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1777 Dec 2
British officers under Gen. Howe met in the Philadelphia home of Lydia Darragh to discuss plans to the attack American forces on December 5, just prior to Gen. Washington’s planned move to Valley Forge. Mrs. Darragh listened in on the plans and sent word to Whitemarsh of the impending attack.
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1777 Dec 5
A British advance column met unexpected resistance at Germantown, Penn. Gen. Howe refrained from a direct attack on Whitemarsh, where Gen. Wasinington was based, and the battle dissolved in a series of inconclusive skirmishes that lasted 3 days. The Americans lost 90 men killed or wounded and the British lost 60.
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1777 Dec 8
Britain’s Gen. Howe withdrew to Philadelphia following a failed attempt on American forces encamped at Whitemarsh.
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1777 Dec
Moroccan sultan Muhammad III included the United States of America in a list of countries to which Morocco’s ports were open. Morocco thus became the first country whose head of state publicly recognized the new United States.
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1777
Thomas Jefferson (34), US President (1801-1809), drafted Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom. It was passed by Virginia’s General Assembly in 1786.
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1778 Feb 6
The United States won official recognition from France as the nations signed a treaty of aid in Paris. The Franco-American Treaty of Alliance bound the 2 powers together "forever against all other powers." It was the first alliance treaty for the fledgling US government and the last until the 1949 NATO pact. Benjamin Franklin signed for the US.
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1778 Mar 7
Capt. James Cook 1st sighted the Oregon coast and named Perpetua Cape in honor of St. Perpetua’s Day.
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1778 Jun 28
"Molly Pitcher," Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, wife of an American artilleryman, carried water to the soldiers during the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth, N.J. and, supposedly, took her husband's place at his cannon after he was overcome with heat. Temperatures reportedly reached 96 degrees in the shade. According to myth she was presented to General George Washington after the battle. Her actual existence is a matter of historical debate and the outcome of the battle was inconclusive.
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1778
John Singleton Copley, American artist, painted "Watson and the Shark." The work was based on a real life incident from 1749 in Cuba’s Havana Harbor, where Brook Watson (14) lost half a leg to a shark. Watson went on to become the Lord Mayor of London.
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1778
Benjamin Tallmadge, under orders from George Washington, organized a spy network in NYC, the heart of the British forces. The code name for the group was Samuel Culper and it became known as the Culper Gang.
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1778
Benjamin Franklin, on a diplomatic mission in France, approved a plan by John Paul Jones to disrupt British merchant shipping along Britain's undefended west coast.
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1779 Feb
A shootout at Carr's Fort in Georgia turned back men sent to Wilkes County to recruit colonists loyal to the British army. In 2012 archeologists located the site.
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1779 Jul 16
American troops under General Anthony Wayne, aka Mad Anthony Wayne, captured Stony Point, NY, with a loss to the British of more than 600 killed or captured.
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1779 Sep 23
During the Revolutionary War, the American navy under John Paul Jones, commanding from Bonhomie Richard, defeated and captured the British man-of-war Serapis. An American attack on a British convoy pitted the British frigate HMS Serapis against the American Bon Homme Richard. The American ship was commanded by Scotsman John Paul Jones, who chose to name the ship after Benjamin Franklin's “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” Fierce fighting ensued, and when Richard began to sink, Serapis commander Richard Pearson called over to ask if Richard would surrender and Jones responded, "I have not yet begun to fight!"--a response that would become a slogan of the U.S. Navy. Pearson surrendered and Jones took control of Serapis. The Bonhomie Richard sank 2 days after the battle. In 1959 the film Jean Paul Jones starred Robert Stack.
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1779 Nov 12
A group of 20 slaves who had fought in the war submitted a petition to the New Hampshire General Assembly, while the war was still being fought. Lawmakers decided the time was not right. 6 of the slaves were later freed. In 2013 a state Senate committee recommended that the state posthumously emancipate 14 of the slaves who died in bondage. On June 7, 2013, they were granted posthumous emancipation when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a largely symbolic bill that supporters hope will encourage future generations to pursue social justice.
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1779
Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) painted the portrait “George Washington at Princeton.”
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1779
Benjamin Franklin presented his credentials to the French court, becoming the first American Minister (the 18th American century equivalent of ambassador) to be received by a foreign government.
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1779
Thomas Jefferson (36), US President (1801-1809), was elected as the 2nd Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry. Jefferson served for 2 years with James Madison (28) in his cabinet.
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1779
The British adopted a strategy to seize parts of Maine, especially around Penobscot Bay, and make it a new colony to be called "New Ireland." In July a British naval and military force under the command of General Francis McLean sailed into the harbor of Castine, Maine, landed troops, and took control of the village. After peace was signed in 1783, the New Ireland proposal was abandoned.
