April 5th, 2022
Seems like the book is starting off introducing people. It starts with Washington’s blunder in the Ohio Valley right before the French and Indian War. Then it talks about Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. It mentions Thomas Hutchinson, who was a congressman in Massachusetts and then on the Governor’s council. Note that the Governor was a crown appointment and thus not a democratically chosen man. It goes back to Franklin, who organized the Albany Congress to discuss a common colony governmental body to help with the general defense against France and Indians. Most of the colonial representatives liked his ideas, though the governors did not. Franklin goes further and suggests that America become a full part of the empire and not just a colony, and how it would be mutually beneficial to both sides of the ocean.
April 6th, 2022
The book introduces Benjamin Franklin’s son William, who is a bit of a thorn in his side. He joined the army during King George’s War and loved it. Afterwards he essentially worked wherever his father appointed him. A decent number of pages are devoted to General Braddock and his expedition to the Ohio River Valley against the French, which Washington took part of and was promoted highly throughout. The British Regulars had little interest in Indian and American battle style and Braddock was livid to find next to no money coming from the Americans for their own defense. Franklin met Braddock in Fredericksburg as a spy for the Assembly and managed to help him acquire wagons and material in Pennsylvania, based on his good name. The expedition ended in disaster for the British, with the Regulars collapsing immediately from a French and Indian ambush. Washington claims the militiamen fought well, but many did not survive. Braddock was killed and the army retreated to Philadelphia. The French and Indians raided the western frontier mercilessly. The abilities of the British Army were shown to not live up to expectations. The Pennsylvania Assembly tried to raise defense funds, but Thomas Penn’s appointed governor vetoed it, as was the Quaker tradition. Frankin, some may say treacherously, founded an extra-governmental militia called the Association. The force was entirely volunteers with their own supplies, and a lottery was raised to buy cannons. Penn called him a traitor but knew any public denouncement of Franklin would cause problems. Franklin set a precedent of the citizens acting on their own accord when the government will not meet their needs or expectations.
April 7th, 2022
The Association was actually a consequence of King George’s War, not Braddock’s expedition, but that led to a similar outcome. The Penns eventually “gave way” and “donated” 5000 pounds to the Assembly, who used it for a defense fund. At some point Franklin went to London to make the argument before the court that the Penns were failing in their duties. But the feeling in England was that the King had 100% authority over the colonies and what he said goes. Penn had important friends, and so nothing changed. Another expedition was launched against the Ohio Valley, I’m assuming this is now the French and Indian War, and the French abandoned the site before the English got there. During the war, the English also took Quebec and Canada. After the war, the government banned any westward expansion from the colonists. It was Indian land, which disgusted the colonists who wanted to expand. The colonists are obviously in the wrong here. The government was in serious debt and decided to lay it on America, who had no representatives in Parliament and thus could not vote out the tax increasers. The Sugar Act lowered tax on molasses to combat smuggling and increase revenue. This was rather benign. The Stamp Act, a tax on paper, was to prove a nightmare. Franklin was in England and proposed some alternative methods to bring in funds, but the PM/Lord of Treasury was not interested. What Parliament says, goes. Mobs ran havoc in the colonies, even targeting Franklin, who they thought was in on it.
April 8th, 2022
The book jumps around a lot. It’s not easy to remember what it talked about. It’s still talking about people’s reactions to the Stamp Act. Thomas Hutchinson, as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, was a target. Mobs had threatened the stamp agents of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Hutchinson urged the governor not to inflame the mobs by brining in the militia, many of whom are part of the mobs. But the mob had twice come to Hutchinson’s house. First it was talked down by a member who spoke in favor of Hutchinson. Hutchinson had refused to denounce the Stamp Act under duress, though he had never said anything in favor of it. The second time, they were drunk and broke into the house. He and his family fled. He wrote to Benjamin how they had spoke in the Albany Congress of “join or die”, but now the colonies were uniting not in defense, but defiance. Joseph Galloway, a protégé of Franklin, in Pennsylvania spoke of how commerce and the courts had shut down in Philadelphia. He was worried the sentiment of the mobs may lead to declaring independence, which he thought terrible. It would be best for America to gain equal standing in the empire, with its own local legislature. Like Scotland and England, I guess. John Adams, at age 29 looking to make a name for himself, wrote a proclamation to the legislature to not enforce the act. It won him fame, but business for his law office dropped. Patrick Henry, also a 29-year-old lawyer, demanded the House of Burgesses in Virginia oppose the act, comparing George III to other tyrants of history. George Washington didn’t seem to care much, but thought it a poor path forward. He was more concerned with trying to circumvent the land grab ban in Ohio.
