Archive for the ‘Independence’ Category

“we celebrated the Anniversary of our Independance”

John Jay and his wife Sarah Livingston Jay were in Paris in July of 1783 where John as a Peace Commissioner had been influential in drafting the Preliminary Articles of Peace in 1782 which were awaiting the official signing. Sarah wrote a long letter to her sister Kitty in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, including a passage describing how they had celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Passy l6th July 1783
My dr. sister,
On the 4th of July we celebrated the Anniversary of our Independance here at Passey, but the next I hope to celebrate in yr. company, & I’m sure that our pleasure will not be less animated even tho’ we shou’d substitute butter-milk in lieu of champagne to commemorate the illustrious event. I’ll inclose you a copy of the toasts Mr. Jay prepar’d for the occasion. . . . How nearly my dear Kitty! does extreme felicity approach a painful sensation. I’ve more than once experienc’d it; nor were my feelings divested of that kind of sensibility on the 4th of July, for I found it difficult to suppress the tears that where ready to flow to ye memory of those who in struggling to procure that happiness for their country which we were then celebrating had fallen in the glorious attempt. . . .

Because the following toasts Sarah enclosed are in her hand it has been thought that she gave them on the occasion of the signing of the Treaty of Paris. However, upon close reading, it is clear that they are more appropriate for an Independence Day celebration and were most likely given by John Jay on July 4, 1783.

1. The United States of America, may they be perpetual.
2. The Congress.
3. The King & Nation of France.
4. General Washington & the American Army.
5. The United Netherlands & all other free States in the world.
6. His Catholic Majesty & all other Princes & Powers who have manifested
Friendship to America.
7. The Memory of the Patriots who have fallen for their Country. May kindness
be shown to their widows & children.
8. The French Officers & Army who served in America.
9. Gratitude to our Friends & Moderation to our Enemies.
10. May all our Citizens be soldiers, & all our soldiers Citizens.
11. Concord, Wisdom & Firmness to all American Councils.
12. May our Country be always prepared for War, but disposed to Peace.
13. Liberty & Happiness to all Mankind.

posted July 3rd, 2014 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: France,Independence,Paris

” I went … to hear the proclamation for independance read”

Dear readers; you and I need a break from the sad story of Nancy Shippen Livingston. As it is the Fourth of July, some words related to the Declaration of Independence are in order.

John Adams was a member of the committee of the Continental Congress whose task was to draw up a such a declaration. In a letter written on July 3, 1776 to his wife Abigail, he claimed “the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men.” The committee had written “a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell’d Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. …” He added: “I am apt to believe that [July 2] will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

In a letter of July 21 Abigail described to her husband how Boston had received the Declaration.

Last Thursday after hearing a very Good Sermon I went with the Multitude into Kings Street to hear HGH the proclamation for independance read and proclamed. Some Field peices with the Train were brought there, the troops appeard under Arms and all the inhabitants assembled there (the small pox prevented many thousand from the Country). When Col. Crafts read from the Belcona of the State House the Proclamation, great attention was given to every word. As soon as he ended, the cry from the Belcona, was God Save our American States and then 3 cheers which rended the air, the Bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and Batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed and every face appeard joyfull. … After dinner the kings arms were taken down from the State House and every vestage of him from every place in which it appeard and burnt in King Street. Thus ends royall Authority in this State, and all the people shall say Amen.

To clarify, Congress adopted a resolution for independence on July 2, and after two days of debate adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

Letters from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 and 3 July 1776; letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 13 – 14 July 1776, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. They can be found at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The engraving (1782) of the first public reading of the Declaration is by Edward Barnard; it is at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Britain to America: a satiric puzzle

In the Book Division of the Clements Library of the University of Michigan is a mock letter written from mother Britain to her daughter America. Published in 1778 by Matthew Darly, Britain asks America to put aside her recent French alliance: “So be a good girl, discharge your soldiers and ships of war and do not rebel against your mother. Rely upon me and do not consort to what that French rascal shall tell you.” The letter was written as a rebus, a puzzle in which pictures are used to represent words or parts of words. See what you can make of it. Reading “toe” as “to” and “eye” as “i” helps.

If you are stumped, here is a transcription provided by the book Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg.

