RestoreTheConstitutionDotCom

THE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! by Hon. Theodore Bacon, New York 1876

RestoreTheConstitutionDotComTHE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! An Oration by Honorable Theodore Bacon, (1834-1900) of Rochester, New York. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Palmyra, New York, July 4th, 1876.

The occasion which we commemorate to-day, familiar as it is to us by its annual recurrence—fixed as it is in our national life—is in its very conception distinctive and American. It is not the birth-day of a reigning prince, however beloved; it is not the holiday of a patron saint, however revered; it is simply the the festival of our national existence. Unimaginative as we are, we have impersonated an idea—the idea of nationality; and the festival of that idea, instead of a man or a demi-god, we celebrate to-day.

And we do right to celebrate it. The fact of this national existence is a great fact. The act which first declared the nation’s right to exist was a great act—a brave act. If it was not indeed, as we have been ready enough to assert, a pivotal epoch in the world’s history, it was beyond question a decisive event in our own history. If it was not the birth-day of the nation— for the nation was born long before—it was the day the still growing youth became conscious of its young maturity, asserted its personality, and entered on equal terms into the community of nations. And whatever errors there may have been in our methods—whatever follies of mere deafening or nerve-distracting noise—whatever mad recklessness with deadly explosives, such as will make to-morrow’s newspapers like the returns of a great battle—whatever flatulence of vain glorious boasting from ten thousand platforms such as this—it is none the less a goodly and an honorable thing, that the one universal festival of this great nation should be the festival of its nationality alone. This, and this only, is the meaning of our being together to-day; that we are glad, and joyful, and grateful, that we are a nation; and that in unison with more than two-score millions of people, throughout the vast expanse of our imperial domains, we may give utterance to the joyful and thankful thought, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.

It is well then, to celebrate and rejoice. The many reasons we have for joy and pride are familiar enough to you. If there were any danger of your forgetting them, they are recalled annually to your remembrance. by addresses such as you have honored me by calling on me to deliver here to-day. And in considering how I could best respond to your request, in the few moments which you can spare from your better occupation of the day, I have thought it superfluous to repeat to you those glories of which your minds are already so full, deeming it a better service to you, and worthier of the day, I suggest certain imitations upon national self-laudation.

Let me recount to you summarily, the familiar and ordinary grounds of our boasting on such days as this. Then go over them with me, one by one; consider them soberly; and see whether we are in any danger of exalting ourselves unduly by reason of them.

1. We conquered our independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Consider them:

RevolutionaryWar1. We conquered our independence.

Beyond doubt, this was a grand thing to do, even in view of all the advantages that aided our fathers, and of all the difficulties that burdened their enemies. It was not, indeed, except in a certain limited and qualified sense, what it is commonly misnamed, a revolution. It was rather a movement of conservatism—of resistance to an innovating despotism, seeking to impose the bonds of distant authority on those who were free-born, and who had always governed themselves. This resistance to ministerial novelties was in the interest of all Englishmen, and, until this very day one hundred years ago, was in the name of King George himself, whom we still recognized as our rightful monarch, after more than a year of flagrant war against his troops. It was (do not forget) war of defence, against an invader from the paralyzing distance of 3,000 miles; yet that invader was the most powerful nation in Europe. It enlisted (remember) the active alliance of France, and stirred up Spain and Holland to separate wars against our enemy; yet even with these great helps, the persistency of the struggle, the hardships and discouragements through which it was maintained to its final success, were enough to justify the honor in which we hold the assertors of our national independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

We have inherited, it is true, by a descent through many generations, certain principles of government which recognize the people as the source of authority over the people. Yet not even the founders of this federal republic—far less ourselves, their century remote descendants, could claim the glory either of inventing these eternal principles or of first applying them in practice. Before Jefferson were Plato, and Milton, and Locke, and Rousseau. Before Philadelphia were Athens, and pre-Augustan Rome; Florence and Geneva; Ghent and Leydon; the Swiss Republics and the Commonwealth of England. Before the United States of America were the Achaean League, the Hanseatic League, and—closest pattern and exemplar—the United Provinces of the Low Countries. Beyond doubt, however, it is something to be glad of that our ancestors began the century which closes to-day, upon the solid foundations of a faith in the right of self-government, when so many other nations of the earth were to be compelled to labor and study toward the acceptance of that faith, or to legislate and fight and revolutionize toward the embodiment of it in institutions. But whether that prodigious advantage with which we began the century should be now the occasion of pride or of some different emotion, might depend on other questions: Whether, for example, that advantage has enabled us to maintain to this day the pre-eminence over other nations which it gave us a hundred years ago; whether, as they have advanced, we have only held our own, or gone backward; whether our ten talents, the magnificent capital with which we were entrusted, have been hid in a napkin and buried, while the one poor talent of another has been multiplied a hundred fold by diligence and skill. It is a great thing, no doubt, for a nation to govern itself, whether well or ill; but it is a thing to be proud of only when its self-government is capable and just. Let us look for a moment at the relative positions in this respect of our own and other nations a hundred years ago, and now.

GreatExperimentA century since, the idea of parliamentary or representative government, primitive as that idea had been in the earliest Teutonic communities, and embalmed as it might still be in the reveries of philosophers, had no living form outside of these colonies, and of that fatherland from which their institutions were derived, and with which they were at war. In Great Britain itself, a sodden conservatism, refusing to adapt institutions to changing circumstances, had suffered them to become distorted with inequalities; so that the House of Commons, while it still stood for the English People, and was already beginning to feel the strength which has now made it the supreme power in the nation, was so befouled with rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs, that ministers easily managed it with places, and pensions, and money. The whole continent of Western Europe was subjected to great or little autocrats, claiming to rule by divine right, uttering by decrees their sovereign wills for laws, despising even the pretense of asking the concurrence of the governed. In France, an absolute despot, a brilliant court, a gorgeous and vicious civilization of the few, were superposed upon a wretched, naked, underfed peasantry; tithe-oppressed, tax-ridden; crushed with feudal burdens upon the soil, or dragged from it to be slaughtered in foreign wars for matters they never heard of. Germany was either parceled out, like Italy, among countless princelings, maintaining every one his disproportionate army, and court, and harem, and squeezing out taxes and blood from his people utterly without responsibility; or was crushed beneath the iron despotism of the Great Frederick in the North, or of the less capable Empire in the South. To the East, the great plains of Russia were an unknown darkness, where a shameless fury maintained an Asiatic reign of force and terror. Here and there a philosophical recluse was evolving from his books and his invention, systems of government which denied and antagonized the claims of divine right on which every dynasty in Europe was founded; yet so remote from any practical application did these speculations seem that the most absolute monarchs took pride in sharing them and fostering them. There were, indeed, things called “republics;” there were the despotic aristocracies of Venice and Genoa; there were their High Mightinesses, the estates of the United Provinces; there were the confederated cantons of Switzerland, fenced in their mountain strongholds, but without influence upon European thoughts or institutions .

Over against that Europe of 1776, set the Europe of to-day. Nation after nation—call off their names: observe their systems of government, and say, when you have completed the tale, how many sovereigns there are who rest their title to supremacy upon divine right by inheritance; how many governments there are whose daily continuance—how many whose very birth and origin, are derived avowedly from no other source than “the consent of the governed.” There are indeed crowned heads to-day; heads wearing crowns which have descended by but two or three degrees from the most confident assertors of “the right divine of kings to govern wrong;“—right royal men and women—nay more, right manly men and right womanly women: yet of all these there is hardly one who pretends to be more than the mere executive of the national will, expressed through a representative legislature. The England which our fathers denounced as tyrant, and foe of freedom—let us not commit the anachronism of confounding her with the England of to-day. Ruled by a National Assembly chosen by a suffrage little short of universal, exercising final and absolute legislative authority with the merest advisory concurrence of an hereditary Senate; its executive body little more than a standing committee of the House of Commons, removable in an instant by a mere expression of the will of the House; and all under the nominal presidency of a quiet matron, to whom even the external ceremonies of her position are irksome; with a system of local and municipal administration, which, however its defects, may well invite our admiration and study; tho sturdiest proclaimer of the doctrines of our “Declaration” could hardly have figured to himself a future America which should more fully embody those doctrines than the realm of George the Third has come to embody them under his granddaughter. If we look across the channel, we find all Western Europe, from the Polar Sea to the Mediterranean, the undisputed domain of constitutional representative, elective government. It the name and state of King or Emperor are maintained, it is in effect but as a convenient instrument for the performance of necessary functions in the great, public organism, and with a tacit, or even an express acknowledgement on the part of the crown that” tho consent of the governed ” is the true source of its own authority. Over the feudal France which I have but just now pictured to you, has swept a flood which not only destroyed institutions, but extirpated their immemorial foundations; which not only leveled the hideous inequalities of medievalism, but leveled upward the Gallic mind itself; so that hardly less than the American citizen—far more than the British subject—is the Frenchman of to-day penetrated by the consciousness of the equal rights of all men before the law. His form of supreme administration may vary from time to time, in name, or even in substance; but for fifty years it has stood upon the basis of the public consent, or, when it has failed so to stand, has fallen. The France of Richelieu—the France of that Louis XIV who dared to say of the State, “It is I,” is the France whose latest king called himself no longer King of France, but King of the French; whose latest Emperor claimed no right to rule but from a popular election by universal suffrage—boasted of being “The Elect of seven millions“—and styled himself in the most solemn instruments, “By the Grace of God and the Will of the People, Emperor of the French;” and which now, dispensing with even the fiction of a Sovereign, administers its affairs with a prudence, wisdom and economy which have drawn the admiration of neighboring nations. In United Italy—in the two great empires which share between them Germany and Hungary—in the Scandinavian Kingdoms—and at last even in Spain, so long the distracted prey of hierarchy and absolutism, the autocracy of an hereditary monarch has given way to parliamentary government and ministerial responsibility. The successor of Catharine the Second, by conferring spontaneously upon the half-civilized subjects of his vast empire not only personal freedom, but such local autonomy as they are capable of, is educating them toward a higher participation in affairs. And now, most marvelous testimony to the prevalence of those opinions upon which our own institutions are based, the world has seen within a month, a new Sultan, a new chief of Islam, announced to Europe as succeeding to the chair and the sword of Mahomet, “by the unanimous will of the Turkish people!

Christian republicLet us be quite sure, my fellow-citizens, before we boast oarselves immeasurably above other nations by reason of the excellence of our political institutions, not only that they are better than all others in the world, but that we have done something in these hundred years towards making them better; or at least that we have not suffered ours to become debased and corrupt, while those of other nations have been growing better and purer. Is our law-making and our conduct of affairs —national, state, and local—abler and honester now than then? Is the ballot-box cleaner, and a surer reflection of the public mind upon public men and measures? Or are we still in some small degree hampered by the tricks of politicians, so that we find ourselves voting into offices men whom we despise—giving support to measures which we abominate? Has public opinion grown so in that sensitive honor “which feels a stain like a wound,” that it compels public men to be not only above reproach, but above suspicion? Or has it rather come to content itself with weighing evidence, and balancing probabilities, and continuing its favor to any against whom the proofs may fall short of absolute conviction of felony? Is the vast organization of our public business contrived and controlled, as it is in every other civilized country, and as in every successful private business it must be, for the sole end of doing that business efficiently and cheaply? Or has it become a vast system for the reward of party services by public moneys—a vast mechanism for the perpetuation of party power by suppressing the popular will—with the secondary purpose of doing the public work as well as may be consistent with the main design? Have we, through dullness or feebleness, suffered methods to become customary in our public service, which if, attempted in the British post-office or custom-house, would overthrow a ministry in a fortnight—if in the French, might bring on a revolution? My fellow-citizens, I offer you no answers to these questions. I only ask them; and leave unasked many others which these might suggest. But when we have found answers to our satisfaction, we shall know better how far to exalt ourselves above the other nations of the earth.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

A more indisputable support for national pride may be found, perhaps in our unquestioned and enormous multiplication of numbers and expansion of territory.

