambers’ guilt was excused on account of his youthfulness. fn8 Judged by the laws of war, Crawford was a deserter; and in view of the injury he tried to inflict on the Whig cause, he as richly deserved the halter as Andre’, and doubtless much more than any of his Tory associates.

As Abram Forney, one of the Lincoln troops, was surveying the prisoners, through the guard surrounding them, he discovered one of his neighbors, who only a short time before King’s Mountain battle, had been acting with the Whigs; but had been over-persuaded, by some of his Tory acquaintances, to join the King’s troops. Upon seeing him, Forney exclaimed—” Is that you, Simon?” “Yes,” he replied, quickly, ” it is, Abram, and I beg you to get me out of this bull-pen; if you do, I will promise never to be caught in such a scrape again.” When it was, accordingly, made to appear on the day of trial, that he had been unfortunately wrought upon by some Tory neighbors, such a mitigation of his disloyalty was presented as to induce the court to overlook his offence, and set him at liberty. Soon afterwards, true to his promise, he joined his former Whig comrades, marched to the battle of Guilford, and made a good soldier to the end of the war. fn9

So far as the evidence goes, Colonel Cleveland was probably more active and determined than any other officer in bringing about these severe measures; though Colonel Brandon, it was well known, was an inveterate hater of Tories; and Colonel Shelby seems to have aided in finding a State law that would meet these cases. It is said that Cleveland had previously threatened to hang certain Tories whenever he could catch them; fn10 and Governor [John] Rutledge, shortly after this affair, ascribed to him the chief merit of the execution of several “noted horse thieves and Tories” taken at King’s Mountain. fn11

The Southern country was then in a very critical condition, and there seemed to be a grave necessity for checking, by stern and exemplary punishment, the Tory lawlessness that largely over-spread the land, and impressing that class with a proper sense of the power and determination of the Whigs to protect their patriot friends, and punish their guilty enemies. Referring to the action at Bickerstaff’s, Ensign Campbell well observes: “The officers on that occasion acted from an honorable motive to do the greatest good in their power for the public service, and to check those enormities so frequently committed in the States of North and South Carolina at that time, their distress being almost unequalled in the annals of the American Revolution.” The historian, Bancroft, errs in supposing that these executions were the work of lawless ” private soldiers.” fn12   The complaints against the Tory leaders were made by the officers of the western army from the two Carolinas, and the court and jury were composed exclusively of officers—and all was done under the form and sanction of law.

riflemen-forest

While the jurist-historian, Johnson, could have wished that the conquerors of Ferguson had been magnanimous, and spared these miserable wretches from the gallows, yet as an act of justice and public policy he vindicates their conduct. Many severe animadversions, he observes, have been showered on the brave men who fought at King’s Mountain for this instance of supposed severity. War, in its mildest form, is so full of horrors, that the mind recoils from vindicating any act that can, in the remotest degree, increase its miseries. To these no act contributes more than that of retaliation. Hence no act should be ventured upon with more solemn deliberation, and none so proper to be confined to a commander-in-chief, or the civil power. But the brave men who fought in the affair at King’s Mountain, are not to be left loaded with unmerited censure.

The calmest and most dispassionate reflection upon their conduct, on this occasion, will lead to the conviction, that if they committed any offence, it was against their own country—not against the enemy. That instead of being instigated by a thirst of blood, they acted solely with a view to put an end to its effusion; and boldly, for this purpose, took upon themselves all the dangers that a system of retaliation could super induce. The officers of the American army, who, twelve months afterwards, hazarded their lives by calling upon their General to avenge the death of Hayne, justly challenge the gratitude and admiration of their country; but the men of King’s Mountain (for it is avowed as a popular act, and not that of their chief alone), merit the additional reputation of having assumed on themselves the entire responsibility, without wishing to involve the regular army in their dangers. And this was done in the plenitude of British triumph, and when not a man of them could count on safety for an hour, in anything but his own bravery and vigilance.

But what was the prospect before them? They were all proscribed men; the measures of Lord Cornwallis had put them out of the protection of civilized warfare; and the spirit in which his proclamations and instructions were executed by his officers, had put them out of the protection of common humanity. The massacres at Camden had occurred not six weeks before, and those of Browne, at Augusta, scarcely half that time. Could they look on and see this system of cruelty prosecuted, and not try the only melancholy measure that could check it? The effect proved that there was as much of reflection as of passion in the act; for the little despots who then held the country, dared prosecute the measure no farther. Another and an incontestable proof that blind revenge did not preside over the counsels that consigned these men to death, is drawn from the deliberation with which they were selected, and the mildness manifested to the residue of the prisoners.

It has been before observed, that, in the ranks of Colonel Ferguson, there were many individuals notorious as habitual plunderers and murderers. What was to be done with these? There were no courts of justice to punish their offences; fn13 and, to detain them as prisoners of war, was to make them objects of exchange. Should such pests to society be again enlarged, and suffered to renew their outrages? Capture in arms does not exempt the deserter from the gallows; why should it the cold-blooded murderer? There was no alternative left; and the officers, with all the attention to form that circumstances would permit, and more—a great deal, it is believed—than either Browne or Cornwallis had exhibited, could only form a council, and consign them to the fate that would have awaited them in the regular administration of justice.fn14

It is but just and proper, in this connection, to give the views of Colonel Shelby, one of the conspicuous actors in this whole affair; and he seems to justify it wholly as a measure of retaliation: It is impossible, he observes, for those who have not lived in its midst, to conceive of the exasperation which prevails in a civil war. The execution, therefore, of the nine Tories at [near] Gilbert Town, will, by many persons, be considered an act of retaliation unnecessarily cruel. It was believed by those who were on the ground to be both necessary and proper, for the purpose of putting a stop to the execution of the patriots in the Carolinas by the Tories and British. The event proved the justice of the expectation of the patriots. The execution of the Tories did stop the execution of the Whigs. And it may be remarked of this cruel and lamentable mode of retaliation, that, whatever excuse and pretenses the Tories may have had for their atrocities, the British officers, who often ordered the execution of Whigs, had none. Their training to arms, and military education, should have prevented them from violating the rules of civilized warfare in so essential a point. fn15

Early in the evening, the trials having been brought to a conclusion, a suitable oak was selected, upon a projecting limb of which the executions were to take place. It was by the road side, near the camp, and is yet standing, known in all that region as the Gallows Oak. Torch-lights were procured, the condemned brought out, around whom the troops formed four deep. It was a singular and interesting night scene, the dark old woods illuminated with the wild glare of hundreds of pine-knot torches; and quite a number of the Loyalist leaders of the Carolinas about to be launched into eternity. The names of the condemned Tories were— Colonel Ambrose Mills, Captain James Chitwood, Captain Wilson, Captain Walter Gilkey, Captain Grimes, Lieutenant Lafferty, John McFall, John Bibby, and Augustine Hobbs. They were swung off three at a time, and left suspended at the place of execution. According to Lieutenant Allaire’s account, they died like soldiers—like martyrs, in their own and friends’ estimation. “These brave but unfortunate Loyalists,” says Allaire, “with their latest breath expressed their unutterable detestation of the Rebels, and of their base and infamous proceedings; and, as they were being turned off, extolled their King and the British Government. Mills, Wilson and Chitwood died like Romans.”fn16 Among the small party of Georgians who served in the campaign, was the noted Captain Paddy Carr, heretofore introduced to the reader. Devoid, as he was, of the finer feelings of humanity, he was deeply interested in, and greatly enjoyed these sickening executions. If there was anything he hated more than another, it was a Tory; and, it may be, much of his extreme bitterness grew out of the fact, that he knew full well how intensely he, in turn, was hated by the Loyalists. Pointing at the unfortunates, while dangling in mid-air, Carr exclaimed: “Would to God every tree in the wilderness bore such fruit as that!”fn17

After nine of the Loyalist leaders had been executed, and three others were about to follow suit, an unexpected incident occurred. Isaac Baldwin, one of these condemned trio, had been a leader of a Tory gang in Burke County, who had sacked many a house, stripping the unfortunate occupants of food, beds and clothing; and not unfrequently, after tying them to trees, and whipping them severely, would leave them in their helpless and gory condition to their fate. While all eyes were directed to Baldwin and his companions, pinioned, and awaiting the call of the executioners, a brother of Baldwin’s, a mere lad, approached, apparently in sincere affection, to take his parting leave. He threw his arms around his brother, and set up a most piteous screaming and lamentation as if he would go into convulsions, or his heart would break of sorrow. While all were witnessing this touching scene, the youth managed to cut the cords confining his brother, who suddenly darted away, breaking through the line of soldiers, and easily escaping under cover of the darkness, into the surrounding forest. Although he had to make his way through more than a thousand of the best marksmen in the world, yet such was the universal admiration or feeling on the occasion, that not one would lift a hand to stop him. fn18
Whether the escape of Baldwin produced a softening effect on the minds of the Whig leaders—any feelings of forbearance towards the condemned survivors; or whether, so far as retaliation, or the hoped-for intimidating influence on the Tories of the country, was concerned, it was thought enough lives had been sacrificed, we are not informed. Some of these men must have been tried within the scope of the civil law, for crimes committed against society; while others must have been tried and condemned for violations of the usages of war; fn19 and yet, after all, the moral effect would seem to have been the principal motive for these cases of capital punishment.

