Friday, February 1, 2013

With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence (From the Collection at The Henry Ford Museum)

During the Bicentennial celebration of  1976 - the 200th birthday of the United States of America - virtually every city in every state in the union had some sort of  commemoration to signify our country's roots.  And The Henry Ford Museum was no different.  There was a year long tribute in both the museum and in Greenfield Village.  One of the exhibits they had was called  "The Struggle and the Glory."  
I believe this colored picture is from the later 19th century.
It was this  "Struggle and the Glory"  display where the museum presented:
Quite the cool collection of early Americana!
This display was there to be seen by visitors from April 16th - just days before the 201st anniversary of the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the first battles of the Revolutionary War - until the end of October of that celebrated year,  1976.
I am not 100%  certain when the  "With Liberty and Justice For All"  display was first put up,  though I read it was in the early part of the 21st century,  but when I saw a listing of  the historic items originally included in the  "Struggle and Glory"  display,  I knew that it was roughly the same thing  (though  "Liberty"  goes beyond the Revolutionary War).
It is quite a collection of  Americana - early  Americana - one that rivals most other non-East Coast museums...and even then...
So let's check it out: 

The Henry Ford Museum.
I've said it before and I'll say it again:  we are so blessed to have such an amazing museum in the metro-Detroit area.
Henry Ford built the façade of the museum that houses a Smithsonian-style collection of Americana as an exact replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
In fact,  here's a photo of the original Independence Hall:
Philadelphia's Independence Hall

and here's the replica in Dearborn, Michigan:
Can you see a difference?
Pretty amazing, huh? 
Neither building,  however, is historically accurate to the way it looked in 1776.
You see,  the Pennsylvania State House complex along Chestnut Street has changed frequently and grown substantially since its initial construction.  Modern illustrations based on written descriptions provide a visual chronology of the changes.  Look carefully and you'll see a story of governmental growth,  shifting priorities,  and the evolution of a shrine. 
Here is a quick time-line on the history of the name of Independence Hall:
1732 – Construction begins on new Pennsylvania State House – completed 1735.

1753 – The State House Bell  (later to be known as the Liberty Bell)  is installed in the steeple - but no clock.  No clock for decades yet.

The State House,  c. 1753,  as shown in a modern illustration drawn by James Mulcahy.
NPS image

c. 1753
This modern illustration shows the State House during the colonial period.  Notice the wings,  connecting piazzas and original steeple.  Initially, the building had no tower or steeple.  They were added in the mid 1700's,  and a bell was ordered for the steeple in 1751.  In 1753,   that bell was recast into the one we now call the Liberty Bell.
The State House about 1776,  with wing buildings and wooden sheds.  Modern illustration after written descriptions, drawn by James Mulcahy.
NPS image

Look for the wooden sheds adjoining the wing buildings on the east and west ends of the complex.  During the American Revolution,  these sheds were used for ammunition storage.  It is also possible that the sheds housed native peoples when they visited the provincial government for treaty negotiations.  The wing buildings served as office space and living quarters for the doorkeeper.  

 1776 – July 8 – First reading of Declaration of Independence took place in the State House yard.

The State House in 1781,  showing the removal of the steeple.  Modern illustration after written descriptions,  drawn by James Mulcahy.
NPS image

Pennsylvania State House in 1787 - still no clock in the steeple  
(from Passport to Dreams website)

1791 - The wooden sheds were removed some time after 1787 to make way for City Hall and the County Courthouse.  These buildings fulfilled Andrew Hamilton's plan of establishing a city governmental center.  Philadelphia became the temporary capital of the nation from 1790 to 1800.  During this time,  the U.S.  Supreme Court sat in City Hall while the U.S. Congress convened in the County Courthouse.

1812 to 1818 - the City and County of Philadelphia replaced the wing buildings with  "modern"  office buildings.  Designed by architect Robert Mills,  the new buildings were used for city administration and records storage.  State government considered tearing down the State House at this time,  in a real estate scheme to develop a State House yard,  but the City bought the buildings and land from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1818 for $70,000.
In 1781,  the Pennsylvania Assembly had the wooden steeple removed from the main building.  The steeple had rotted and weakened to a dangerous extent by 1773,  but it wasn't until 1781 that the Assembly had it removed and had the brick tower covered with a hipped roof.