These have certainly been marvelous: perhaps unparalleled. It is a great thing that four millions of human beings, occupying in 1776 a certain expanse of territory, should be succeeded in 1876 by forty millions, occupying ten times that expanse. But let us be quite sure how much the increase of numbers is a necessary result of natural laws of propagation, working unrestrained in a land of amazing productiveness, unscourged by famine or pestilence, and burdened by but one great war during three generations of men; how much to the prodigious importation of involuntary immigrants from Africa during the last century, and of voluntary colonists, induced by high rewards for labor and enterprise, during this; and how much to any special virtue in our ancestors or ourselves. Let us be sure what degree and quality of glory it may be which a nation lays claim to for the extension of boundaries by mere mercantile bargain and purchase, or by strong armed conquest from its weaker neighbors. Let us remember, withal, that great as has been our growth in population and extent over this vacant continent which offered such unlimited scope for enlargement, other nations have not stood still. A century ago there was a little sub-alpine monarchy of two or three million subjects, which within these twenty years has so expanded itself by honorable warfare and the voluntary accession of neighboring provinces, that it now comprehends all the twenty-five millions of the Italian people. A century ago there was a little Prussian monarchy of three or four million subjects, which, sparing to us meanwhile millions of its increasing numbers, has grown until it has become the vast and powerful German Empire of forty millions. And, while we take a just pride in the marvelous growth of New York and Philadelphia, and the meteoric rise of Chicago and St. Louis, it is well not to forget that within the same century London has added three millions to its numbers; Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, have sprung from insignificance into the second rank of cities; and that dull Prussian town, which, as the Great Frederick’s capital, boasted but 100,000 inhabitants, has become a vast metropolis of nearly a million people, doubling its numbers in the last quarter of that period. If our own increase of population has indeed surpassed these marvelous examples—if our territorial expansion has in fact been larger and swifter than that of the Russian Empire in Europe and Asia, or of the British Empire in India, America and Australia, then the more are we justified in that manner of pride which is natural to the youth grown to a healthy maturity of strength and stature.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

Thus also, if we have not greatly surpassed the rest of the world in our growth in material wealth, and in our subjugation of natural forces to human use, we may fairly claim at least to have kept in the van of progress. Yet here, too, while we have great and just cause for pride, let us not err by confounding the positive merits of our nation with the adventitious advantages which have stimulated or created its successes. It has been a different task, though perhaps not an easier one, to take from the fresh fields and virgin soil of this vast continent, fruitful in all that is most useful for human food and raiment, the wealth that has been the sure reward of steadfast industry—from the task of stimulating the productive powers of lands exhausted by thousands of years of crop bearing, up to that exquisite fertility that makes an English wheat-field an astonishment even to a Western New York farmer. It is indeed a singular fortune which ours has been that every decade of years has revealed beneath our feet some new surprise of mineral wealth; the iron everywhere; the anthracite of Pennsylvania; the copper of Lake Superior; the gold of California; the bituminous coal of the western coal fields; the petroleum which now illuminates the world; and finally, the silver which has deluged and deranged the trade of the Orient. Let us not be slow to remember that such natural advantages impose obligations, rather than justify pride in comparison with those old countries where nature has spoken long ago her last word of discovery, and where labor and science can but glean in the fields already harvested. And when we look with wonder upon the vast public works, not disproportionate to the vastness of our territory, which the last half-century especially has seen constructed, let us not forget that the industry and frugality which gathered the capital that built our railroad system—not all of which certainly, was American capital—the trained intellect of the engineers who designed and constructed its countless parts—are a greater honor to any people than 70,000 miles of track: that the patient ingenuity of Fitch and Fulton are more to be boasted of than the ownership of the steam navies of the world: the scientific culture and genius of Morse, than 200,000 miles of telegraphic wire.

ReligionRepublic5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

If I have thought it needless to enlarge upon other subjects, familiar upon such occasions, for public congratulation, especially will it be superfluous to remind such an audience as this how broad and general is the diffusion of intelligence and education through large portions of our country. But let us not be so dazzled by the sunlight which irradiates us here in New York, as to forget the darkness of illiteracy which overwhelms vast regions of our common country; that if New York, and Massachusetts, and Ohio, offer to all their children opportunities of learning, there exists in many states a numerous peasantry, both white and black, of besotted ignorance, and struggling but feebly, almost without aid or opportunity, toward some small enlightenment. Let us not overlook the fact, in our complacency, that while we, in these favored communities, content ourselves with offering education to those whom we leave free to become sovereign citizens in abject ignorance, other nations have gone beyond us in enforcing universal education; in not only throwing open the feast of reason, but in going into the highways and hedges, and compelling them to come in.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Coming to the last of the familiar sources of national pride which I have suggested, we may fairly say that the emotions with which a patriot looks back upon the conclusions of the period beginning in 1860 must be of a most varied and conflicting sort. The glory of successful war must be tempered by shame that red-handed rebellion should ever have raised its head in a constitutional nation. If it was not permitted to a Roman general, so it is not becoming to us, to triumph over conquered fellow-citizens. If we rejoice, as the whole world does rejoice, that the conflict which, for four years distracted us, ended in the restoration of four million slaves to the rights of free manhood, the remembrance that neither our national conscience nor our statesmanship had found a better way out of the bondage of Egypt than through a Red Sea of blood, may well qualify our reasonable pride; the question, how these millions and their masters are yet to be lifted up into fitness for their new sovereignty over themselves and over us, may well sober our exultation.

If I have departed from the common usage of this occasion, in assuming that you know, quite as well as I do, the infinite causes that exist for pride, and joy, and common congratulation in being American citizens, I beg leave before I close to suggest one further reason for the emotions which are natural to all our hearts to-day. It has been common to us and to other nations, —to our friends alike and our detractors,—to speak of the institutions under which we live, as new, experimental, and of questionable permanency. Fellow-citizens, if we can learn nothing else from the comparative view of other nations to which I have been hastily recommending you, this fact at least presses itself home upon us: that of all the nations of the earth which are under the light of Christian and European civilization, the institutions of America are those which the vicissitudes of a century have left most unchanged; that, tested by the history of those hundred years, and by the experience of every such nation republican democracy, means permanency, not revolution; wise conservatism, not destruction; and that all other institutions are as unstable as water in comparison.

I believe that to-day this American “experiment” is the most ancient system in Christendom. Not a constitution in Europe but exists by grace of a revolution of far later date than the framing of our constitution, which stands now, immortal monument to the wisdom of its founders, almost unchanged from its pristine shape and substance. If the stable British monarchy seems to you an exception, reflect upon the silent revolution which in that time has annulled the power of the crown, and almost subverted its influence; remember the suppression of the Irish Parliament, the removal of the Catholic disabilities which for a century and a half had been a foundation stone of the constitution; remember the Reform Bill which prostrated the power of the aristocracy; the repeal of the Corn Laws, which reversed the economic policy of a thousand years; look at the audacious legislation which within two years has destroyed even the names of that judicial system which is identified with English monarchy—-at that which within a few weeks has dared to add a flimsy glitter to the immemorial title of the sovereign herself—and you may well be proud of the solidity and permanence of our institutions compared with the swift-dissolving forms of European systems.

We know, however, that institutions, even the best of them, cannot long exist without change. As in physical life, there must be either growth or decay; when growth has ceased, decay cannot long be postponed. How shall it be with those institutions which a noble ancestry has bequeathed to us, and in which we rejoice to-day? Let us not forget that the day is the beginning of a new century, as well, as the close of an old one. Not one of us is to see the close of the coming age, as none of us saw the opening of the last. And while it is given to none to discern the future, we know well that institutions, whether civil or social, cannot long continue better than the people who enjoy them. Be it ours, therefore, so far as lies in us, to perpetuate for our remote offspring the benefits which have come own from our ancestors. Let us cultivate in ourselves—let us teach to our children—those virtues which alone make our free institutions possible or desirable. Thus, and only thus, shall we make this day not merely the commemoration of departed glories, but the portal to that Golden Age which has been the dream of poets and the promise of prophets, and toward which, as we dare to hope, the event which we now celebrate has so mightily impelled mankind. Our eyes shall not behold it; but woe to us if we cease to hope for it and to labor towards it It may be hard—it is hard—for us, surrounded by the green graves and the desolated homes which within a dozen years a ghastly civil war has made in this religious and enlightened nation,— for us here, in the very presence of the tattered yet venerated symbols of that strife,(1) to believe that the day can ever shine upon the earth

When the war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle-fags are furled
In the parliament of man, the federation of the world:
When the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall dumber, lapt in universal law.

The reign of ” Peace on Earth—Good Will towards Men”— the dominion of Reason and Justice over Force and Fraud—it may be far off, but it shall surely come.

Down the dark future, through long generations,
The sounds of strife grow fainter, and then cease;
And like a bell, in solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say,” Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its ‘brazen portals,
The blast of war’s great organ shakes the skies:
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of Love arise.

Footnote(s): 1. The worn-out regimental colors of the 33d New York Volunteers, a regiment which went to the war from Wayne County, were carried in the procession and set up in front of the speaker’s stand.

See also: Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
Power of History2

THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)

HoriatoSeymourTHE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE, An Oration By Ex-Gov. Horatio Seymour, Delivered At Rome, New York, July 4th, 1876.

The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, in order to strengthen his character thereby. ~ John Milton

I Do not come before you merely to take part in a holiday affair, nor to excite a passing interest about the occasion which calls us together. While my theme is the History of the Valley of the Mohawk, in speaking of it the end I have in view is as practical as if I came to talk to you about agriculture, mechanics, commerce or any other business topic.

There is in history a power to lift a people up and make them great and prosperous. The story of a nation’s achievements excites that patriotic pride which is a great element in vigor, boldness and heroism. He who studies with care the jurisprudence of the Old Testament, will see that this feeling of reverence for forefathers and devotion to country is made the subject of positive law in the command that men should honor their fathers and their mothers. But sacred poetry is filled with appeals to these sentiments, and the narratives of the Bible abound with proofs of the great truth, that the days of those who fear them shall be long in the land which God has given them. All history, ancient and modern, proves that national greatness springs in no small degree from pride in their histories, and from the patriotism cherished by their traditions and animated by their examples. This truth shines out in the annals of Greece and Rome. It gives vitality to the power of Britain, France, Germany and other European nations. The instincts of self-preservation led the American people in this centennial year to dwell upon the deeds of their fathers and by their example to excite our people to a purer patriotism, to an unselfish devotion to the public welfare.

The power of history is not confined to civilized races. The traditions of savage tribes have excited them to acts of self sacrifice and heroism, and of bold warfare, which have extorted the admiration of the world. The Valley of the Mohawk gives striking proofs of this. The Iroquois, who lived upon the slopes of the hills which stretch from the Hudson to the shores of Lake Erie, called themselves by a name which asserted that they and their fathers were men excelling all other men. Animated by this faith which grew out of their legends, they became the masters of the vast region stretching from the coast of the Atlantic to the banks of the Mississippi, from north of the great Lakes to the land of the Cherokees.

Unaided by arts, without horses or chariots, or implements of war, save the rudest form of the spear and the arrow, they traversed the solitary forest pathways, and carried their conquests over regions, which in extent have rarely been equaled by civilized nations with all the aids of fleets, or the terrible engines of destruction which science has given to disciplined armies. History gives no other example of such great conquest over so many enemies or difficulties, as were won by the Iroquois, when we take into account their limited numbers. Does any man think that all this would have been true if they had not been stirred up to a savage but noble heroism by the traditions of their tribes?

governorhoratio-seymourThe power of history over our minds and purposes is intensified when we stand amid the scenes of great events. Men cross the ocean and encounter the fatigues, dangers of a journey to the other side of the earth, that they may walk through the streets of Jerusalem, or look out from the hill of Zion, or wander amid sacred places. These scenes bring to* their minds the story of the past in a way that thrills their nerves. Or, if we visit the fields of great battles, the movements of armies, the thunder of artillery, the charge, the repulse, the carnage of war, the ground strewed with dead or dying and slippery with blood, are all presented to our imaginations in a way they can not elsewhere be felt or seen.

If beyond the general interest of history which incites to national patriotism, and in addition to the scenes of events which stir our blood when we move among them, we know that the actors were our fathers whose blood flows in our veins, we then have acting upon us, in its most intense form, the power of the past. Patriotism, and love of the land in which we live; a pious reverence for our fathers, all unite to lift us up upon the highest plane of public and of private virtue.

The men and the women of the valley of the Mohawk meet here to-day not only to celebrate the great events of our country, but to speak more particularly about deeds their ancestors have done on these plains and hillsides, and then to ask themselves if they have been true to their country, to their fathers and themselves by preserving and making known to the dwellers in this valley and to the world at large its grand and varied history. Have they been made household words? Have they shaped the ambitions and virtues of those growing up in the fireside circle? Have they been used to animate all classes in the conduct of public and private affairs?

Just so far as the dwellers in the valley of the Mohawk have failed in these respects, they have cheated and wronged themselves. They have failed to use the most potent influence to elevate their morals, intelligence and virtue. They have not brought themselves within the scope of that promise which religion, reason and experience show, is held out to those who honor their fathers, and incite themselves to acts of patriotism and lives of public and private devotion, by keeping in their minds the conduct of the good and great who have gone before them.

Let the events in this valley during the past three centuries now pass in review before us. Its Indian wars, the missionaries’ efforts, animated by religious zeal, which sought to carry religion into its unbroken forests and wild recesses; the march of the armies of France and England, with their savage allies, which for a hundred years made this valley the scenes of warfare and bloodshed; the struggle of the revolution, which brought with it not only all the horrors ever attendant upon war, added to them the barbarities of the savage ferocity that knows no distinction of age, sex or condition, but with horrible impartiality inflicted upon all alike the tortures of the torch and tomahawk. When these clouds had rolled away through the pathways of this valley, began the march of the peaceful armies of civilization which have filled the interior of our country with population, wealth and power. The world has never elsewhere seen a procession of events more varied, more dramatic, more grand in their influences.