April 11th, 2022
The book jumps to Franklin in England. He is given an audience before Parliament to explain the thoughts and feelings of America and the Stamp Act. He explains that the Americans were proud of being British and did not have ill feelings toward England and the Parliament before this act. He said Americans view a distinction between internal taxes, which he cannot avoid, and external, such as a tax on a purchased good. He can choose to pay or not to pay the external tax at time of purchase, but the internal tax is theft, if it is not from his representative government. With a new prime minister, Franklin made big waves and the act was repealed. Parliament passed an act that said they had the right to legislate for the colonies, and Franklin said this would not be contested, as similar laws exist for Ireland and have never been taken advantage of. Parliament took the external tax thing as gospel and passed the Townsend Acts, import taxes on paper, glass, lead, and others. This raised more hell in the colonies, so Franklin looked a bit like a fool. John Dickinson in Letters From a Farmer claimed the distinction was taxes for infrastructure and taxes for revenue. There was nothing wrong with raising money for infrastructure, but to take money from the colonies solely for the profit of the motherland was unacceptable. Franklin wrote a bunch of anonymous letters in London newspapers to explain the American view. Perhaps he had been right, but the Stamp Act changed public opinion. Either way, goods were being boycotted, mostly in the north. Washington and the Virginians were too used to extravagance to go without. Now it was a power struggle over who could last longer without the other.
April 12th, 2022
Overwritten. I think it was about Hutchinson leaving for England and being interviewed by the King.
April 13th, 2022
The law in Boston is essentially nil. Governor Hutchinson has lost his authority because nobody will listen to him. The Assembly does as they please, his council fears the mobs, and men like Samuel Adams have no fear of the law. Still, the actions of the Americans led to the repeal of the Townshend Acts but a small tax on tea with a monopoly on it to the East India Company. The rabble were not pleased still and organized more boycotts over tea, which started in Philadelphia. Hutchinson could do nothing, and then we have the Boston Tea Party. I’m pretty sure the Americans are in the wrong here. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. This is kind of further makes a fool of Franklin’s external tax argument. Franklin, meanwhile, admitted to the Hutchinson letter scandal and is in some serious trouble. Not sure if he can get into legal trouble, but he lost much respect from everyone. The actions of the Americans led to the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts in America. They were mostly targeted at Boston. The lost tea had to be repaid, the charter was suspended, they had to quarter troops, and there must be more. In response, the Americans are organizing a Continental Congress to address the grievances. The House of Burgess was dissolved, but the men met elsewhere and Washington volunteered to represent Virginia.
April 14th, 2022
The First Continental Congress did not include Georgia and did not accomplish much. They agreed to resume boycotts if Parliament did not do something by December. Joesph Galloway had proposed a Continental Assembly with elected representatives and a president appointed by the King to copy Parliament and the King in America. This did not pass. Not much else of interest happened. Hutchinson resigned and went to London where he talked to the king about the state of affairs in the colonies. He was replaced by Thomas Gage, who was also in charge of the military. Parliament had no interest in reconciliation, only domination. This is unfortunate. I think they could have won the masses back from the radicals if they had returned to the pre-war state. Oh well. Franklin is still in London. He warns his son, now Governor of New Jersey, that he may be affected by the Hutchinson affair.
