Sunday, July 18, 2021

ARP209 Arnold and the Radicals

We last left Philadelphia in Episode 201, where I talked about Benedict Arnold taking command as military governor of the region and setting himself up in the Governor’s mansion, recently vacated by British General William Howe.

Benedict Arnold

Arnold had shut down all exports and trade within Philadelphia in order to prevent property of the British Army from being removed, or the property of local Tories that the revolutionary government might want to seize.

Arnold profited from his position by making deals that allowed favored parties to purchase and sell goods that the government had locked down.  This, of course, led local merchants to see the lock down as a way for a few top military officials to profit at the expense of the merchants.

Much of the lockdowns were ordered by Congress and Washington to protect against the loss of British property that could be seized.  However, when Arnold allowed a Tory ship, the Charming Nancy to leave port anyway, and it was discovered that he had received a financial interest in the ship, locals saw the shutdown as a way for Arnold to shakedown locals for a cut of profits.  If you wanted to move goods in Philadelphia, you had to pay to play.

James Mease Partnership

Shortly after Arnold had taken command of the city in the summer of 1778, two men met with him to form an agreement.  The men were James Mease, Clothier General of the Continental Army, Mease’s deputy William West, Jr.

Both men had been Philadelphia merchants before the war.  We don’t know much about Mease’s politics before the war.  He seems to have been focused more on his business.  In January 1776, Congress had tapped Mease to serve as a commissary for the Pennsylvania regiments that Congress was raising to send to Boston.  Mease also served as a paymaster general for the army.

Pennsylvania State House, 1778
In December of 1776, while Washington’s nearly naked army was fleeing the British advance across New Jersey toward Philadelphia, Washington called on Congress to appoint a Clothier General and to centralize a concerted effort to get clothing for his soldiers.  Washington appointed Mease, who served with the army as a civilian.  

Mease’s efforts proved less than effective.  Over the following year, the army continued to suffer from unacceptable shortages of just about everything they needed.  Mease seems to have done little to succeed in his role.  Washington had asked him to be present with the army, but Mease remained in Philadelphia, sending assistants to follow around the army.  Congress had told Mease to appoint local purchasing agents in each state, but Mease does not appear to have done that either.  

It would be unfair to blame Mease or his assistants entirely for the complete failure to provide the soldiers with adequate clothing.  Congress refused to come up with adequate funds to buy the clothes.  When an agent in Massachusetts purchased some materials at market prices, and taking into account that he had to buy it with depreciated Continental Dollars, Congress put a halt to his efforts because he was spending way too much money.  Congress also would not provide funds for wagons to get the supplies from the warehouses to the army.

Mease’s leadership, however, was not impressing anyone, including Mease himself.  In December of 1777, when Washington was at Valley Forge, Mease submitted his letter of resignation, citing poor health.  He agreed to stay on until a replacement could be found.  Neither Congress nor Washington found a replacement.  More than six months later, as the army was leaving Valley Forge and the British were evacuating Philadelphia, Mease was still serving as Clothier General.

Washington had written to Congress calling for his replacement and noting that he was unfit for his office.  Congress formed a committee to investigate, but did not take any action.  A frustrated Mease sent a copy of his original letter of resignation, arguing that he agreed he should no longer hold the office.  Even so, Congress did not act to replace him.  So, in the fall of 1778, with Arnold in command at Philadelphia, Mease still served as Clothier General of the Continental Army.

Part of Mease’s job was to go through all the stores left in Philadelphia.  If the goods were found to be the property of the British Army, or of a Tory merchant, he had authority to seize the goods.  If they were owned by a patriot merchant, he had authority to take the goods and to compensate the merchant with Continental dollars, which would be paid at the amounts valued by Congress.  Merchants had no choice not to sell.  They had to take what they were given, even if their goods would be worth many more times that amount on the private market.

By all accounts, Mease did his job with regard to acquiring whatever goods might be of use to the army.  There were also, however, a great deal of goods that were not of use to the army.  Mease and his assistant formed a partnership with Arnold.  The three men agreed to purchase these goods not needed by the army, at cost, then turn around and sell them on the private market for a huge profit, which the three men would divide among themselves.

Mease and his assistant would do all the work of strong-arming merchants into selling their goods at below market cost.  Arnold would continue to keep the shops closed and continue the ban on any exports from the city in order to give his partnership a monopoly on all sales.

To the modern ear, all of this sounds rather shady.  And to many people at the time, it sounded pretty shady as well.  But it was all being done under the authority of the Continental Congress, and there were no specific laws barring the practices being employed.  

Arnold had seen more senior generals, particularly Philip Schuyler, mix military assets with private business in order to make a profit.  To Arnold, this just seemed like his turn at the trough had finally come.  He could receive his financial reward for all of the sacrifice and suffering that he had made in the early years of the war.

Of course, to the merchants of Philadelphia who were being exploited, this just looked like corruption and abuse of power.  Local officials began to complain loudly.  Arnold, as the man in charge, became the target of their wrath.

Living like a Tory

Arnold did not seem to pay attention to the criticism.  He viewed the complaints as the buzzing of insects, annoying but to be ignored.

In addition to his profiteering, Arnold rather quickly took other actions which incurred the wrath of local patriots.  One, was his ostentatious display of wealth.  The military governor began riding around town in a fancy coach with livery servants, and furnishing his residence in the Penn Mansion with some of the finest furniture and decor that could be found, much of which was acquired through his partnership with Mease.

Arnold’s other offensive behavior involved his close association with the local Philadelphia loyalists.  Many of the wealthiest people in town, who had remained in Philadelphia during the British occupation, had worked with the British in order to maintain their property and keep their businesses going.  As I mentioned in an earlier episode, many local patriots wanted them to pay for their collaboration.  In the fall of 1778, local courts convicted and hanged several collaborators.  Others wanted these wealthy families who collaborated with the enemy, at least, to lose their property and possibly be expelled from the state.

Peggy Shippen

Arnold, instead, seemed to spend most of his time socializing with these very same people.  After all, they were the upper class of the town.  With his new-found wealth, powerful position, and prestigious title, Arnold had entrée into the top of Philadelphia society.  He wanted to take full advantage of that.

