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Showing 61–70 of 1312 results for Flags and Founding Documents

The Davenport Letters: April 14, 1783

The last letter in Davenport’s collection is dated April 14, 1783, shortly before the Continental Army began to discharge soldiers. It gives us a glimpse at how quickly letters could travel in this period, often because they were carried by individual travelers. His brother wrote a letter on March 28 that James Davenport received on April 7, and it apparently included a reprimand from his father, almost certainly for the language in James’s candid letter of March 25 (suggesting that that letter had made it to Dorchester in just three days). The reprimand didn’t prevent James from making more references to the Molls at home in this next letter, of course.

James Davenport ends this letter fittingly: “Liberty Peace and Independence forever.” He returned home in 1783 and married Esther Mellish in 1784. They had eleven children and James Davenport died forty years later, remembered as a devout Christian and Master Mason, at age 64. His descendants carefully preserved mementoes of his service, including the letters transcribed here as well as his noncommissioned officer’s sword from his service under the Marquis de Lafayette and the various objects highlighted elsewhere here. According to a family story, Esther Mellish used the red wool from a British coat that James Davenport brought home to make a small pair of baby booties for their new child. Carefully preserved by later generations, these booties allow us to imagine how the first generation of American revolutionaries beat swords into ploughshares and began their lives in the new United States. 

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The Davenport Letters: January 20, 1781

James Davenport continued to serve with the Continental Army through the fall and winter of 1780, including witnessing the execution of captured British spy Major James André. He was back in camp at West Point, New York, in January 1781. As this letter indicates, winter encampments could be long, dreary affairs for an army of young men anxious for action or to return home. In this letter, James reflects on thoughts of desertion (writing that “we Shall go out of Camp without Leave & forget to return half of the time”), meager rations, and a lack of pay. Continental soldiers, just like British and Hessian soldiers during the war, were formally entitled to food, clothing, and payment as part of their military service. But in practice, the Continental government struggled to produce the money necessary to pay soldiers. Many went months or even years without receiving any, and by January 1781 James Davenport noted that it had been thirteen months since their last pay was received.

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Chester Township, Burlington County, October 1807

Chester Township
Burlington County, New Jersey
October 13 & 14, 1807
Ink on Paper

This poll list transcription records the names of voters from an October 1807 state election held in Chester Township, Burlington County. Voters cast their ballots at a schoolhouse in Moorestown. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for Burlington County Sheriff and Coroner. The town officers presiding over the election included Judge Edward French, Assessor John Bispham, Clerk Joseph Bispham, and Collector Nathan Middleton.

The poll list includes the names of 260 total voters. At least 38 of these voters are women, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the voters on the list. 

While we do not know the partisan majority in Burlington County in 1806, we can assume it voted Democratic Republican, as there were no other Federalist-majority counties in New Jersey in 1806. Chester Township, however, did vote Federalist in the 1806 election. Most voters in the township supported Federalists William Irick, William Coxe, Caleb Earl, and William Stockton for State Assembly and George Anderson for Legislative Council. We do not know who they supported for county sheriff or coroner.

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: Moorestown Library

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Women of the VanDike Family

Four women of a Dutch slave-owning family — Rebecca, Ann, Catherine, and Sarah VanDike — voted together in October 1801. The latter three were daughters of a known Loyalist, John VanDike. Rebecca was the name of both John’s wife and another daughter. The VanDike women lived together with John on their 227-acre estate.
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Picturing Washington's Army: West Point | Headquarters

Take a closer look at the buildings and parade ground at West Point. Cadets at the United States Military Academy continue to train on the same ground where the Continental Army encamped during the Revolutionary War. 

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

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Finding Freedom: London - Troop Return of the American Legion

London arrived in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1783 with fellow members of the American Legion, a Loyalist military unit. This list of troops in the American Legion from 1785 records that London, then called London York, died at some point between 1783 and 1785. Like many other formerly enslaved men and women who resettled in Canada, London may have died due to sickness caused by the harsh living conditions and cold weather. Unfortunately, London died prior to receiving a plot of land in New Brunswick on which he could live as a free man.

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS108 Land Petitions: Original Series

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Finding Freedom: Eve - Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation

On November 14, 1775, Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore published this proclamation in Williamsburg that freed “all indented Servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) … that are able and willing to bear Arms” for the King. Eve and her son George were among the 800 or so enslaved people who fled to Lord Dunmore as the news spread.

Dunmore’s Proclamation, A 1775 .V55, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

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The Davenport Letters: August 26, 1780

By August 1780, James Davenport was encamped at Hackensack, New Jersey, north of New York City. That summer, the Continental Army was engaging in regular movements, marches, and active skirmishing with British parties that ventured out of the city. As James endured these marches, he was also reflecting on the larger strategic shifts of the war. Since February 1778, the French had been in a formal alliance with the United States, but many people remained skeptical both of the French and of their long-term commitment to the cause. A second copy of this letter, on different paper and with slightly different spelling, survives in the Davenport family papers.

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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | 2nd Connecticut Brigade

Take a closer look at the line of tents of the 2nd and 4th Connecticut Regiments. Structures made of brush are visible in front of the line of tents. The structures provided shade for the soldiers and decoration for the camp. 

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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Season of Independence: Rhode Island Act Repealing Allegiance to Great Britain, May 4, 1776

Via this act, Rhode Island’s General Assembly formally rejected King George III and broke their legal ties to him months before independence was officially declared by the Second Continental Congress. This document repealed an earlier act passed by Rhode Island’s assembly entitled “An Act for the more effectual securing to His Majesty the Allegiance of his Subjects in this His Colony and Dominion of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” which had once bound them to Great Britain. In addition to renouncing the King, this document also includes several new oaths created for government officials that removed language that bound them to royal authority.

Courtesy of the Rhode Island State Archives

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