April 15th, 2022
Franklin found some allies in the Howe family and Lord Chatham. Lord Chatham tried to pass a bill to remove the soldiers from Boston, but it was tabled. Franklin came to see that Parliament was not interested in reconciliation and gave up. He headed back to America before it was too late. Before he returned, fighting had started. The army and militia clashed at Lexington and Concord on April 19th, when the former tried to seize weapons stockpiled by the latter. Here, we see the British in the wrong. The British army retreated back to Boston with militia shooting at them from the trees. Former moderates, such as Washington and Franklin, now saw the inevitability of independence. Some still thought it possible to return to peace. William Franklin and Joesph Galloway saw the rebel leaders like Samuel Adams as just as bad as Parliament and may even lead to worse oppression. Both men were receiving death threats from these radicals. We know that they are right in this sense, as Samuel Adams himself said the leaders of Shays’ Rebellion should have been executed. This difference in opinion lead to a falling out of old friends, and father and son. Now in May, all these big names met in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress. They attempted to address grievance to the King, mostly the work of John Dickinson, which men like Adams and Franklin saw as a waste a time. Adams at least thought it politically useful for the King to publicly denounce the peace attempt, which by the time he received it he had already declared the colonies in rebellion. Adams also got in some trouble when his letter to James Warren, expressing his ideas for an independent America, were intercepted. Not only did he break the secrecy of the Congress, but “openly” spat on the idea of reconciliation. With shots fired, it was time to create an official army, which the Congress did by adopting the one outside Boston. Adams stepped up to nominate a leader, George Washington, due to his experience and to bring colonial diversity to the army. This offended John Hancock, who thought he should have been offered the role, but it was approved unanimously.
April 19th, 2022
The book mainly jumps between George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. It talks about the siege of Boston, Bunker Hill, and all that. It mentions that Franklin, on a committee from Congress, and Washington discuss military needs. They discuss how deserters and those who aid the British may be put to death. This goes to prove what Joesph Galloway said, that the patriots would be just as bad or worse than Parliament. How can you justify killing someone for working with the officially recognized government? How can you kill a volunteer who is no longer interested in fighting “tyranny”? This makes you sympathize with the British, until they start burning down coastal towns that have nothing to do with the rebels. The book then provides some background information on Benedict Arnold. He was a Connecticut trader who was hurt and nearly bankrupted by the acts of Parliament. He joined the militia after Lexington and Concord and was a colonel. Washington thought he had some good ideas, but was too conscious of rank and it seems to me he may have been pretty full of himself. Taking Fort Ticonderoga was his plan, which was a success and brought lots of artillery for the siege. Congress sent an expedition to Quebec, and Arnold told Washington of a plan for a second front to attack. Washington agreed and had him sent to lead it, though he would be subordinate to General Schuyler once they met up.
April 20th, 2022
This book is not really meant to be summarized, as it is really a series of summaries. Very high level stuff. And it really hasn’t represented the “other” side much. The book is already half finished and it is very American centered. I’m disappointed. What happened in this reading was Arnold’s expedition failed to take the city and they sent Franklin and a crew to diplomatically win over the Canadians. This failed too. Arnold proved to be a good leader, though, and the men under him really respected him. Washington takes the Dorchester Heights and fires cannon into Boston. William Howe replaced Gage and plans to take the heights, but bad weather foils his plans. The British leave by sea with many Torries. It’s interesting that the whole siege of Boston, there is not one inside perspective given in the book. It’s all Washington. He plans to take his men to New York because that’s probably where the British will go. Richard Henry Lee proposes the measure for independence and the fellows write the Declaration. Huzzah.
April 21st, 2022
This book is getting kind of boring. The history is very general and I have already read about it in more detail elsewhere. It talked about the American loss and retreat on Long Island and Richard Howe’s request for a meeting with representatives of Congress. The three men were Franklin, Adams, and I think a guy named Rutledge. The only interesting part so far, which I did not know, was Franklin’s relationship with Richard Howe. Howe was head of the navy and appointed by the King to attempt to restore peace, but from earlier in the book, we learned Franklin had frequented Howe’s sister’s and they all discussed politics. Howe had hoped to reconcile the two nations back then and hoped to do so now. But times had changed and the independence party took control of America. Franklin had been radicalized. No peace would be accepted without independence, and no independence would be offered. The two friendly associates parted and continued down the only road left, war.
