Henry C. (Henry Clay) Watson.

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Heroes of the Revolution,


The founder of American Independence,
and first President of the United States,
was born in 1732, in the county of Fairfax,
in Virginia. He was descended from an
English family, which emigrated from Ches-
hire, about 1630 ; and his father, in the
place of his nativity, was possessed of great
landed property. He received his education
from a private tutor ; and was particularly
instructed in mathematics and engineering.

His abilities were first employed by Gov-
ernor DinwHdie, in 1753, in making remon-
strances to the French commander on the
Ohio, for the infraction of the treaty between
the two nations ; and he afterwards nego-
tiated with the Indians on the back settle-
ments, for which he received the thanks of
the British government.

In the expedition of Braddock he served
as aid-de-camp ; and, on the fall of that
brave but rash commander, he displayed


great talent in conducting the retreat, and
saving the army from a dangerous position.

In 1758, he was sent on an expedition a-
gainst fort Du Quesne, the lurking place and
strong hoM of the hostile Indians, who were
constantly harrassing and murdering the in-
habitants on the frontier ; but on reaching
the post it was found deserted. A treaty
of peace was soon after formed with the In-
dians. The ngme of the fort was changed
to fort Pitt, and it was garisoned with two
hundred soldiers, and become a source of
as much advantage to the English settle-
ments, as it had before been of damage.

The great object of his wishes having
been thus happily accomplished, Washington
resigned his commission, and thus ended
his career as a provincial officer. Soon af-
ter this resignation, he married Mrs. Martha
Custis, a young and beautiful lady, of great
accomplishments, and an amiable character.
Retiring to the estate at Mount Vernon,
which he had acquired a few years before by
the death of his elder brother, he devoted
himself assiduously to the business of agri-
culture. He became one of the greatest
landholders in North America. His Mount
Vernon estate alone consisted of nine thou-
sand acres, and his domestic and farming es-
tablishments were composed of nearly a
thousand persons.



He was elected a representative to the
first Congress, which met at Philadelphia, in
1774, and was the active member of all the
committees on military affairs. When the
commencement of hostilities made it. neces-
sary to appoint a commander-in-chief of the
American forces, George Washington was
unanimously elected to the office.


The record of his services is the history
of the whole war. He joined the army at
Cambridge in July, 1775. On the evacua-
tion of Boston, in March 1776, he proceed-
ed to New York. The battle of Long Isl-
and was fought on the 27th of August, and
the battle of White Plains on the 28th of
October. On the 25th of December, he
crossed the Delaware, and soon gained the
victories at Trenton and Princeton. The
battle of Brandywine was fought on Sept-
ember llth, 1777; of Germantown, Octo-
ber 4th ; of Monmouth, February 27th 1778.
In 1779 and 1780, he continued in the vi-
cinity of New York, and closed the import-
ant military operations of the war by the
capture of Cornwallis, at Yorktown, in 1781.

On the disbanding of the army, Wash-
ington proceeded to Annapolis, then the
seat of Congress, to resign his commission.
On his way thither, he delivered to the comp-
troller of accounts, at Philadelphia, an ac-
count of his receipts and expenditures of
public money. The whole amount that had
passed through his hands, was only 14,479
18s. 9d. sterling. Nothing was charged or
retained for his own services. The resigna-
tion of hi& command was made in a public
audience. Congress received him as the
guardian of his Country and her liberties.


He appeared there under the most affecting
circumstances. The battles of a glorioua
war had been fought since he first appeared
before them to accept, with becoming mod-
esty, the command of their armies. Now
the eyes of a whole nation were upon him,
and the voices of a liberated people pro-
claimed him their preserver.

His high character and services naturally
entitled him to the highest gifts his country
could bestow ; and, on the organization of
the government, he was called upon to be
the first president of the states he had pre-
served and established. It was a period of
great difficulty and danger. The unsub-
dued spirit of liberty had been roused and
kindled by the revolution of France, and ma-
ny of his fellow citizens were eager that the
freedom and equality which they themselves
enjoyed should be extended to the subjects
of the French monarch. Washington antici-
pated the plans of the factious, and by pru-
dence and firmness subdued insurrection,
and silenced discontent, till the parties which
the intrigues of Genet, the French envoy,
had roused to rebellion, were convinced of
the wildness of their measures, and of the
wisdom of their governor.