1824 – "Hall of Independence"  name was first used for the Assembly Room.  And a rightful name that is,  for it was in this room that:
~The approval of the nomination of George Washington as Commander in Chief of the newly created army took place.
~ On July 2,  1776,  the vote to approve the resolution for independence happened.
~ On July 4,  1776,  the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence took place,  yep,  right in the Assembly Room
~On August 2,  1776,  the Declaration of Independence was signed by many of the signers of that most important document.

Also in 1824,  on September 28,  Revolutionary War hero,  Marquis de Lafayette visits the  "Birthplace of Independence,"  and the State House Yard renamed Independence Square.

1828 - The City hired architect William Strickland to restore the steeple in 1828.  After Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette had visited the building in 1824,  public sentiment advocated for the restoration of the building to its 1776 appearance.  Strickland's steeple deviated from the original 1776 design through its incorporation of a clock and use of more ornamentation.
1876 – Generally became known as Independence Hall

When Henry Ford inquired about the style of building for his museum,  Detroit architect,  Robert O.  Derrick,  responded with,  "Well,  I'll tell you,  Mr.  Ford,  the first thing I could think of would be if you could get permission for me to make a copy of  Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  It is a wonderful building and beautiful architecture and it certainly would be appropriate for a collection of Americana."   So,  Mr.  Ford hired Mr.  Derrick to have his copy built exactly in the same architectural style as the current one in Philadelphia,  and he spared no expense in doing so,  including the same mistakes of the original,  such as the windows in the tower being slightly off center by a couple inches.
The front of the Henry Ford Museum from another angle.
Doesn't it make you feel you are in Philadelphia?

And for aesthetic purposes,  let's add some colonials...
With an outer shell built as a replica of Independence Hall you just know that the inside must be pretty amazing!
It is!
So,  let's check it out...
"Every interior detail is an exact copy,  and the room was kept just exactly as it was...
The details of the cornices,  pilasters,  windows,  arches,  and everything are exactly
 the same as they are in Philadelphia."

Robert O. Derrick,  architect in charge of replicating Independence Hall for Henry Ford.
As you may have seen in previous postings on the museum,  there is an awful lot of Americana here  (links for the other postings are at the bottom of this post).  Because of my love for our country  (and because I really enjoy the 4th of July/Independence Day holiday more than most other holidays)  I would like to write a little about my favorite permanent exhibit inside this museum. 
Ever since they installed the  "With Liberty and Justice For All"  exhibit nearly a decade ago it has become an annual must see for me.  In this collection the struggle for the freedoms we all as Americans cherish - from the pre-Revolutionary War era of the 1760's through the Civil War of the 1860's right up into the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's - are shown displayed beautifully in a time line,  and in a very reverent manner.
My particular favorite part of this exhibit is the time of America's fight for Independence.  I have such a love for this great country of ours,  and being able to see its early history right before my eyes,  well...let's put it this way - in the area of our country in which I live - southeastern lower Michigan - there is so little on this colonial period.  Believe me,  I love the all of our history greatly,  as you well know,  but 19th century history is much more accessible in my neck of the woods,  where the Revolutionary War period is not.
Yes,  we are blessed to have this.
What I am hoping to accomplish in this post is to show not only the wonderful historical objects in the  "Liberty"  exhibit that pertain to our country's founding, but a few other items found in other areas inside the museum that fit in the context of this posting as well.  And with a little mixing in of  photos taken of  an actual 1750's colonial-period homes that Henry Ford relocated from New Hampshire to Greenfield Village,  and in doing so we should have an overall Fight For Independence history lesson a la mode!
All photographs  (except for a few) were taken by me at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
Let's begin with the beginning:
The Stamp Act of 1765  (short title Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 
5 George III,  c.  12)  was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament
on the colonies of British America.  This is an original copy of the Stamp Act.
The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp. These printed materials were on every legal document, magazine, newspaper and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Unlike previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money. The purpose of the tax was to help pay for troops stationed in North America after the British victory in the Seven Years' War. The British government felt that the colonies were the primary beneficiaries of this military presence, and should pay at least a portion of the expense. The Americans saw no need for the troops or the taxes; the British saw colonial defiance of their lawful rulers.
So,  to make a longer story shorter,  the American colonists were furious and refused to pay for the tax that the British put on them.  The Americans in all 13 colonies protested strongly and the British retreated part way,  but insisted on the right of Parliament to tax the colonies.  It was considered unconstitutional and it was a major grievance that led to the American Revolution.    
The Stamp Act managed to offend virtually every colonist.  The colonies sent no representatives to Parliament,  and therefore,  had no influence over what taxes were raised,  how they were levied,  or how they would be spent.  Many colonists considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant.  The thought of a British army stationed permanently on American soil alarmed many colonists.  Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests.  The Stamp Act Congress held in New York City,  reflecting the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure,  also petitioned Parliament and the King.  Local protest groups,  led by colonial merchants and landowners,  established connections through correspondence that created a loose coalition that extended from New England to Georgia.  Protests and demonstrations initiated by the group,  the Sons of Liberty,  often turned violent and destructive as the masses became involved.  Since Americans were unrepresented in the House of Commons,  "No taxation without representation"  became their rallying cry.  A word used frequently by colonists was  "liberty"  during the active Stamp Act.  Opponents of the new tax staged mock funerals in which  "liberty's"  coffin was carried to a burial ground.  They insisted that liberty could not be  "taken away without consent."