Referring probably to the two companions of Baldwin after he had effected his escape, we have this statement on the authority of Colonel Shelby: “Three more were tied, ready to be swung off. Shelby interfered, and proposed to stop it. The other officers agreed; and the three men who supposed they had seen their last hour, were untied.”fn20 The inference is, that the officers here referred to, who, with Shelby, exercised the pardoning power, or ” put a stop” to further executions, were the presiding officers of the court, in their character of justices, of whom Colonel Campbell could hardly have been one, though a magistrate at home, for the civil court was acting under the laws of North Carolina; and yet Ensign Campbell, in his narrative, speaks of the trials having been conducted before a court martial, and adds, that, after the nine were executed, ” the others were pardoned by the commanding officer;” while another eye-witness, Benjamin Sharp, states that “a court was detailed,” and after the nine were hung, “the rest were reprieved by the commanding officer.” Nor is the language of the late Governor Campbell less explicit: ” A courtmartial was ordered and organized to try many of the Tory officers, charged by the officers of North and South Carolina with many offences—such as murdering unoffending citizens not in arms, and without motive, save the brutal one of destroying human life: Thirty-nine were found guilty, nine of whom were executed, and thirty were pardoned by the commanding officer.” fn21 Whether the survivors were pardoned by the court in its civil capacity, or by the commanding officer at the instance of a court-martial, the executions ceased.fn22

One of the reprieved Tories, touched with a sense of the obligation he was under for sparing his life, and perhaps resolved thereafter to devote his energies to the Whig cause, went to Colonel Shelby at two o’clock that night, and made this revelation: “You have saved my life,” said he, “and I will tell you a secret. Tarleton will be here in the morning—a woman has brought the news.”fn23 No doubt intelligence came that Tarleton had been dispatched by Lord Cornwallis with a strong force for the relief of Ferguson, if relief could be of any service; but as to the particular time of his arrival, that was the merest guess-work, and, with the Tories, the wish was father to the thought. But the Whig leaders, on receiving this information, deeming it prudent to run no risk, but to retire with their prisoners to a place of safety, instantly aroused the camp, picking up everything, sending the wounded into secret places in the mountains, and making every preparation for an early start in the morning. fn24 They marched, according to Allaire’s Diary, at the early hour of five o’clock, on Sunday, the fifteenth of October.

The poor Loyalist leaders had been left swinging from the sturdy oak upon which they had been executed. No sooner had the Whigs moved off, than Mrs. Martha Bickerstaff, or Biggerstaff, the wife of Captain Aaron Bickerstaff who had served under Ferguson, and been mortally wounded at King’s Mountain, with the assistance of an old man who worked on the farm, cut down the nine dead bodies. Eight of them were buried in a shallow trench, some two feet deep; while the remains of Captain Chitwood were conveyed by some of his friends, on a plank, half a mile away to Benjamin Bickerstaff’s, where they were interred on a hill still used as a grave-yard. About 1855, a party of road-makers concluded to exhume the remains of Colonel Mills and his companions, as the place of their burial was well known. The graves of only four of the number were opened, the bones soon crumbling on exposure. Several articles were found in a very good state of preservation—a butcher knife, a small brass chain about five inches in length, evidently used in attaching a powder-horn to a shot-bag, a thumb lancet, a large musket flint, a goosequill, with a wooden stopper, in which were three or four brass pins. These articles, save the knife, and a portion of the pins, are preserved by M. O. Dickerson, Esq., of Rutherfordton.fn25

Shortly after marching from Bickerstaff’s, rain began to fall in torrents, and it never ceased the whole day. “Instead of halting,” says Benjamin Sharp, “we rather mended our pace in order to cross the Catawba river before it should rise to intercept us.” It was regarded as essential to get out of Tarleton’s reach, and hence the straining of every nerve, and the exercise of every self-denial, to accomplish so important an object. The sanguinary character of that impetuous British cavalry officer, and the celerity of his movements, as shown at Buford’s defeat at Monk’s Corner, and at Sumter’s surprise at Fishing Creek, admonished the Whig leaders of the enemy they might have to deal with; and impelled, on this occasion, by the hope of rescuing several hundred British and Tory prisoners was very naturally regarded by the patriots as a powerful incentive for Tarleton to push them to the utmost extremity, and play cut and slash as usual—and hence the supposed necessity of equal exertions on their part to avert so great a calamity. It is not a little singular that, at this very moment, Cornwallis and Tarleton were retreating from Charlotte to Winnsboro, South Carolina, with all their might and main— “with much fatigue,” says Lord Rawdon, “occasioned by violent rains ;” fearing that the ” three thousand” reported victorious mountaineers were in hot pursuit. “It was amusing,” said one of the King’s Mountain men, “when we learned the facts, how Lord Cornwallis was running in fright in one direction, and we mountaineers as eagerly fleeing in the other.”fn26

In Allaire’s newspaper narrative, we have this account —whether colored or distorted, we have no means of determining: “On the morning of the fifteenth, Colonel Campbell had intelligence that Colonel Tarleton was approaching him, when he gave orders to his men, that should Tarleton come up with them, they were immediately to fire on Captain Abraham DePeyster and his officers, who were in the front, and then a second volley on the men. During this day’s march, the men were obliged to give thirty-five Continental dollars for a single ear of Indian corn, and forty for a drink of water, they not being allowed to drink when fording a river; in short, the whole of the Rebels’ conduct from the surrender of the party into their hands, is incredible to relate. Several of the militia that were worn out with fatigue, not being able to keep up, were cut down and trodden to death in the mire.”

It was about ten o’clock at night, according to Allaire’s Diary, and as late as two o’clock, according to Shelby, when the wearied troops and prisoners reached the Catawba, at the Island Ford, where the river was breast deep as they forded it. They bivouacked on the western bank of the river at the Quaker Meadows—the home of Major McDowell. “A distance of thirty-two miles,” says Allaire, “was accomplished this day over a very disagreeable road, all the men worn out with fatigue and fasting, the prisoners having had no bread nor meat for two days”—and, apparently, not even raw corn or pumpkins. Nor had the Whigs fared any better, judging from the statement in the American Review, dictated by Colonel Shelby: ” As an evidence of the hardships undergone by these brave and hardy patriots, Colonel Shelby says that he ate nothing from Saturday morning until after they encamped Sunday night—[or rather Monday morning]—at two o’clock.” Benjamin Sharp throws additional light on the privations of the patriots: “During the whole of this expedition,” he states, “except a few days at our outset, I neither tasted bread nor salt, and this was the case with nearly every man; when we could get meat, which was but seldom, we had to roast and eat it without either; sometimes we got a few potatoes, but our standing and principal rations were ears of corn, scorched in the fire or eaten raw. Such was the price paid by the men of the Revolution for our independence.”

Here, at McDowell’s, some provisions were obtained— not much of a variety, but such as satisfied half-starved men; nor did they seek rest until they had dried themselves by their camp fires, and enjoyed their simple repast. “Major McDowell,” says Sharp, “rode along the lines, and informed us that the plantation belonged to him, and kindly invited us to take rails from his fences, and make fires to warm and dry us. I suppose that every one felt grateful for this generous offer; for it was rather cold, it being the last of October, and every one, from the Commander-in-chief to the meanest private, was as wet as if he had just been dragged through the Catawba river.”

It is evident from Allaire’s Diary, that when it was possible, courtesies were extended to the British officers—even when the Whig patriots themselves were camping out on the ground. “We officers,” he says, ” were allowed to go to Colonel McDowell’s, where we lodged comfortably.” A little incident transpired on this occasion which the good Lieutenant did not care, perhaps, to record in his Diary. Some of these very same officers had visited the residence of the McDowell’s, under very different circumstances, the preceding month, when Ferguson had invaded the Upper Catawba Valley, and when the two brothers, Colonel Charles and Major Joseph McDowell, had retired with their little band across the mountains. Their widowed mother was the presiding hostess of the old homestead at the Quaker Meadows ; she was a woman of uncommon energy and fearlessness of character—a native of the Emerald Isle. She possessed a nice perception of right and wrong; and, withal, was not wanting in her share of quick temper peculiar to her people.

Some of these visitors, having ransacked the house for spoils, very coolly appropriated, among other things, the best articles of clothing of her two noted Rebel sons; and took the occasion to tantalize the aged mother with what would be the fate of her boys when they should catch them. Charles should be killed out-right, but as for Joe, they would first compel him, by way of humiliation, to plead on his knees for his life, and then would slay him without mercy. But these threats did not in the least intimidate Mrs. McDowell; but she talked back at them in her quaint, effective Irish style, intimating that in the whirligigs of life, they might, sooner or later, have a little begging to do for themselves. The changed circumstances had been brought about in one short month, quite as much, perhaps, to the surprise of the good old lady, as to the proud officers of Ferguson’s Rangers. Now they appeared again, wet, weary, and hungry; but Mrs. McDowell readily recognized them, and it required not a little kind persuasion on the part of Major McDowell to induce his mother to give those “thieving vagabond Tories,” as she termed them, shelter, food, and nourishment. But the appeals of her filial son, of whom she was justly proud, coupled with the silent plea of human beings in their needy, destitute condition, prevailed; and in her Christian charity, she returned good for evil.fn27

It was fortunate for the mountaineers that they had succeeded in crossing the Catawba so opportunely, for the next morning they found it had risen so much as to be past fording. This obstacle would naturally prevent, for some time, all pursuit, if indeed any had been made. It was now arranged that Colonel Edward Lacey’s men fn28 should be permitted to return to South Carolina, while most of Shelby’s and Sevier’s regiments, with the footmen of the Virginians, should take their home trail across the mountains. The mounted men of Campbell’s regiment, with the Wilkes and Surry troops under Cleveland and Winston, and perhaps McDowell’s party, together with a few of Sevier’s and Shelby’s young men who preferred to remain in the service, and who had incorporated themselves into McDowell’s corps, now constituted the escort for the prisoners. Shelby states, that after the several corps had retired at the Catawba, there remained not more Whigs than they had prisoners to guard—about five or six hundred.