Arnold made clear his position as a moderate early in his administration.  Joseph Galloway had been the civilian leader under British-occupied Philadelphia and was probably considered the top collaborator who had not been arrested prior to British occupation.  He had not been arrested before the occupation because he had fled to British-occupied New York where he assisted General Howe with the Philadelphia campaign.

Galloway had wisely fled the city with the British Army and had returned to New York.  Galloway and his daughter Betsy would take a ship to London, never to return.  However, his wife, Grace Galloway, remained in her family mansion just north of town.  Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council seized her home as the property of a loyalist.  Mrs. Galloway refused to leave, and locked herself in the mansion.  

The Supreme Executive Council ordered Arnold to remove her from the property and throw her in the street.  Arnold had sent guards to protect Mrs. Galloway from violence, but had to comply with civilian orders, but sent an officer to convince Galloway to leave voluntarily, and gave her access to a coach to take her to relatives.  This relatively kind eviction upset the radicals. After Galloway’s eviction.  Joseph Reed moved into the mansion for use as his personal residence.

As much as the radicals despised Arnold’s behavior, much of Arnold’s behavior was in line with what he thought Congress and Washington wanted him to do.  Arnold had received orders to heal the city and to encourage the locals who had worked under British rule to get back to work and start being productive in a way that would help the American cause.  Congress wanted a productive city that would show a return to normal, and which would provide more goods and services to benefit the war effort.  Engaging in acts of petty revenge would not serve that end.  

Arnold’s display of wealth was not necessarily out of line either.  The people of his generation had not fully adopted the egalitarian values that later generations would display to the public.  Flashy exhibitions of wealth were expected from leaders.  Washington did much the same thing.  Arnold’s attempts to live extravagantly were expected by someone in his position.

Even so, Arnold’s high living only highlighted the fact that he was raking in tens of thousands of pounds from his private commercial dealings.  Those were only possible because of his position as military governor, and which were directly contributing to the suffering of many locals.  His socializing with loyalist families only increased local anger as his actions seemed to benefit rich loyalists at the expense of hard-working patriots.

Courting Peggy Shippen

Rather than focus on the optics of what he was doing, Arnold’s attention was also focused on love.  As I mentioned already, he began dating Peggy Shippen, the 18 year old daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who many suspected of loyalist tendencies.

Arnold’s first wife had died in 1775.  For a time, Arnold focused on the war, leaving his sister to raise his children.  A little over a year later, Arnold fell in love with a 15 year old Boston girl, the daughter of a loyalist, named Betsy Dublois.  He wooed her for about two years, but the parents would not allow the relationship. 

In Philadelphia, Arnold had moved on to an older woman, the then 17 year old Peggy Shippen. Again, the loyalist father Edward Shippen was reluctant about the relationship, but allowed it to continue.  Arnold and Peggy were seen riding around town in his carriage and walking together at Bartram’s Garden.  Within a few months, and after Peggy’s 18th birthday, Arnold proposed marriage.  Her father reluctantly agreed, but asked the couple to wait until the following spring.  So much of Arnold’ attention was focused on his upcoming wedding and how to support his new wife in style.

Arnold vs. Reed

Meanwhile, radicals focused on Arnold’s activities and made him a target.  Joseph Reed was elected President of Pennsylvania in December 1778 and made ending Arnold’s military rule one of his top priorities.

Joseph Reed 

One of the first changes that Reed and the Executive Council made was to get the Continental Congress to take away Arnold’s power to issue passes to civilians.  This was in response to passes Arnold had issued to move some of his personal property through the city at a time when no one else could do so.

Of course, an issue arose where a woman named Hannah Levey was trying to get a pass to get out of town.  Levey was a relative of Major David Franks, who was Arnold’s top aide.  Major Franks’ uncle was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who had thrown parties for General Howe and other top officers during the occupation and was considered a collaborator.

Arnold requested a pass for Miss Levey, but the Council denied it.  She was related to a suspected loyalist and the Council was in no mood to do any favors for General Arnold.  Instead, Arnold gave Levey a personal note instructing soldiers to allow her to pass.  When Reed found out and confronted Arnold about this effort to ignore the council’s rules, Arnold told Reed that Levey was on a military mission for him.  The matter was secret and he would not disclose its purpose to Reed or the Council.

On another occasion, Major Franks ordered the sentry at his home to go fetch a barber.  The sentry, Pennsylvania Militia Sergeant William Matlack, was not happy about leaving his post to run personal errands for the officer and asked if this was the way soldiers were treated.  He told Franks that he would go if directly ordered to do so by the officer, but would also lodge a complaint.  Franks cursed out the soldier and slammed the door in his face. The sergeant did go to Arnold with the complaint.  Arnold said he would look into it, but did nothing. 

Sergeant Matlack, the man who made the complaint, also happened to be the son of Timothy Matlack who served on the Supreme Executive Council and was friends with Joseph Reed.  Soon newspaper editorials were complaining about the use of soldiers as servants.  This also played into attitudes that Arnold and his fellow officers were acting more like loyalists and refusing to respect the rights of patriotic Americans.

Another issue that caused Arnold and Reed to butt heads was the case of the Active, a British sloop.  In the summer of 1778, the ship had captured several Connecticut fishermen, including a man named Gideon Olmstead, who were out at sea, and impressed them into service.  The ship sailed to Jamaica and then was headed back to New York. While still at sea, Olmestead and his fellow captives managed to lock the crew below decks and take control of the ship.  After considerable struggle, they managed to bring the ship into Egg Harbor, New Jersey.  As they approached the harbor, another ship, the Convention, owned by the State of Pennsylvania boarded the ship and claimed it as a prize.

Olmstead and his men said they were already in control of the ship and that the prize was theirs.  The case went to the Supreme Executive Council which ruled in favor of the State and kept the money.  Olmestead then turned to Arnold for justice.  Arnold agreed to front some money to Olmstead and his shipmates and also provide some legal assistance in exchange for a share of the winnings.  