~ ~ ~

 Let's move into another step in the direction of Independence:  The Boston Massacre.
The presence of British troops in the city of Boston was increasingly unwelcome.  On the evening of March 5,  1770,  the unpopular Redcoats and a few townspeople were involved in a dispute that spiraled out of control.  Church bells rang and a larger crowd of around 50  (many thinking there was a fire)  assembled.  These citizens began to taunt,  spit upon,  and then throw chunks of ice and other debris at the soldiers.  A British officer,  Captain Thomas Preston,  called in additional soldiers,  and these,  too,  were attacked.  A club  (or some other piece of debris)  knocked one of the soldiers off his feet.  It’s said that as the soldier recovered himself,  his gun may have accidentally went off,  enraging the crowd even further.  Within a minute or two,  the soldiers opened fire,  killing three Americans instantly  (a black sailor named Crispus Attucks,  ropemaker Samuel Gray,  and a mariner named James Caldwell),  and wounding 8 others,  two of whom died later  (Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr).
A town meeting was called demanding the removal of the British and the trial of Captain Preston and his men for murder.  At the trial,  John Adams and Josiah Quincy II defended the British,  leading to their acquittal and release.  Samuel Quincy and Robert Treat Paine were the attorneys for the prosecution.  Later,  two of the British soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter.
The Boston Massacre was a signaling event leading to the Revolutionary War.  It led directly to the Royal Governor evacuating the occupying army from the town of Boston.  It would soon bring the revolution to armed rebellion throughout the colonies.
Not long after the incident, Henry Pelham, an established 
artist and engraver in Boston, showed
his drawing to Paul Revere.

Let's check out this next version....
But before it could be printed, Revere liberally borrowed (shall we say)
from Pelham's work to create, print, and distribute his own remarkably
similar version of the scene. As fate would dictate, it was Revere's print, 
entitled  "The Bloody Massacre"  and bearing the mark  "Engrav'd Printed
& Sold by PAUL REVERE Boston,"  that would gain widespread circulation.
The Revere print is today recognized as having been one of the most
important pieces of political propaganda in America's early history,
helping foment the anti-British feeling in the Colonies that a few years
later would lead to all-out revolt.

(This is a photograph of an original Paul Revere print located in
the Henry Ford Museum exhibit
What follows is the full text of the deeply indignant letter Henry Pelham wrote to Revere complaining of his  "dishonourable"  deed.  You can also click on the image at of Pelham's to see an enlarged side-by-side comparison of the two pictures and see for yourself just how alike the prints actually are:

Thursday Morng. Boston, March 29, 1770.
When I heard that you were cutting a plate of the late Murder,  I thought it impossible,  as I knew you was not capable of doing it unless you coppied it from mine and as I thought I had entrusted it in the hands of a person who had more regard to the dictates of Honour and Justice than to take the undue advantage you have done of the confidence and Trust I reposed in you.
But I find I was mistaken,  and after being at the great Trouble and Expence of making a design paying for paper,  printing &c,  find myself in the most ungenerous Manner deprived,  not only of any proposed Advantage,  but even of the expence I have been at,  as truly as if you had plundered me on the highway.
 If you are insensible of the Dishonour you have brought on yourself by this Act,  the World will not be so.  However,  I leave you to reflect upon and consider of one of the most dishonorable Actions you could well be guilty of.
H. Pelham.
P S.  I send by the Bearer the prints I borrowed of you.  My Mother desired you would send the hinges and part of the press,  that you had from her.
Pictured here is a silver caster made by Paul Revere
 in the 1760’s or 1770’s.

Paul Revere's silver shop was the cornerstone of his professional life. 
Although he became involved in other businesses,  silversmithing was 
his earliest and most enduring pursuit.  Revere began his career as 
an apprentice to his father.  His earliest maker's mark was the same 
as his father's,  and evidence suggests that they shared patterns for 
casting handles and other parts.  The elder Revere died in 1754,  before 
Paul was old enough to run the shop on his own.  However,  within 
a year of returning from service in the French and Indian War,  
Revere took over his father's shop inheriting its customer base, 
 tools and good reputation.
Here is a Revere coffee pot made between 1755 to 1765.
Revere's business ledgers reveal that his shop was an active place.
He trained a number of young men in the trade including several
family members.  He also employed journeyman silversmiths who
had completed their formal training but lacked the capital to
establish independent businesses.  As the master of the shop he
was responsible for both the workmanship and the quality of
the metal.  
Silversmithing requires the heavy labor of pounding
metal flat or raising it into shapes,  a good eye for design, 
knowledge of the elements of style and a steady hand for engraving. 
Revere was personally involved with the fabrication of silver in the
early years of his career;  however,  his daily involvement with
the shop declined after the Revolution as he began to expand
into other business concerns.

Paul Revere - the True Story:
 In 1774 and the Spring of 1775 Paul Revere was employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as an express rider to carry news,  messages,  and copies of resolutions as far away as New York and Philadelphia.
On the evening of April 18, 1775,  Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington,  Massachusetts,  to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.  After being rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown by two associates,  Paul Revere borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin.  While in Charlestown,  he verified that the local  "Sons of Liberty"  committee had seen his pre-arranged signals - two lanterns had been hung briefly in the bell-tower of Christ Church in Boston,  indicating that troops would row  "by sea"  across the Charles River to Cambridge,  rather than marching  "by land"  out Boston Neck.  Revere had arranged for these signals the previous weekend,  as he was afraid that he might be prevented from leaving Boston. 

Paul Revere 1770 - John Singleton Copley,  artist/painter
On the way to Lexington,  Revere  "alarmed"  the country-side,  though not  "every Middlesex village and farm,"  as the famous poem states.  Instead,  Revere did alarm each house on his ride toward Lexington,  whether of his own stop,  by shouting that  "the Regulars are coming out!",  or even by informing others who heard his cries and warning to tell their neighbors of the Redcoats march.  Revere arrived in Lexington about midnight,  and as he approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying,  a sentry asked that he not make so much noise.  "Noise!"  cried Revere,  "You'll have noise enough before long.  The regulars are coming out!"  After delivering his message,  Revere was joined by a second rider,  William Dawes,  who had been sent on the same errand by a different route. Deciding on their own to continue on to Concord,  Massachusetts,  where weapons and supplies were hidden,  Revere and Dawes were joined by a third rider,  Dr.  Samuel Prescott.  Soon after,  Revere was arrested by a British patrol.  Prescott escaped almost immediately,  and Dawes soon after.  Revere was held for some time and then released.  Left without a horse,  Revere returned to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on the Lexington Green.
To read a more detailed account of Paul Revere's ride,  click HERE. 

How could the Americans ever hope to defeat the mighty British Empire in a military conflict?
Americans faced seemingly impossible obstacles.  When the guns fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775,  there was not yet even a Continental Army.  Those battles were fought by local militias.  Few Americans had any military experience,  and there was no method of training,  supplying,  or paying an army.
Moreover,  a majority of Americans opposed the war in 1775.  Many historians believe only about a third of all Americans supported a war against the British at that time.
Further,  the Colonies had a poor track record of working together.
How,  then,  could a ragtag group of patriots defeat the British?
On January 9,  1776,  writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet 
"Common Sense,"  setting forth his arguments in favor of American
independence.  Although little used today,  pamphlets were an
important medium for the spread of ideas in the 18th century.