The grounds upon which we stand have been wet with the blood of men who perished in civilized and savage war. Its plains and forests have rung with the war cry of the Iroquois, and have echoed back the thunder of artillery. Its air has been filled with the smoke of burning homes, and lighted up by the flames of the products of industry, kindled by the torch of enemies. Let this scene impress your minds while I try to tell the story of the past. With regard to the savages who lived in this valley, I will repeat the statements which I made on a recent occasion, and the evidence which I then produced in regard to their character.

Power of History1We arc inclined to-day to think meanly of the Indian race, and to charge that the dignity and heroism imputed to them was the work of the novelist rather than the proof of authentic history. A just conception of their character is necessary to enable us to understand the causes which shaped our civilization. But for the influence exerted by the early citizens of this place upon the Iroquois, it is doubtful if the English could have held their ground against the French west of the Alleghenies.

In speaking of them the colonial historian Smith says:

These of all those innumerable tribes of savages which inhabit the northern part of America, are of more importance to us and the French, both on account of their vicinity and warlike disposition.

In the correspondence of the French colonial officials with Louis the Great, it is said:

That no people in the world, perhaps, have higher notions than these Indians of military glory. All the surrounding nations have felt the effects of their prowess, and many not only become their tributaries, but are so subjugated to their power, that without their consent they dare not commence either peace or war.

Colden, in his history, printed in London, in 1747, says:

The Five Nations think themselves by nature superior to the rest of mankind, and call themselves “Onguekonwe,” that is, men surpassing all others.

This opinion, which they take care to cultivate in their children, gives them that courage which has been so terrible to all nations of North America, and they have taken such care to impress the same opinion of their people on all their neighbors, that they on all occasions yield the most submissive obedience to them. He adds; I have been told by old men of New England, who remembered the time when the Mohawks made war on their Indians, that as soon as a single Mohawk was discovered in the country, these Indians raised a cry from hill to hill, A Mohawk! a Mohawk! upon which they all fled like sheep before wolves, without attempting to make the least resistance, whatever odds were on their side. All the nations round them have for many years entirely submitted to them, and pay a yearly tribute to them in wampum.

We have many proofs of their skill in oratory and of the clearness and logic of their addresses. Even now, when their power is gone, and their pride broken down, they have many orators among them. I have heard in my official life speeches made by them, and I have also listened to many of the distinguished men of our own lineage. While the untutored man could not arm himself with all the facts and resources at the command of the educated, yet I can say that I have heard from the chiefs of the Five Nations as clear, strong and dignified addresses as any I have listened to in legislative halls or at the bar of our judicial tribunals. Oratory is too subtle in its nature to be described, or I could give to you some of the finest expressions in Indian addresses.

They did not excel merely in arms and oratory, they were a political people. Monsieur D. La Protiere, a Frenchman and an enemy, says in his history of North America:

When we speak of the Five Nations in France, they are thought, by a common mistake, to be mere barbarians, always thirsting for blood, but their characters are very different. They are indeed the fiercest and most formidable people in North America, and at the same time are as politic and judicious as well can be conceived, and this appears from their management of all affairs which they have not only with the French and English but likewise with almost all the Indians of this vast continent.

As to their civil polity, Colden says in 1747:

Each of these nations is an absolute republic by itself, and every castle in each nation is governed in all public affairs by its own sachems or old men. The authority of these rulers is gained by and consists wholly in the opinion the rest of the nation have of their integrity and wisdom. Their great men, both sachems and captains, are generally poorer than the common people, and they affect to give away and distribute all the presents or plunder they get in their treaties or in wars, so as to leave nothing to themselves. There is not a man in the members of the Five Nations who has gained his office otherwise than by merit. There is not the least salary or any sort of profit annexed to any office to tempt the covetous or sordid, but on the contrary every unworthy action is unavoidably attended with the forfeiture of their commissions, for their authority is only the esteem of the people, and ceases the moment that esteem is lost.

In the history of the world there is no other instance where such vast conquests were achieved with such limited numbers without superiority of arms. More than two hundred years ago, when the New England colonies were engaged in King Phillip’s war, commissioners were sent to Albany to secure the friendship of the Mohawks. Again, in 1684, Lord Howard, Governor of Virginia, met the sachems of the Onondagas and Cayugas in the Town Hall of Albany. These councils by the governors and agents of the colonies became almost annual affairs. The power of Colonel Peter Schuyler with the Iroquois at this day was deemed of the utmost importance by the crown. Perhaps no other man in our history exerted so great an influence over the course of events which shaped the destinies of our country. For he was a great man who lived and acted at a time when it was uncertain if French or English civilization, thoughts and customs would govern this continent. He and the chiefs who went with him to England were received with marks of distinction and unusual honor by Queen Anne.

The Hollanders were the first Europeans who were brought in contact with this people.

Before the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth Rock, they had made a settlement on the Hudson, where the capital of our State now stands. At that time, the most commercial people of the world, their ships visited every sea, and they were accustomed to deal with all forms of civilized and savage life. In pursuit of the fur trade they pushed their way up the stream of the Mohawk, and by their wisdom and prudence made relationship with the Indians along its banks, which was of the utmost importance in the future history of our country.

The influence which the Hollanders gained while they held the territories embraced in New York and New Jersey was exerted in behalf of the British Government, when the New Netherlands, as they were then called, were transferred to that power. In the long contest, running through a century, known as the French war, the Dutch settlers rendered important service to the British crown. The avenues and rivers which they had discovered penetrating the deep forest which overspread the country now became the routes by which the armies of France and England sought to seize and hold the strongholds of our land. The power which could hold Fort Stanwix, the present site of Rome, the carrying place between the Mohawk and the waters which flowed through Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, would control the great interior plains of this continent. If France could have gained a foothold in this valley, the whole region drained by the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi reaching from the Alleghenies to the Rocky Mountains, would have been her’s. Our history, usages, government and laws would have been changed.

He who will study European events for a hundred years before our revolution will be struck as to the uncertainties, as to the result. For a century the destinies of this continent vibrated with the uncertainties of the battle-fields of Europe. The crisis of our fate was during the reign of Louis the Great, when that ambitious and powerful monarch sought to extend his dominion over two continents. When Marlborough won victories at Blenheim, Ramilies and Malblaquet, or when Prince Eugene swept the French from Italy and crippled the power of France, they did more than they dreamed of. They fought for the purpose of adjusting the balance of the nations of Europe; they shaped the customs, laws and conditions of a continent. But the war was not confined to the Old World.

Standing upon the spot where we now meet we could have seen a long successien of military expeditions made up of painted warriors, of disciplined soldiers, led by brave, adventurous men, pushing their way through deep forest paths or following, with their light vessels and frail canoes, the current of the Mohawk. But arms were not the only power relied upon to gain control.

The missionaries of France, with a religious zeal which outstripped the traders greed for gold, or the soldiers love for glory, traversed this continent far in advance of war or commerce. Seeking rather than shunning martyrdom; they were bold, untiring in their efforts to bring over the savage tribes to the religion to which they were devoted, and to the government to which they were attached. Many suffered tortures and martyrdom, in the interior of our State, and on the banks of the Mohawk. There are not in the world’s history pages of more dramatic interest than those which tell of the efforts of diplomacy, the zeal of religion, or the heroism in arms of this great contest, waged so many years in the wilds of this country. If I could picture all the events that have happened here, they would invest this valley with unfading interest. Its hillsides, its plains, its streams are instinct with interest to the mind of him who knows the story of the past. It should be familiar in every household. But the grand procession of armies did not stop with the extinction of Indian tribes, or of French claims.

When the revolutionary contest began, the very structure of our country made the State of New York the centre of the struggle, and the valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk, the great avenues through which war swept in its desolating course. It was most destructive here, for it brought all the horrors of Indian warfare. It is said that there was not one home in all this region which did not suffer from the torch or the tomahawk. Fortunately it was inhabited by a brave, hardy and enduring race, trained to meet and overcome the hardships of life. The homes of their fathers had been destroyed in Europe by the armies of France. The Germans brought here by the British Government during the reign of Queen Anne were placed between the English settlements and the savage tribes, because, among other reasons, it was said that their trials and sufferings had fitted them to cope with all the dangers of border life.

When we have thus had passed in review before us the bands of painted savages, the missionary armed only with religious zeal, and shielded alone with the insignia of his sacred calling; the gallant armies of France and Britain; the hasty array of our Revolutionary fathers as they rallied in defence of their liberties, we have then only seen the forerunners of the greatest movement of the human race.

With our independence and the possession and the mastery of this great continent began a struggle unparalleled in the history of the world. Peaceful in its form, it has dwarfed in comparison the mightiest movements of war. Its influence upon the civilization of the people of the earth, has thrown into insignificance all that modern victories and invasions have done. During the past hundred years there has been a conflict between the nations of Europe on the one hand, and our broad land and political freedom on the other- It has been a contest for men and women—for those who could give us labor skill and strength. We count our captives by millions. Not prisoners of war, but prisoners of peace. Not torn by force, but won by the blessings which the God of nature has enabled us to hold out to them in our fertile hills and valleys and plains. What were the hordes of the Persians? What were the array of the crusaders? What the armies of earth’s greatest conquerors, in comparison with the march of the multitudes of immigrants from the Atlantic, States or from Europe who have moved through the valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk, the very gateways of our country seeking homes in the interior of our continent? Ours is a double victory, unlike war, which kills or enchains. It draws our opponents to our side, and makes them co-workers in building up our greatness and glory. As the men of every civilized race are pouring through our valley, we see before us the mightiest elements which are shaping the future of the human race.

What are all the problems of European diplomacy compared with these movements passing before us? All their recent wars, in the changes they have made are insignificant in comparison with the power we have gained by immigration alone. That procession of events, beginning with Indian warfare, and stretching through three centuries of battles for the possession, and the wars for the independence of our country, grows in importance and magnitude; and we see no end to its column as we look down into the dim future. The courses of the Mohawk and Hudson will ever be its greatest avenues. For here commerce pours its richest streams, and immigration leads its greatest armies. We are bewildered when we try to trace out the growth of the future. Each rolling year adds more than a million; each passing day more than three thousand; each fleeting hour more than one hundred to our numbers. The tide will swell still higher in the future.

I was once asked by a distinguished Englishman if we did not make a mistake when we severed our relationship from the British people? I told him that we were sometimes sorry that we let them go; that our mere increase in twenty-five years would exceed in numbers the population of Great Britain; that the British Isles would make glorious States of our Union; and that we needed them as outposts on the European shores. I was able to say this under the circumstances without violation of courtesy, and it was pleasantly received by a man whose mind was large enough not to take offense at the remark, which served to place the progress of our country in a strong light,

I have thus hastily sketched the interest which attaches to the whole course of the Mohawk Valley, with the view of throwing light upon the question which I put at the outset. Have we who live amid these scenes been true to ourselves, and true to our forefathers, by making this history an animating influence to promote the public welfare; to instill honorable pride in family circles, or quicken the minds with generous thoughts, which otherwise would have been dull and cold and sordid? The characters of men depend upon the current of thoughts which are passing through their minds. If these are ennobling, the man is constantly lifted up; it matters not what his condition may be in other respects.

If these are debasing, he will constantly sink in the scale of morals and intellect; it matters not what wealth or learning he may have. What men think not only in the hours study, but at all times and places, in the field, in the workshop, in the counting-room, makes their characters, their intelligence and their virtue. Men’s thoughts form and shape them. And those which relate to the past are most ennobling. For they are unstained by prejudice, and unweakened by sentiments which incline to detract from merits of living actors. We instinctively think and speak well of the dead. This of itself makes us better men. We can so learn the, histories of this valley, that its scenes shall recall them as clearly and as vividly as the pictures upon our walls. We can so stamp them upon our minds that its hills and plains and streams will be instinct with the actions of those who have gone before us that man has done himself a wrong who can look down upon the Mohawk; and not see the drifting along its current the savage, the missionary, or the soldier of the past. He who dwells upon its traditions; who can point out where men died in the struggles of war, where men suffered martyrdom for their faith—the spot where some bold stand was taken for the the rights of man and the liberties of country; he who feels the full import of the great movements of commerce and of men passing through this valley, certainly has an education that will always lift him up mentally and morally. You can not imagine a people living here with all these events stamped upon their minds, ever present to give food for thought and reflection, who will not be animated by a zeal for the public welfare, by generous impulses, by a self-sacrificing devotion for honor, for religion, for country. There is no teaching so powerful as that which comes invested with the forms of nature. It is that which reaches and tells upon the young and the old, the learned and the unlearned alike. Imagine two men living in this valley, both familiar with all its features, one well informed and the other ignorant of its events; then tell me if you believe that they can be alike in their moral natures or their value as citizens. In view of what I have thus said we can see why history is so potent. We can now see the wisdom, and the mercy too, of that command which tells us to honor our fathers and our mothers, though for many years and through many generations they have slept in their graves.