Reed was outraged that the military governor was involving himself in this state matter involving property rights.  The Continental Congress set up an investigative committee and ruled in favor of Olmstead.  Despite the ruling, Reed and the Pennsylvania courts refused to turn over the proceeds from the sale of the ship.  The two sides would continue the legal battle for decades, long after Arnold had died.  The US Supreme Court finally resolved the matter in Olmstead’s favor more than 30 years later in 1809.


In February 1779 all of the fighting between Arnold and his officers with Reed and the local politicians went to the next level.  Arnold made plans in January to visit General Philip Schuyler in New York.  Schuyler was working on a land scheme to take possession of thousands of acres of land confiscated from loyalists in upstate New York.  Arnold was to get a chance to buy in and become a partial owner of land that would certainly be sold at a huge profit.

Arnold left Philadelphia in early February, headed for upstate New York.  Along the way, he stopped in Middlebrook, New Jersey to spend a few days with General Washington, bringing him up to date on events in Philadelphia and discussing future plans.  Washington welcomed his old friend and invited Arnold to stay with him.  The two generals spent several days catching up.

While with Washington, a courier came looking for Arnold to inform him that the Supreme Executive Council had brought eight criminal charges against Arnold.  The charges were 1) granting an unauthorized pass to a Tory ship leaving port, 2) closing down all shops while making purchases for his personal benefit, 3) imposing menial services on militia (the Matlack incident), 4) taking a financial interest in the legal dispute over the ship Active 5) Using state wagons to transport Tory property for private gain, 6) granting passes to civilians after Congress assigned that power to the state, 7) treating the Council with disrespect after it inquired about the use of the wagons, and finally a more general charge 8) “cold and neglectful treatment of Patriot authorities, both civil and military, with an entirely different line of conduct toward adherents of the King” by which they meant local Tories.

Not only had Reed and the council brought these charges against Arnold while he was away from the city, they also published them in the local newspapers.  Arnold discussed the matter with Washington, who seemed to support Arnold in this matter.  At least that is what Arnold wrote in a letter to Peggy Shippen at the time.  Washington suggested that Arnold seek a military court martial to clear his name.

Arnold cancelled his travel plans and returned to Philadelphia, demanding an immediate hearing on the charges.  The Council refused to hold a hearing right away, while Reed was seeking to have The Continental Congress suspend Arnold from his command until the matter was resolved.

Congress formed a committee to look into the matter.  Arnold defended himself on the charges at a hearing in March.  Congress threw out six of the eight charges, allowing only two to proceed: granting an unauthorized pass for the Tory ship, the Charming Nancy, to leave port, and for closing down the shops while benefiting from personal purchases of goods

Arnold seemed happy with the outcome and was confident that the remaining charges would also be dismissed after the hearing.  On March 19, he resigned his position as military governor of Philadelphia.  He was still a major general, but did not have any command.  He and Peggy continued their plans for a wedding in April.  As a wedding present, Arnold purchased a large estate known as Mount Pleasant.  

This, of course, only outraged Reed and the radicals even further.  They questioned how Arnold could afford such a purchase, other than through his corruption.  Of course, Arnold had heavily mortgaged his purchase, based on the expectation that Congress would repay the debts they still owed to him for personal outlays while in the field.

We will have to pick up that story in a future episode.  But we will end on the happy note that Arnold and Peggy were married on April 6, 1779 and looked forward to a lifetime of happiness together.

Next week, we head out west as the Americans attack the British at Fort Vincennes in what is today Indiana.

- - -

Next Episode 210 Fort Vincennes (Available July 25, 2021)

 Contact me via email at

 Follow the podcast on Twitter @AmRevPodcast

 Join the Facebook group, American Revolution   Podcast:

American Revolution Podcast Merch!

T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, pillows, totes, notebooks, wall art, and more.  Get your favorite American Revolution logo today.  Help support this podcast.

American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. You may also donate via Venmo (@Michael-Troy-20), Zelle, or popmoney (send to

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option making monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.

An alternative to Patreon is SubscribeStar.  For anyone who has problems with Patreon, you can get the same benefits by subscribing at SubscribeStar.

Help Support this podcast on ""

Visit the American Revolution Podcast Bookshop.  Support local bookstores and this podcast!

Signup for the AmRev Podcast Mail List

* indicates required

Further Reading


Organization of the Clothing Department: (for the full book see Supplying Washington’s Army, listed below under “free ebooks”).

Werther, Richard J. "Grace Galloway - Abandoned Loyalist Wife" Journal of the American Revolution, March 12, 2018:

Betsy DeBlois, The Girl Who Got Away From Benedict Arnold:

“To George Washington from James Mease, 16 December 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives,

“From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 9 February 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives,

Mount Pleasant Mansion:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Bancroft, George Joseph Reed; a Historical Essay, New York, W. J. Widdleton, 1867. 

Hill, George Canning Benedict Arnold. A Biography, Boston: E.O. Libby 1858. 

Reed, William Bradford Life and Correspondence of Joseph ReedVol. 1 & Vol. 2, Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847. 

Risch, Erna Supplying Washington’s Army, Center for Military History, 1981 (from US Army Center for Military History).

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Randall, Willard Sterne Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor, William Morrow & Co. 1990.

Rappleye, Charles Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, Simon & Schuster, 2010. 

Thompson, Ray Benedict Arnold in Philadelphia, Bicentennial Press, 1975. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

ARP208 Fort Morris & Augusta

A few weeks ago, I covered the British capture of Savannah, Georgia.  This was the first real effort by the British to do anything in the southern colonies since Sir Henry Clinton failed to capture Fort Sullivan back in early 1776.  Even that earlier assault in Charleston Harbor was a sideshow to the main British effort from 1776 through 1778 to control the middle colonies, particularly New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  

With that whole effort in the middle colonies having come to a failure. The British in 1779 focused more on trying to restore control of the southern colonies with the limited armies they had available in America. The capture of Savannah at the end of 1778 was the kickoff to that new southern campaign.

Lincoln Takes Command

General Washington had already issued orders recalling Continental General Robert Howe by the time the British attacked Savannah, but was still in command during the battle because his replacement, General Benjamin Lincoln had not yet arrived.  Howe’s loss of Savannah in a route drew criticism from all sides.  Georgia officials complained that Howe had not done enough to defend the state. Other Continental generals criticized him for trying to defend Savannah against a superior force rather than simply withdrawing and not getting half of his army captured.