The wounded Americans, who had been hid away in the mountains when the troops marched so hurriedly from Bickerstaff’s, were soon brought forward; and many of them were left in Burke County, eight or ten miles above Burke Court House, where Doctor Joseph Dobson of that neighborhood, had eighteen of them under his care at one time; four of whom were Wilkes and Surry County officers billeted at a Mr. Mackey’s.fn29

After a needful rest, and the return of fair weather, the patriots proceeded at two o’clock on Monday afternoon, October sixteenth, directing their course, by easy marches, to the head of the Yadkin, and down the valley of that stream. Fording Upper creek, or the North branch of the Catawba, and John’s river, they encamped that night at a Tory plantation, not very far beyond the latter stream.

While on the hurried and toilsome march from Bickerstaff’s to the Catawba, and especially during several hours of the evening, amid rain and mud, it proved a favorable opportunity for many of the prisoners to give their guards the slip, and effect their escape. Allaire says the number reached a hundred. To put a stop to these numerous desertions, the Whig leaders promulgated severe admonitions of the consequences of any further attempts in that direction; but they did not effectually restrain the daring and adventurous. Having marched fifteen miles during Tuesday, passing through Happy Valley and over Warrior Mountain, the troops, with their prisoners, camped that evening at Captain Hatt’s plantation, not very far from Fort Defiance; and, during the night, three of the prisoners attempted to evade their guards, two of them succeeding, while the other was shot through the body, retaken, and executed at five o’clock on the following morning.fn30

During Wednesday, the eighteenth, the troops forded Elk and Warrior creeks, camping that night on the western bank of Moravian creek, a short distance west of Wilkes Court House, having accomplished eighteen miles; and passing the next day through the Old Mulberry Fields, or Wilkes Court House, they took up their camp at Hagoods’ plantation, on Brier creek, having marched sixteen miles this day. While in camp, on Brier creek, Colonel Campbell appears to have discharged some of his Virginians, for he wrote a letter on the twentieth, to his brother-in-law, Colonel Arthur Campbell, giving him a brief account of the battle, but was uncertain as yet what disposition would be made of the prisoners. Taking a late start on Friday, six miles only were accomplished, camping that night at Sales’ plantation. Proceeding by slow marches, they passed Salem, arriving at Bethabara, or Old Town, on the twenty-fourth—both Moravian villages— whose people, according to Allaire, were stanch friends of the King, and were very kind to all the prisoners.

The very first night the British officers had been assigned quarters at Bethabara, Lieutenant Allaire and Doctor Johnson, who were rooming together, were driven from their bed by a violent Whig Captain named Campbell, who, with drawn sword, threatened them with death if they did not instantly obey him. Colonel Campbell was notified of this rudeness, who had the unseasonable intruder turned out of the room; fn31 and this is but another instance of his sense of justice towards helpless prisoners.

Among the Tory captives, was a notorious desperado named Bob Powell. He was a man of unusual size, strong, supple, and powerful. He boasted of his superior ability and agility to out-hop, out-jump, out-wrestle, or out-fight any Whig in the army. He seemed to possess a happier faculty of getting into scrapes, than in getting out. Chained with two accomplices for some bad conduct, he sent word one morning that he wanted to see Colonels Campbell, Shelby and Cleveland, on a matter of importance. When waited on by those officers, he seemed to think that the proposition he was about to submit was a matter of no small consideration—no less than a challenge to wrestle or fight with the best man they could produce from their army, conditioned that, should he prove victor, his freedom should be his reward; should he fail, he would regard his life as forfeited, and they might hang him. Though a couple of guineas were offered to any man who would successfully meet him—probably more with a view of an exhibition of the “manly art,” as then regarded by the frontier people, yet no one saw fit to engage in the offered contest. Under the circumstances, all knew full well that Powell would fight with the desperation of a lion at bay; and none cared to run the risk of encountering a man of his herculean proportions, with the stake of freedom to stimulate his efforts.fn32

It was apparently while at Bethabara, that Colonel’s Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland made out their official report of King’s Mountain battle. Had it been prepared before Colonels Lacey and Sevier had retired at the Quaker Meadows, the names of those two officers would doubtless have been attached to it also.fn33 Colonel Shelby accompanied the troops to Bethabara. He had been deputed to visit General Horatio Gates at Hillsboro, to tender the services of a corps of mountaineers, mostly refugees, under Major McDowell, to serve under General Daniel Morgan. Colonel Campbell also had occasion to repair to head-quarters to make arrangements for the disposition of the prisoners.

On the twenty-sixth of October, Colonel Campbell issued a General Order, appointing Colonel Cleveland to the command of the troops and prisoners until his expected return, especially providing that full rations be issued to the prisoners; adding, “it is to be hoped, no insult or violence unmerited will be offered them; no unnecessary injury be done to the inhabitants, nor any liquor be sold or issued to the troops without an order from the commanding officer.” fn34 Here we have additional evidence, if any were needed, of Campbell’s humanity and good sense.

Colonels Campbell and Shelby had scarcely departed, when new troubles arose in the treatment of the prisoners. Allaire tells us, that one of the Whig soldiers was passing the guard, where the captives were confined, when he rudely accosted them: “Ah! d—n you, you’ll all be hanged!” One of the prisoners retorted—” Never mind that, it will be your turn next!” For this trifling offence, the poor fellow was tried before Colonel Cleveland, and condemned to be hung. Quite a number of people gathered at Bethabara to witness the execution of the unfortunate man; “but,” adds Allaire, “Colonel Cleveland’s goodness extended so far as to reprieve him.”
About this time, Captain William Green and Lieutenant William Langum, among the Tory prisoners, were tried before Colonel Cleveland. The charge against Green seems to have been, that he had violated the oath he had taken as an officer to support the governments of the State of North Carolina and of the United States, by accepting a British commission, and fighting at King’s Mountain. Some of the British officers were present, and remonstrated at the course taken, when Cleveland cut them short, saying: “Gentlemen, you are British officers, and shall be treated accordingly—therefore give your paroles and march off immediately; the other person is a subject of the State.” fn35 Green and Langum were condemned to be executed the next morning. “May be so,” coolly remarked Green.

That night, as he and his comrade, Langum, were lying before the camp-fire, under a blanket, Green rolled over so that his hands, fastened with buck-skin straps, came in contact with Langum’s face, who seeming to comprehend his companion’s intention, worked away with his teeth till he succeeded in unfastening the knot. Green was now able to reach his pocket, containing a knife, with which he severed the remaining cords, and those of Langum. He then whispered to Langum to be ready to jump up and run when he should set the example. Green was above the ordinary size, strong and athletic. The guard who had special watch of them, was in a sitting posture, with his head resting upon his knees, and had fallen asleep. Maknig a sudden leap, Green knocked the sentinel over, and tried to snatch his gun from him; but the latter caught the skirt of the fleeing man’s coat, and Green had to make a second effort before he could release himself from the soldier’s grasp, and gladly got off with the loss of a part of his garment. In another moment both Green and Langum were dashing down a declivity, and though several shots were fired at them, they escaped unhurt, and were soon beyond the reach of their pursuers. Aided by the friendly wilderness, and sympathizing Loyalists, they in time reached their old region of Buffalo creek, in now Cleveland County, Green at least renouncing his brief, sad experience in the Tory service, joined the Whigs, and battled manfully thereafter for his country. Both Green and Langum long survived the war, and were very worthy people. fn36

Allaire records an incident, involving, if correctly reported, rash treatment on the part of Colonel Cleveland towards Doctor Johnson, whose benevolent acts, it would be supposed, would have commanded the respectful attention of all: “November the first,” writes Lieutenant Allaire, “Doctor Johnson was insulted and knocked down by Colonel Cleveland, for attempting to dress the wounds of a man whom the Rebels had cut on the march. The Rebel officers would often go in amongst the prisoners, draw their swords, cut and wound whom their wicked and savage minds prompted.” fn37 There must have been something unexplained in Doctor Johnson’s conduct—the motive is wanting for an act so unofficer-like as that imputed to Colonel Cleveland. While it is conceded that he was a rough frontier man, and particularly inimical to thieving and murderous Tories, yet he was kind-hearted, and his sympathies as responsive to misfortune as those of the tenderest woman. The same day, Colonel Cleveland was relieved of his command by Colonel Martin Armstrong, his superior in rank, as well as the local commandant of Surry County, where the troops and prisoners then were.

The British officers had been expecting to be paroled. Colonel Cleveland’s remark to them, at Green’s trial, would seem to indicate the early anticipation of such an event. “After we were in the Moravian town about a fortnight,” says Allaire, “we were told we could not get paroles to return within the British lines; neither were we to have any till we were moved over the mountains in the back parts of Virginia, where we were to live on hoe-cake and milk.” Large liberties had been accorded the officers, to enable them to while away the tedium of captivity: so that they sometimes visited the neighboring Moravian settlements, or dined at their friends, in the country.

