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Showing 21–30 of 1285 results for Flags and Founding Documents

The Davenport Letters: May 22, Year Unknown

This letter does not include a year. James Davenport’s letters and his memoirs indicate that he was at West Point in May 1779, 1780, and 1782, so it is unclear in which year he wrote this one. John Davenport, who transcribed this letter in the 1850s, numbered it as the second letter, between Isaac How Davenport’s two, but James was at Valley Forge, not West Point, in May 1778.

James Davenport was born in 1759 and apprenticed to a local shoemaker. In 1776, he enlisted in a militia unit and then in the Continental Army in February 1777. In April 1777, he began several months of campaigning in New York that eventually took him to the Battle of Saratoga in September. He spent that winter at Valley Forge with the main Continental Army, where, according to his memoir, “huts and cells were built to dwell in during the winter, as commodious as place and circumstances would allow.” After a brief illness and recovery away from camp, he was inoculated for smallpox, as a result of which he “had a siege of it; but I came off conqueror.” In 1778 and 1779, he fought at the Battle of Monmouth, endured a series of illnesses, and saw active service in New York before gaining a furlough in December 1779.

In this undated letter, he complains about the minimal daily rations that Continental soldiers sometimes received: in this case, half a pound of bread, a gill (four ounces, or half a cup) of peas, and “a little stinking shad,” a type of fish. May was a hard month in army encampments because there was little fresh food available, and stores put up the previous summer and fall would be running low and spoiling.

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The Davenport Letters: March 12, 1783

With little news or change in his situation, James Davenport wrote to his brother again on March 12, 1783. By this time, as he wrote, his military service felt akin to “Slavery,” and he regretted having enlisted when he “was young and foolish” and before he had the chance to enjoy “the sweets of Freedom.” But the long winter – the last winter of the war, as it would turn out – dragged on, and Davenport remained with the army as his friends and family began to enjoy what seemed an increasingly likely peace. 

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Portrait of Major General Nathanael Greene

Andrew Ferguson served under the command of Continental Army Major General Nathanael Greene, shown in this portrait, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. Poorly supplied and understaffed, Major General Greene’s strategy in the winter and spring of 1781 was to harass the British Army while protecting his own regiments and militia. “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again,” Greene wrote. “The whole country is one continuous scene of blood and slaughter.” At Guilford Courthouse, Greene’s army battled a smaller force under British General Cornwallis. Greene retreated from the field, but only after about 500 British soldiers were killed or wounded. Cornwallis and his crippled army did not pursue the Americans.

Courtesy of Independence National Historical Park

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County, New Jersey Poll Lists, 1806

Upper Penns Neck Township
Salem County, New Jersey
October 14 & 15, 1806
Ink on Paper

This poll list is from an October 1806 state and congressional election that was held at the houses of Andrew Alston and George Clark, innkeepers at Alston and the Cove in Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for Salem County Sheriff and Coroner, in addition to Representatives for the 10th Congress of the United States. The town officers presiding over the election included Judge Philip Curriden, Assessor William Darling, Collector Thomas Summerel, and Clerk Gideon Denny. 

The poll list includes the names of 210 total voters. At least 23 of these voters are women, accounting for an estimated 11 percent of the voters on the list. 

Like the rest of Salem County, Upper Penns Neck Township voted Democratic Republican across the board in October 1806. Voters in the township supported Democratic-Republicans Jeremiah Dubois, Daniel Garrison, and Daniel Tracey for State Assembly; Jacob Hufty for Legislative Council; Samuel L. James for county sheriff; Lewis Dubois, Henry Fries, and Andrew Alston for county coroner; and William Helms, Thomas Newbold, Henry Southard, Ezra Darby, John Lambert, and James Sloan for Congress.

Note: The names recorded on this poll list were written by an election official, not by the voters themselves. The spelling of each voter’s name on the poll list may be different compared to how that same person’s name is spelled in other historical records and by the Museum of the American Revolution.