There are some reasons why the history of New York is not as well-known to the American people as that of other States. It has not excited the interest which justly attaches to it. The first settlers were Hollanders. When the Dutch made their settlement on this continent they were superior to other European nations, in learning, in arts, in commerce, and in just views of civil and religious liberty. Our country is indebted to them for many of the best principles of our goverment. But their language is no longer spoken here. In-comers from other States and nations exceed their descendants in numbers, and many of the traditions and events of its colonial period have been lost. This is true also of the German settlers in the valley of the Mohawk. The settlers who came into our State after the revolution, brought with them the ideas and sentiments of the places from which they came, and which, for a long time, have been cherished with more zeal than has been shown for the history of the State, where they have made their homes. These things created an indifference to the honor of New York. So far from preserving what relates to its past, in many instances old monuments have been destroyed, and names obliterated, which, if they had been preserved, would have recalled to men’s minds the most important incidents in the progress of our country. Nothing could have been more unfortunate than the acts which changed the name of Fort Stanwix to that of Rome, and that of Fort Schuyler to Utica. The old names would have suggested the circumstances of the French and Revolutionary wars. Of themselves they would have educated our people, and would have turned their attention to facts which they ought to know, but which have been thrown into the shade by terms which mislead. The existing designations, with their absurd and incongruous associations, divert the mind from these honorable memories.

The time has come when the people of New York owe it to themselves and to their country to bring forward their records, to incite a just measure of State pride, and to elevate our standard of public and private virtue by the influence of our grand history.

This should be taught in our schools, discussed, in our journals and made the subject of public lectures and addresses. Monuments should be put up to mark the spots where battles were fought and victories won, which have shaped the destinies of our country. When this is done, our own citizens, and the multitudes who traverse our valley, will see that within its limits all forms of warfare—that of Indian barbarism, disciplined armies, and of naval power have occurred within its boundaries. These prove the truth of the remark of General Scott, “that the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson has ever been the strategic point in all the wars in which our country has been engaged with foreign powers.

This work of making the details of our history known and felt by our people should begin in the heart of our State, in the valley of the Mohawk. Associations should be formed to preserve records and traditions that will otherwise be lost. Its old churches, which date back to the existence of our government, should be held sacred. The minor incidents of personal adventure, of individual heroism, should be preserved, for these show the character of the men and times in which they occur.

In no other quarter were the rights of the people asserted against the crown more clearly, or at an earlier day. It is not certain if the blood shed in the Revolution commenced at the battle of Lexington, or when the sturdy Germans were beaten down and wounded while defending their liberty pole against Sir John Johnson and his party.

I have refrained from want of time from presenting many facts and incidents which would give more interest to my address than the general statements I have made. Mr. Simms, to whom we are deeply indebted for long-continued and zealous researches into the history of this valley, has frequently given to the public sketches and narratives of great value. I trust the time has come when he and others who have labored in the same direction, will receive the sympathy and applause to which they are entitled.

Shall this centennial year be made the occasion for organizing societies in this valley, with a view, among other things, to the erection of monuments at different points along the Mohawk? I do not urge this as a mere matter of sentiment, but because I believe they will promote material welfare as well as mental activity and moral elevation. For these are ever found in close relationship. This whole region is marked for its fertility. It abounds with the material for varied industry, and is filled with streams with abundant power to drive all forms of machinery. It is in the heart of a great State, close by the leading markets of our country, and with cheap transportation to those of the world. Many millions in search of homes and for places to pursue their varied industry have passed by all these. I believe if we had shown the same pride in our State that has been exhibited elsewhere; if the minds of our people had been quickened, and their patriotism kept bright and burning by the examples of our fathers, that the Mohawk valley today would show a larger measure of power and prosperity than now blesses it. These things make a system of education, in some respects more active and pervading than that of books and schools. Subtle in their influences, they are not easily described, but they are felt and seen in all the aspects of society. Many years ago Congress made a grant to put up a monument over the grave of Herkimer. Attempts have been made to have the Legislature of our own State to mark in some suitable way the battle field of Oriskany. At the last session of the Legislature, the senator from Otsego and other members of that body made efforts to have something done in these directions. For one, I am grateful to them for their patriotism and the interest they have shown in these subjects. They did their duty when we neglected ours. And yet I rejoice in their failure. This pious work should be done by the people of this valley. They should not wait for strangers to come in to honor their fathers. There would be little value in monuments put up by mere legislative action, and at the cost of the State or national treasury. We want on the part of the people the patriotism which prompts, the intelligence which directs, the liberality which constructs such memorials. We want the inspiring influence which springs from the very efforts to honor the characters of those who have gone before us.

We want that which will not only remind us of the glorious acts of the past, but which will incite them in the future. Will the descendants of the Hollanders in the county of Schenectady be indifferent to this subject? Are the men of German descent, living in Montgomery and Herkimer, willing to have the services and sacrifices of their fathers pass into oblivion? Does no honorable pride move them to let our countrymen know that their homes suffered beyond all others, through the Indian wars and revolutionary struggles? Will they not try to keep alive in the minds of their countrymen the fact that the battle of Oriskany, which was the first check given to the British power in the campaign of Burgoyne, was fought by their ancestors and that its shouts and war-cries were uttered in the German language? Have they less public spirit than the Germans who have lately come to our country, and who have put up a monument to Baron Steuben? By doing so they honored one whose relationships to them were comparatively remote. Is it not true that men born in the valley of the Mohawk neglect the graves of their fathers, and forget the battle fields which have been made wet with the blood of those of their own lineage? The county of Oneida bears the name of one of the conquering tribes of the Iroquois. Upon the banks of the upper Mohawk, which flows through its territory, stood Fort Stanwix and Fort Schuyler. The former was for a hundred years during the wars between France and England, and at the time of our national independence, one of the most important military positions in our country. Near by was fought the battle of Oriskany, which was a part of the contest at Saratoga which won our national independence.

It was my purpose to give more value to this address, and to fortify its positions by presenting many incidents of a nature to interest and convince. But my health has not allowed me to refer to the proper books and documents for this purpose. I have therefore been compelled to speak more in general terms than I intended . What I have said is also weakened by the fact that I have not been able to take up and follow out my subject continuously and with clearness.

In particular, I wished to speak at some length of Fort Stanwix, Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer, but I am unable to do so. Much also could be said about the old church at German Flats. Built before the revolution, for the Germans of the Palatinates, it has associations with the great political and religious struggles of Europe and America. Standing upon the site of a fort still more ancient, for it was built at an early period of the French war, it was for a long time the outpost of the British power on this continent. It has been the scene of Indian warfare; of sudden and secret attack by stealthy savages; of sudden forays which swept away the crops and cattle of feeble settlements; of assaults by the French; of personal conflicts which mark contests on the outskirts of civilization. It was the stronghold of our fathers during the revolution. The missionary and the fur trader more than three hundred years ago floated by its position in bark canoes, and in these later days millions of men and women from our own country and from foreign lands, on canals or railroads, have passed by on their way to build up great cities and States in the hear t of our continent. There is no spot where the historian can place himself with more advantage when he wishes to review in his mind the progress of our country to greatness, than the Old Church at German Flats. Looking from this point his perspectives will be just; all facts will take their due proportions; local prejudices will not discolor his views, and he will be less liable here than elsewhere in falling into the common error of giving undue prominence to some events, while overlooking the full significance of others more important. I hope the subjects of local histories will be taken up by our fellow citizens of this region, and the facts relating to them brought out and made familiar to us all.

I said at the outset that I did not come here to-day merely to appeal to your imaginations, or only to take part in a holiday affair. I come to speak upon subjects which I deem of practical importance to my hearers. If I have succeeded in making myself understood, I am sure, if you will look into these subjects you will find that all history, all jurisprudence, all just reasonings, force us to the conclusion that not only does a Divine command, but that reason and justice call upon us to honor our ancestors, and that there is a great practical truth which concerns the welfare, the prosperity, and the power of all communities in the words, “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

See also: 
The History and Events that Led to the Founding of the United States by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)

OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876

betsy_ross_flag1OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins 1834-1899.  Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Washington Heights, New York City, July 4, 1876.

Mr. Chairman:—One of the most conspicuous and pleasing objects in our broad land to-day, is the starry emblem of freedom—our dear old flag. We see it, a centennial spectacle, floating everywhere, as we never saw it before, and as we never shall see it again. It is unfurled along our highways, it adorns our public and private dwellings, it floats over our temples of worship, our halls of learning and courts of justice, and waves as grandly and gracefully over the lowest cottage in the land, as over the proud dome of the capital itself. It is our flag, with sweet centennial memories clinging to every fold, our flag along whose stripes we may trace the triumphant march of one hundred years, and from whose stars we see the light of hope and liberty still flashing upon the nations.

AFBetsyross1776The origin of our flag is, to some extent, involved in mystery and controversy. It has been claimed by some that its stars and stripes were first taken from the shield of the Washington family, which was distinguished by colored lines and stars; and if this be so, it is not at all improbable, though by no means certain, that Washington himself may have suggested the peculiar form of the flag. The first distinctively American flag was unfurled to the breeze on the first day of January, 1776. It consisted of “seven white and seven red stripes,” and bore upon its front the “red and white crosses of St. George and St. Andrew,” and was called “The Great Union Flag.” This flag quickly displaced all other military devices, and became the battle-banner of the American Army. In 1777, however, it was greatly changed. The crosses were omitted and thirteen red and white stripes were used to denote the thirteen States, and thirteen stars were used to represent the union of those States. And our flag still retains its stars occasionally adding one to the number, and, as traitors know to their sorrow, it also still retains its stripes, well laid on. We have never found it necessary to ask true American citizens to respect and honor our flag. When Gen. Dix, on the 29th of January, 1861, penned those terse memorable words: “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot;” the loyal people of the nation said, “Amen. So let it be.

We do not wonder that our people, and especially our soldiers love the flag. It is to them both a history and a prophecy. No wonder that brave soldier as he fell on the field of battle said, “Boys, don’t wait for me; just open the folds of the old flag and let me see it once more before I die.

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1No wonder that Massachusetts soldier boy, dying in the gory streets of Baltimore, lifted up his glazing eyes to the flag and shouted, “All hail, the stars and the stripes!!!” Our flag is a power everywhere. One has justly said, “It is known, respected and feared round the entire globe. Wherever it goes, it is the recognized symbol of intelligence, equality, freedom and Christian civilization. Wherever it goes the immense power of this great Republic goes with it, and the hand that touches the honor of the flag, touches the honor of the Republic itself. On Spanish soil, a man entitled to the protection of our government was arrested and condemned to die. The American consul interceded for his life, but was told that the man must suffer death. The hour appointed for the execution came, and Spanish guns, gleaming in the sunlight, were ready for the work of death. At that critical moment the American consul took our flag, and folded its stars and stripes around the person of the doomed man, and then turning to the soldiers, said: “Men, remember that a single shot through that flag will be avenged by the entire power of the American Republic.” That shot was never fired. And that man, around whom the shadows of death were gathering, was saved by the stars and the stripes. Dear old flag! Thou art a power at home and abroad. Our fathers loved thee in thine infancy, one hundred years ago; our heroic dead loved thee, and we loved thee, and fondly clasp thee to our hearts today. All thy stars gleam like gems of beauty on thy brow, and all thy stripes beam upon the eye like bows of promise to the nation.

Wave on, thou peerless, matchless banner of the free! Wave on, over the army and the navy, over the land and the sea, over the cottage and the palace, over the school and the church, over the living and the dead; wave ever more, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

See also: 
Founders on the 2nd Amendment
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
Once a Marine, always a Marine! Salute! Semper Fidelis!
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS! A Poem By Charles G. Halpine 1861-1865
THE OATH! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
THE RISING, 1776! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4, 1876
We The People Never Forget September 11, 2001

The American Revolution Intelligence and Counterintelligence

From 1774 to 1783, the British government and its upstart American colony became locked in an increasingly bitter struggle as the Americans moved from violent protest over British colonial policies to independence. As this scenario developed, intelligence and counterintelligence played important roles in America’s fight for freedom and British efforts to save its empire.
It is apparent that British General Thomas Gage, commander of the British forces in North America since 1763, had good intelligence on the growing rebel movement in the Massachusetts colony prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord. His highest paid spy, Dr. Benjamin Church, sat in the inner circle of the small group of men plotting against the British. Gage failed miserably, however, in the covert action and counterintelligence fields. Gage’s successor, General Howe, shunned the use of intelligence assets, which impacted significantly on the British efforts. General Clinton, who replaced Howe, built an admirable espionage network but by then it was too late to prevent the American colonies from achieving their independence.
On the other hand, George Washington was a first class intelligence officer who placed great reliance on intelligence and kept a very personal hand on his intelligence operations. Washington also made excellent use of offensive counterintelligence operations but never created a unit or organization to conduct defensive counterintelligence or to coordinate its activity. This he left to his commanders and to committees established in the colonies.
When the Revolution was over and a new nation emerged, there continued to be ample opportunities to create a counterintelligence service. Spy scares, conspiracies and European meddling occurred repeatedly. But it isn’t until the Civil War period that an effort is made to create a federal agency to conduct counterintelligence.
This chapter provides the legacy for America’s use of counterintelligence in future years.