Originally published anonymously,  "Common Sense"  advocated
independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered
one of the most influential pamphlets in American history.  Credited
with uniting average citizens and political leaders behind the idea of
independence,  "Common Sense"  played a remarkable role in
transforming a colonial squabble into the American Revolution.

At the time Paine wrote  "Common Sense,"  most colonists considered
themselves to be aggrieved Britons.  Paine fundamentally changed the
tenor of colonists'  argument with the crown when he wrote the following: 
"Europe,  and not England,  is the parent country of America.  This new
world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious
liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled,  not from
the tender embraces of the mother,  but from the cruelty of the monster; 
and it is so far true of England,  that the same tyranny which drove the
first emigrants from home,  pursues their descendants still."

Pictured here is an original copy on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
Here is a video clip showing how some may have reacted to Thomas Payne's book.  It were filmed for the Henry Ford Museum's  "With Liberty and Justice For All"  exhibit,  and I used my camera's video option to record it from the museum's monitor.  (I could see that it was filmed inside the 1832 Eagle Tavern located in the adjacent Greenfield Village open-air museum,  which does make a fine backdrop for these colonial-era presentations):

 ~ ~ ~

Now onto what is one of three of the most important documents in American history  (the others being our Constitution and the Bill of Rights) - - - - 

Thomas Jefferson never claimed originality for the philosophy he embodied in The Declaration he had written.  It was an expression of the mind of the American patriots of that age and he was among the first of these.  In explaining his involvement,  Jefferson said he was asked by the others in this committee of five men – John Adams,  Benjamin Franklin,  Robert R.  Livingston,  and Roger Sherman were the other four - to write the draft.  There appears to have been several meetings of the committee,  discussing the general character and form of the document. 
The committee of five who drafted the Declaration of Independence: John Adams,
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman
The idea of government by consent,  based upon rights derived from natural law,  was an ancient one.  But this theory of government in the Declaration of Independence was the first example in history in which a new nation erected its government  "of the people,  by the people and for the people."
Jefferson first submitted his draft to Adams and Franklin because he especially valued their judgment.  Suggestions of theirs were written in,  and the document was accepted by the full committee. 
Franklin, Adams, & Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence.
(Painted in 1900 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris)
It should be noted that from the time Jefferson was named to the committee of five to help write the Declaration to the time it was submitted to the Congress took only seventeen days.
The Declaration of Independence
July 4th, 1776
This exact replica of the original was engraved by William J.  Stone on July 4th,  1823,  commissioned by the Department of State in Washington City  
(now known as Washington D.C.).

As the Revolutionary generation passed from memory, Congress authorized 
200 exact copies of the Declaration to be created and distributed as an 
educational project. Only about 30 of these survive today.
The heading above this wall placard showing a few of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence just about says it all, doesn't it?
And here is a scene from the John Adams movie showing what it was probably like during the vote to become Independent  (to view this awesome clip,  please click on the You Tube icon at the bottom right. It is well-worth watching):

Next we have notations from a Letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail
Philadelphia July 3, 2014 
The Second Day of July 1776,  will be the most memorable Epocha,  in the History of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated,  by succeeding Generations,  as the great anniversary Festival.  It ought to be commemorated,  as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Act 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 the Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not.  I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure,  that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration,  and support and defend these states.  Yet through all of the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory.  I can see that the End is more than worth all of the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction,  even altho We should rue it,  which I trust in God We shall not.