When Lieutenants Christopher Taylor, William Stevenson, and Allaire learned that there was no immediate prospect of their receiving paroles, they concluded that they would “rather trust the hand of fate,” as Allaire states it in his narrative, and make a desperate effort to reach their friends—taking French leave of their American captors. Accordingly, on Sunday evening, about six o’clock, the fifth of November, they quietly decamped, taking Captain William Gist, of the South Carolina Loyalists, with them; traveling fifteen miles that night to the Yadkin, the fording of which they found very disagreeable, and pushed on twenty miles farther before daylight. Though pursued, the Whigs were misled by false intelligence from Tory sources, and soon gave up the chase.

Traveling by night, and resting by day; sometimes sleeping in fodder-houses, oftener in the woods; with snatches of food at times—hoe-cake and dried beef on one occasion—supplied by sympathizing friends by the way; encountering cold rain storms, and fording streams; guided some of the weary journey by Loyalist pilots, and sometimes following such directions as they could get; passing over the Brushy Mountain, crossing the Upper Catawba, thence over the country to Camp’s Ford of second Broad river, the Island Ford of Main Broad, and the old Iron Works of Pacolet; barely escaping Sumter’s corps at Blackstock’s on Tyger, they at length reached Ninety Six, the eighteenth day after taking their leave of Bethabara, traveling, as they accounted distance, three hundred miles. These resolute adventurers suffered unspeakable fatigues and privations, but successfully accomplished the object of all their toils and self-denials. After resting a day at Ninety Six, they pursued their journey to Charleston.

Footnotes:
(fn1 MS. Order preserved by General Preston.)
(fn2 King’s Mountain Adress, October 1855, 49)
(fn3 Ensign Robert Campbell’s King’s Mountain narrative.)
(fn4 Shelby, in American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn5 Conversations with Silas McBee; narrative of Ensign Robert Campbell; MS. correspondence of W. L. Twitty, as related by the venerable John Gilkey, of Rutherford County, N. C, in no way related to his Tory namesake.)
(fn6 MS. penston statement of Richard Ballew, of Knox County, Ky , formerly of Burke County. N C.; MS. letters of Hon. J. C. Harper, and Captain W. W. Lenoir, who had the particulars from William Davenport himself. Colonel Davenport was born in Culpcper County. Virginia. October 12, 1770. His mother dying about the close of the Revolution of small-pox, his father removed to the mountain region, on Toe river, in now Mitchell County; a hunter’s paradise, where he could indulge himself in his favorite occupation of hunting, and where his son William killed the last elk ever seen in North Carolina. Colonel William Davenport became a man of prominence, representing Burke County in the House of Commons in 1800, and in the Senate in 1802. He possessed an extraordinary memory, was a most excellent man; and was the chief founder of Davenport Female College at Lenoir. He married the widow of Major Charles Gordon, one of the King’s Mountain heroes; and lived for many years in the Happy Valley of the Yadkin, three and a half miles above Fort Defiance, where he died August 19, 1859, in the eighty-ninth year of his age.)
(fn7 MS. correspondence of W. A. McCall. Esq., of McDowell County, N. C, who knew Arthur McFall very well. He used to speak kindly of the McDowells befriending him. and said that Colonel Cleveland had little mercy on Americans who were caught fighting with the British. Arthur McFall spent most of his life as a hunter in the mountains, making his home, when in the settlements, with old acquaintances. He was a man after Daniel Boone’s own heart; and died about the year 1835, on Grassy Creek, at the venerable age of between ninety and a hundred years.)
(fn8 MS. notes of conversations with James and George W. Sevier, and Benjamin Starritt. * Hunter’s Sketches, pp. 266-67.)
(fn9 Hunter’s Sketches, pp.266-67.)
(fn10 Gordon’s American Revolution,’TM., 466; Mrs. Warren’s Revolution, ii. 253.)
(fn11  Russell’s Magazine, 1857, i, 543.)
(fn12 History of the United States, x. 339.)
(fn13 Such was the distraction of the times, that South Carolina, during the period of 1780-81, was without a civil government, Governor Rutledge having been compelled to retire from the State, and the Lieutenant Governor and some of the Council were prisoners of war. Nor during a portion of the war did North Carolina fare much better. At one time, one of her high judicial officers. Samuel Spencer, could only execute the laws against Tories with threats and attempted intimidation : the Governor, at one period, was captured and carried away. When Cornwallis invaded the State, the prominent officials fled, carrying the public records to Washington County, Virginia, on the lower frontiers of Holston, as a place of asylum and security, as is shown by a MS. letter of Colonel Arthur Campbell to Hon. David Campbell, September 15, 1810)
(fn14 Johnson’s Life of Greene, i. pp. 309-11.)
(fn15 Conversations with Governor Shelby, in American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn16 Allaire’s MS. Diary; and his statements as given in the Scot’s Magazine and Riving* ton’s Royal Gazette.
It may be well to give the authorities for the names of the Loyalist leaders who suffered on this occasion. Lord Cornwallis, in his correspondence, names Colonel Mills, as do several historians; Allaire gives the names of Captains Wilson and Chitwood; Gilkey is referred to by Ensign Campbell, and specifically named by Silas McBee, and the venerable John Gilkey; Captain Grimes is mentioned in Ramsey’s Tennessee, and Putnam’s Middle Tennessee; McFall’s name has been preserved by Richard Ballew, John Spelts, and Arthur McFall—eye-witnesses, and his prior acts at Davenport’s are related by Hon. J. C. Harper and Captain W. W. Lenoir, whoderived them from William Davenport; the names of Latterly and Bibby have been communicated by W, L. Twitty, as the traditions of aged people of Rutherford County, N. C, where they, as well as Chitwood lived, whose name is likewise preserved in the memories of the aged inhabitants of that region; and the name of Hobbs is alone remembered by Silas McBee.
Colonel Mills resided on Green river, in Rutherford County; Captain Wilson, in the Ninety Six region. South Carolina; Chitwood, Lafferty, Bibby, and probably Gilkey, in Rutherford; McFall, in Burke County; Hobbs most likely in South Carolina; and Grimes in East Tennessee, where he was a leader of a party of Tory horse-thieve* and highwaymen, and where some of his band were taken and hung. He fled to escape summary punishment, but justice overtook him in the end. His bandit career in Tennessee is noticed in Ramsey’s History of that State, pp. 179. 243; and Putnam’s Middle Tennessee, 58.
General DePeyMer, in his able Address on Kings Mountain, before the New York Historical Society, January, 4, 1SS1, has inadvertently fallen into the error of including Captain Oates as among those executed with Colonel Mills, citing Mrs. Warren’s History as authority. Lord Cornwallis, in his letter to General Smallwood, November. 10, 1780, states that Captain Oates was taken by the Americans near the Pcdee, in South Carolina, and “lately put to death.”
(fn17 J. L. Gray’s MS. statement; Rutherford Enquirer, May 24, 1859.
The Revolutionary war produced few characters so singular and so notorious as Patrick Carr. He was by birth an Irishman, and settled in Georgia before the commencement of the war. It is only in the latter part of the contest we are able to trace him. He shared as a Captain under Colonel Clarke in the heroic attack on Augusta, in September, 1780; then retired to the Carolina*, and joined the mountaineers under Major Candler, and fought at King’s Mountain. The following month we find him under Sumter at Blackstocks; in May, 1781, engaged in forays against British and Tory parties in Georgia, waylaying and defeating them, extending little or no mercy to any of them. In November, 1781, when Major Jackson surprised the British poct at Ogeechce, and its commander, Johnson, was in the act of surrendering his sword to Jackson, Carr treacherously killed Captain Goldsmith. Johnson and his associates, judging that no quarters would be given them, instantly sprang into their place of defence, and compelled the Americans to retire with considerable loss. A notorious Tory by the name of Gunn had concerted a plan to kill Colonel Twiggs, and subsequently fell into the Colonel’s hands, when Carr insisted that Gunn should be hung; But Twiggs, more humane, protected the prisoner from harm. In 178a, Carr was made a Major, and. in the spring and early summer, marched with a force over the Altamaha, where he had two skirmishes with whites and Indians. On one occasion. Carr was praised for his bravery, when he replied that had not God given him too merciful a heart he would have made a very good soldier. It is related that he killed eighteen Tories on his way back from King’s Mountain and Blackstocks to Georgia ; and one hundred altogether during the war, with his own hands! Certain it is, the Tones stood in great awe of him. He was murdered, in August, 1802, in Jefferson County. Georgia, where he long resided; and, it is said, the act was committed by descendants of the Tories. In December following, the Jefferson County troop of Light Horse assembled at his place of Intel mem, Lieutenant Robinson delivering a brief eulogy, when the military fired a volley over his grave. Though “a honey of a patriot,” Paddy Carr left a name “___________ to other times, Mixed with few virtues, and a thousand crimes.”)
(fn18 Conversions with John Spelts and Benjamin Starritt; Memoir of Major Thomas Young: Johnson’s Life of Central Greene, i. 310.
Baldwin made his way into his old region, in Burke County, where his father resided, on Lower Creek of Catawba; where some two weeks afterwards, he was espied in the woods hy some scouts who gave chase, and finally overtook him, one of the pursuers killing him by a single blow over the head with his rifle. Some forty-five years after this tragedy, a younger brother of Ike Baldwin -prnbibly the one who had so successfully planned his Cicipc at Biekcrstaff’s—made three ineffectual attempts to kill the man who had brained the Tory free-booter.)
(fn19 Speech of General Alexander Smyth, in Congress, January 21, 1819, Niles’ Register, xv.. Supplement, 151)
(fn20 American Review, December, 1848.)
(fn21 MS. statement by Governor Campbell.)
(fn22 This, however, was not the last of the Tory executions. A few days after King’s Mnunuin battle, while some young men of the surrounding country—Thomas Patterson, who escaped while a prisoner, and fought so bravely in the action, is believed to have been one of the party—were near the battle-ground, looking for horses in the range, they discovered one of Ferguson’s foragers, who was absent at the time of the engagement. They concluded to capture him; but on showing such an intention, they were surprised at his pluck, in firing on them single-handed—the bullet whizzing close by them without harm. The Tory then betook himself to his heels, but was soon overhauled, and, without much cercmon y, was suspended to the limb of a tree by means of one of the halters designed for the horses His carcass was left hanging till it decayed, and dropped to the ground; while the rope dangled from the limb for several years. So relates the venerable E, A. Patterson, a grand-son of young Arthur Patterson, who. while a prisoner on King’s Mountain, escaped during the battle; corroborated by the venerable Abraham Hardin. Colonel J. R. Logan communicated Mr. Patterson’s tradition of the affair.
Not long after the action at King’s Mountain, a couple of Tories were caught ard hung on an oak tree, near Sandy Plains Baptist Church, in the edge of Cleveland County, some four miles south-east of Flint Hill. Neither their names, nor the crimes with which they were charged, have been preserved. The tree on which they were executed is still standing, and like that at the Bii’kerstafT Red Chimneys, is known as the Gallows Oak; it has been dead several years. This tradition has been communicated by the aged father of Daniel D. Martin, of Rutherford County, and Colonel J. R. Logan.)
(fn23 Shelby’s account in American Review.)
(fn24 Shelby’s account)
(fn25 MS. correspondence of W. L. Twitty and Mr. Dickerson.)
(fn26 MS Notes of conversations with Silas McBee, in 1842.)
(fn27  Related by the lady of Ex-Governor Lewis E. Parsons, of Alabama, who derived it from her mother, a daughter of Major Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows.)
(fn28 Pension statements of William White of Lacey’s regiment, and William Alexander of Campbell’s men.)
(fn29 Lieutenant Newell’s statement, 1823.)
(fn30 Allaire’s MS. Diary. Capt. Halt may possibly be designed for Capt. Holt or Hall.)
(fn31 Allaire’s MS Diary, and his newspaper narrative.)
(fn32  MS. notes of conversation with John Spelts, an eye-witness.)
(fn33 Doctor Ramsey, in his History of Tennessee, states that the three Colonels visited Hillsboro. and there made out their report. Colonel Cleveland did not go there on that occasion, having been left in command at Bethabara. His name was signed to the report by himself, and not by another, as a comparison of his genuine autograph with the/Vs1mtlc signature to the report conclusively shows. Perhaps as a compliment, Colonel Cleveland was permitted to head the list, in signing the report, as shown in facsimile in Lossing s Field Book of the Revolution ; but when General Gates sent a copy, November I, 1780. to Governor Jefferson, to forward to Congress, he very properly placed Campbell’s name first, Shelby’s next, and Cleveland’s last—and so they appear as published in the gazettes at the time by order of Congress.)
(fn34 MS. order, preserved by General Preston.)
(fn35 Gordon’s American Revolution, iii, pp. 466-67.)
(fn36  MS. Deposition of Colonel Wm. Porter, 1814. kindly communicated by Hon. W. P. Bymim; MS. letters of Jonathan Hampton and Colonel J R. Logan, the latter giving the recollections of the venerable James Blanton. now eighty-two years of age. who was well acquainted with both Green and Langum; statements of Benjamin Biggerstaff and J. W. Green, furnished by W. L. Twitty. Some of the traditions represent Langum’s name as Lankford.)
(fn37Allaire’s MS Diary, and his newspaper narrative.)

