ERW Weekender: Remember Paoli!

On the night of September 20, 1777, while encamped in Chester County, PA just outside Philadelphia, a division of American soldiers was defeated in a swift surprise attack by a slightly smaller British force. American propagandists, in an effort to galvanize Patriot support, would make the most of this encounter to show the British Army as overly brutal and bloodthirsty. On the foggy morning of December 9, 2019, members of the ERW paid a call on this battle site; Paoli Battlefield Historical Park.

American Camp

Paoli Battlefield Historical Park

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Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution (cont.)

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Blake McGready for part two of the series. To read part one, click here.

While her poetry avoided wartime setbacks and conjured stories of revolutionary unity, Stockton’s poems did confront the violent realities of what she called “a most cruel and eventful war”. Her choice allusions demonstrate how, in her mind, wartime violence bound the revolutionaries together. Following the death of General Joseph Warren at the battle of Bunker Hill she lamented, “That heart, which, studious of his countries good / Held up her rights and seal’d them with his blood!” In 1776 Stockton wrote of revolutionary soldiers who “fought and bled to save their native land / From bowing to a tyrant’s stern command,” and honored great men dying on battlefields “Made fertile by the blood of heroes slain.” Whereas historians have noted how the war’s violence was often deliberately excluded from the popular imagination, by contrast, Stockton’s war and violence were inseparable.[i]

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War on the Pennsylvania Frontier: Part 3 of 5: Forts of the Southwest

The Southwestern corner of Pennsylvania was perhaps the most isolated in the state. It was also a region claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. Far removed from assistance from the eastern centers of population, they had to rely on their own resolve for defense.

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War on the Pennsylvania Frontier: Part 3 of 5: Forts of the Southwest

The Southwestern corner of Pennsylvania was perhaps the most isolated in the state. It was also a region claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. Far removed from assistance from the eastern centers of population, they had to rely on their own resolve for defense.

These settlers experienced unrelenting violence during the Revolution. Ironically, the fighting here escalated as the main war was winding down to the east. The years of 1780, 81, and 82 saw many Indian raids on the area. In taking the war to these settlers, the Indian groups were trying to stop encroachment on their lands in what become, to them, a never ending fight. A series of historic markers note the sites of forts and raids in the region.

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Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mythmaking, and the American Revolution

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Blake McGready. A short bio is at the end of this post.

In December 1776, Richard Stockton of Princeton, New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, disavowed the American Revolution and swore allegiance to King George III. After British forces imprisoned Stockton, he accepted his captor’s amnesty offer. Revolutionaries considered Stockton’s decision an act of cold betrayal and condemned his perfidy. And yet, following his death in 1781, most biographies avoided or ignored Stockton’s questionable political commitment; one tribute claimed his conviction inspired “the utmost confidence of his associates and the country at large.” Stockton owed much of this comeback to his wife, Annis Boudinot. As a prolific and published poet, she helped erase much of her husband’s political infidelity in her writings. At the time of his death she praised him in one tribute, “Can we forget how patiently he bore / The various conflicts of the trying hour / While meekness, faith, and piety refin’d.” She carefully forgot that her husband abandoned the revolutionaries during “the trying hour.”[i]

Annis Boudinot (Mrs. Richard) Stockton by James Sharples Senior, from life, 1796-1797. Courtesy, Independence National Historical Park.
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War on the Pennsylvania Frontier: Part 2 of 5: Captain Phillips Monument

Along the wooded ridges of central Pennsylvania, a brutal war raged that was far removed from the orderly movements of large armies in the east. The attack on Phillip’s Rangers is a good example of this warfare.

Native Americans, supplied and encouraged by the British, raided far and wide on the frontier. These included Seneca, Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo peoples. By the 1780s, many of these groups had been pushed out of their traditional homes to the east, and many viewed war with the Americans as the only way to protect what land they had left.

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Thanksgiving with George Washington

St Paul's Chapel New York (Wikimedia Commons)

St. Paul’s Chapel, New York (Wikimedia Commons)

Setting aside one day to give national thanks to God for the blessings of the prior year and beseech him for future blessings had been frequently practiced in England, but it merged with several Puritan traditions in New England during the 17th century.  By the time of the American Revolution, Thanksgiving was a well-established custom.   The Second Continental Congress turned a regional tradition into a national one when offered its first Thanksgiving Proclamation on November 1, 1777, recommending that the individual states of the new United States set apart December 18th as a day of Thanksgiving and praise.  During the Revolution, Congress continued the practice, issuing its last proclamation in 1784.

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