Why July 2nd?  Why did John Adams not write his wife another letter on July 4th and say he had been premature?
Well,  I found the answer in the Washington Post from author Valerie Straus:
"Because it was on July 2,  1776,  that the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia voted to approve a resolution for independence from Britain.
On that same day,  the Pennsylvania Evening Post published this:  
“This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”
So why do we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day?
We do because of a little thing called the Declaration of Independence.
The document was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th.  The first draft of the declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson,  who gave it to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin for editing.
Jefferson then took their version,  refined it further and presented it to the Congress.
Scholars don’t even think the document was signed by delegates of the Continental Congress on July 4th.
The huge canvas painting by John Trumbull hanging in the grand Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol depicting the signing of the Declaration is,  it turns out,  a work of imagination.  In his biography of John Adams,  historian David McCullough wrote:  “No such scene,  with all the delegates present,  ever occurred at Philadelphia.”
~It never happened in this way~
the famous painting by John Trumbull
It is now believed that most of the delegates signed it on Aug. 2.  That’s when the assistant to the secretary of Congress,  Timothy Matlack,  produced a clean written copy.
John Hancock,  who was the president of the Continental Congress,  signed first,  right in the middle of the area for signatures.  The last delegate to sign,  according to the national Archives,  is believed to be Thomas McKean of Delaware,  sometime in 1777.
The city of Philadelphia,  where the Declaration was signed,  waited until July 8 to celebrate,  with a parade and the firing of guns.  The Continental Army under the leadership of George Washington didn’t learn about it until July 9.
As for the British government in London,  well,  it didn’t know that the United States had declared independence until Aug. 30.

The photos here were taken inside the home originally built 
and owned by John Giddings in 1750,  then sold to 
New Hampshire's first Secretary of State, Joseph Pearson in 1790.
It just reminds me so much of the type of home in which these
men of whom I’ve been writing about may have lived.
Here is the front parlor of the Giddings/Pearson Home.
This is a beautifully restored Colonial era home,  isn't it.
(Click HERE for more historical information on the Giddings/Secretary Pearson home)

~ ~ ~

Now another treat - - - a letter written in the hand of General George Washington himself!

Camp at Pennybeckers Mill, September 28, 1777.
    Dear Sir:  I wrote you on the 23d.  Instr.,  lest the Letter should have miscarried by any means,  I now inclose you a Copy.  I must request your earliest attention to the Contents,  and that you will not delay a moment in sending the Troops which are ordered.  Their Aid becomes more and more necessary,  and I wish you,  to urge the Officer,  who shall have the command,  to join me as soon as possible without injuring and harrassing the men too much.  The Route you'll find marked out by the Copy,  which they will pursue,  with such other directions as are therein given.  I have only to add,  that your exertions in forwarding them on and theirs to afford me the earliest succour possible,  will not only be pleasing,  but extremely interesting.  I fully expect that neither will be wanting.  I am etc
With great regard
(it looks like  ‘Your Most Obed. Servant'),
G. Washingtom
(My research shows this letter was actually written on Sept. 28 and not Sept. 23)

As commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary
War, General George Washington usually did sleep and eat in the nearby
homes of well-to-do people during the eight years he led the American
military campaign.  But among George Washington’s camp equipage
were tents,  this folding bed,  cooking and eating utensils,  and other
equipment that he used when encamped on the field with his troops.

Yet the George Washington camp bed in The Henry Ford’s collections
is more than just a humble cot,  used when no better option was available.
This object symbolizes George Washington as a leader who cared more
about his men and the cause of democracy than he did for himself.

This is a close up of Washington's eating utensils.  Simply amazing!

This high chest of drawers was owned by
Mary Ball Washington (b. 1708 - d. 1789).

In 1731 she married widower Augustine Washington
and moved into his Virginia home where,  a year later, 
their son,  George,  was born.

 ~ ~ ~
The Battle of Saratoga,  in northern New York,  served as a critical turning point.  The British attempt to capture the Hudson River Valley ended with their surrender to General Horatio Gates in October.  Washington,  having lost Philadelphia,  led his troops to Valley Forge to spend the winter.  None of the world's powers had come to the aid of the patriot cause — yet.
In early 1778,  the French agreed to recognize American independence and formed a permanent alliance with the new nation.  Military help and sizable stores of much-needed gunpowder soon arrived.  The tide was beginning to turn.
~ ~ ~

Next we have a man not famous for his patriotism - instead,  quite the opposite:
This is the letter from 1780 that made Benedict Arnold
synonymous with   "traitor."  A talented commander of
patriot troops,  Arnold felt unappreciated.  Here asks permission
to repair a bridge that he was secretly intending to allow British
warships to pass through.
The plot was foiled but the event shocked the nation.