October 24th History of Early America

October 24, 1590
John White, The governor of the second Roanoke Colony, returns to England after an unsuccessful search for the “lost” colonists.

October 24, 1644
William Penn was born in London, the son of Admiral Sir William Penn.

William Penn and the Quakers:
Despite high social position and an excellent education, he shocked his upper-class associates by his conversion to the beliefs of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, then a persecuted sect. He used his inherited wealth and rank to benefit and protect his fellow believers. Despite the unpopularity of his religion, he was socially acceptable in the king’s court because he was trusted by the Duke of York, later King James II. The origins of the Society of Friends lie in the intense religious ferment of 17th century England. George Fox, the son of a Leicestershire weaver, is credited with founding it in 1647, though there was no definite organization before 1668. The Society’s rejections of rituals and oaths, its opposition to war, and its simplicity of speech and dress soon attracted attention, usually hostile.

October 24, 1755
French and Indian War – First British expedition against the French held Fort Niagara ends in failure after Braddock’s defeat at Fort Duquesne; the French increased the garrison and improved the fortifications. Youngstown, New York

October 24-25,. 1775
Patriots successfully defend Hampton, Virginia, from a British naval attack.
Lord John Murray Dunmore, Virginia’s last royal governor, orders a British naval fleet of six ships to sail up the James River and into Hampton Creek to attack Patriot troops and destroy the town of Norfolk, Virginia. British Captain Matthew Squire led the six ships into Hampton Creek and began bombarding the town with artillery and cannon fire, while a second contingent of British troops sailed ashore to begin engaging the Patriots.

Expecting the Patriots and local militia to come charging and to engage in open combat, the British were surprised to come under fire from expert riflemen, who began striking down British troops at a distance. Hearing of the British attack, Virginia’s local militia leader, Colonel William Woodford, marched an additional 100 members of the militia to defend Norfolk.

With reinforcements in place, the Patriots and militia pushed the British back to their ships, where the riflemen again began picking off British troops from the decks of their vessels. Facing a humiliating defeat at the hands of an outnumbered local militia, Captain Squire ordered a full British retreat. In the unorganized and hurried withdrawal that followed, two British ships ran aground and were captured. The Patriots, meanwhile, did not suffer a single fatality.

October 24,. 1776
The Secret Committee of Congress retained the Ship Reprisal, Captain Lambert Wickes, to carry Benjamin Franklin to Nantes, France.

October 24, 1777
Note: After  American artillery at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, inflicts severe damage on the British fleet as it moves up the river from Delaware Bay, on the 23rd.

Letter from George Washington to Continntal Congress
Head Quarters, October 24, 1777.

Sir: I do myself the honor of transmitting to Congress the inclosed copies of sundry letters just now received, and congratulate them most sincerely on the important intelligence which they contain.(fn.1) The damage the Enemy have sustained in their Ships, I hope will prevent their future attempts to gain the passage of the River, and the repulse of the Troops under Count Donnop and his Captivity, I flatter myself will also be attended with the most happy consequences. At the time these Actions happened, a Supply of ammunition was on the way to the Forts, and I have also ordered a further Quantity to be immediately sent. By Colo. Blaine one of the issuing Commissaries who left Red Bank, in the morning before the action, I am happily informed, that he had thrown considerable supplies of provision into both garrisons, he also adds, that he came from Jersey this morning, and that the Enemy had recrossed the Delaware and returned to Philadelphia.

I have written to Colonel Greene, that the Prisoners must be immediately sent from his Post, and Mr. Clymer, (fn.2) a Deputy under Mr. Boudinot,(fn.3) will set out to morrow morning to make a proper disposition of them.

It gives me great concern, to inform Congress, that after all my exertions we are still in a distressed situation for want of Blankets and Shoes. At this time, no inconsiderable part of our force are incapable of acting thro’ the deficiency of the latter, and I fear, without we can be relieved, it will be the case with two thirds of the Army in the course of a few days.

I am and have been waiting with the most anxious impatience, for a confirmation of Genl Burgoynes surrender. I have received no further intelligence respecting it, except vague report, than the first accounts which came to hand so long ago as Saturday morning. If Congress have had authentic advices about it, I wish to be favored with them. I have the honor etc.(fn.4)

October 24, 1791
First session of the 2nd Congress of the United States began in Philidelphia, in the 16th year of independence of said states, in session till May 8, 1792
Congress refuses to accept an antislavery petition from Quaker. Warner Mifflin

Footnotes:

