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Showing 71–80 of 1329 results for Flags and Founding Documents

The Davenport Letters: October 23, 1782

Just days later after writing his August 1782 letter from West Point, James Davenport travelled down the Hudson with 8,000 other soldiers to a new encampment at Verplanck’s Point. Washington used this move to think through how an amphibious assault on New York might work. And as you can explore in the Museum’s Picturing Washington’s Army interactive, he used the encampment there to impress French allies. The Continental Army was encamped in a long line, and soldiers built elaborate structures, gateways, and arbors. Just down the line from the 8th Massachusetts, a sergeant in another Massachusetts regiment wrote in his journal that “We have here a fine encampment which will furnish the public with a curious map someday or other.”

Davenport made no mention of this activity besides noting that on October 23, he was encamped on “Lunts Creek” a few miles below “Peeksville” (today’s Dickey Creek feeds into Lunts Cove just outside Verplanck, New York, down the Hudson from Peekskill). More important to him was the absence of news from home, and he opened this letter with an amusing dialogue between himself and his pen, perhaps inspired by the popular fictional “object narratives” of this period. 

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Finding Freedom: Deborah - Marquis de Lafayette’s Letter to George Washington

General George Washington received this confidential letter from the Marquis de Lafayette a few weeks after a British ship sailed up the Potomac River and took supplies from Mount Vernon, Washington’s home in Virginia. Lafayette informed General Washington that several enslaved people had escaped from Mount Vernon to join the British in search of their freedom. He also noted that Lund Washington, the general’s cousin and farm manager, had boarded the enemy’s vessel and offered to provide the British with supplies to prevent Mount Vernon from being burned down. Lafayette warned General Washington that this might make his neighbors upset because they had attempted to resist the British and their homes were burned as a result. On April 30, 1781, General Washington wrote a letter to Lund Washington to criticize his cousin’s decision to give supplies to the British. General Washington felt his honor had been tarnished by giving in to the enemy.

George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - “Soldiers in Uniform”

This French officer’s depiction of American soldiers at the Siege of Yorktown shows a soldier of African descent from the Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War, Black and White soldiers fought alongside one another on both sides of the conflict. Historians estimate that between 4,000 and 8,000 men of African descent served in the Continental Army. In 1778, Rhode Island offered freedom to enslaved men in exchange for service. It created a regiment with privates of African and Native American ancestry, officered by White men. In 1781, the Rhode Island line was collapsed from two regiments into one integrated unit with segregated companies.

Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library

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The Davenport Letters: January 22, 1783

James Davenport’s letters from early 1783 suggest that he was indeed as regular a correspondent as he maintained, writing at least every week or two when in winter encampments. Whether his other letters were never delivered or had been lost by the 1850s remains unclear, and for an unknown reason, John Davenport, who transcribed these letters in the 1850s, omitted one letter (the thirteenth in his recording) dated January 22, 1783, from his transcriptions. James Davenport was overjoyed in this letter to have finally received a letter in return. But he remained cynical about the war itself, doubting it would end soon and believing that his service amounted to little more than slavery: “six years and a half being a slave for nothing is enough.”

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County, New Jersey Poll Lists, 1801

Upper Penns Neck Township
Salem County, New Jersey
October 13 & 14, 1801
Ink on Paper

This poll list is from an October 1801 state election that was held at the home of Philip Souder, an innkeeper in Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for the Salem County Sheriff and Coroner. The town officers presiding over the election included Judge Joseph Borden, Assessor Jacob Wright, Clerk Isaac Ward, and Collector Philip Curriden. 

The poll list includes the names of 115 total voters. At least eight of these voters are women, accounting for about seven percent of the voters on the list. 

We assume Upper Penns Neck Township, like the rest of Salem County, voted Democratic Republican in the October 1801 election, but we do not know which candidates the township voters supported due to a gap in historical records.

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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The Davenport Letters: June 13, 1778

The second of the two surviving letters of Isaac Davenport was written at the very end of the Valley Forge encampment. Washington’s Continental Army had spent the winter training for a new campaign. As Davenport predicted, the British evacuated Philadelphia – for New York, not Boston – and Washington’s army left Valley Forge within days of this letter. Washington engaged and defeated the British at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey on June 28, where Davenport was presumably engaged along with the rest of his unit, the 3rd Dragoons.

Three months after writing this letter, Isaac Davenport was with a detachment of dragoons in Bergen County, New Jersey, north of New York City. Late on the evening of Sept. 27, while encamped in houses and barns, they were surprised by British troops. The event became known as the “Baylor Massacre,” after George Baylor, the dragoon’s commander. Isaac Davenport was killed. He was 22.

In 1967, an excavation uncovered the skeletal remains of six soldiers killed at the Massacre and hastily buried in a tanning vat. One of the skeletons was that of a robust adult male who was fully dressed when he was buried. Scholars believe that the silver buttons and silver neckstock buckle – hallmarked by a Boston silversmith whose shop would have been a convenient place to visit from Dorchester – found with this skeleton suggest that it was that of Isaac Davenport.

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The Davenport Letters: James & Isaac How Davenport's Letters

Browse a selection of more than a dozen letters written by natives of Dorchester, Massachuesetts, Continental Army soldiers, and brothers James and Isaac How Davenport during the Revolutionary War from 1778-1783. These surviving letters have descended through the Davenport family for generations. In the 1850s, the letters were transcribed into a ledger — those transcribed versions are the letters seen throughout. They are currently in the possession of a descendant of James Davenport.

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Finding Freedom: Jack - Patrick Lockhart’s Letter to Thomas Nelson

Patrick Lockhart of Botetourt County, Virginia, wrote this letter to Virginia Governor Thomas Nelson in November 1781 to ask for state assistance to recapture Jack, who had escaped from prison earlier that year. Lockhart described that Jack was heavily armed and “Threatening Revenge” upon the people who had first imprisoned him. In April of 1781, Jack was arrested, brought to court, and found guilty of trying to start an uprising among people of African descent who would join the British to battle the American Revolutionaries. One day before his planned execution, Jack escaped from jail and White residents of Botetourt County, such as Patrick Lockhart, feared for their lives. Considering this fear, the accuracy of Lockhart’s claims in this letter is unclear.

Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

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Finding Freedom: Deborah - “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” Book 1, Page 4

These pages are from a British Army document called the “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” written in 1783. Deborah’s name is recorded on the left side of the first page near the bottom. The second page records that she was formerly enslaved by George Washington. The “Inspection Roll of Negroes” records the roughly 3,000 formerly enslaved men and women whom the British evacuated from New York City at the end of the Revolutionary War. Most of these people, such as Deborah, settled in Canada with assistance from the British. Deborah is recorded below her husband Harry, who was enslaved to a Loyalist named Lynch. Deborah and Harry boarded the ship “Pollybound for Port Roseway (now Shelburne) in Nova Scotia, Canada.

ational Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

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Finding Freedom: Deborah - Lund Washington’s List of Runaway Enslaved People

This handwritten list records the names of the 17 enslaved men and women who left Mount Vernon in search of their freedom with the British in 1781. The list includes 16-year-old Deborah. Lund Washington, General George Washington’s cousin and farm manager, frequently updated General Washington about Mount Vernon during the Revolutionary War, including reports of the British raid on the estate in 1781. Lund Washington’s list of enslaved people who left in 1781 records that seven people were captured and returned to Washington after the British surrender at Yorktown. Deborah escaped. 

Courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association

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