Counterintelligence:
Probably the first patriot organization created for counterintelligence purposes was the Committee (later called a Commission) for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies. It was made up of a series of groups established in New York between June of 1776 and January of 1778 to collect intelligence, apprehend British spies and couriers, and examine suspected British sympathizers. In effect, there was created a “special service” for New York which had the power to arrest, to convict, to grant bail or parole, and to jail or to deport. A company of militia was placed under its command to implement its broader charter. John Jay has been called the first chief of American counterintelligence because of his role in directing this Committee’s work.
Nathaniel Sackett and Colonel William Duer were particularly successful in ferreting out British agents, but found their greatest success in the missions of one of the dozen or so agents of their own, Enoch Crosby. Crosby, a veteran of the Continental Army, had been mistaken by a Westchester County Tory as being someone who shared his views. He confided to Crosby that a secret Tory military company was being formed and introduced him to the group. Crosby reported the plot to the committee and was “captured” with the group. He managed to “escape” and, at Committee direction, infiltrated another secret Tory unit. This unit, including Crosby, was also taken and he “escaped” once more. He repeated the operation at least two more times before Tory suspicions made it necessary for him to retire from counterintelligence work.
Another successful American agent was Captain David Gray of Massachusetts. Posing as a deserter, Gray entered the service of Colonel Beverly Robinson, a Tory intelligence officer, and became Robinson’s courier. As a result, the contents of each of Robinson’s dispatches were read by the Americans before their delivery. Gray eventually became the courier for Major Oliver DeLancey, Jr., the head of the British secret service in New York. For two years, Gray, as DeLancey’s courier to Canada, successfully penetrated the principal communications link of the British secret service. Upon completing his assignment, Gray returned to the ranks of the Continental Army and his name was struck from the deserter list, where George Washington placed it at the beginning of the operation.
Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, a senior intelligence officer under Washington, is credited with the capture of Major John Andre, who preceded DeLancey as chief of the British secret service in New York. Although Tallmadge declined to discuss the episode in his memoirs, it is said that one of his agents had reported to him that Major Andre was in contact with a “John Anderson” who was expecting the surrender of a major patriot installation. Learning that a “John Anderson” had passed through the lines “en route to” General Benedict Arnold, the commander at West Point, Tallmadge had Anderson apprehended and returned for interrogation. “Anderson” admitted to his true identity—he was Major Andre—and was tried, convicted and executed as a spy. Arnold, learning that Andre had been taken and that his own traitorous role no doubt was exposed, fled West Point before he could be captured, and joined the British forces.
General Washington demanded effective counterintelligence work from his subordinates. On March 24, 1776, for example, he wrote: “There is one evil I dread, and that is, their spies. I could wish, therefore, the most attentive watch be kept … I wish a dozen or more of honest sensible and diligent men, were employed . . .in order to question, cross question etc., all such persons as are unknown, and cannot give an account of themselves in a straight and satisfactory manner … I think it is a matter of importance to prevent them obtaining intelligence of our situation.”
Paul Revere and the Mechanics:
The first patriot intelligence network on record was a secret group in Boston known as the “mechanics.” The group apparently grew out of the old “Sons of Liberty” organization that had successfully opposed the hated Stamp Act. The “mechanics” organized resistance to British authority and gathered intelligence. In the words of one of its members, Paul Revere, “In the Fall of 1774 and winter of 1775, I was one of the upwards of thirty, chiefly mechanics, who formed ourselves into a Committee for the purpose of watching British soldiers and gaining every intelligence on the movements of the Tories.” According to Revere, “We frequently took turns, two and two, to watch the (British) soldiers by patrolling the streets at night.”
Through a number of their intelligence sources, the “mechanics” were able to see through the cover story the British had devised to mask their march on Lexington and Concord. Dr. Joseph Warren, chairman of the Committee of Safety, charged Revere with the task of warning John Adams and John Hancock at Lexington that they were the probably targets of the enemy operation. Revere arranged for the warning lanterns to be placed in the Old North Church to alert patriot forces at Charleston, and then set off on his famous ride. He completed his primary mission of notifying Adams and Hancock. Then Revere, along with Dr. Samuel Prescott and William Dawes, rode on to alert Concord, only to be apprehended by the British en route. Dawes got away, and Dr. Prescott managed to escape soon afterward and to alert the patriots at Concord. Revere was interrogated and subsequently released, after which he returned to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams of the proximity of British forces. Revere then turned to still another mission, retrieving from the local tavern a trunk belonging to Hancock and filled with incriminating papers. With John Lowell, Revere went to the tavern and, as he put, during a “continual roar of Musquetry . . . we made off with the Trunk.”
Fortunately, when interrogated by the British, Revere did not have his travel orders from Dr. Warren; the authorization was not issued to him until two weeks later. And when Paul Revere filed a travel voucher for his famous ride, it was not until August, some four months later, that it was approved—and when it was approved, his per diem payment was reduced from five shillings a day to four.
Paul Revere had served as a courier prior to his famous “midnight ride,” and continued to do so during the early years of the war. One of his earlier missions was perhaps as important as the Lexington ride. In December of 1774, Revere rode to the Oyster River with the intelligence report that the British, under General Gage, intended to seize Fort William and Mary. Armed with this intelligence, Major John Sullivan of the colonial militia led a force of four hundred men—all in civilian clothing rather than militia uniform—in an attack on the fort. The one hundred barrels of gunpowder taken in the raid were ultimately used by the patriots to cover their retreat from Bunker Hill.
Benjamin Church: 1
In late 1768, British troops commanded by General Thomas Gage occupied Boston, Massachusetts to curb the widely separated incidents of mob disorder that troubled the city following the enactment of the Townsend Acts. The Acts, which levied custom duties on the import of glass, lead, paints, paper and tea, was the latest in a series of burdensome taxation measures the British Parliament tried to impose on the colonies. Skirmishes occurred between Gage’s troops and the civilian population in opposition to the tax. On 5 March, 1770, five men, “the first to defy and the first to die,” were felled by British gunfire in what is termed the “Boston Massacre.” From that moment, wrote Daniel Webster, “we date the serverence of the British empire.”

Paul Revere’s now famous engraving of the incident stirred emotion of protest in the hearts of the colonists, and Samuel Adams’ well-orchestrated propaganda effort made the men martyrs and a symbol of the patriot cause. In response to the growing anger, General Gage strengthened the Boston garrison. When 1775 began, Gage had almost forty-five hundred soldiers in the city. The patriots were not idle during this time frame. They raised and drilled additional militia units throughout Massachusetts and continued to gather arms, ammunition and other military supplies which they cached at secret storehouses in the countryside.
Gage was aware that continued flare-ups between the British and the colonists could ignite into a war and he wanted to avoid precipitating such action. He also knew that to avoid a fight he needed military intelligence on the militia units within Massachusetts. Gage, who also served as colonial governor of Massachusetts, established a network of spies among the patriots. These spies provided information, sometimes in great detail, on the military preparations of the patriots. For example, in March 1774, one of his secret agents reported the patriots had stockpiled weapons and ammunition at Cambridge. On 1 September that year, the British successfully raided the Cambridge warehouse. The patriots, knowing that they needed information to avoid losing their munitions, created a small surveillance committee within the Sons of Liberty in Boston. The Sons of Liberty were secret organizations within the colonies, started in 1765, to organize opposition to the Stamp Act.
During the winter of 1774-75, the 30 members of the surveillance committee met regularly at the Green Dragon Tavern on Union Street in Boston. Members of the group regularly patrolled Boston’s streets at night to detect British military preparations and other activity. They constituted an early warning system for the patriots by identifying possible British raids into the countryside which would allow their colleagues to move their military stores to new secret locations before British troops arrived. For example, in December 1774, the committee acquired intelligence that General Gage arranged to fortify a British arsenal at Portsmouth, New Hampshire with two regiments, intelligence that drove the Sons of Liberty to raid the installation before the British arrived and haul off about a hundred barrels of gunpowder and several cannons.
The leadership of the Mechanics, as the Green Dragon group is now sometimes called, consisted of Dr. Joseph Warren, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, Dr. Benjamin Church, and one or two others. It is believed that Warren, a prominent Boston physician and later a major general who was killed at Bunker Hill, was leader of the group. Church, another physician and political leader, was also a member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence and Safety, the latter body responsible for control of the militia. A minor poet as well as a medical man, Church was a prolific author of Patriot propaganda and was famous for the oration he delivered in commemoration of the Boston Massacre on the third anniversary of that event.
Dr. Church was also one of General Gage’s informers, a British double agent and probably the most valuable spy the British had in America at the time. Church was a native of Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated from Harvard in 1754 and went to England to study medicine at the London Medical College. Possibly in 1768, he returned to America with an English wife and began practicing medicine in Raynham, Massachusetts. Still accustomed to living a life of indulgence, which he acquired in London, Church kept a mistress and built an elaborate summer home. His penchant for free spending did not match his income from his medical practice. To compensate and obtain additional money, Church added spying to his professional resume.
No one knows when Church began his double agent career. “Whether he was driven by his debt or by doubt that the patriots could win, Church had apparently begun spying in 1771, while Samuel Adams was struggling to keep the cause alive. The next year, Thomas Hutchinson (fn.2) had passed along gratifying news to Francis Bernard (fn.3) in London that the man (fn.4) who had written insultingly against Bernard had come over to the government’s side.”(fn.5) Another writer states “It is not possible to pinpoint the exact date that Church began his spying for Gage, but a reasonable guess is 1774. In that year, Paul Revere was aware that the activities of his secret group, of which Church was a part, were known to General Gage. According to Dr. Savage of Barnstable, Massachusetts, who was training with Church at the same time, the latter’s finances suddenly improved. Previously, Church had been financially pressed, built a mansion in Raynham which appeared beyond his means and acquired a mistress; classic indicators for counterintelligence.”(fn.6)
Paul Revere, who had his own spies within General Gage’s command, knew that the Mechanics had been penetrated. Revere received information in November 1774 from his source that the proceedings of at least one meeting at the Green Dragon were known to Gage within 24 hours after the meeting. The only problem was the source could not provide Revere with the identity of the traitor. “We did not then distrust Dr. Church,” he later remembered, “but supposed it must be some one among us.” The only security measure the Mechanics adopted was to have each member swear on a Bible at every meeting at the Green Dragon that he would not divulge the group’s secrets; an admirable procedure but hardly counterintelligence.
On April 14, 1775, Lord Dartmouth, British secretary for the colonies, sent secret instructions to Gage pressing him to take some forceful action against the patriots, such as arresting their leaders, before the situation in Massachusetts reached “A riper state of Rebellion.” Gage ignored Lord Dartmouth’s direction. Instead, Gage decided to capture the patriot military stockpile that Dr. Church and several other agents reported were located in Concord. In fact, the General’s intelligence was so comprehensive he knew the exact location of the military stockpile within the town. Gage issued secret orders to Lt. Col. Francis Smith to proceed with a 700-man force to destroy the patriot ammunition and supply stores.
The surveillance committee obtained information on the destiny of the troops and sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to alert the patriots. They were later joined by Dr. Samuel Prescott. On the way to Concord, they encountered a mounted British patrol. Dawes escaped but had to return to Boston, Revere was captured and taken to Lexington where he told the British everything and then was released. Prescott managed to evade the patrol and get the message to Concord.
When Col. Smith and his troops arrived at Concord, he found 70 Minute Men waiting for him on the Common. Ordered repeatedly to leave the Common area, the Minute Men began to leave but ignored a British order to leave their weapons behind. A shot was fire from within the British ranks, followed by a volley from the British platoons. The gunshots killed eight patriots and wounded 10 others. Only one British soldier was wounded in the return fire. Smith destroyed a few military supplies in Concord and then began his return to Boston.
On his way back, he encountered patriot militiamen who continually assaulted his troops. British reinforcements at Lexington saved Smith and his troops from a complete disaster but it wasn’t until all the British troops arrived in Charlestown, where British men-of-war were in the harbor, that Smith could feel comfortable. The British lost 73 killed, 174 wounded and 26 were missing while the American militia suffered 93 dead, wounded or missing. Following the battles of Lexington and Concord, the American militia men surrounded Boston and began a siege, which lasted until March 1776.
On April 21, 1775, after the patriots had driven the British troops back into Boston, Church crossed the patriot lines at Cambridge and entered the besieged city to meet with Gage. It is probable that Church ignored the security risks to his espionage role for Gage because he was more concerned about maintaining contact and getting paid. Paul Revere recalled 23 years after this happened that Church told the Committee of Safety that he was going into Boston. Dr. Warren, the president of the committee, told Church that the British would hang him if he was caught but Church was adamant about going. Warren then told Church that he needed to have a cover story for being in Boston and both men devised the story that Church was there to obtain needed medicines.
According to Revere, Church returned in a few days to Cambridge. He told the committee he had been arrested, taken before Gage, and then held for several days for interrogation but set free. Revere said that after Church’s arrest later by Washington, Revere met with Deacon Caleb Davis and the two of them began to discuss Church. Revere said that “He (Davis) received a Bilet for General Gage-(he then did not know that Church was in Town)-when he got to the General’s House, he was told the General could not be spoke with, that He was in private with a gentleman; that He waited near half an Hour, when General Gage & Dr. Church came out of a room, discoursing together, like persons who had been long acquainted.” Davis further added that Church “went where he pleased, while in Boston, only a Major Caine, one of Gage’s Aids, went with him.” Revere also said that he “was told by another person, whom I could depend upon, that he saw Church go into General Gage’s House, at the above time; that He gout out of the Chaise and went up the steps more like a man that was acquainted than a prisoner.” (fn.7)
On May 24, 1775, Dr. Church wrote to Gage advising him that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was sending him to consult with the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. His mission was to appeal to the Congress to embody the various New England militias, currently laying siege to Boston, as its own army. Neither Gage nor Dr. Church saw the opportunities presented by having a British double agent handle such an important and sensitive assignment. Church was in a unique position to spread havoc within the patriot ranks by feeding false or misleading information to the Continental Congress and/or working to defeat the assignment. The only thing Church complained about to Gage was that he would be prevented from reporting to Gage for some time.
Church’s handling of the Provincial Congress was so successful that soon after his return to Cambridge, the Massachusetts militias laying siege to Boston were converted into the Continental army under the command of George Washington. So impressive was Church that the Continental Congress appointed him director general of the army’s hospital at Cambridge and chief physician of the Continental army at a salary of four dollars per day and granted him the authority to hire four surgeons and other medical staff.