Benjamin Lincoln
General Howe at last relinquished command and traveled north for a new assignment.  After a court martial acquitted the North Carolina General’s leadership in the southern command, he would spend the next year at relatively unimportant commands in Connecticut and the Hudson Valley.

The new southern commander, General Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts, had just returned from the recovery of injuries sustained in the Saratoga Campaign a year earlier.  Despite sharing in the credit for the American victory at Saratoga, Lincoln’s record as a military commander was limited.  He had been a militia officer before the war.  Of course, virtually every man in New England served in the militia, and most officers were selected for political prominence rather than military ability.  Lincoln had been a minor politician and from a good family, which led to his commission as an officer in the militia.

He saw no action during the French an Indian War, but still rose to the rank of major.  He held local office in Massachusetts, and became a prominent patriot leader, serving in the Provincial Congress, and the Committee of Safety before the war.  During the siege of Boston, his primary role was obtaining supplies for the army.

In January 1776, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress commissioned Lincoln a major general in the state militia.  Most of the other top military officers had taken commissions in the Continental Army.  Lincoln remained in Massachusetts when the Continentals moved on to New York later that year.  Lincoln attempted to bring several militia regiments to New York, but never managed to get down there in time for any fighting.

Despite his lack of a combat record, Lincoln began lobbying his friends in the Continental Congress for a commission in the Continental Army.  In February 1777, Congress granted him a commission as major general.  You may recall back in Episode 134, Lincoln commanded a small group at Bound Brook, New Jersey, protecting the main Continental Army from attack.  The British managed to sneak up on his outpost.  Lincoln and his men had to run for their lives. The general took ridicule for having fled his tent without his pants.

Later that year, Washington sent Lincoln and several other top generals to assist Horatio Gates with the British who had taken Fort Ticonderoga and were moving south through New York.  Lincoln did a reasonably good job working with the difficult militia General John Stark and otherwise assisting Gates with the campaign.

Although Lincoln did not play any notable role as a combat field commander, he did manage to get badly wounded the day after the second battle of Saratoga and was out of commission for a year.  Washington’s decision to turn over the southern command to Lincoln was really Lincoln’s first test as an independent commander.

Lincoln was in Charleston, SC when the British took Savannah.  He had been awaiting the arrival of 2000 North Carolina militia to bring south with him.  But having received word of the attack, Lincoln left Charleston with a couple of regiments and began moving toward Savannah.

He caught up with the remains of General Howe’s army, which was retreating up the Savannah River.  The men established a base about twenty miles north of Savannah at Purrysburg, South Carolina.  There, even after combining with the Continentals who had been with Howe, Lincoln had a little under 1000 men in his command, nowhere near enough to contest with the 3500 soldiers that had just captured Savannah.  Lincoln had to sit tight and wait for reinforcements.

Augustine Prévost 

The British had taken Savannah on December 29, 1778 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell.  It was an awfully large command for a colonel.  The plan had been for Campbell to bring the troops and await the arrival of General Augustine Prévost from Florida to take command.  When Campbell arrived at Savannah, he determined the defenses were so poor, that it made sense to attack immediately and not await Prévost’s arrival.  Since his attack was so successful, no one criticized his decision later.

Word of the planned assault on Savannah only arrived in Florida ten days before Campbell captured the town.  Prevost had left St. Augustine for the march north into Georgia, but had a 200 mile march through difficult terrain before he could reach Savannah.  

Augustine Prévost

General Prévost came from a wealthy family of French Huguenots.  He was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland and spoke French as his first language.  His father died when he was still a teenager.  He and his two brothers began a career in military service.  The brothers initially served the King of Sardinia, who allied with the Netherlands at the time. While in the Netherlands, they were recruited as officers in the British Army.  But by the beginning of the French and Indian War, Prévost was a major in the British Army. 

He served in America under General Wolfe and was wounded during the Quebec Campaign and a few years later moved up in rank to lieutenant colonel. Near the end of the war, Prévost briefly served as the interim governor of West Florida after Spain ceded the colony to Britain.  After the war, Prévost married the daughter of a wealthy Dutch merchant and moved to America.  He began to raise a family in New Jersey.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, Colonel Prévost was military commander of East Florida.  In several past episodes, I mentioned his political disputes with Governor Patrick Tonyn.  As the Revolution began, East Florida was a political and military backwater, where Prévost had less than a regiment to command at times, and struggled with the growing rebellion to the north.  

Many loyalists from Georgia and the Carolinas made their way to St. Augustine when violence from teh patriots at the homes became too hard to take.  Governor Tonyn and General Prévost fought over who should command these militia units.

By late 1778, London was getting more serious about taking back the southern colonies.  It had promoted Prévost to brigadier and ordered Prévost to take command of the army that General Clinton was sending from New York to capture Savannah.

Battle of Midway

Prior to the capture of Savannah, most of Georgia’s defenses were along the southern border designed to prevent raids from British-controlled Florida.  Many of these defenses were still in place.

Prévost had been active in southern Georgia that fall.  Commanding small groups of regulars and loyalists, the British contested ground all through the southern part of the state.  After the British victory at Alligator Bridge (see Episode 191), the Americans had generally ceded the parts of Georgia closest to the Florida border and had focused on the command at Savannah.

Prior to the arrival of the regulars in late December, Prévost had been directing attacks to harass the defenses around Savannah.  In November, Prévost had launched an assault that reached Sunbury, about forty miles south of Savannah.  With 750 regulars and loyalists under the command of Prévost’s younger brother Lieutenant Colonel Mark Prévost, and with the assistance of loyalists under Colonel Thomas “Burntfoot” Brown, laid devastation to the lightly populated region.  Prévost planned to take the village of Midway with his regiments marching overland, while another assault force sailed upriver with another 500 British regulars and militia.

Continental Colonel James White commanded about 100 Continentals and militia at Midway, the target of the British assault. He was joined by newly commissioned militia General James Screven, who had only 20 militia with him.  General Screven tried to set up an ambush to hit the advancing loyalists under Colonel Brown before they reached Midway.  