1. These were from Maj. Samuel Ward and Commodore John Hazelwood. Ward stated: “On the 21st Inst. Four Battalions of Germans, amounting to about 1200 men commanded by Baron Donop Colo. Commandant landed at Cooper’s Ferry and Marched the same Evening to Haddonfield. At 3 o’Clock Yesterday Morning, they marched for this place; when the guard at Timber Creek bridge were informed of their approach, they took up that Bridge, and the Enemy filed off to the Left, and crossed at a Bridge four miles above. Their Advanced Parties were discovered within a quarter of a mile of the fort at 12 o’clock; At half after 4 o’Clock P.M. They sent a flag to summons the Fort, who was told, that it should never be surrendered. At three quarters after four, they began a Brisk Canonade, and soon after advanced in two Columns to the Attack. They passed the Abattis, gained the ditch, and some few got over the Pickets, but the fire was so heavy, that they soon were drove out again with considerable loss, and retreated precipitately towards Haddonfield, The Enemy’s loss amounts to 1 Lieut. Col., 3 Capts., 4 Lieuts., and near 70 killed and. the Baron Donop, his Brigade Major, a Captain-Lieutenant and upwards of 70 nonCommissioned Officers and Privates wounded and taken Prisoners. We are also informed, that several waggons are taken. The Colo. proposes to send the wounded Officers to Burlington. He also enjoins me to tell your Excellency, that both Officers and Privates behaved with the greatest Bravery. The Action Lasted 40 minutes.” The Hessians confessed to a loss of 402 killed and wounded, of whom 26 were officers. The American loss was 14 killed, 23 wounded, and 1 captain, who was reconnoitering, taken prisoner. Donop died of his wounds three days after the action. The naval part of the action was described by Commodore Hazelwood in a more complete report of October 26: “While the Fort at Red Bank was attacked, the Augusta of 64 Guns, the Roebuck of 44, Two Frigates, the Merlin of 18, and a Galley, came up through the lower Chevaux de Frieze, which were attack’d by the floating Batterys and some of the Galleys, while the rest of the Galleys was flanking the enemy, that were attacking the Fort where the Galleys did much execution. As soon as the enemy was repuls’d at the Fort, the Ships finding so hot a fire, endeavour’d to fall down, but the Augusta and Merlin ran aground. Early next morning the Galleys and floating Batteries attacked them, when an incessant fire was kept up. About 11 o’Clock I believe one of our Shot set the Augusta on fire, and at 12 she blew up, being aground. The engagement continued with the other Ships, and at 3 in the afternoon, the Merlin we think also took fire and blew up, then the firing ceased on both sides. The Roebuck dropped down to the lower Chevaux de Frieze and went thro’. Yesterday I went down to the Wrecks, and found that the Guns of both ships may be got out, if the enemy’s Ships can be kept at a proper distance. We brought off two 24 Pounders, and as soon as possible shall endeavour for the rest.” Commoodore Hazelwood complained of his lack of men. “The fleet is now so poorly Mann’d,” he wrote, “and the constant cry from Fort Mifflin is to guard that Post, that I know not how to act without more assistance.” There had been numerous desertions from the fleet. Lieutenant Colonel Smith had written (October 2): “So general a discontent and panic runs through that part of the fleet, that neither Officer nor men can be confided in, they conceive the River is lost, if the enemy gets possession of Billingsport nothing can convince them of the contrary and I am persuaded as soon as that fort is taken that almost all the fleet will desert, indeed from their disposition I am induced to believe they will openly avow themselves and desert Officers with their Crew (which has been the case with two) perhaps with their Gallies.” These letters, dated Oct. 22, 1777, are in the Washington Papers in the Library of Congress.

2. Daniel Clymer. Deputy Commissary General of Prisoners.

3. Elias Boudinot. He was Commissary General of Prisoners of the Continental Army; resigned in May, 1778; later a Delegate to Congress from New Jersey and President of Congress.

4. In the writing of Richard Kidder Meade. It was read in Congress on October :27 and referred to the Committee of Intelligence.

October 23rd History of Early America

October 23, 4004 BC.
According to 17th century divine James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and Dr. John Lightfoot of Cambridge, the world was created on this day, a Sunday, at 9 a.m.

October 23, 1641
Outbreak of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
Catholics, under Phelim O’Neil, rise against the Protestants and massacred men, women and children to the number of 40,000 (some say 100,000).

October 23, 1642
Battle of Edgehill: First major battle of the First English Civil War.

October 23, 1694
British/American colonial forces, led by Sir William Phipps, fail to seize Quebec from the French.

October 23, 1707
The first Parliament of Great Britain meets.

October 23, 1739
War of Jenkins’ Ear starts: British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declares war on Spain.

October 23. 1775
The Congressional Committee meeting with Washington agrees to accept the Penobscot, Stockbridge, and St. John’s Indian tribes offers of assistance, allowing them to be employed in the Army if necessary. The committee decides, however, to exclude African Americans.

October 23. 1776
Washington moved his headquarters from Harlem Heights to White Plains.

October 23. 1776
The Maryland Convention reported that inhabitants of Caroline County had marched into Dorchester County and in a “violent manner” taken and carried away salt from the local inhabitants.

October 23, 1777
American artillery at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, inflicts severe damage on the British fleet as it moves up the river from Delaware Bay.

October 23, 1783
Virginia emancipates slaves who fought for independence during the Revolutionary War.

I’ll have to details later

October 22nd Colonial and American Revolutionary War History

October 22. 1746
The College of New Jersey was officially chartered. It later became known as Princeton University.

October 22. 1775
Former president of the Continental Congress, Peyton Randolph of Virginia, dies in Philadelphia.

October 22. 1776
Congress elected Arthur Lee of London as Commissioner to France. “Mr. (Thomas) Jefferson having informed Congress that the state of his family will not permit him to accept the honour of going as their Commissioner to France.” Benjamin Franklin was the second Commissioner chosen.

Short bio: Arthur Lee, born in Virginia in 1740. educated at Eton College and University of Edinburgh, studied law at the Temple in London, and practiced law in London, 1770-6, sent by Congress on several diplomatic missions in Europe during the Revolution, member of Congress, 1782-4, member of the Board of the Treasury, 1784-9, died in Virginia, 1792.

October 22, 1777
An American garrison at Fort Mercer, New Jersey, repels an attack by Hessian troops, at the Battle of Red Bank

October 22, 1777
After failing to receive requested reinforcements, General Howe asks that he be relieved of command. The British Government refused to send him any.

General William Howe in the American Revolution:

Stating that “he was ordered, and could not refuse,” Howe sailed for Boston with Major Generals Henry Clinton and John Burgoyne. Arriving May 15, Howe brought reinforcements for General Thomas Gage. Under siege in the city, the British were forced to take action when American forces fortified Breed’s Hill on the Charlestown Peninsula overlooking the city. While Clinton favored an amphibious attack to cut off the American line of retreat, Howe advocated a more conventional frontal attack. Taking the conservative route, Gage ordered Howe to move forward on June 17.

In the resulting Battle of Bunker Hill, Howe’s men succeeded in driving off the Americans but sustained over 1,000 casualties in capturing their works. Though a victory, the battle deeply influenced Howe and crushed his initial belief that the rebels represented only a small part of the American people. A dashing, daring commander earlier in his career, the high losses at Bunker Hill made Howe more conservative and less inclined to attack strong enemy positions. Knighted that year, Howe was temporarily appointed commander-in-chief on October 10 (it was made permanent in April 1776) when Gage returned to England.

Howe’s Inability to Crush the Rebellion:

Forced out of Boston on March 17, 1776, after General George Washington emplaced guns on Dorchester Heights, Howe withdrew with the army to Halifax, Nova Scotia. There, a new campaign was planned with the goal of taking New York. Landing on Staten Island on July 2, Howe’s army soon swelled to over 30,000 men. Crossing to Gravesend Bay, Howe flanked and defeated Washington at the Battle of Long Island on August 26/27. Falling back to fortifications at Brooklyn Heights, the Americans awaited a British assault. Based on his earlier experiences, Howe was reluctant to attack and began siege operations.

This hesitation allowed Washington’s army to escape to Manhattan. He was soon joined by his brother who had orders to act as a peace commissioner. Though the Howes met with American leaders, they were only permitted to extend pardons to those rebels who submitted. Their offer refused, they began active operations against New York City. Landing on Manhattan on September 15, Howe ultimately forced Washington from the island and later drove him from a defensive position at the Battle of White Plains. Rather than pursue Washington’s beaten army, Howe returned to New York to secure Forts Washington and Lee.

Again showing an unwillingness to eliminate Washington’s army, Howe soon moved into winter quarters around New York and only dispatched a small force under Major General Lord Charles Cornwallis to create a “safe zone” in northern New Jersey. Recovering in Pennsylvania, Washington was able to win victories at Trenton and Princeton in December and January. As a result, Howe pulled back many of his outposts. While Washington continued small-scale operations during the winter, Howe was content to remain in New York enjoying a full social calendar.

In the spring of 1777, Burgoyne proposed a plan for defeating the Americans which called for him to lead an army south through Lake Champlain to Albany while a second column advanced east from Lake Ontario. These advances were to be supported by an advance north from New York by Howe. While this plan was approved by Colonial Secretary Lord George Germain, Howe’s role was never clearly defined nor was he issued orders from London to aid Burgoyne. As a result, though Burgoyne moved forward, Howe launched his own campaign to capture the American capital at Philadelphia. Left on his own, Burgoyne was defeated in the critical Battle of Saratoga

Sailing south from New York, Howe moved up the Chesapeake Bay and landed at Head of Elk on August 25, 1777. Moving north, Howe defeated Washington at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11. Outmaneuvering the Americans, Howe captured the city without a fight eleven days later. Concerned about Washington’s army, Howe left a small garrison in the city and moved northwest. On October 4, he won a near-run victory at the Battle of Germantown. In the wake of the defeat, Washington retreated into winter quarters at Valley Forge.

Under severe criticism in England for failing to crush the Americans and feeling he had lost the king’s confidence, Howe requested to be relieved on October 22. After attempting to lure Washington into battle late that fall, Howe and the army entered winter quarters in Philadelphia. Again enjoying a lively social scene, Howe received word that his resignation had been accepted on April 14, 1778. After an extravagant festival in his honor on May 18, Howe turned command over to Clinton and departed.
Howe in Later Life

Arriving in England, he entered into the debate over the conduct of the war and published a defense of his actions. Made a privy counselor and Lieutenant General of the Ordnance in 1782, Howe remained in active service. With the outbreak of the French Revolution he served in a variety of senior commands in England. Made a full general in 1793, he died on July 12, 1814, after a prolonged illness, while serving as governor of Plymouth. An adept battlefield commander, Howe was beloved by his men but received little credit for his victories in America. Slow and indolent by nature, his greatest failure was an inability to follow up on his successes.

October 22, 1779
The New York Act of Attainder or Confiscation Act
The New York legislature declares Governor Lord John Murray Dunmore, General Wiliam Tryon, Oliver De Lancey, along with 57 others, to be public enemies. As a result of this act, these individuals have their personal estates confiscated.