In espionage and counterespionage, luck plays an important role. For Church his luck began to run out when he received a letter in cipher from his brother-in-law, John Fleming, a Boston printer and bookseller. In his letter, Fleming urged Church to repent his rebellion against the British government and return to Boston, where Fleming believed Church would be pardoned for his crime. Fleming told Church to reply no matter what his decision and to write his response in cipher, addressing the letter in care of Major Cane (one of General Gage’s aides) and send it via Captain Wallace (fn.8) of the H.M.S. Rose, a British warship then stationed near Newport, Rhode Island.
Church replied, but it is not clear whether he believed he was writing to his brother-in-law or to General Gage. Since all communications between Church and Gage ceased when Church departed for Philadelphia, it is possible Church saw Fleming’s method of communication as a secure means of resuming his profitable espionage role with the British commander-in chief. In his response to Fleming, Church provided some exaggerated information on American military strength and some inaccurate reports of military plans, all framed within an impassioned plea to the British to adopt a more reasonable colonial policy.
Unable to take the letter directly to Newport, Church asked his mistress to take it there. Church told her to deliver the letter to Captain Wallace of the H.M.S. Rose, or to the Royal Collector, Charles Dudley. If neither of these men were available, she was instructed to give it to George Rome, a known Tory and a rich merchant and ship owner. Not familiar with the Newport environs, the mistress went to Godfrey Wainwood, (fn.9) a local baker, whom she had known in Boston and believed to be a Tory.
She asked Wainwood to take her to any of the three individuals but he made an excuse not to do so. Exasperated, she then asked Wainwood to deliver the letter for her. Wainwood agreed but deposited the letter on a shelf and forgot about it until late September 1775, when he received a pressing inquiry from the woman expressing her concerned that “you never Sent wot yo promest to send.” Realizing that only the British could have known that the letter was not delivered, Wainwood became suspicious.
Some historians claimed that part of Wainwood’s suspicions is based on the fact that the letter was in cipher, but cipher was used by many people, including Thomas Jefferson for personal letters during the colonial days. What caused Wainwood’s suspicions is the British officer as the recipient of the letter. Instead of doing as the woman requested, Wainwood took the letter to Henry Ward, Secretary of the Colony, who wrote a letter of introduction and sent Wainwood with Church’s letter to General Nathaniel Green, commander of the Rhode Island contingent of the Continental army. Greene, accompanied by Wainwood, went to see General Washington.
When Washington examined the letter he saw that it was dated July 22, (1775) on the outside and when unfolded showed it addressed to Major Cane in Boston. The ciphered contents were unreadable. Wainwood explained that before the outbreak of hostilities between the British and the Americans, he had fraternized with the woman, who was of easy virtue. Upon Washington’s orders, the woman was seized and brought to Washington’s Headquarters.
“I immediately secured the Woman,” Washington reported in a letter to the president of the Continental Congress, “but for a long time she was proof against every threat and persuasion to discover the Author, however at length she was brought to a confession and named Dr. Church.” (fn.10) Washington told James Warren and Major Joseph Hawley the details of the woman’s story and ordered them to go to Cambridge to arrest Church and get his papers.
In a few hours, Church appeared under guard and submitted to questioning. According to Washington’s letter, he “readily acknowledged the Letter. Said it was designed for his Brother Fleming and when deciphered wou’d be found to contain nothing Criminal.” Church offered no justification why he tried to send the letter to Boston by way of a British warship off Rhode Island when he have easily sent it under a flag of truce into the city from Cambridge. He also could not explain why he wrote it in cipher and refused to provide the key to decipher the message.
Washington informed the Continental Congress that a search of Church’s papers failed to find the cipher key or any other incriminating evidence, but added that he was told that a confident of Church had been to Church’s home and probably removed all the incriminating items before Washington’s men arrived to conduct the search. Washington then turned his attention to finding the key to the cipher letter.
An amateur cryptanalyst stepped forward in the person of Reverend Samuel West, who happened to have been a Harvard classmate of Church. A second person, Elbridge Gerry, a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and the Committee of Safety, who would later be the fifth vice-president of the United States, teamed with Colonel Elisha Porter, a colonel in the Massachusetts militia, to conduct a separate cryptanalytic attack on the cipher.
Church had used a type of cipher known as a monoalphabetic substitution, one of the easiest ciphers to solve (Edgar Allen Poe explains the technique in his short story The Gold Bug). Both West and the Gerry-Porter team provided Washington with identical translations of the letter: (see West and Gerry-Porter Letter Translation).

West and Gerry-Porter Letter Translation:
To Major Crane in Boston, on his Magisty’s Service
I hope this will reach you; three attempts have I made without success. In effecting the last, the man was discovered in attempting his escape, but fortunately my letter was sewed in the waistband of his breeches. He was confined a few days during which time you may have guess my feelings. But a little art and a little cash settled the matter.
Tis a month since my return from Philadelphia. I went by the way of Providence to visit mother. The committee for Warlike Stores made me a formal tender of 12 pieces of cannon, 18 and 24 pounders, they having to a previous resolution to make the offer to General Ward. To make a merit of my services, I sent them down and when they received them they sent them to Stoughton to be out of danger, even tho’ they had formed the Resolution as I before hinted of fortifying Bunker’s Hill, which together with the cowardice of the clusmy Col Gerrish and Col Scammon, were the lucky occasion of their defeat. This affair happened before my return from Philadelphia. We lost 165 killed then and since dead of their wounds, 120 now lie wounded. The chief will recover,. They boast you have lost 1500, I suppose, with equal truth.
The people of Connecticut are raving in the cause of Liberty. A number from this colony, from the town of Stanford, robbed the King’s stores at New York with some small assistance the New Yorkers lent them. These were growing turbulent. I counted 280 pieces of Cannon from 24 to 3 pounders at King’s Bridge which the committee had secured for the use of the colonies. The Jersies are not a whit behind Connecticut in zeal. The Philadelphians exceed them both. I saw 2200 men in review there by General Lee, consisting of Quakers and other inhabitants in uniform, with 1000 riffle men and horse who together made a most warlike appearance. I mingled freely and frequently with the members of the Continental Congress. They were, united, determined in opposition, and appeared assured of success. Now to come home; the opposition is become formidable; 18 thousand men brave and determined with Washington and Lee at their head are no contemptible enemy. Adjutant General Gates in indefatigable in arranging the army. Provisions are very plenty. Cloaths (sic) are manufacturing in almost every town for the soldiers. Twenty tons of powder lately arrived at Philadelphia, Connecticut and Providence. Upwards of 20 tons are now in Camp. Salt Petre is made in every colony. Powder Mills are erected and constantly employed in Philadelphia and New York. Volunteers of the first fortunes are daily flocking to camp. One thousand riffle men in 2 or 3 days recruits are now levying to augment the army to 22 thousand men. Ten thousand militia are now appointed in this government to appear on the first summons.
The bills of all the colonies circulate freely and are readily exchanged for cash. Add to this that, unless some plan of accommodation takes place immediately, these harbours will swarm with privateers. An army will be raised in the middle Provinces to take possession of Canada. For the sake of the miserable convulsed empire, solicit peace, repeal the acts or Britain is undone. This advice is the result of warm affection to my king and to the realm. Remember, I never deceived you. Every article here sent you is sacredly true.
The papers will announce to you that I am again a member for Boston. You will there see our motley council. A general arrangement of offices will take place, except the chief which will be suspended buy for a little while to see what part Britain takes in consequence of the late continental petition. A view to independence grows more and more general. Should Britain declare war against the colonies, they are lost forever. Should Spain declare against England, the colonies will declare a neutrality which will doubtless produce an offensive and defensive league between them. For God’s sake prevent it by a speedy accommodation.
Writing this has employed a day. I have been to Salem to reconnoitre, but could not escape the geese of the Capital. Tomorrow, I set out for Newport on purpose to send you this. I write you fully, it being scarcely possible to escape discovery. I am out of place here by choice; and therefore, out of pay, and determined to be so unless something is offered my way. I wish you could contrive to write me largely in cipher, by the way of Newport, addressed to Thomas Richards, Merchant. Inclose it in a cover to me, intimating that I am a perfect stranger to you, but being recommended to you as a gentlemen of honour, you took the liberty to inclose that letter, intreating me to deliver it as directed, the person, as you are informed, being at Cambridge. Sign some fictional name. This you may send to some confidential friend in Newport, to be delivered to me at Watertown. Make use of every precaution or I perish.

Washington confronted Church with the deciphered text. In response, Church said he only sought to impress the British with the strength and determination of the Patriots and wanted to discourage General Gage from carrying on further military action. He asserted the letter was not an intelligence report. General Washington was not persuaded by his explanation, particularly since the last line read “Make use of every precaution, or I perish.”
Washington convened his officers to discuss what to do with Church. They all agreed that the issue should be presented to the Continental Congress. Washington noted in his letter that he wanted Congress to review the 28th article of war to determine if it applied to Church.” (fn.11) On orders of the Continental Congress, Church was confined at Norwich, Connecticut. (fn.12) Within a year or two-there is some confusion over the date in the record-he was released and permitted to depart on a schooner for the West Indies. Neither the ship nor the doctor was heard from again. Presumable both were lost at sea.
The full extent of Church’s espionage activities on behalf of the British remained a mystery to Washington and the other patriot leaders. The only evidence they had was the intercepted letter. From the letter they could surmise that Church had previously provided intelligence to Gage but they did not know how much or on what topics. It was only when historians found Church’s earlier reports among General Gage’s papers did Church’s double agent role become clear.
It appears Church may have been a volunteer walk-in or a defector-in-place, not a well-planned recruitment operation by Gage. Fortunately for the patriot’s cause, Gage was mainly interested in the military intelligence Church provided. Gage failed to see the political importance Church offered to the British. For in Church, Gage had a penetration of the Patriot’s inner circle in Massachusetts, a spy who sat at the secret meetings of the Committee of Correspondence and Safety, who was a trusted member of the Mechanics, and who even served briefly as liaison with the Continental Congress, but was never exploited for his political reporting or used to conduct political sabotage. It was a major shortsightedness of Gage. Church’s espionage did have one positive benefit for counterintelligence, it lead to the enactment of the first espionage law in the colonies.
Intercepting Communications
The Continental Congress regularly received quantities of intercepted British and Tory mail. On November 20, 1775, it received some intercepted letters from Cork, Ireland, and appointed a committee made up of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Johnson, Robert Livingston, Edward Rutledge, James Wilson and George Wythe “to select such parts of them as may be proper to publish.” The Congress later ordered a thousand copies of the portions selected by the Committee to be printed and distributed. A month later, when another batch of intercepted mail was received, a second committee was appointed to examine it. On the basis of its report, the Congress resolved that “the contents of the intercepted letters this day read, and the steps which Congress may taken in consequence of said intelligence thereby given, be kept secret until further orders…” By early 1776, abuses were noted in the practice, and Congress resolved that only the councils or committees of safety of each colony, and their designees, could henceforth open the mail or detain any letters from the post.
James Lovell is credited with breaking British ciphers, but perhaps the first to do so was the team of Elbridge Gerry, Elisha Porter and the Rev. Samuel West who successfully decoded the intercepted intelligence reports written to the British by Dr. Benjamin Church, the Director General of Hospitals for the Continental army.
When Moses Harris reported that the British had recruited him as a courier to carry messages for their Secret Service, General Washington proposed that General Schuyler “contrive a means of opening them without breaking the seals, take copies of the contents, and then let them go on. By these means we should become masters of the whole plot…” From that point on, Washington was privy to British intelligence pouches between New York and Canada.
Deception Operations:
To offset British superiority in firepower and troops, General Washington made frequent use of deception operations. He allowed fabricated documents to fall in the hands of enemy agents or to be discussed in their presence. He allowed his couriers—carrying bogus information-to be captured by the British, and inserted forged documents in intercepted British pouches that were then permitted to go on to their destination. Washington even had fake military facilities built. He managed to make the British believe that his three thousand man army was outside Philadelphia was 40,000 strong! With elaborate deception, Washington masked his movement toward Chesapeake Bay—and victory at Yorktown—by convincing the British that he was moving on New York.
At Yorktown , James Armistead, a slave who joined Lafayette’s service with his master’s permission, crossed into Cornwallis’ lines in the guise of an escaped slave, and was recruited by Cornwallis to return to American lines as a spy. Lafayette gave him a fabricated order that supposedly was destined for a large number of patriot replacements—a force that did not exist. Armistead delivered the bogus order in crumpled dirty condition to Cornwallis, claiming to have found it along the road during his spy mission. Cornwallis believed him and did not want to believe he had been tricked until after the battle of Yorktown. Armistead was granted his freedom by the Virginia legislature as a result of this and other intelligence services.
Another deception operation at Yorktown found Charles Morgan entering Cornwallis’ camp as a deserter. When debriefed by the British, he convinced them that Lafayette had sufficient boats to move his troops against the British in one landing operation. Cornwallis was duped by the operation and dug in rather than march out of Yorktown. Morgan in turn escaped in a British uniform and returned to American lines with five British deserters and a prisoner!