The president completed, in 1796, the bu-
siness of his office, by signing a commercial


treaty with Great Britian, and then volunta-
rily resigned his power at a moment when
all hands and all hearts were united again to
confer upon him the sovereignity of the
country. Restored to the peaceful retire-
ment of Mount Vernon, he devoted himself
to the pursuits of agriculture ; and though
he accepted the command of the army in
1798, it was merely to unite the affections
of his fellow citizens to the general good,
and was one more sacrifice to his high sense
of duty. He died, after a short illness, on
the 14th of December, 1799.


ROGER SHERMAN was born at Newton,
Massachusetts on the 19th of April, 1721.
He was early apprenticed to a shoemaker,
and followed the business of one for some
time after he was twenty-two years of age.
The father of Roger Sherman died in 1741,
leaving his family which was quite numer-
ous, dependant upon his son for support.
He entered upon the task with great cheer-
fulness. Towards his mother, whose life was
protracted to a great age, he always manifes-
ted the tenderest affection, and assisted two
of his younger brothers to qualify themselves
for clergymen.



In 1749, he was married to Miss Elizabeth

Hartwell of Stoughton, in Massachusetts.

After her decease, in 1760, he married Miss

Rebecca Prescott, of Danvers, in the same



State. By these wives he had fifteen chil-

In 1759, he was appointed Judge of the
Court of Common Pleas for the county of
Litchfield, Conn., which office he held for
two years.

In 1766, Mr. Sherman was elected a
member of the Upper House, in the Gener-
al Assembly of Connecticut, and during the
same year he was appointed a Judge of the
Superior Court. He continued a member
of the Upper House for nineteen years, un-
til 1785, when, the two offices which he held
being considered incompatible, he relinquish-
ed his seat at the council-board, preferring
his station as a Judge.

Mr. Sherman was a delegate to the cele-
brated Congress of 1774, and continued un-
interuptedly a member of that body, until
his death in 1793. His services during his
congressional career were many and import-
ant. He was employed on numerous com-
mittees, and was indefatigable in the investi-
gation of complicated and difficult subjects.

Under the new Constitution, Mr. Sherman
was elected a representative to Congress from
the State of Connecticut. At the expiration
of two years, a vacancy occuring in the Sen-
ate, he was elevated to a seat in that body.
In this office he died on the 23d of July,


1793, in the seventy-third year of his age.
A predominant trait in the character of
Roger^Sherman was his practical wisdom.
Although inferior to many in rapidity of gen-
ius, he was surpassed by none in clearness
of apprehension, energy of mind, or hones-
ty of action. A remark of Jefferson bears
testimony to the strength and soundness of
his intellect. "That is Sherman," said he
to a friend, to whom he was pointing out the
most remarkable men of Congress, " a man
who never said a foolish thing in his life."
Not less honorable to the integrity of his
character, is the remark of Fisher Ames, who
was wont to say : u If I am absent during
the discussion of a subject, and consequent-
ly know not on which side to vote, I always
look at Roger Sherman, for I am sure IF I



John Hancock, of Boston, may justly be
ranked high among the patriots of the revo-
lution. There were a few, indeed, in that
patriotic band, who were older, and who
were the leaders in the controversy with the
British ministry, which began twelve years
before the commencement of hostilities in


1775. But he early took such a decided
stand, in opposition to the arbitrary measures
of the British government, that he had the
entire confidence of the whigs of that period ;
and was elected to the general court, when
only thirty-three years of age. Samuel Ad-
ams and James Bowdoin, were much older
than Hancock : James Otis, Jr. was his sen-
ior by ten years, and John Adams was his

^temporary at the university.

Mr. Hancock was an opulent merchant,

iiid the heir of an uncle who left a large es-
tate. He delivered the public oration, March
5th, 1774, the anniversary of the massacre,
in Boston, by the British troops, which gave
great offence to the tories ; as he denounced
standing armies, and other arbitrary measures
of the administration. Hutchinson and Gage
rejected him, when elected into the counciL
He was one of the five delegates from Mas-
sachusetts, to a continental Congress in 1774;
and the next year was chosen President of
that august body. In 1780, he was elected
Governor of Massachusetts, and was chosen
also, for the four following years : when Mr.
Bowdoin was elected. Again, in 1787,
he was in the chair, and continued till his
death in 1793.

Governor Hancock had a fine form, and
was of very courteous and elegant manners.