Unfortunately, the ambush site that Screven selected was already occupied by Brown’s loyalists.  The loyalists ambushed the Americans and killed several of them. Screven was hit eleven times, but survived to be taken prisoner.  He died several days later.

With the loss of General Screven, command fell to Colonel White who prepared for a final assault. He had command at Midway.  The British loyalists under Colonel Brown and supported by Colonel Prévost and his regulars had a massive numerical advantage.  

White had no choice but to withdraw.  However, he left behind a forged note which ordered him to withdraw so that when the British advanced, the American cavalry could hit them from behind.  Colonel Prévost found the note.  Although there was no American cavalry, Provost believed the note anyway and hesitated in his advance.  That, combined with the fact that the Regulars that he had expected to arrive aboard ship were nowhere to be found, Prévost ended the campaign and marched back to St. Augustine.

After Prévost withdrew, the British ships, which had been delayed by unfavorable winds, made it upriver to Fort Morris at Sunbury.  Even without Prévost’s army, the fleet had over five hundred soldiers, with only maybe 120 Americans defending the fort.  The British commander, Colonel Lewis Fuser disembarked his soldiers and surrounded the fort.  Fuser sent a letter to White saying that multiple armies had the fort surrounded and that he should surrender.  

White knew that the other army that Fuser expected to find there, under Colonel Prévost had already withdrawn, and said as much in his reply.  He then famously said that if the British wanted the fort they could “come and take it.”  

Colonel Fuser confirmed that Prévost was already gone.  The purpose of his mission had been to support Prévost.  He didn’t see any point in trying to take an entrenched position with cannons if the rest of his army had already left.  So Fuser put his men back aboard ship and sailed away.

Return to Fort Morris

All of that happened in November, 1778.  In late December, General Prévost marched a much larger force out of St. Augustine with the ultimate goal of reaching Savannah.  By the time his army reached Fort Morris on January 6, 1779, Prévost knew that Colonel Campbell had already taken Savannah a week earlier.  However, more than 200 Americans and 24 cannons still held Fort Morris.  

Ft. Morris earthworks
This time, the British did not back down, and began a siege of the fort, supported by over 2000 regulars, loyalists, and Indians.  The Commander of the fort, Major Joseph Lane, had received orders to abandon the fort and withdraw after the fall of Savannah.  Major Lane, however, was unfamiliar with the area.  He tried to get several locals to act as guides, but the locals persuaded him to stay.  

Once the British arrived, Lane mounted a respectable, if hopeless defense for three days.  On the third day of the siege, a British cannonball hit the fort’s powder magazine, causing a massive explosion.  With that, the garrison surrendered, suffering only four dead and seven wounded over the three day siege.  The remaining garrison became prisoners. General Prévost left a small force to occupy Fort Morris, and continued on to Savannah.


General Prevost arrived in Savannah on January 17 and assumed command from Colonel Campbell.  As I discussed a few weeks ago, Colonel Archibald Campbell had already taken the city, so after taking care of Fort Morris, Prevost had an easy entry into Savannah where he assumed command.

Both Prevost and Campbell received compliments from the Americans for their relatively kind treatment of the civilian population.  Several American leaders noted that because Campbell had been treated so poorly when he had been a prisoner, they feared that he might exact revenge on American prisoners.  He did not.  The area around Fort Morris became a prison camp for hundreds of captured prisoners. The British treated them rather well.

The British also held back on wholesale looting or any retaliatory actions against the civilian population.  They hoped to restore civilian rule and allow courts to resolve any local disputes, rather than the army.  In many ways, this followed the policies that General William Howe had implemented when he first took New York.  The goal was to reestablish the “king’s peace” and convince locals that British rule was a good thing.

Georgia, however, would still have a military governor.  Augustine Prevost did not want the job.  In fact, just after he arrived in Savannah, he wrote to General Clinton to say that he wanted to retire from the army.  Colonel Campbell became the new Governor of Georgia and General Prevost’s brother, Colonel Mark Prevost became the Lieutenant Governor.

The British plan was to turn Georgia back into a productive colony that would serve as a source of food for the British forces in North America.  Trying to bring meat and vegetables across the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing ship without any refrigeration or canning was expensive and resulted in much of the food spoiling en route.  Georgia’s large plantations and cattle ranches offered a valuable source of food for the army both on the Continent and the islands in the West Indies.

The other goal was to use Georgia for a base of operations to take back the Carolinas.  St. Augustine, Florida was simply not large enough or close enough to launch major operations, and sea landings could be much more difficult.  The establishment of an army in Georgia gave the British a perfect base from which to march north and retake Charleston by land.

As it had hoped in other colonies, the core force of British regulars would establish law and order.  Loyalists would then take over as militia to maintain the royal government and the regulars could move north into South Carolina to do the same thing there.

Since Georgia had a population of only 15,000-20,000 white settlers at the time, and only about a third of those were adult males, and a good portion of those were thought to be loyalists, the plan to take back the colony with an army of 3000-4000 regulars plus militia seemed more than adequate.  But Georgia did not really have any large population centers.  The people were spread out on plantations all over the colony/state.  Savannah was the largest town, and Sunbury, where Fort Morris was located was the second largest.  The army needed to expand on that by moving soldiers further inland to establish control.

The Continentals, of course, did not want to see that happen.  General Benjamin Lincoln, as I said, had established a base at Purrysburg, South Carolina, about twenty miles north of Savannah and right on the river that marked the South Carolina-Georgia border.  He only had a force of about 1000 soldiers, but was awaiting 2000 reinforcements from North Carolina.  Even if that was not enough to take back Savannah, it could keep the British bottled up around the town and prevent the occupation of the rest of the state.

Prevost, however, was not going to let that happen.  He led a force of about 2000 soldiers upriver to take a position directly across from the Continentals as Purrysburg.  At the same time, Colonel Campbell took an army of 1000 on an inland march through Georgia to pacify the colony.  On January 31, Campbell entered the next largest city in Georgia, Augusta, with almost no resistance. 