The Hickey Plot (fn.13)
On 21 June 1776, General George Washington authorized and requested the Committee to Detect Conspiracies to arrest David Matthews, the Tory mayor of New York City, and confiscate his papers. Matthews, accused of distributing money to enlist men and purchase arms for the British cause and corrupting American soldiers, was residing at Flatbush, on Long Island, near General Greene’s encampment. Washington transmitted the warrant drawn by the Committee to General Greene on the 21st with directions that it should be executed with precision exactly at one o’clock of the ensuing morning by a careful officer. Greene dispatched a detachment of men who took Matthews into custody but found no incriminating papers.
Matthews’ arrest was the result of hearings conducted from 19 to 21 June 1776 by the Committee to Detect Conspiracies under the able leadership of John Jay. Until Jay was appointed to head the Committee, it had put off real efforts to uncover any information concerning activities or persons still loyal to the king.
During the hearings, conducted at Scott’s Tavern on Wall Street, the Committee first heard testimony from Isaac Ketchum, a counterfeiter who had been arrested and was incarcerated in the City Hall jail. Ketchum wanted to work a deal with the Committee; in exchange for his information he wanted to be set free. The Committee agreed.
According to Ketchum, two prisoners by the name of Thomas Hickey and Michael Lynch, who were in jail on suspicion of counterfeiting, attempted to recruit him for the British. Hickey and Lynch both said they abandoned the American cause and secretly joined the British side. They indicated that others had also secretly agreed to serve the British. Ketchum further told the Committee that Hickey and Lynch were recruited to the British cause by an individual name “Horbush.” The Committee at first was unable to identify Horbush but soon realized that Ketchum probably meant “Forbush,” which is a variant of the name Forbes. The Committee then quickly identified Forbes as Gilbert Forbes, a well-known gunsmith who owned “The Sign of the Sportsman” shop on Broadway. The Committee also determined that Hickey was a sergeant in Washington’s personal guards.
Two days after Ketchum’s testimony, the Committee heard from William Leary, a prominent local businessman. Leary told the American authorities that he was in the city hunting for a runaway indentured worker of his who had disappeared. Leary successfully found the worker but later lost him. As he was walking around the city, he accidentally met another former employee James Mason. Mason, believing that Leary had left the company, asked Leary if he was in New York to join the other men. Leary, not knowing what Mason was discussing, feigned agreement. Mason, joined by several others, began to recruit Mason into a conspiracy but suddenly stopped when they became suspicious of him.
The Committee interviewed Mason who provided additional details about the Loyalist plot. He informed the Committee that men were being recruited to join a special Tory corps and had received pay from Governor Tryon. A Sergeant Graham, an old soldier, formerly of the royal artillery, had been recruited by Tryon to prowl around and survey the grounds and works about the city and Long Island. Based on his information, a plan of action was conceived. Upon arrival of the fleet, a man-of-war would cannonade the battery at Red Hook. While doing so, a detachment of the army would land below the cannonade and by a circuitous route surprise and storm the works on Long Island. The ships would then divide with some sailing up the Hudson River and the others up the East River. Troops were to land above New York, secure the pass at King’s Bridge and cut off all communications between the city and the country. Upon a signal, artillerymen who were conspirators were to turn their cannon on the American troops, the ammo stores were to be blown up and King’s Bridge was to be cut to prevent the Americans from escaping.
Under pressure of interrogation, Mason revealed the names of several of Washington’s guards: Hickey, William Green (drummer), James Johnson (fifer), and a soldier named Barnes. Gilbert Forbes was the paymaster, giving the men ten shillings a week. Mason also said New York mayor Matthews contributed 100 British pounds to the plot. Mason also identified three taverns as favorite hangouts of the conspirators; The Sign of the Highlander, Lowrie’s Tavern, and Corbie’s Tavern. Corbie’s Tavern, near Washington’s quarters, was a rendezvous site for the conspirators. Thomas Hickey was supposedly recruited here. Hickey recruited Green the drummer and Johnson the fifer. According to a conversation overheard at Corbie’s Tavern, Washington was to be assassinated when the British army landed, as part of a plan for a surprise attack on the core of the Continental Army.
The Committee halted further depositions and went to notify Washington. The information was sufficient for Washington to issue the warrant for Matthews’ arrest. Since Hickey and Lynch had already been returned to Washington’s Headquarters, they were arrested by Washington’s troops. A Court-martial was convened on 24 June 1776 and Hickey was charged with “exciting and joining in a mutiny and sedition, and of treacherously corresponding with, enlisting among, and receiving pay from the enemies of the United Colonies.” Hickey pleaded not guilty.
The army produced four witnesses to testify against Hickey. Greene confirmed that Hickey had accepted funds to enlist in the Loyalist plot. Gilbert Forbes also said that he gave Hickey money. Ketchum repeated the hearsay evidence he presented to the Committee and a fourth person, William Welch said that Hickey had tried to recruit him. The only defense Hickey offered was that he was trying to cheat the Tories out of their money. As to having his name placed on board the British warship, he said he agreed to it as a precaution should the British defeat the Americans and he was taken prisoner, then he would be safe.
After a short deliberation, the officers found Hickey guilty as charged and sentenced him to death. On 27 June, Washington and his Council of Officers met. They reviewed the transcript of the trial and agreed with the sentence. On 28 June 1776 Hickey was hanged. He was the only conspirator to be executed; 13 others were imprisoned. Matthews was held as a prisoner but escaped to London. After the war he testified he had formed a plan for taking Washington and his guard but it was never realized.
Minutes Of The Committee For Detecting Conspiracies:
(Fishkill), December 23rd, 1776
Present: Leonard Gansevoort Esqr. Chairman; John Jay, Zephaniah Platt, Nathaniel Sacket, Esqrs.
Resolved that Enoch Crosby assuming the name of do forthwith repair to Mount Ephraim and use his utmost art to discover the designs, places of resort, and route, of certain disaffected persons of that quarter, who have formed a design of joining the enemy, and that for that purpose the said Enoch be made acquainted with all the Information received by this Committee concerning this plan, and that he be furnished with such passes as will enable him to pass there without interruption, and with such others as will enable him to pass as an emissary of the enemy amongst persons disaffected to the American Cause.
Resolved that Enoch Crosby be furnished with a horse and the sum of 30 dollars in order to enable him to execute the above resolution.

Resolved that Mr. Nathaniel Sackett be requested to give such instructions to Enoch Crosby as he shall think best calculated to defeat the designs of the persons above mentioned.
Ordered that the Treasurer pay Enoch Crosby 30 dollars for secret services. . .
Resolved that Nathaniel Sacket Esqr. be requested to furnish Mr. Enoch Crosby with such clothing as he may stand in need of.
FOOTNOTES:
1. This article was written by Frank J. Rafalko, Chief Community Training Branch, National Counterintelligence Center.
2. Thomas Hutchinson came from a prominent New England family. In 1737, despite his family’s admonishment to him about going into politics, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He later served as Chief Justice of the colony and then royal governor.
3. Francis Bernard was the nephew of Lord Barrington, the secretary of state for war in London. Barrington arranged for Bernard to be appointed as royal governor of New Jersey, but after two years Bernard moved to Massachusetts to become royal governor there. He was recalled to London in 1769.
4. Dr. Benjamin Church.
5. A.J. Langguth, Patriots The Men Who Started the American Revolution, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1988, p. 311.
6. Edmund R. Thompson, ed., Secret New England Spies of the American Revolution, The David Atlee Phillips New England Chapter, Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Kennebunk, Maine, 1991, p. 17.
7. Allen French, General Gage’s Informers, Greenwood Press, New York, 1968, p. 166-167.
8. Capt. James Wallace.
9. Godfrey Wainwood or Wenwood, Letter from Washington to the President of Congress, October 5, 1775.
10. Letter from George Washington to the President of Congress, October 5, 1775.
11. The 28th article of war provided that anyone caught communicating with the enemy should suffer such punishment as a court martial might direct. Unfortunately for those who favored hanging Dr. Church, article 51 stated that such punishment was limited to thirty-nine lashes, or a fine of two months pay, and/or cashiering from the service.
12. Letter from George Washington to Governor Jonathan Trumball, November 15, 1775 in which Washington inserted the resolve of Congress he received from John Hancock regarding Church.
13. This article was written by Frank J. Rafalko, Chief Community Training Branch,