(Britannia) (toe) Amer(eye)ca.
My (deer) Daughter (eye) (can)(knot) (bee)hold w(eye)thout (grate) pa(eye)n (ewer) (head)strong (back)-(ward)ness (toe) ret(urn) (toe) (ewer) Duty in (knot) op(posy)ing (awl) the good (eye) long (eye)ntended for (ewer) (sole) Hap(pie)ness & (bee)ing told t(hat) (eye) have g(eye)v’n (ewer) (hand) (toe) a (base) & (double-faced) (Frenchman) (Eye) have sent (yew) 5 over/wise (men) the (grate)est of (awl) my (child)ren (toe) put (yew) (toe) r(eye)ghts & (hope) (yew) w(eye)[ll] l(eye)s(ten) (toe) them & m(eye)nd w(hat) they say (toe) (yew) they have (eye)nstr(yew)et(eye)ons [instructions] (toe) g(eye)ve (yew) t(hose) th(eye)ngs (yew) (form)erly required. so (bee a good (girl) d(eye)scharge (ewer) (soldiers) & (ships) of war & (doe) (knot) re(bell) aga(eye)nst (ewer) (moth)er rely upon me & (doe)(knot) (console)t [consort] to w(hat) t(hat) french R(ass)c(awl) sh(awl) tell (yew) IC he w(ants) (toe) b(ring) on an enm(eye)ty (toe) (awl) (union) (bee)tween (yew) & (eye) (but) l(eye)s(ten) (knot) (toe) h(eye)m (awl) the (world) takes (knot)(eye)ce [notice) of h(eye)[s] (doubleface). I’ll send h(eye)m such MessaGG [messages] from my (grate) (gun)s as s[h](awl) make h(eye)s (heart) repent & know t(hat) (one) good or (eye)ll t(urn) mer(eye)ts a (knot)her.
NB let (knot) (eighty) [hate] take (two) much hold of (ewer) (heart).
(Eye) am (ewer) fr(eye)end & (moth)er.

The Clements Library of the University of Michigan produces a blog called Clements Library Chronicles. The rebus can be found on the December 11, 2012 POST.

posted February 28th, 2013 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: France,Independence,Resistance to British

“This peace brings none to my heart”

Late in 1782, the Preliminary Articles of the peace treaty, which John Jay had helped negotiate, were agreed to in Paris. Sarah Jay wrote her father: “The dawn of peace seems to approach.” She congratulated him on the prospect. She also expressed her personal joy to her sister Kitty in Philadelphia anticipating, at long last, a reunion with her family. “Oh! Kitty perhaps the time draws near when we shall fold each other to our bosoms, and when our domestic felicity shall again be compleat.”
The Treaty of Paris, signed the next year, ended the Revolutionary War. There was great rejoicing in the new nation, but not everyone had cause to celebrate. Sarah Winslow, sister of loyalist Edward Winslow, wrote to her cousin Benjamin Marston in Canada of the family’s bitterness at their treatment by the Americans and what they considered betrayal by the British government.

April 10—1783, New YorkWhat is to become of us, God only can tel, in all our former sufferings we had hope to support us, being depriv’d of that, is too much, my mind, and strength, are unequal to my present, unexpected tryals—was their ever an instance my dear Cousin, can any history produce one where such a number of the best of human beings were deserted by the Government they have sacrific’d there all for.

The open enemys of Great Britain have gaind there point. … This peace brings none to my heart, my Brother . . . is now hasting away—may he meet you upon his arrival in Halifax. … You my Cousin I hope will be much with him. … Let compassion and friendship induce you to inform me always when you can, of his situation, and health, and do my friend as you value the peace of this fam-ily caution him to take care of himself. …

Here it thought best for us to continue for some months or until it is known what better we can do. Severe are the struggles I must now dayly have with myself. … I wish to retire entirely to my own family, and endeavour to remain unmolested, if possible, for which purpose my Brother is now seecking a house for us out of the City. …

This servant will make you a partaker of our sufferings … you are a Christian and Phylosopher, teach me so to be … your affectionate Cousin S

Sarah Jay’s remarks and the letter of Sarah Winslow are from In the Words of Women, pages 289-90.

posted December 3rd, 2012 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Americans Abroad,Independence,Loyalists,Paris

“Dont go, pray Dont go”

Benjamin Franklin’s favorite sibling (and one of my favorite women of this period), Jane Mecom, writing from Rhode Island in 1775, urges her brother to enjoy his old age and let younger men do their bit. Little did she know that he would spend many more years serving his country both in America and in France.

Warwick July 14—1775I could have wishd you had been left to yr own Option to have assisted in Publick Affairs so as not to fatigue you two much but as yr Talents are superour to most other men I cant help desiering yr country should Injoy the benifit of them while you live, but cant bare the thought of yr going to England again. … you Positively must not go, you have served the Publick in that way beyond what any other man can Boast till you are now come to a good old Age & some younger man must now take that Painfull service upon them. Dont go, pray Online Pokies Dont go. you certainly may do as much good hear as surcumstances are at present. …

Included in the letter is a note from Catherine Ray Greene, the wife of William Greene, the governor of Rhode Island, with whom Jane is staying. She is a personal friend of Franklin and assures him that his sister is no trouble. Can you guess what “home” means in the following passage?

…. her Company Richly Pays as She goes along and we are Very happy together and shall not Consent to Spare her to any body but her Dear Brother. … She is my mama and friend … and we Divert one another Charmingly do Come and See us Certain! dont think of going home again Do Set Down and injoy the Remainder of your Days in Peace. …

Home is how colonists referred to England, the mother country.

The excerpt is from The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom edited by Carl Van Doren (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), pages 161-62.

posted July 19th, 2012 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Independence,Patriots,Resistance to British

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