October 22, 1836
Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first constitutionally elected president of the Republic of Texas.

October 22, 1844
This day is recognized as “The Great Disappointment” among those who practiced Millerism. The world was expected to come to an end according to the followers of William Miller.

October 20th Colonial and American Revolutionary War History

October 20, 1774
The new Continental Congress, the governing body of America’s colonies, passed an order proclaiming that all citizens of the colonies “discountenance and discourage all horse racing and all kinds of gaming, cock fighting, exhibitions of shows, plays and other expensive diversions and entertainment.”

October 20, 1775
The committee meeting with Washington about the Army agrees that the forces should be supplied with provisions by the New England colonies. Washington is given the authority to impress wagons, vessels, horses, and other necessary items.

October 20, 1776
The William Morris & Co. wrote this day that the American coast was quite clear (of British ships) “so that the spirits of enterprize has seized most People and they are making or trying to make Fortunes.”

October 20, 1776
Rev. William McKay gave a sermon at Fort Ticonderoga in which he begged them not to be be weak and afraid, but to “do yourselves honor by using the weapons of your warfare with that heroism, firmness, and magnanimity which the cause requires.”

October 20-30 1781
Combined British, Loyalist, and Indian Raid Launched in the Mohawk Valley, New York. This force, led by Major John Ross, is nipped in the bud by a combination of lack of Indian interest, muddy roads, and the possibility of encountering Patriot militia commanded by Colonel Marinus Willett. This is the last attempted British offensive in Tryon County.

October 20, 1782
Battle of Cape Spartel (Morocco)
Spain’s primary objective upon entering the American Revolution was to regain Gibraltar from the British. The 46 ship-of–the-line Franco-Spanish squadron commanded by Admiral Cordoba vastly outnumbers the 35 ships-of-the line belonging to Admiral Sir Richard Howe. In the four-hour engagement, each side incurs over 600 casualties. However, the British retain possession of Gibraltar and manage to maintain control of the vital supply routes leading to the island.

October 20, 1783
Congress votes to build a second “federal town” on the banks of the Potomac River, with plans to alternate sessions between there and Philadelphia.

October 14th Colonial and American Revolutionary War History

Born October 14 1644 William Penn, English Quaker leader and founder of Pennsylvania.

October 14, 1656
Massachusetts enacts the first punitive legislation against the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Quakers believed that you could receive personal revelations from the Lord thru the Holy Spirit, the Puritans in Mass. believed them to be heretics. The Quakers emphasized the direct revelation of Christ to the individual’s soul and minimized an ordained ministry and the traditional forms of worship in the church. Many Puritans objected to the Quakers’ belief in an inner revelation separate from the Word of God. We recognize this today as a personal relationship with Jesus, which in my opinion we all need to have. Quakers were frequently asked to leave Massachusetts. The group had been founded in the 1640s by the Englishman George Fox. After finding no peace for his soul in the churches of his day, Fox had begun to give up all hope when he had the experience of a voice speaking to him. He believed that this inner voice was the voice of God,

Because of the arrival of more and more Quakers The Federal Commissioners who were in session at Boston, Massachusetts under the presidency of Endicott. Their last proceeding before they parted was to pass the following vote: “Whereas there is an accursed and pernicious sect of heretics lately risen up in the world who are commonly called Quakers, who take upon them to be immediately sent of God and infallibly assisted; who do speak and write blasphemous things, despising government and the order of God in church and commonwealth, speaking evil of dignities, reproaching and reviling magistrates and the ministers of the Gospel, seeking to turn the people from the faith, and to gain proselytes to their pernicious ways; — and whereas the several jurisdictions have made divers laws to prohibit and restrain the aforesaid cursed heretics from coming amongst them, yet notwithstanding they are not deterred thereby, but arrogantly and presumptuously do press into several of the jurisdictions, and there vent their pernicious and devilish opinions, which being permitted tends manifestly to the disturbance of our peace, the withdrawing of the hearts of the people from their subjection to government, and so in issue to cause division and ruin, if not timely prevented; — it is therefore propounded and seriously commended to the several General Courts, upon the considerations aforesaid, to make a law that all such Quakers formerly convicted and punished as such, shall (if they return again) be imprisoned, and forthwith banished or expelled out of the said jurisdiction, under pain of death; and if afterwards they presume to come again into that jurisdiction, then to be put to death as presumptuously incorrigible, unless they shall plainly and publicly renounce their cursed opinions; and for such Quakers as shall come into any jurisdiction from any foreign parts, or such as shall arise within the same, after due conviction that either he or she is of that cursed sect of heretics, they be banished under pain of severe corporal punishment; and if they return again, then to be punished accordingly, and banished under pain of death; and if afterwards they shall yet presume to come again, then to be put to death as aforesaid, except they do then and there plainly and publicly renounce their said cursed opinions and devilish tenets.”

Massachusetts, alone of the four Colonies, carried this advice into full effect. The General Court of that Colony, which met three weeks after the adjournment of the Commissioners, received a memorial from twenty-five leading citizens of Boston, urging the necessity of more efficient measures of protection against the Quakers. “Their incorrigibleness,” say the petitioners, “after so much means used both for their conviction and preserving this place from contagion, is such as, by reason of their malignant obdurities, daily increaseth rather than abateth our fear of the spirit of Muncer or of John of Leyden renewed, and consequently of some destructive evil impending.” And they formally present the question, whether “it be not necessary, after the example of other Christian commonwealths infested with pests not more perilous than these are, and the common and universally approved argument of se defendendo, upon the sad experience that the remedy hitherto applied is not only not effectual, but contemned and abused with the highest hand, if, after the sentence of banishment added thereunto, they shall still presumptuously obtrude themselves upon this jurisdiction, whether we say, it be not necessary to punish so high incorrigibleness in such and so many capital evils with death.” The provision which threatened with death persons returning after being banished, was no novelty in Massachusetts legislation. It had been resorted to over and over again, through a course of years, and had never once failed of its intended effect in inducing the banished persons to stay away, and to confine themselves, at least, to such annoyance as they could inflict from a distance.

In July, 1656, the ship Swallow anchored in Boston harbor with two Quaker women from Barbados on board. The two women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, had come to Boston to share their Quaker faith. When they landed, however, they were kept on board the ship while their belongings were searched and over 100 books were confiscated. They were then hurried off to jail where they were stripped of their clothing and inspected for signs of witchcraft. Five weeks later, the captain of the Swallow was placed under £100 bond to take the women back to Barbados. But two days later, another ship with eight more Quakers came to dock! These Quakers were imprisoned for eleven weeks before they were shipped back to England. They were able to convert one man to their Quaker faith, Nicholas Upsall, but he fled to Rhode Island to avoid punishment. Notwithstanding these laws, the Quakers continued to come, and at last the situation improved, although it was not until 1724 that their appeals to the Royal Privy Council in England were sustained. A few years later laws were enacted in their favor. The Quakers also came against slavery protesting against the “traffic in the bodies of men,” and considered the question of the “lawfulness and unlawfulness of buying and keeping negroes.” The question continued to be agitated, and in 1758 the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting directed a “visitation” of all who held slaves, and decided that all who should ” be concerned in importing, selling, or purchasing slaves” should be forbidden to sit in meetings held for deciding matters of discipline. In 1776 slaveholders were to be “disowned” if they refused to manumit their slaves, and by 1787 personal ownership of slaves by acknowledged members of the society had ceased.

October 14, 1773
Just before the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, several of the British East India Company’s tea ships are set ablaze at the old seaport of Annapolis, Maryland to protest the tax rebate the British East India Company received when delivering tea. The tax exemption gave the company a strong competitive edge over its American colonial competitor companies. The protest was a precursor to the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.

October 14, 1774
Declaration and Resolves on Colonial rights of the First Continental Congress.

Following the Boston Tea Party and the adoption of the Intolerable Acts, the first Continental Congress (fn.1) met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia, from September 5, to October 26, 1774. Carpenter’s Hall was also the seat of the Pennsylvania Congress. All of the colonies except Georgia sent delegates. These were elected by the people, by the colonial legislatures, or by the committees of correspondence of the respective colonies. The colonies presented there were united in a determination to show a combined authority to Great Britain, but their aims were not uniform at all. Pennsylvania and New York sent delegates with firm instructions to seek a resolution with England. The other colonies voices were defensive of colonial rights, but pretty evenly divided between those who sought legislative parity, and the more radical members who were prepared for separation. Virginia’s delegation was made up of a most even mix of these and not incidentally, presented the most eminent group of men in America. Colo. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, Colo. Benjamin Harrison, Richard Bland, and at the head of them Peyton Randolph — who would immediately be elected president of the convention.

The objectives of the body were not entirely clear but, with such leadership as was found there, a core set of tasks was carried out. It was agreeable to all that the King and Parliament must be made to understand the grievances of the colonies and that the body must do everything possible to communicate the same to the population of America, and to the rest of the world.

The first few weeks were consumed in discussion and debate. The colonies had always, up to this time, acted as independent entities. There was much distrust to overcome. The first matter to be considered by all was A Plan of Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, offered by Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania. The plan was considered very attractive to most of the members, as it proposed a popularly elected Grand Council which would represent the interests of the colonies as a whole, and would be a continental equivalent to the English Parliament. Poised against this would be a President General, appointed by the crown, to represent the authority of the king in America. Conflict in Boston overcame the effort at conciliation. The arrival of the Suffolk County (Boston) resolves just prior to the vote on the Plan of Union, caused it to be discarded by a narrow margin.