After the plot was exposed in September 1780,  Arnold was commissioned into the British Army as a brigadier general.
Because of the way he changed sides,  his name quickly became a byword in the United States for treason or betrayal.

                                                                    ~ ~ ~
A very condensed version of the end of the War:
The British grew increasingly frustrated.  The loss at Saratoga was humiliating.  Capturing the capital,  Philadelphia,  did not bring them much advantage.  As long as the American Continental Army and state militias remained in the field,  the British had to keep on fighting.  And no matter how much damage the British did to American cities or private property,  the Americans refused to surrender.  This was a new type of war.
Having failed in the north,  the British turned their attention to the south.  They hoped to inspire Loyalist support among dissatisfied Americans — a hope that was never realized.  Fighting continued.  The threat of French naval participation kept the British uneasy.
In October 1781,  the war virtually came to an end when General Cornwallis was surrounded and forced to surrender the British position at Yorktown,  Virginia.  Two years later,  in 1783,  the Treaty of Paris made it official:  Great Britain recognized that America was independent.  "How could the Americans ever hope to defeat the mighty British Empire in a military conflict,"  they thought in 1775. 
In 1783,  an even better question to ask was,  "How did the mighty British Empire ever expect to vanquish the Americans and their spirit?"
Washington disbanded his army and,  on November 2,  gave an eloquent farewell address to his soldiers.

A portable writing desk and copying press once belonging
to Thomas Jefferson from 1787
~ ~

Dissatisfied with the weaknesses of the Articles of the Confederation,  in 1787 Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution.  Elected unanimously as the first President of the United States in 1789,  he attempted to bring rival factions together to unify the nation.

Washington inauguration buttons from 1789.
How cool is this?
~ ~ ~

I believe we sometimes sell ourselves and our children short when we make the attempt teach history,  whether at school or,  in many cases,  at home.  Oftentimes - too often,  in fact,  people and school kids,  and especially college students,  are taught only the bad and wrong doings of America.  Well,  wrong doings can be found in every country,  sex, and race throughout the world.  We should always remember what was done wrong,  but also not forget what was done right.
Consider what Henry Ford once stated: 
History as it is taught in the schools deals largely with...wars,  major political controversies,  territorial extensions and the like.  When I went to our American history books to learn how our forefathers harrowed the land,  I discovered that the historians knew nothing about harrows.  Yet our country depended more on harrows than on guns or great speeches.  I thought a history which excluded harrows and all the rest of daily life is bunk and I think so yet."
I agree with him,  for to get a true perspective of history,  one should also teach of the people and their ways of life.  One should show explain about the world of those from the past to get a better understanding for why they did what they did and why they felt the way they did.
The whole story.
That's why I'm including a few more photos of furniture and other things of the era in which this post speaks of.  Seemingly not important,  but when you think about it,  all gives a more complete picture of the times:
Drop leaf dining table from circa 1750's
A 1760's side chair.
(Left):  an armchair from circa 1765,  (Middle):  a  "Boston"  side chair from
the 1730's,  (Right):  a side chair from the 1760's

This 1770's Windsor Writing Chair was owned by a Reverend who
possibly wrote his sermons while sitting in it.  The drawers under the
writing surface and seat held quill pens,  ink,  and paper,  while a special
support for a candle holder was set into the front of the writing surface.

By the mid-18th century,  most Americans had a  "gate leg"  table,
so called because it could be easily folded and moved room to room.

This fall-front desk sat upon a wood frame and was built in the mid-18th century

A 1770's/1780's cradle.  Note the roping.

The exterior of the 1750's Giddings House from New Hampshire.

You saw the Giddings'  parlor earlier,  so here are other areas of the home:
Women played a much larger role in the birth of our Nation
(no pun intended) than history books tend to tell

And,  yes,  they did needle point, too.

The  'chocolateer'  in the Giddings kitchen

An upstairs bed chamber in the 1750's Giddings house.
Note the tip of a candle near the chair.
  ~ ~ ~
In my own personal ancestral heritage,  the earliest my direct line had settled on these shores was in 1710 when my 7th Great Grandfather,  Jonathan Heacock and his wife Ann  (Till)  came over to Pennsylvania from England.  They were Quakers,  and this religious practice continued with their children,  grandchildren,  and great grandchildren,  into the early 19th century. 
Since my family line were practicing Quakers,  none had fought in the Revolutionary War.
And none had anything to do with slavery.  In fact,  they were abolitionists - fighting against that evil sin of  owning another person.
To add to that,  my wife is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution! 