National Counterintelligence Center.
Enoch Crosby Describes His Career As A Spy
Southeast, Putnam County,
15 October 1832
In the latter part of the month of August in the year 1776, he enlisted into the regiment commanded by Col. Swortwaut14 in Fredericksburgh now Carmel in the County of Putnam and started to join in the army at KingsBridge. The company had left Fredericksburgh before the declarent started, and he started along after his said enlistment and on his way at a place in Westchester County about two miles from Pines bridge he fell in company with a stranger, who accosted the deponent and asked him if he was going down.
The stranger then asked if declarent was not afraid to venture alone, and said there were many rebels below and he would meet with difficulty in getting down.
The declarent perceived from the observations of the stranger that he supposed the declarent intended to go to the British, and, willing to encourage that misapprehension and turn it to the best advantage, he asked if there was any mode which he the stranger could point out by which the declarent could get through safely. The stranger after being satisfied that declarent was wishing to join the British army, told him that there was a company raising in that vicinity to join the British army, and that it was nearly complete and in a few days would be ready to go down and that declarent had better join that company and go down with them.
The stranger finally gave to the declarent his name, it was Bunker, and told the declarent where and showed the house in which he lived and told him that Fowler15 was to be the captain of the company then raising and Kipp16 Lieutenant. After having learned this much from Bunker, the declarent told him that he was unwilling to wait until the company could be ready to march and would try to get through alone and parted from him on his way down and continued until night when he stopped at the house of a man who was called Esquire Young, and put up there for the night.
In the course of conversation with Esquire Young in the evening, the declarent learned that he was a member of the committee for safety for the county of Westchester and then communicated to him the information he had obtained from Mr. Bunker, Esqr. Young requested the declarent to accompany him the next morning to the White plains in Westchester County as the committee of safety for the County were on that day to meet at the Court house in that place.
The next morning the declarent in company with Esqr. Young went to the White plains and found the Committee there sitting. After Esqr. Young had an interview with the committee, the declarent was sent for, and went before the committee, then sitting in the Court room, and there communicated the information he had obtained from Bunker.
The Committee after learning the situation of declarent, that he was a soldier enlisted in Col. Swrotwaut’s regiment and on his way to join it if he would consent to aid in the apprehension of the company then raising. It was by all thought best, that he should not join the regiment, but should act in a different character as he could thus be more useful to his country.
He was accordingly announced to Capt. Townsend who then was at the White plains commanding a company of rangers as a prisoner, and the Captain was directed to keep him until further orders. In the evening after was placed as a prisoner under Capt. Townsend, he made an excuse to go out and was accompanied by a soldier. His excuse led him over a fence into a field of corn then nearly or quite full grown. As soon as he was out of sight of the soldier he made the best of his way from the soldier and when the soldier hailed him to return he was almost beyond hearing. An alarm gun was fired but declarent was far from danger.
In the course of the night the declarent reached the house of said Bunker, who got up and let him in. The declarent then related to Bunker the circumstances of his having been taken prisoner, and his going before the Committee at the Court house, of being put under the charge of Capt. Townsend and of his escape, that he had concluded to avail himself of the protection of the company raising in his neighborhood to get down. The next morning Bunker went with declarent and introduced him as a good loyalist to several of the company. The declarent remained some days with different individuals of the company and until it was about to do down, when declarent went one night to the house of Esqr. Young to give information of the state and progress of the company. The distance was four or five miles from Bunkers.
At the house of Esqr. Young, the declarent found Capt. Townsend with a great part of his company and after giving the information he returned to the neighborhood of the Bunkers. That night the declarent and a great part of the company which was preparing to go down were made prisoners. The next day all of them, about 30, were marched to the White plains, and remained there several days, a part of the time locked up in jail with other prisoners, the residue of the time he was with the Committee. The prisoners were finally ordered to Fishkill in the County of Dutchess where the State Convention was then sitting. The declarent went as a prisoner to Fishkill. Capt. Townsend with his company of rangers took charge of the company.
At Fishkill a Committee for Detecting Conspiracies was sitting composed of John Jay, afterwards Governor of N York, Zerpeniah Platt afterwards first judge of Dutchess County, Colonel Duer of the County of Albany, & a Mr. Sackett. The declarent was called before that committee, who understood the character of declarent and the nature of his services, this the committee must have learned either from Capt. Townsend or from the Committee at White plains. The declarent was examined under oath and his examination reduced to writing. The prisoners with the declarent were kept whilst declarent remained at Fishkill in a building which had been occupied as a Hatters shop and they were guarded by a company of rangers commanded by Capt. Clark. The declarent remained about a week at Fishkill when he was bailed out by Jonathan Hopkins. This was done to cover the character in which declarent acted.
Before the declarent was bailed, the Fishkill Committee had requested him to continue in this service, and on declarent mentioning the fact of his having enlisted in Col. Swortwaut’s company and the necessity there was of his joining it, he was informed that he should be indemnified from that enlistment, that they would write to the Colonel and inform him that declarent was in their service. The Committee then wished declarent to undertake a secret service over the river. He was furnished with a secret pass, which was a writing signed by the Committee which is now lost and directed to go to the house of Nicholas Brawer near the mouth of the Wappingers creek who would take him across the river, and then to proceed to the house of John Russell about 10 miles from the river, and make such inquiries & discoveries as he could.
He proceeded according to the directions to said Brawers, and then to John Russells, and there hired himself to said Russell to work for him but for no definite time. There was a neighborhood of Loyalists and it was expected that a company was there raising for the British army. The declarent remained about 10 days in Russells employment and during that time ascertained that a company was then raising but was not completed. Before the declarent left Fishkill on this service, a time was fixed for him to recross the river and given information to some one of the committee who was to meet him.
This time having arrived and the company not being completed, the declarent recrossed the river and met Zepeniah Platt, one of the Committee, and gave him all the information he had then obtained. The declarent was directed to recross the river to the neighborhood of Russells and on a time then fixed, again to meet the Committee on the east side of the river.
The declarent returned to Russells neighborhood, soon became intimate with the Loyalists, and was introduced to Capt. Robinson, said to be an English officer and who was to command the company then raising. Capt. Robinson occupied a cave in the mountains, and deponents—having agreed to go with the company—were invited and accepted of the invitation to lodge with Robinson in the cave. They slept together nearly a week in the cave and the time for the company to start having been fixed and the rout designated to pass Severns, to Bush Carricks where they were to stop the first night.
The time for starting having arrived before the appointed time to meet the Committee on the east side of the river, the declarent—in order to get an opportunity to convey information to Fishkill—recommended that each man should the night before they started sleep where he chose and that each should be by himself for if they should be discovered that night together all would be taken which would avoided if they were separated.
This proposition was acceded to, and when they separated declarent not having time to go to Fishkill, and as the only and as it appeared to him the best means of giving the information, as to go to a Mr. Purdy who was a stranger to declarent and all he knew of him was that the Tories called him a wicked rebel and said that he ought to die, declarent went and found Purdy, informed him of the situation of affairs, of the time the company was to start and the place at which they were to stop the first night, and requested him to go to Fishkill and give the information to the Committee. Purdy assured the declarent that the information should be given. Declarent returned to Russells and lodged in his house.
The following evening the company assembled consisting of about thirty men and started from Russell’s house which was in the Town of Marlborough and County of Ulster for New York and in the course of the night arrived at Bush Carricks and went into the barn to lodge after taking refreshments.
Before morning the barn was surrounded by American troops and the whole company including Capt. Robinson were made prisoners. The troops who took the company prisoners were commanded by Capt. Melancton Smith, who commanded a company of rangers at Fishkill. His company crossed the river to perform this service.
Col. Duer was with Capt. Smith’s Company on this expedition. The prisoners including the declarent were marched to Fishkill and confined in the stone church in which there was near two hundred prisoners, after remaining one night in the church the Committee sent for declarent and told him that it was unsafe for him to remain with the prisoners, as the least suspicion of the course he had pursued would prove fatal to him, and advised him to leave the village of Fishkill but to remain where they could call upon him if his services should be wanted.
Declarent went to the house of a Dutchman a farmer whose name is forgotten about five miles from the Village of Fishkill and there went to work at making shoes. After declarent had made arrangements for working at shoes he informed Mr. Sacket one of the Committee where he could be found if he should be wanted.
In about a week declarent received a letter form the Committee requesting him to meet some one of the Committee at the house of Doct. Osborn about one mile from Fishkill. Declarent according to the request went to the house of Doct. Osborn and soon after John Jay came there, inquired for the Doctor—who was absent, inquired for medicine but found none that he wanted, he came out of the house and went to his horse near which declarent stood and as he passed he said in a low voice it won’t do, there are too many around, return to your work. Declarent went back and went to work at shoes but within a day or two was again notified and a horse sent to him, requiring him to go to Bennington in Vermont and from thence westerly to a place called Maloonscack, and there call on one Hazard Wilcox, a Tory of much notoriety and ascertain if anything was going on there injurious to the American cause.
Declarent followed this instructions, found Wilcox but could not learn that any secret measure was then projected against the interest of the county at the place, but learned from Wilcox a list of persons friendly to the British cause who could be safely trusted, from that place quite down to the south part of Dutchess County, declarent followed the directions of said Wilcox and called on the different individuals by him mentioned but could discover nothing of importance until he reached the town of Pawling in Duchess County where he called upon a Doctor, whose name he thinks was Prosser, and informed him that he wished to go below, but was fearful of some trouble.
The Doctor informed him that there was a company raising in that vicinity to go to New York to join the British Army, that the Captains name was Shelden that he had been down and got a commission, that the Prosser was doctoring the Lieutenant, whose name was Chase, that if declarent would wait a few days he could safely go down with that company, that he could stay about the neighborhood, and should be informed when the company was ready. That declarent remained in that vicinity, became acquainted with several of the persons who were going with that company, was acquainted with the Lieutenant Chase, but never saw the Captain to form any acquaintance with him.
The season had got so far advanced that the company were about to start to join the enemy to be ready for an early commencement of the campaign in 1777. It was about the last of February of that year, when a place was fixed and also a time for meeting. It was at a house situated half a mile from the road and about three miles from a house then occupied by Col. Morehause a militia Colonel. After the time was fixed for the marching of Capt. Sheldens company the deponent went in the night to Col. Morehause and informed him of the situation of the company of the time appointed for meeting of the place and Morehause informed declarent that they should be attended to.
The declarent remained about one month in the neighborhood, and once in the time met Mr. Sackett one of the Committee at Col. Ludingtons, and apprised him of what was then going on, and was to have given the Committee intelligence when the company was to march but the shortness of the time between the final arrangement and the time of starting was that declarent was obliged to give the information to Col. Morehause.
The company consisting of about thirty met at the time and place appointed and after they had been there an hour or two; two young men of the company came in and said there was a gathering under arms at old Morehauses, the inquiry became general, what could it mean, was there any traitors in the company. The captain soon called one or two of the company out the door for the purpose of private conversation about the situation, and very soon declarent heard the cry of stand, stand.
Those out the door ran but were soon met by a company coming from a different direction, they were taken in the house surrounded and the company all made prisoners. The Col. then ordered them to be tied together, two and two, they came to declarent and he begged to be excused from going as he was lame and could not travel, the Col. replied, you shall go dead or alive and if in no other way you shall be carried on the horse with me, the rest were marched off and declarent put onto the horse with Col. Morehause, all went to the house of Col. Morehause and when the prisoners were marched into the house declarent with the permission of Morehause left them and made the best of his way to Col. Ludingtons and there informed him of the operations of the night, he reached Col. Ludingtons about day light in the morning, from thence he went to Fishkill to the house of Doct. Van Wyck where John Jay boarded and there informed him of all the occurrences on that northern expedition.
Said Jay requested the declarent to come before the Committee the next night when they would be ready to receive him he accordingly went before the Committee where he declared under his oath all that had occurred since he had seen them. The Committee then directed him to go to the house of Col. Van Ness in Albany County and there take directions from him. He went to Van Ness house and was directed by him to go to the north but declarent cannot tell the place the duty was performed, but nothing material discovered, further that the confiscation of the personal property of the Tories and leasing of their lands had a great tendency to discourage them from joining the British Army, declarent then returned to Pokeepsie, where Egbert Benson and Melancton Smith acted in the room of the Fishkill Committee.
There was no more business at that time in which they wished to employ declarent, and he being somewhat apprehensive that a longer continuance in that employment would be dangerous, and the time for which he enlisted in Col. Swortwauts regiment having expired he came home with the approbation of the Committee. This was about the last of May 1777, and in the course of the fall after, the declarent saw Col. Swortwaut at his house in Fishkill and there talked over the subject of the employment of the declarent by the Committee and the Col. told declarent that he had drawn his pay the same as if he had been with the regiment, that the Paymaster of the Regiment lived in the town of Hurley in Ulster County. Declarent went to the paymaster and received his pay for nine months service or for the term for which the regiment was raised. The declarent was employed in the secret service for a period of full nine months.
This declarent further says that in the year 1779 in the month of May he enlisted into a company commanded by Capt. Johah Hallett for six months declarent enlisted as a sergint in said Hallets company. The term of enlistment was performed on the lines in the County of Westchester, moving from place to place to guard the country and detect Tories, that the company continued in this service until after Stony Point was taken by Gen. Wayne and abandoned and also reoccupied and abandoned by the English troops.
When this company was ordered over the river and joined the regiment at Stony Point and continued there in making preparations for building a block house until the time of the expiration of the service when the company was ordered to march to Pokeepsie to be discharged by the Governor. When they arrived, the Governor was absent the company was billetted out and the declarent was billetted upon the family of Doct. Tappen.
After remaining a day or two and the Governor not arriving, they were discharged. During this service in Westchester County the following occurrence took place a British vessel of war lay at anchor near Tellers Point and a party of sailors or marines cam eon shore and wandered a short distance from the water when a party of our men got between them and the river and made them prisoners. They were marched to the place when the company then lay, a little east of Tellers point, the number of prisoners declarent thinks was twelve and the captors six. The prisoners were afterwards sent to Pokeepsie.
This declarent further says that in the month of May in the year 1780 he again enlisted for six months in a company commanded by Capt. Livingston in Col. Benschautens Regiment. He enlisted as a sergent in the Town of Fredericksburgh now the town of Kent in Putnam County. The Regiment assembled at Fishkill and marched to Westpoint and remained there a few days some ten or fifteen, a call was made for troops to fill up the Brigade or Brigades under the command of Gen. De La Fayettes, and they were to be raised by drafts or volunteers, a call first was made for volunteers and the declarent with others volunteered and made a company which was put under the care and charge of Capt. Daniel Delavan.
The declarent continued to be a sergent in Delavans company. Col. Phillip Van Cortland commanded the regiment to which Captain Delavans company was attached, soon after the company was formed they crossed the river from West Point and marched to Peekskill where they remained one night. The next day marched to Verplanks point and crossed over to Stony Point and from thence made the best of their way to New Jersey where they remained until late in the fall when the time of enlistment having expired they were discharged, after having fully and faithfully performed the service of six months for which he enlisted.
During this campaign in New Jersey. Major Andre was arrested, condemned and executed several of the soldiers of Capt. Delavan’s company went to see him executed. This declarent was sergent of the guard that day and could not go to see the execution.
The declarent further says that he has no documentary evidence of his service, and that he knows of no person who can testify to his services other than those whose depositions are hereto annexed.

Enoch Crosby
PHOTO
The declarent hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll agency of any state.
The declarent has a record of his age.
The declarent was living in the town of Danbury in the state of Connecticut when he enlisted into the service, that since the revolutionary war the declarent has resided in the State of New York, in what is now the County of Putnam formerly the County of Duchess, and now lives in the same county and on the same farm where he has lived for the last fifty years. The declarent always volunteered in every enlistment and to perform all the services which he performed as detailed in this declaration.
That the declarent was acquainted with the following officers who were with the troops where he served. General Schuyler, Gen. Montgomery, General Wooster, Col. Waterbury, Col. Holmes, Gen. DeLa Fayette, Gen. Poor, Col Van Coretlandt, Col. Benschauten, Col. Ludington.
The declarent never received any written discharge, and if he ever received a sergents warrant it is through time and accident lost or destroyed.
This declarent is known to Samuel Washburn a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the County of Putman, Benaiah Y. Morse a clergyman in his neighborhood and who he believes can testify to his character for veracity and good behaviour and thus belief of his services as a soldier of the revolution.
/S/ Enoch Crosby