Aside from the large force just across the river from the Continentals, the British began spreading out small garrisons across Georgia.  The British army would establish order, recruit loyalist regiments from the local population, and begin making plans for an offensive into South Carolina.  Many Georgia loyalists who had fled to East Florida returned to Georgia to reclaim their farms and return to normal life.  The British army provided a ready market for whatever crops or animals they could provide.  The Army also seized the farms of leading patriots who refused to submit to British rule.  London saw the reclamation of Georgia as a great success, and an auspicious start to a new southern campaign.

Around the same time that Colonel Campbell was marching into Augusta, Continental General Lincoln received his reinforcements from North Carolina.  By the end of January, Lincoln had an army of over 3000, including more than 1000 Continentals.  Even if the Americans could not defeat the British in Georgia, they could keep life from becoming too comfortable, and discourage British desire to march northward into South Carolina. 

Continued American challenges to British rule in Georgia would result in a number of skirmishes and battles over the first few months of 1779 and with the cooperation of a French fleet, would result in a massive siege against British-occupied Savannah later that year.  But those will have to be topics for future episodes.

Next week, we return to Philadelphia, where the radicals bring charges against their military governor, Benedict Arnold.

- - -

Next Episode 209 Benedict Arnold and the Radicals 

 Contact me via email at

 Follow the podcast on Twitter @AmRevPodcast

 Join the Facebook group, American Revolution   Podcast:

American Revolution Podcast Merch!

T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, pillows, totes, notebooks, wall art, and more.  Get your favorite American Revolution logo today.  Help support this podcast.

American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. You may also donate via Venmo (@Michael-Troy-20), Zelle, or popmoney (send to

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option making monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.

An alternative to Patreon is SubscribeStar.  For anyone who has problems with Patreon, you can get the same benefits by subscribing at SubscribeStar.

Help Support this podcast on ""

Visit the American Revolution Podcast Bookshop.  Support local bookstores and this podcast!

Signup for the AmRev Podcast Mail List

* indicates required

Further Reading


Liberty County - Midway, Sunbury & Fort Morris:

Sunbury, Fort Morris & Midway Pamphlet:

General James Scriven:

Searcy, Martha Condray. “1779: The First Year of the British Occupation of Georgia.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 67, no. 2, 1983, pp. 168–188. JSTOR,

Williams, Edward G. “The Prevosts of the Royal Americans” Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 1973:

Archibald Campbell:

Nunis, Doyce B. “COLONEL ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL'S MARCH FROM SAVANNAH TO AUGUSTA, 1779.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 45, no. 3, 1961, pp. 275–286. JSTOR,

“To George Washington from Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 5–6 January 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Jones, Charles C. The History of Georgia Vol. 2, Boston: Houghton & Mifflin Co. 1883. 

McCall, Hugh The History of Georgia, containing brief sketches of the most remarkable events up to the present day, (1784), Atlanta: A.H. Caldwell, 1909 reprint.: 

Peck, John Mason Lives of Daniel Boone and Benjamin Lincoln, Boston : C.C. Little and J. Brown, 1847. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Campbell, Archibald Journal of an expedition against the rebels of Georgia in North America under the orders of Archibald Campbell, Esquire, Lieut. Colol. of His Majesty's 71st Regimt., 1778, Ashantilly Press, 1981. 

Cashin, Edward The King's Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier, New York: Fordham University Press, 1999. 

Coleman, Kenneth The American Revolution in Georgia, 1763–1789, Univ. of Ga Press, 1958. 

Hall, Leslie, Land and Allegiance in Revolutionary Georgia, Univ. of Ga Press, 2001.  

Martin, Scott Savannah 1779: The British Turn South, Osprey Publishing, 2017. 

Mattern, David B. Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1998: 

Piecuch, Jim Three Peoples, One King: Loyalists, Indians, and Slaves in the Revolutionary South, 1775-1782, Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2008. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

AR-SP11 Live Show - Independence Day 2021

In this special episode recorded live on Independence Day, I discuss the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence.  Because this was a live and unscripted episode, I just have some notes I used to prepare for the talk.  The notes may differ at points from exactly what I discussed.

In the years leading up to the war, there was virtually no talk of independence.

The colonies recognized the need for British military protection and benefitted from the British markets for trade.  The policy of "salutary neglect" gave colonies the freedom to develop as they wished.

Even in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, attitudes about independence changed little.  The Stamp Tax and its repeal, the Townshend Acts, and the Tea Act all provoked protests, petitions, and trade boycotts, but not calls for independence.

Colonists wanted a restoration of rights, not independence.  They wanted things to go back to the way they were before the French and Indian War.  Britain had some trade rules in place, which were often ignored, kept a governor in most colonies who worked with elected legislators, and Britain provided the backup support needed in case of military threat from other countries or natives.

What was the big deal over the tea tax?  It was a minimal tax, and British changes to import laws made tea much cheaper for colonists even with the tax.  But then, that was the idea.  British leaders wanted to make it as attractive as possible to pay the tax.  Once the colonists paid, it, the principle was established.  After that, the British could raise the taxes higher and higher and higher until they were sucking all the excess wealth out of the colonies, much like they already did in places like Ireland and Bengal.  Once colonists accepted even a nominal tax, there was no fighting over a principle, only haggling over price.  That is why activists would not allow anyone to pay the tax.  That is why it got dumped in Boston Harbor.

The Boston Tea Party is what really drew the wrath of Britain, primarily on the Massachusetts Bay colony alone.  Britain’s retaliatory coercive acts, aka intolerable acts, stripped Massachusetts of most political power to run its own colony.  

First Continental Congress 

The First Continental Congress met to discuss how to respond as a united group.  Talk was over political compromise and use of trade restrictions with Britain “boycotts” of British goods.  However, there was no talk of independence.  One delegate who surveyed other delegates on the question sent his conclusions home in a letter to a friend:

I was involuntarily led into a short discussion of this subject by your remarks on the conduct of the Boston people, and your opinion of their wishes to set up for independency. I am as well satisfied as I can be of my existence that no such thing is desired by any thinking man in all North America; on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the warmest advocates for liberty, that peace and tranquility, upon constitutional grounds, may be restored, and the horrors of civil discord prevented.