On October 14, the Declaration and Resolves established the course of the congress, as a statement of principles common to all of the colonies. Congress voted to meet again the following year if these grievances were not attended to by England.

Several days later, on the 20th, came The Association, which was patterned after the Virginia Association and others that followed. This was a pact for nonimportation of English goods, to establish mechanisms throughout the colonies to enforce and regulate the resistance to Great Britain, and to keep the channels of communication open. It was to become effective on December 1, 1774 unless parliament should rescind the Intolerable Acts, by the end of 1774

Joseph Galloway (173l -1803), a Philadelphia merchant and lawyer, led a Loyalist attempt to unite the colonies within the Empire. He had served as speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1776 to 1774. In the war Galloway supported the British cause and after 1778 became spokesman for the Loyalists in England. In the First Continental Congress the Patriot delegates thrust aside Galloway’s proposal and on October 14 adopted instead, by unanimous action, the Declaration of Colonial Rights reproduced here. The first draft of these resolutions was written by Major John Sullivan (1740-95 ), delegate from New Hampshire, lawyer, major of the New Hampshire militia, major general in the Continental Army, judge, and eventually governor of his state.

Before they dissolved, on October 26, the members voted to meet again in the same city on May 10, 1775, “unless the redress of grievances … be obtained before that time”

Sullivan’s draft:

Whereas, since the close of the last war, the British Parliament, claiming a power of right to bind the people of America, by statute in all cases whatsoever, hath in some acts expressly imposed taxes on them, and in others, under various pretenses, but in fact for the purpose of raising a revenue, hath imposed rates and duties payable in these colonies, established a board of commissioners, with unconstitutional powers, and extended the jurisdiction of courts of admiralty, not only for collecting the said duties, but for the trial of causes merely arising within the body of a county.

And whereas, in consequence of other statutes, judges, who before held only estates at will in their offices, have been made dependent upon the crown alone for their salaries, and standing armies kept in times of peace:

And it has lately been resolved in Parliament, that by force of a statute, made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth, colonists may be transported to England, and tried there upon accusations for treasons, and misprisions, or concealments of treasons committed in the colonies; and by a late statute, such trials have been directed in cases therein mentioned.

And whereas, in the last session of Parliament, three statutes were made; one, entitled “An act to discontinue, in such manner and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading, or shipping of goods, wares and merchandise, at the town, and within the harbor of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America”; another, entitled “An act for the better regulating the government of the province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England”; and another, entitled “An act for the impartial administration of justice, in the cases of persons questioned for any act done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England.” And another statute was then made, “for making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec, etc.” All which statutes are impolitic, unjust, and cruel, as well as unconstitutional, and most dangerous and destructive of American rights.

And whereas, assemblies have been frequently dissolved, contrary to the rights of the people, when they attempted to deliberate on grievances; and their dutiful, humble, loyal, and reasonable petitions to the crown for redress have been repeatedly treated with contempt by His Majesty’s ministers of state:

The good people of the several colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of Parliament and administration, have severally elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet and sit in General Congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws, and liberties may not be subverted:

Whereupon the deputies so appointed being now assembled, in a full and free representation of these colonies, taking into their most serious consideration, the best means of attaining the ends aforesaid, do, in the first place, as Englishmen, their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, declare,

That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following rights:

[Note: N.C.D means nemine contradicente, meaning without a dissenting vote or unanimously Commenting on these proceedings before a committee of the British House of Commons, in June, 1779, Galloway stated that, although the resolutions were recorded as having been passed unanimously, this meant not that they were approved by every member present but by a majority of each delegation (The Examination of Joseph Galloway … before the House of Commons … , 2d ed.; London, 1780, p. 61)]

Resolved, N.C.D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.

Resolved, N.C.D. 2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were, at the time of their emigration from the mother-country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural-born subjects, within the realm of England.

Resolved, N.C.D. 3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and en joyment of all such of them, as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.

Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British Parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed. But, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British Parliament, as are bona fide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother-country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members; excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects in America, without their consent.

Resolved, N.C.D. 5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage, according to the course of that law.

Resolved, 6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of their colonization; and which they have, by experience, respectively found to be applicable to their several local and other circumstances.

Resolved, N.C.D. 7. That these His Majesty’s colonies, are likewise entitled to all the immunities and privileges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their several codes of provincial laws.

Resolved, N.C.D. 8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the king; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same are illegal.

Resolved, N.C.D. 9. That the keeping a standing army in these colonies, in times of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that colony, in which such army is kept, is against law.

Resolved, N.C.D. 10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and rendered essential by the English constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other; that, therefore, the exercise of the legislative power in several colonies, by a council appointed, during pleasure, by the crown, is unconstitutional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of American legislation.

All and each of which the aforesaid deputies, in behalf of themselves and their constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indubitable rights and liberties; which cannot be legally taken from them, altered or abridged by any power whatever, without their own consent, by their representatives in their several provincial legislatures.

In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringements and violations of the foregoing rights, which, from an ardent desire, that harmony and mutual intercourse of affection and interest may be restored, we pass over for the present, and proceed to state such acts and measures as have been adopted since the last war, which demonstrate a system formed to enslave America.

Resolved, N.C.D. That the following acts of Parliament are infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists; and that the repeal of them is essentially necessary in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies, viz.:

The several acts of 4 Geo. 3, ch. 15, and ch. 34. — 5 Geo. 3, ch. 25. — 6 Geo. 3, ch. 52. — 7 Geo. 3, ch. 41, and ch. 46. — 8 Geo. 3, ch. 22, which impose duties for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, extend the powers of the admiralty courts beyond their ancient limits, deprive the American subject of trial by jury, authorize the judges’ certificate to indemnify the prosecutor from damages, that he might otherwise be liable to, requiring oppressive security from a claimant of ships and goods seized, before he shall be allowed to defend his property, and are subversive of American rights.

Also the 12 Geo. 3, ch. 24, entitled “An act for the better securing His Majesty’s dockyards, magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores,” which declares a new offense in America, and deprives the American subject of a constitutional trial by a jury of the vicinage, by authorizing the trial of any person, charged with the committing any offense described in the said act, out of the realm, to be indicted and tried for the same in any shire or county within the realm.

Also the three acts passed in the last session of Parliament, for stopping the port and blocking up the harbor of Boston, for altering the charter and government of the Massachusetts Bay, and that which is entitled “An act for the better administration of justice,” etc.

Also the act passed in the same session for establishing the Roman Catholic religion in the Province of Quebec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and erecting a tyranny there, to the great danger, from so total a dissimilarity of religion, law, and government of the neighboring British colonies, by the assistance of whose blood and treasure the said country was conquered from France.

Also the act passed in the same session for the better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers in His Majesty’s service in North America.

Also, that the keeping a standing army in several of these colonies, in time of peace, without the consent of the legislature of that colony in which such army is kept, is against law.

To these grievous acts and measures, Americans cannot submit, but in hopes that their fellow-subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries found happiness and prosperity, we have for the present only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures:

Resolved, unanimously, That from and after the first day of December next, there be no importation into British America, from Great Britain or Ireland of any goods, wares or merchandise whatsoever, or from any other place of any such goods, wares or merchandise.

1st. To enter into a nonimportation, nonconsumption, and nonexportation agreement or association.

2. To prepare an address to the people of Great Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America, and

3. To prepare a loyal address to His Majesty; agreeable to resolutions already entered into.

October 14, 1775
In London, Secretary of State Lord Suffolk receives intelligence that the colony of Pennsylvania is preparing an armed fleet and floating batteries to prevent the passage of the King’s ships through the Delaware River. He recommends that the Admiralty dispatch vessels to destroy the floating batteries.

Early in 1775 a permanent lookout scout was stationed at Lewes, and pilots were warned not to bring any British armed vessel up the bay. The river below Philadelphia was obstructed after September 9th with the chevaux-de-frise, about forty vessels being allowed to pass out before the last day of grace. A narrow, intricate channel only was left, the secret of which lay with two trusty pilots, who were in the pay of Pennsylvania, and whose duty it was to bring up vessels with stores and ammunition, privateers and other authorized crafts. The buoys had all been removed from the Delaware, and pilots were ordered to lay up their boats except when on special service. To prevent the enemy from coming up, fire-rafts were built and a floating battery was constructed at Philadelphia.

October 14, 1776
Congress dispatched 500,000 dollars to New York to pay a bounty to all soldiers would would reenlist.

October 14, 1776
Salem, NC: The Moravain diary recorded, “Tomorrow is the Election of Delegates to the next Congress. Since last February we gave the commission a written declaration that we did not meddle in political affairs we have decided to abide by it.”

Footnotes:

1. Delegates to the first Continental Congress:

New Hampshire:     John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom

Massachusetts Bay:    John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing, Robert Treat Paine

Rhode Island:    Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Ward

Connecticut:    Eliphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman, Silas Deane

New York:    Isaac Low, John Alsop, John Jay, Philip Livingston, James Duane, William Floyd, Henry Wisner, Simon Boerum

New Jersey:    James Kinsey, William Livingston, Stephen Crane, Richard Smith, John De Hart

Pennsylvania:    Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, Charles Humphreys, Thomas Miffin, Edward Biddle, John Morton, George Ross

Delaware:    Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, George Read

Maryland:    Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, William Paca, Samuel Chase, Robert Goldsborough

Virginia:    Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton

North Carolina:    William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, Richard Caswell

South Carolina:    Henry Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge, Edward Rutledge