An actual Revolutionary War powder Horn,
right there in the Henry Ford Museum!
 ~ ~ ~

 ~ ~ ~

I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the era of the fight for our country's Independence.  The vast collection of historical objects at the Henry Ford Museum never ceases to amaze me.  Up until the  "With Liberty and Justice for All"  exhibit,  I had no idea that they had such a large collection of Revolutionary War and colonial Americana.
It is so cool that I can drive only a half hour to see actual artifacts from the birth of our nation!

.  .  .

If  you found this post on our Founding Fathers and their generation interesting,  you might enjoy an article I wrote about what everyday life was like for folks living in the 18th century called In The Good Old Colony Days.

Click HERE for a posting about Paul Revere called Listen Children and You Shall Hear...

I've also  previously written three other postings about some of the amazing historical objects in the Henry Ford Museum with plenty of photos that I've taken over the many visits.  In today's I've tried to mostly post pictures that I've not shown on this blog before.
If you'd like to see my other postings on the Henry Ford Museum,  please click
Do you remember celebrating the Bicentennial,  our nation's 200th birthday?
If not,  or you would like to stroll down memory lane,  click HERE

There are a number of books I highly recommend if you would like to do further research on our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) and the quest for Liberty. I have found the variety of subject matter herein has helped me to understand to a fuller degree our nation's founding history:
~Founding Fathers by K.M. Kostyal
~Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
~Liberty: The American Revolution
~Common Sense
~Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
~Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence
~The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America's Founding Document and the Men Who Created It (Museum in a Book)
~Original Intent
~Houses of the Founding Fathers
~The Life History of the United States - Volume 2: 1775-1789: The Making of a Nation
~Colonial by David Larkin

For a real treat, this John Adams mini-series is as close to seeing our Founding  "Parents"  as living,  breathing human beings as one can get:
John Adams

And I found this mini-series about George Washington to be top-notch,  for it not only covers the battles of the Revolutionary War quite well,  but does great justice to our first President. Highly recommended:
George Washington

Besides the books listed,  most of the historical information for this posting came from varying sources including The Henry Ford Museum,  Wikipedia,  PBS,  US,  The Paul Revere House,  and the University of Virginia Library.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Concerning the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village,  I will repeat here what I wrote a while back about Henry Ford and his penchant for collecting Americana:
By now I'm sure you've read of my fondness for the Greenfield Village open air museum located in Dearborn,  Michigan.  If you haven't you must be new to this blog.  Well,  on the same grounds of the Village is the Henry Ford Museum,  an indoor collection of Americana second only to the Smithsonian in scope.  That's a mighty big claim,  I know,  but,  well,  read on to see why - - - -
When Henry Ford  (the man/car magnet)  began collecting all things American back in the early days of the 20th century,  folks from all over were very happy to help him out by sending him all of their  "junk"   they had stored in their basements,  garrets,  and garages.  Items of little use,  including old-time farm implements,  cooking and heating stoves,  yarn winders,  eating utensils,  furniture,  watches & clocks,  spinning wheels,  guns,  etc.
Little did they know that what they were giving away  (and in some cases,  selling)  would one day become museum pieces - objects that told the story of the average  (and not-so-average)  American of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Other museums at the time held paintings of the great artists,  furniture of kings and queens,  and items that people of great wealth once owned.  But that wasn't what Mr.  Ford was interested in.  He wanted to show the things that made America great.  He wanted the light to shine on folks like you and me - everyday people.
And  "serious"  students of history laughed at him.
Well,  no one's laughing now,  are they?  
Anyhow,  at one point,  Ford had so many collectables that he realized he needed a place to store all of it and decided to build a museum,  originally called the Edison Institute,  after his hero Thomas Edison.

And what a collection!
Thank you,  Henry Ford,  for saving so much of our country's history.

I would like to note that the early sketches of the State House/Independence Hall came from the National Park Service Site. 

 ~   ~

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