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1779
Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule, so called because it is a hybrid of Arkwright's water frame and James Hargreaves' spinning jenny in the same way that mule is the product of crossbreeding a female horse with a male donkey.
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1780 Mar 1
Pennsylvania became the first U.S. state to abolish slavery (for new-borns only). It was followed by Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, New York in 1785, and New Jersey in 1786. Massachusetts abolished slavery through a judicial decision in 1783 (see July 8 1777).
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1780 May
The Virginia continentals surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, commander of the British Legion, following his victory at Waxhaws, SC. Tarleton then led the British troops to a massacre of the surrendering Virginia regulars and militiamen, eliminating the last organized force in South Carolina. During the course of the Revolutionary War, Tarleton became one of the most hated men in America.
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1780
A Japanese whaling ship ran aground near the western end of the Aleutian Islands. Rats from the ship reached the nearest island giving it the name Rat Island. The incident introduced the non-native Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, to Alaska. The rats terrorized all but the largest birds on the island. In the Fall of 2008 poison was dropped onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half. By mid 2009 there were no signs of living rats and some birds had returned.
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1780
1800
In 2007 Jay Winik authored “The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800.”
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1780
In San Francisco stone foundations were laid for a building at the military garrison in the Presidio. The Presidio’s Officer’s Club was later built on the same site.
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1781 Feb
Gen. Washington, sensitive to the pleas of the Virginia Governor, ordered Lafayette south with a picked force of some 1,200 New England and New Jersey troops.
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1781 Mar
The Continental cavalry under Col. Henry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, surprised and cut to pieces the Loyalist cavalry near Hillsborough, NC. Ninety Loyalists were killed with no losses to Lee.
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1781 May 13
British Gen. William Phillips died of a fever Petersburg, Va., as his forces confronted the American army under Lafayette. Phillips had commanded the artillery battery whose fire had killed Lafayette’s father at the Battle of Minden (1759).
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1781 Jun
Emily Geiger was said to have crossed British lines in North Carolina to deliver an urgent message to American Gen. Nathaniel Greene as Greene’s army retreated from British forces under Gen. Francis Rawdon.
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1781 Jul 6
In Virginia the Battle of Green Spring took place on the Jamestown Peninsula. It was the last major engagement of the Revolutionary War prior to the Colonial’s final victory at Yorktown in October.
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1781 Jul 17
Yuma Indians in southern California attacked two missions killing all the men but two and enslaving the women and children. They were upset after a Spanish officer let a large horse herd loose to graze in Yuma fields.
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1781 Jul 18
Yuma Indians in southern California ambushed Spanish Capt. Fernando Rivera y Moncada and his soldiers. Rivera had been ordered to recruit settlers in Sinaloa and Sonora and lead them through the desert over the Anza trail to a new settlement called Los Angeles. Rivera and all his soldiers were killed.
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1781 Sep 6
Martha Jefferson (b.1748), wife of Thomas Jefferson, died.
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1781 Oct 19
Major General Lord Charles Cornwallis, surrounded at Yorktown, Va., by American and French regiments numbering 17,600 men, surrendered to George Washington and Count de Rochambeau at Yorktown, Va. Cornwallis surrendered 7,157 troops, including sick and wounded, and 840 sailors, along with 244 artillery pieces. Losses in this battle had been light on both sides. Cornwallis sent Brig. Gen. Charles O'Hara to surrender his sword. At Washington's behest, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln accepted it. Washington himself is seen in the right background of “The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown” by artist John Trumbull. After conducting an indecisive foray into Virginia, Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis retired to Yorktown on August 2, 1781. On August 16, General Washington and Maj. Gen. Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, began marching their Continental and French armies from New York to Virginia. The arrival of a French fleet, and its victory over a British fleet in Chesapeake Bay, sealed the trap.
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1781
The earliest reference to the New Orleans Mardi Gras "Carnival" appeared in a report to the Spanish colonial governing body. The Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association became the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
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1781
Robert Morris (1734-1806), a Liverpool-born American merchant, began serving as America’s Superintendent of Finance, in essence the country’s first treasury secretary, and continued to 1784.
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1782 Mar 8
The Gnadenhutten massacre took place as some 90 Christian Delaware Indians were slain by militiamen in Ohio in retaliation for raids carried out by other Indians.
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1782 Mar 24
Loyalist militiamen captured a fort on the New Jersey coast. Revolutionary commander Captain Joshua Huddy was captured and taken to New York. A few days later loyalist soldier Philip White was killed in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
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1782 Apr 12
Revolutionary commander Captain Joshua Huddy (b.1735) was hanged as a scapegoat in New Jersey by loyalists headed by Captain Richard Lippincott outraged by the killing of loyalist soldier Philip White.