- George Washington to Robert Mackenzie, October 9, 1774

The Congress sent petitions to the King and Parliament requesting protection of their traditional rights and they way things had worked in the past so well for so long, ending with :

We therefore most earnestly beseech your majesty, that your royal authority and interposition may be used for our relief, that a gracious answer may be given to this petition. 

That your majesty may enjoy every felicity, through a long and glorious reign over loyal and happy subjects and that your descendants may inherit your prosperity and dominions till time shall be no more; is, and always will be, our sincere and fervent prayer.

With that, the First Continental Congress disbanded, with plans to meet again the following spring in case further measures were needed.

Second Continental Congress

By the time the second Continental Congress met in May 1775, Lexington and Concord had already put the continent at war. Near the end of the year, Thomas Paine released Common Sense.  It introduce the idea that a tiny island should not rule large continent.  It also attacked the idea of monarchy - -Why do you get to make the rules just because your Dad got to make the rules before you? These events had a big impact, but even war did not move the vast majority of the population to favor independence.

Who really was pivotal to moving colonists to favor independence?  It was King George III.  His open rejection of the petitions and calls on Parliament to suppress the rebellion with military force ended any hope of reconciliation.

John Adams later said that it was King George who had the greatest impact on colonial opinion favoring independence.  Patriots hoped that would see the contention caused by Parliament’s new policies and would broker a settlement agreeable to all.  Even if they knew the King generally backed Parliament’s actions in private, turning to him gave him the opportunity to back the government out of what was becoming a big problem and providing a face saving way for the government to back down.  When the King came out squarely against compromise. the choice became complete submission, or independence.

Even so, the Second Continental Congress was not ready to declare independence, even though they agreed to take over the war and send George Washington to command the new Continental Army.

By early 1776, most of the conservatives had left Congress.  Most of them joined loyalist groups.  Many moderates, however, remained.  They wanted to continue to resist, but were not ready for Independence. 

The debate there was largely between radicals who wanted independence now, and those who thought we should wait and see if we could work out another solution.

There was still a hope that once London realized that this had become a shooting war, they might still be willing to come to a political settlement.  Olive Branch Petition was that final effort to work out a deal.  Of course, many were by this time ready to declare Independence.  But they knew they had to be united on this matter.  No one wanted to be the Divided States of America.  Without a united front, Britain would easily put down a regional rebellion then turn the screws on everyone else later.

Historians generally credit John Adams with leading the pro-independence fight in Congress, but that may be largely because Adams wrote the first history of what happened and we all tend to make ourselves the heroes of our own stories.

In May, 1776, Adams attempted to push through an independence resolution in an underhanded way.  introduced a resolution in the Continental Congress calling on the colonies, 

where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.

That did not seem to raise too much fuss.  After all, where government had broken down due to problems, it made sense to create something to make it work.  A few days later, Adams attempted to add a preamble to the resolution:

Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the lords and commons of Great Britain, has, by a late act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown; And whereas, no answer, whatever, to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been or is likely to be given; but, the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies; And whereas, it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good Conscience, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted, under the authority of the people of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies; therefore, resolved, &c.

Essentially, this preamble made clear that recent events required new government because a series of abuses made it impossible to have a government that was not independent of the King. This caused great dissention and even caused the Maryland delegation to walk out.

It was not until a few weeks later when Congress decided to address the question of independence directly.  On May 15, the same day Adams tried to introduce his controversial preamble in Philadelphia, the Virginia Convention passed a resolution for Congress to consider.  On June 7, Richard Henry Lee offered the resolution to Congress: 

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

In May 1776, Adams wrote a letter to James Warren, President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, assessing where each of the colonies stood.  He thought that New England, - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island -  would support independence.  The southern colonies, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia were also all likely supporters.  The middle colonies, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, at the time still had instructions to oppose independence.

After Lee made his resolution, Congress tabled it for three weeks so that delegates could confer with their local leaders back home and decide whether to change their instructions.  In the meantime, a drafting committee began work on a declaration in case a vote for independence passed.

I want to take a look at each of those middle states, and how they got to voting for Independence by the beginning of July.


Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony.  There was no Provincial Congress, only radical committees. Committee of 100 which had no real legal basis for existing, represented the radical elements who supported the war and independence.  The colonial Assembly was dominated by Quakers: Pacifists who supported King.

Radicals like Charles Thomson were pushing for Independence, In May 1776 they attempted to vote in a pro-independence slate into the legislature, but lost.  High Quaker turnout, and many patriots had already left to serve in the Continental Army.  No absentee ballots.  

By the way, Thomson kept amazingly detailed notes about all the political machinations that went on in Congress, not only at this time but throughout the entire time Congress met before the implementation of the Constitution.  Near the end of his life, he took these notes and tossed them into his fireplace.  He decided that it would be better for history to remember Congress as idealistic heroes rather than wheeler-dealers and that his insider information would destroy that view.  So Thomson, great radical patriot, not so much a friend to historians.

Quakers were not shrinking violets.  They saw the support of their King and ministers as a religious duty.  On January 20, 1776, the Society’s Elders issued a public declaration which said in part 

the setting up and putting down kings and governments, is God’s peculiar prerogative; for causes best known to himself: And it is not our business to have any hand or contrivance therein: . . . but to pray for our king, and the safety of our nation, and good of all men: That we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty; under government which God is pleased to set over us.

Despite losing the election, the radicals were not deterred.  Responding to a resolution from the Continental Congress that colonies without “government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs” should establish new ones.  A few days after this May 15 resolution, a group of 4000 radicals met in front of Independence Hall (then, the State House).

The radical mob, which listened to speeches by some radical delegates, including Thomas McKean wanted, not only independence, but a completely new government for Pennsylvania.  They called for a constitutional convention to replace the Assembly.  The Committee of 100 then called for an election of delegates to a convention.  What legal basis did the committee have for this? Well none really.  They were simply counting on the people to support it and for the government to have no power to obstruct it. 

Although momentum seemed to be in favor of the radicals, the leaders set up the convention to ensure the result.  First, they gave equal representation to each county.  This gave far more power to the less populated western counties where radical sentiment was far more popular.  Second, they required all delegates to forswear allegiance to the king and to support whatever government the people chose.  So Quakers or Tories unwilling to consider the possibility of ditching the King could not participate.  Third, opened up voting to any male over the age of 21 who had been assessed for taxes.  With no minimum property requirement, this increased the adult male voter pool from 50% to 90% across the State.