Images: Salem County Historical Society

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Cost of Revolution: Part 2 American War

Soon after graduating from college in 1775, Richard Mansergh St. George followed his family’s tradition and joined the British Army. The growing “rebellion” in America provided him with a stage to show his courage and zeal. Men from the nobility or landed gentry, such as St. George, made up about a quarter of the British Army’s regimental officers. They could afford to purchase officer commissions and move up in rank. Unlike St. George, most British officers were the sons of tradesmen, clergymen, and professionals who had little wealth and few prospects of inheritance. They often looked to military service to maintain their fragile social status. In 1776, St. George purchased an ensign’s commission in the 4th Regiment of Foot and sailed for America to defend the British Empire.
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Cost of Revolution: Part 3 Wounded Veteran

Richard Mansergh St. George returned home to Ireland in 1778 physically and emotionally scarred from combat. His traumatic war experience tortured him. St. George’s wound gave him constant pain, made him hallucinate, and caused him to have “fits of insanity.” The death of his wife in 1792, four years into their marriage, magnified his agony. In moments of darkness, St. George used art to manage his “painful remembrances.” An emerging art movement called Romanticism offered St. George a way to express his suffering. As a direct response to the Enlightenment, the growing Industrial Revolution, and the violence of war and revolution, Romanticism emphasized the power of human emotion. Instead of painting realistic landscapes or scenes from the Bible or history, Romantic artists painted love, pain, and fantasy. Such art appealed to Richard Mansergh St. George's wounded heart and soul.
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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Studying the Poll Lists

The Museum’s discovery of poll lists that include the names of women and free people of color who voted in New Jersey from 1800 to 1807 has revealed various patterns, themes, and possible trends among these voters and the elections they participated in. Here, we explore some of these themes.
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Picturing Washington's Army: West Point | Hudson Highlands

Take a closer look at the outlying defenses on the rocky hills and cliffs south of West Point. Notice the Hudson River in the foreground and the Continental Army’s hilltop fortifications. 

Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 

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The Davenport Letters: June 26, 1782

The letters James Davenport wrote from West Point in May and June of 1782 were just over a month apart, suggesting that he probably wrote more letters home than survive in this set. Little had changed in his circumstances, however, and the soldiers still had “Plenty of duty & Little Provision & less money.” Davenport’s humor comes through in this letter, and it includes facetious remarks about the quality of his paper, young women at home, and the oppressive summer weather.

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The Davenport Letters: May 14, 1782

Shortly after writing his letter from West Point in January 1781, James Davenport was transferred to the light infantry company of the 8th Massachusetts. Light infantry soldiers were usually nimble young soldiers and more likely to be deployed in running fights and skirmishes. Davenport served in the Yorktown campaign and remembered being present at the surrender of the British Army in October 1781. Years later, James Davenport recalled his experiences at Yorktown to a local historian, who wrote:

“The regiment that this man belonged to had, previous to that event, suffered unnumbered privations, were continually on the alert, and their clothing was literally rags: he said nearly one-half of the regiment were barefoot; but their hearts were as true as the needle to the pole. The supplies which had been long expected from the government had not arrived; but, by perseverance and valor, the day of their deliverance was at hand… Our allies, the French, were drawn up in a long line on one side, and the Americans on the other; and the British troops, the prisoners, were to march out between the lines, with trailed arms, unloaded, and deposit them on the spot assigned. Our brave Yankees literally toed the line, for their feet were many of them bare; while the proud British soldiers were dressed, as the saying is, ’neat as a new pin,’ – every man had his hair powdered, and everyone was a prince to look to. My informant said that language was too feeble to describe the indignation and resentment of the British soldiers, plainly depicted in their countenances, to think that they had surrendered to such a dirty, ragged, weatherbeaten set of human beings; they gnashed their teeth, and shook their heads, and muttered out oaths and execrations too horrid to rehearse. All the while our victorious countrymen stood firm and unmoved, – guns loaded, swords drawn, hearts of steel: a glow of manly enthusiasm and joy beamed from every countenance; while the rude winds of heaven sported with their tattered garments.”

After 10 months of active campaigning, Davenport found himself back at West Point in 1782, where he wrote this letter in May. Davenport’s humor shines through in this letter, even if the joke he uses to explain ongoing anxiety about the war’s duration strikes us as a bit of a dad joke. Nonetheless, this was a difficult time for the Continental Army, with soldiers still largely unpaid and disgruntled.

Shortly before Davenport wrote this letter, soldiers in the Connecticut Line began to plot a mutiny. When they were discovered, one of them, Lud Gaylord of the 1st Connecticut, was executed on May 13, 1782. Davenport witnessed this execution but was largely unmoved. “It is very dull times here,” he wrote in his next sentence.

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