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1782 May 26
British officer Capt. Charles Asgill (20), a captive from Yorktown, drew a short straw and was thereby selected to be executed should Capt. Lippincott not be turned over to the Patriots for trial. Asgill was spared following an appeal by French foreign minister Comte de Vergennes.
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1782
Debora Sampson (1760-1827) of Massachusetts, a former female indentured servant, enlisted to fight in the American Revolution as a male. In 2014 Alex Myers, a descendant of Sampson, authored his novel Revolutionary, based on her life.
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1783
Oliver Evans (1755-1819), American inventor, designed an automated gristmill.
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1783
Noah Webster (1758-1843), a Connecticut schoolmaster, published the first edition of his American spelling book. As a Grammatical Institute of the English Language, the Spelling Book was influential in standardizing and differentiating, from the British forms, English spelling and pronunciation in America.
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1783
Thomas Jefferson (40) of Virginia, US President (1801-1809) began serving in US Congress and continued for two years.
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1783
In Massachusetts a lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor on Little Brewster Island. Its light was automated in 1998. The original light was built here in 1716.
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1784 Feb 22
The US merchant ship "Empress of China" left New York City on the first American trade mission to China. Real profit came on the return when the ship brought back Chinese teas and porcelain.
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1784 Apr
The idea of resetting clocks forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in his essay "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," published in the Journal de Paris, as a way to save electricity.
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1784
Virginia Congressman Thomas Jefferson (41) became the US Commissioner and Minister to France. He continued there to 1798 and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
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1785 Oct 18
Benjamin Franklin was elected president of Pennsylvania. Special balloting unanimously elected Franklin the sixth President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, replacing John Dickinson.
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1785
John Adams, the new US ambassador to Britain, presented himself to King George.
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1786 Jan 16
The Council of Virginia passed the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. Thomas Jefferson had drafted The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in 1779 three years after he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
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1786 Aug 29
Shays’ Rebellion began in Springfield, Mass. Daniel Shays led a rebellion in Massachusetts to protest the seizure of property for the non-payment of debt. Shays was a Revolutionary War veteran who led a short-lived insurrection in western Massachusetts to protest a tax increase that had to be paid in cash, a hardship for veteran farmers who relied on barter and didn‘t own enough land to vote. The taxes were to pay off the debts from the Revolutionary War, and those who couldn‘t pay were evicted or sent to prison. [see Jan 25, 1787]
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1786 Dec 26
Daniel Shays led a rebellion in Massachusetts to protest the seizure of property for the non-payment of debt. Shays was a Revolutionary War veteran who led a short-lived insurrection in western Massachusetts to protest a tax increase that had to be paid in cash, a hardship for veteran farmers who relied on barter and didn‘t own enough land to vote. The taxes were to pay off the debts from the Revolutionary War, and those who couldn‘t pay were evicted or sent to prison. [see Jan 25, 1787]
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1786
Relations were formalized with the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship negotiated by Thomas Barclay, and signed by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Muhammad III.
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1787 Jan 25
Shays' Rebellion suffered a setback when debt-ridden farmers led by Capt. Daniel Shays failed to capture an arsenal at Springfield, Mass. Small farmers in Springfield, Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays continued their revolt against tax laws. Federal troops broke up the protesters of what later became known as Shays’ Rebellion. [see Aug 29, 1786]
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1787 Feb 4
Shays’ Rebellion, an uprising of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers, failed.
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1787 May 13
Arthur Phillip set sail from Portsmouth, Great Britain, with 11 ships of criminals to Australia. By year’s end some 50,000 British convict servants were transported to the American colonies in commutation of death sentences. After the American Revolution, Britain continued dumping convicts in the US illegally into 1787. Australia eventually replaced America for this purpose. Penal transports continued until 1853, which left a remarkable legacy: an almost totally unexplored continent settled largely by convicted felons.
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1787 May 25
The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia after enough delegates showed up for a quorum. The Founding Fathers turned to the Rushworth's Collections of England for revolutionary precedents. George Washington presided. [see May 25, 1777] Rhode Island refused to send delegates.
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1787 Jul
The US Congress ratified the 1786 American-Moroccan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
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1787 Sep 17
The Constitution of the United States was completed and signed by a majority of delegates (12) attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. The US Constitution went into effect on Mar 4, 1789. Clause 3 of Article I, Section 8 empowered Congress to "regulate Commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes." Two of the signers went on to become presidents of the United States. George Washington, the president of the Constitutional Convention, and James Madison both signed the Constitution. The US Constitution is the world's oldest working Constitution. George Mason of Virginia refused to sign the document because he thought it made the federal government too powerful believed that it should contain a Bill of Rights.
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