Seeing the radicals make a move toward ending the Assembly, many representatives began to move toward the radical camp.  Pennsylvania formally withdrew its instructions to its Continental Congress to oppose independence, but did not issue new instructions either.  A majority of the delegation still opposed independence 4-3.  In the end, two of the opponents, John Dickinson and Robert Morris, left before the vote, allowing the delegation to support independence by a vote of 3-2.  Both men realized the change was going to happen soon.  Even if they were not ready to cast a vote, they saw the value in allowing Pennsylvania to join the other colonies in backing Independence.

New Jersey

New Jersey was in a period of transition.  The colony had a strong loyalist population and could really go either way.  Royal Governor William Franklin had ended the legislative session in January.  The Provincial Congress in the state simply took over the functions of government. 

When the governor attempted to call the Assembly into session again in June 1776, the Provincial Congress finally reacted by replacing the royal government in June and supporting independence.  They sent the governor to be imprisoned in Connecticut and called for the creation of a new Constitution.  This was a power play by the patriots.  It was not clear that the colony’s population would go along.  However, it was enough to get the New Jersey delegation to support independence.


Delaware appeared to be most in favor of independence among the middle colonies.  Delaware’s status as its own colony was under question since they were still technically considered part of Pennsylvania.  Delaware had long had its own separate assembly, but were owned by the Penn family and under the control of Pennsylvania’s proprietary governor.

Northern Delaware tended to support independence while southern Delaware leaned loyalist.  On June 15, the Assembly declared itself independent of both Britain and Pennsylvania, but did not instruct delegates on how to vote.

At the July 1 vote, the Delaware delegation split, with Thomas McKean voting for independence and George Read voting against.  McKean had to send for the third delegate, Caesar Rodney who was also serving as a militia officer in lower Delaware putting down a loyalist revolt.  Rodney made a famous midnight ride through a thunderstorm to tip the Delaware delegation in favor of Independence in the July 2 vote.  His arrival was celebrated as delegates broke into song and dance at his arrival.  At least that is how it is portrayed in the Musical 1776.  Actual events may have been less dramatic.

Both Rodney and McKean were from southern Delaware.  As a result of voting for independence, both men lost their seats in the next election.


The Maryland delegation walked out of Congress on May 15 when Congress debated the controversial preamble that had smacked of supporting independence.  The Maryland Convention received Congress’ resolution.  It then unanimously voted not to create a new government and reaffirmed its loyalty to the King.  

The planter class in Maryland were more strongly loyalist.  The patriots mostly came from merchants in the port cities.  Samuel Chase became the biggest advocate to get the convention to change its views.

On June 21, the Provincial Convention in Maryland recalled its delegates to discuss the matter, but wanted an assurance that Congress would not vote on independence while they were away.  Since Congress planned to begin debate on July 1, this was a problem.  In the end, the convention approved independence after learning that Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware would support it.  The need for unanimity was a strong one in many of the reluctant colonies.

New York

Unlike most other colonies, loyalists had also participated in the Provincial Congress as well.  This gave them more influence in selecting delegates to the Continental Congress who opposed independence, as well as keeping the Provincial Congress itself from going too far.  

New York was also facing an imminent invasion.  A leader even open to the idea of independence might have second thoughts if he believed that the British army would reassert control over the colony a month later and begin looking for leading traitors to arrest and hang.

Conservatives in New York tried to slow the momentum toward independence.  After receiving word that the Continental Congress would debate the matter.  The Provincial Congress voted that it could not support independence until it took a vote of the people in its colony, and that it could not take a vote, because, well that British invasion that is about to happen.  The Congress ended its session on June 30 without changing its instructions to delegates to vote against independence.

New York was the only colony to abstain from the July 2 vote for independence.  When the New York Congress learned that all twelve other colonies had voted in favor, it reconvened on July 9 to approve of independence.  This allowed the final version of the declaration to add the word “unanimous.”

July 4

So if independence was supported on July 2, what happened on July 4.  Well, during the whole debate over independence, Congress had created a committee to draft a declaration in case the Congress voted in favor of independence. 

John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson.  As the junior member of the committee, Jefferson got stuck writing the first draft.  On July 4, the committee presented the declaration for final approval.

The committee had finished with its draft by late June and presented it to Congress after the July 2 vote for independence.  Congress took a couple of days to debate the final wording, which it agreed to on July 4.

John Dunlap produced the first written copy on July 5 and other newspapers began printing it over the next few days.  there was no official version to be sent to London.  This was a declaration to the world, not a petition.  British officers in American obtained copies from local papers in the days following its general distribution.  

The signed copy that we consider the “original” was not laid before Congress until August 2 for signatures.  By that time, New York had gotten on board, so the final version included the word “unanimous”.  Most members signed it on Aug. 2, but some did not get around to signing it until much later.

Because July 4 was the date written on the Declaration itself, it became the date when Americans celebrated independence ever since.  245 years later, we still celebrate that important moment.


Jason Mandresh and I discuss Founder of the Day, which looks at the various men and women who worked to win the Revolution.  We also discuss William Franklin, Benedict Arnold, and interesting American Revolution tours.

Lee Wright and I discuss History Camp, which will hold the virtual History Camp - American next week.

Links to Discussion Items

- - -

 Contact me via email at

 Follow the podcast on Twitter @AmRevPodcast

 Join the Facebook group, American Revolution   Podcast:

American Revolution Podcast Merch!

T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, pillows, totes, notebooks, wall art, and more.  Get your favorite American Revolution logo today.  Help support this podcast.

American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. You may also donate via Venmo (@Michael-Troy-20), Zelle, or popmoney (send to

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option making monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.

An alternative to Patreon is SubscribeStar.  For anyone who has problems with Patreon, you can get the same benefits by subscribing at SubscribeStar.

Help Support this podcast on ""

Visit the American Revolution Podcast Bookshop.  Support local bookstores and this podcast!

Signup for the AmRev Podcast Mail List

* indicates required