April 22nd, 2022
This next few chapters were more interesting. The main topic was William Franklin and the events that surrounded him as Royal Governor of New Jersey. He and his father had fallen out over politics and over general personality difference. Franklin had stayed in London knowing his wife was dying, something that raised the ire of William. In his role, he was very much against the radical revolutionaries. Then, the Patriots of New Jersey formed their own government, a council, which went armed to William’s house and arrested him. He refused to leave, so they settled for house arrest. He did not comply or acknowledge their illegal usurpation of power, but the new “government” did not allow the old government to convene. They cut his pay and his family suffered. William was then taken to Connecticut under arrest, where he got ill and agreed to be given free reign if he caused no trouble. Hartford was too Patriot for him and he was even assaulted, and he requested to be moved to more loyalist town. Eventually they believed he was doing things behind the back of the new government and he was put in a dirty, solitary apartment above a tavern. His wife fled to British occupied New York, but was broke and became ill. Benjamin Franklin gave her $60 but refused to help them further. William was not allowed to see her. She died alone in New York. Benjamin, who had long looked after William’s illegitimate English son, tried to keep the two distant. When Benjamin became ambassador to France, he took his two grandsons with him (Temple and Bache). In other news, the governor of Virginia was doing some crazy stuff. He declared martial law and any man who did not report to serve was liable to execution. This is too far, is actually tyranny, and obviously will radicalize many moderates. He also promised freedom to slaves who fled the rebels and fought for the British. Several hundred did, despite the knowledge they’d likely be executed if captured. Washington tried to counter this by allowing free blacks in his army (not the same thing) but Congress refused.
April 25th, 2022
I’m writing this out of self-discipline. There really was nothing interesting to write about. Washington kept losing in New York and went into New Jersey, where he didn’t get much sympathy. Franklin’s in France trying to sell his propaganda and other goods to France and Europe. His secretary is a spy, but is a spy for both the British and Americans, earning a double paycheck.
April 26th, 2022
More losses from Washington, then he pulls off some slick moves at Trenton and Princeton before stopping for winter. Howe then goes to sea and moves on Philadelphia, where Washington loses at Brandywine and botches Germantown. Meanwhile, General Burgoyne is marching from Canada to fight rebels. He took Ticonderoga and was doing all sorts of damage with the Iroquois. Schuyler is on the outs and Horatio Gates takes over the army, who does not care for Benedict Arnold. Arnold, trying to win a name for himself after the Quebec failure, goes to end a siege on Fort Stanwix. He bluffs that he has more men on the way and the Iroquois, who have already lost more men than they were willing to lose, leave the siege. The British general then retreats also. Arnold is not satisfied with just a ruse so he joins Gates’ army in their attack on Burgoyne, who is marching in poor, muddy conditions. They score some kills in the Battle of Saratoga, which is really a series of battles. Arnold then did some wild moves on his own and it went really well. I don’t know what it was or what the time span of all these events were, but soon after Burgoyne’s whole army was surrounded and surrendered. Arnold was promoted and Washington was very proud of his close subordinate.
April 27th, 2022
Once France knew about Burgoyne’s defeat, they wanted to make the treaties that America wanted. Franklin decided to be coy and play the diplomat, giving the impression that American and Britain could come to peace terms. This would mean no trade for France, a stronger British Empire, and no chance for revenge for 1763. Phillip Gibbes, who I didn’t mention the first time he came up, was a resident of the West Indies somewhere and took it on himself to try to negotiate peace between America and Britain. He thought Britain may allow a federal union of America and Britain, but Franklin doubted this could ever be possible. France and America signed some treaties and Franklin stayed in Paris. Adams replaced Silas Deane, who was profiteering, and was upset by how little Franklin did and how well liked he was. Franklin was Frankiphied and Adams didn’t care for French ways. Adams and Arthur Lee were stuck with all the work, actually making use of the treaties, while Franklin dined with women. Adams, per usual, was unpopular. All this was fine and dandy, but back in America Washington was stuck keeping his army together. His star was falling to Horatio Gates’ big win in New York and he was not happy about the little support he got from Congress. With Howe’s army settling in Philadelphia for the winter of ’77, Washington needed to keep close enough to keep an eye on them. The Continental Army settled in the open plains of Valley Forge for the winter, an area with no natural shelter and an indifferent population.
April 29th, 2022
Looks like I forgot to write yesterday. It’s a shame because it was finally interesting. We got a few chapters on Loyalists in Philadelphia. Joesph Galloway and General Howe teamed up to encourage a growth of Loyalism in the area, and Galloway was essentially in charge of the city. He was supposed to recruit some new divisions from local Loyalists. He couldn’t find too many and Galloway and Howe fell out with each other. Howe blamed Galloway for exaggerating the amount of loyalism in the area, and Galloway blamed Howe for doing nothing to foster loyalism. Howe was replaced by Henry Clinton and the army decided to leave and consolidate the forces in New York. Galloway took his daughter with him to New York, ultimately leaving for England. His wife was left in Philadelphia with the estate. Benedict Arnold, still recovering from his wounded leg, was given command of Philadelphia. Grace Galloway appealed to him for help, as her property was “confiscated” due to her husband, but he could do nothing but provide a guard. Grace was eventually forcefully evicted and became destitute, though she kind of enjoyed her new freedom. Washington chased Clinton and the armies met at Monmouth, NJ. The Continental Army, trained by General von Steuben during the winter, held their ground and the British left the field. Washington proved his army could produce results and diminished any chance of being replated by Gates. The British changed strategies now that they were at war with France. They had more than just the 13 colonies to worry about. France wanted their islands in the Caribbean and out east, and Spain joined the war. Destroying Washington was no longer the way to end the war. Lord North put out some feelers to Franklin on ways to make peace, but Franklin said American could in no way betray France. As long as French and American interests aligned, they were partners.
May 2nd, 2022
There are a few paragraphs on the southern states. So far in the war, the British failed to take Charleston and were barely holding on to Savannah. There were few regulars in the area and most of the fighting was between Loyalist and Patriot militias. Clinton eventually sent Cornwallis down south, and Charleston was taken at last. The Battle of Waxhaws in May 1780 was a Loyalist militia victory that had many Patriots killed who were surrendering. Vengeance was taken at the Battle of King’s Mountain, in October, where the Patriots decided to give no quarter. Cornwallis had a major victory in the summer at Camden, SC against the famed Horatio Gates. Unlike in Philadelphia, the British were able to recruit a lot of loyalists, especially with their important victories. Then we get the story of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal and his British cohort, John Andre, who was hanged as a spy. I always felt bad for Andre. Arnold was apparently profiteering in Philadelphia and the local government wanted to take him to court. Instead, he was court martialed and got a slap on the wrist. He was sent to West Point to gather information on the British and switched sides, mostly for money. We’ve all heard the story. We’ve also heard the story of Washington’s army crumbling and the Pennsylvania mutiny. I am very proud of the mutineers. They did exactly what they should have after years of lies and abuse. It is embarrassing that Congress fled from them instead of addressing their concerns. I like that they stood up to General Wayne and threatened to kill him if he fired his pistols. The army managed to prevent other mutinies, notably among the men from New Jersey. Washington downplayed it to the French, saying the mutineers were mostly immigrants. The French, meanwhile, have really done nothing for the Americans. Rochambeau was stock in Rhode Island and the navy took a couple Caribbean islands. It’s hard to say what psychological affect they had on the war, but materially it was not much. Washington sent an envoy to request certain things from the court in France.
May 3rd, 2022
It’s just a biography of Washington. Washington wants Comte de Grasse, commander of the French navy, to block a British retreat from New York while he and Rochambeau assault it or besiege it. Nobody knows what de Grasse is going to do and eventually they all agree to go after Cornwallis in the Chesapeake. Nathaniel Greene was not doing so well on his own down there. De Grasse held off the British fleet and this was their one contribution to the rebel cause. Otherwise, the invasion of Virginia would have been cancelled. Washington and some took boats down while Rochambeau and the rest of the army marched. They besiege Yorktown for 13 days and then the Brits surrendered. Thus ends the war, more or less. There’s 60 pages left and I bet most will be about Washington.
May 5th, 2022
William Franklin was disgusted by Cornwallis after Yorktown. Not only did Cornwallis give up very quickly, he abandoned the Loyalists and allowed them to be held as civil prisoners. Franklin was out of his imprisonment and lost all faith in the leading British men. Clinton was replaced by Guy Carelton of Canada, but Parliament did not let him do much. Franklin decided to take Loyalist protection in his own hands and formed an extralegal militia in New York, like his father’s Pennsylvania Association. Whatever the Patriots did to one of theirs, they’d do to a Patriot. A militia group executed a Loyalist, so the Association hanged a caption who was part of the executioners. They left a note. Washington demanded retribution, but Clinton said the leader would be court martialed. The leader said it was Franklin’s orders, and it ended there. It was a big debate whether to execute a Loyalist in retribution, but Louis XVI intervened, claiming part ownership of the prisoner and that he would not consent to execution. Franklin read the room and gave up on America. He hopped on a ship to London in 1782. Then there was a chapter on the Jersey, a prison ship in New York. As expected of prison ships, it was awful and many died there. Patriots were not recognized as military prisoners and thus were treated as common criminals, that is, poorly. The last chapter of this section told the story of some slaves. One joined the British and served some officer. He had quite the adventure before winding up in British New York, where he lived as a freeman. Another slave from Connecticut was forced to fight as a Patriot, ironically for the “rights” of his master. Not sure why he didn’t go over to the British, but he fought the duration of the war. There is one section left, which I assume will be an epilogue of sorts. War’s over.
May 6th, 2022
The last section goes over the peace treaty. After Yorktown, Lord North’s government lost the election and a new government favorable to peace was installed. Negotiations started and Franklin was adamant that they would not leave France behind. The war continued and the French lost a battle in the West Indies, de Grasse was captured. After that, France was more willing to seek peace, and they were willing to go for a separate peace. John Adams and John Jay joined the negotiations. Franklin was adamantly anti-Loyalist and would promise no reparations to them. John Adams cared about New England fishers, and they got the Ohio territory. None of it matters, we know the British wouldn’t leave and 30 years later there’d be more war.
May 7th, 2022
The ends with the immediate post-war years and an epilogue on a few lives of the major players. In the army, the discontent had grown to include the officers. An anonymous manifesto was passed around to organize a meeting to discuss action. They wanted to get paid for their 8 years of service, and rightly so. Washington was disgusted by this breach of protocol. He had just denied Hamilton’s idea of using the army to pressure Congress to take certain actions. He forbid the meeting and organized his own, where he gave a speech that essentially convinced everyone to cool it. He then sent a letter to Congress, which persuaded them to pay the officers. The next day, a letter from Franklin arrived announcing the treaty. While the details were being worked out, the British held on to New York until November. When they left, Washington’s army paraded across Manhattan. He gave his farewell and returned to Virginia. William Franklin, in England, reached out to his father in France. They wrote a little, but Ben couldn’t really get over his son choosing the other side. William Temple convinced them to meet, but it was a cool meeting that really cemented the end of the relationship. Ben returned to Philadelphia. The last chapter was an epilogue. It’s disturbing that the author talks about the Constitutional Convention without mentioning Shay’s Rebellion. He makes it sound like there was a happy ending to the war (for the winners) when many rank-and-file men were still in debt and being mistreated by the government they fought to create. This book really stinks. I’ll touch on the lives of some of the people there aren’t 1000 books about. Benedict Arnold fought for the British, capturing a town in Connecticut, then left for England with his wife. After the war, he tried his hand at business in Canada but floundered. He privateered during the French Revolution, was captured and bribed his way out of execution, then died in 1803 or so. Thomas Hutchinson faded from view and wrote a history on Massachusetts. He died in 1780 before the third volume was published. Grace Galloway died poor in 1782. Joseph Galloway was convicted of treason in absentia and lost his lands. He remained in England, railed against Howe and the outcome of the war, then gave up politics and wrote about religion. He died in 1803 also. William Franklin received a pension from the government and was essentially written out of his father’s will. He died in 1813. That one slave who ran off to New York was given his freedom and transported to Canada. Many slaves got bad land in Nova Scotia and had a hard time. Some went to Sierra Leone, a British colony in Afria. The other slave, who fought for the US, was given his freedom. The Iroquois Joseph Brant was relocated to the Ohio area with the other tribes. He was eventually treated as a representative of his nation and met with President Washington. He died shortly before the Indians had to fight again in 1812. Some 50k to 100k Americans, who had chosen King over Congress, left the country after the war. To Canada, England, or the Caribbean their exile took them.