He was a popular character ; and was emi-
nent for his hospitality and charities. The
ministers of religion found in him a real
friend, and he honored the religious institu-
tions of the country. But he had some en-
emies who charged him with being capri-
cious and destitute of firmness in critical
situations. It would be strange, indeed, if


he had not some faults. But he had many
virtues to render his memory honorable and
precious ; and one of 'his last cotemporaries,
who was engaged with him in the contest,
said that no man made greater sacrifices in
the cause of liberty than JOHN HANCOCK.
On public occasions and in his official station
Governor Hancock appeared with much dig-
nity ; but in the social circle was pleasant and
familiar in his manners. He thought little
of money, except as the means of utility to
the community, and of comfort to individu-
als. His salary as Governor was not a full
support to him ; and he expended much of
his own estate while in public life. He
owned many houses and stores in Boston,
when the British troops were there in 17756.
And when he was asked if he had any ob-
jection to firing the town by the American
army at Cambridge, in order to drive away
the British, he said he had not : " that his
property was a trifle compared to the de-
fence of the country against the enemy ; and
that he should cheerfully acquiesce in any
measures of attack recommended by General
Washington the commander of the American



Major General Israel Putnam, one of the dis-
tinguished officers in the American Army, in
the war of the revolution was born at Danvers
in Massachusetts, 1718. His education was
such as was then received in the common pub-
lic schools through the province, which was in-
indeed, little more than the mere elements of
knowledge. He early gave indications of a
strong and vigorous intellect ; and he was fond
of bold enterprise and of athletic exercises.


He married at the age of twenty-one, and re-
moved into the colony of Connecticut, where he
purchased a farm, and cultivated the soil in per-
son. There was then much wild uncultivated
land in the vicinity ; and the flocks of the farm-
ers where he settled, were frequently attacked
and destroyed by wolves. The hiding place of
one of these ferocious beasts was discovered by
Putnam. It was a deep cavern in a rock or
ledge. He had the hardihood to enter it with
a torch in one hand and a musket in the other.
Nothing could dissuade him from the desperate
enterprize. It was an instance of resolute
courage, seldom surpassed or equalled. The
animal was found within, ready to give battle,
or to defend himself. At the moment it prepar-
ed to spring on the daring intruder, Putnam
fired and destroyed his dangerous enemy.

Putnam distinguished himself in the war
against the French and Indians, in 1755, and
afterwards. He was first appointed to com-
mand a company of provincials, which was
sometime stationed at Crown Point, and vicini-
ty. Afterwards in 1757, he served as a parti-
san officer, having the commission of Major,
with great fidelity and activity. His corps and
the rangers, under Major Rodgers, were of great
use in the British and American army at that
period. In 1758, when returning from an ex-
pedition on which he had been sent by the Brit-
ish General at Fort Edward, near lake George,
he fell into an Indian ambuscade, and was tak-
en prisoner. The Indians would have burnt


him to death, but for the humane interposition
of a French officer. He was carried to Mon-
treal as a prisoner ; but soon after was exchang-
ed, and returned home. But he was not con-
tent to be idle. He was appointed Lieutenant-
Colonel and assisted at the siege of Montreal by
the British, in 1760. On that occasion his ser-
vices were very conspicuous. In 1762, when
war was declared between Eagland and Spain,
he joined the British expedition against Havana.
After the peace of 1763, the Indians were
troublesome on the western frontiers, and he
accompanied Colonel Bradstreet to quell them ;
when a treaty was made with them on terms
favorable to the welfare of the inhabitants.

Colonel Putnam again engaged in the busi-
ness of a farmer ; but held several offices in the
town where he lived, and was a representative
to the general assembly of the colony. In 1770,
he went with others, who had been officers in
the war of 1758 60, and to whom the British
had promised grants of land near the Mississip-
pi, to that part of the country, but did not long

When hostilities were commenced by the
British, April, 1775, Colonel Putnam left 'his
farm and family, and hastened to the scene of
danger. He soon returned to Connecticut and
raised a regiment of men under the authority of
that colony, and marched to Cambridge.
Thereupon he was appointed a Major-General
by the same authority ; and in June, the conti-
nental Congress gave him a commission for the


same rank, in the American army, then just
organized. General Washington was appointed
commander-in-chief a few days before. Lee
and Ward were also commissioned as Major-
Generals at the same time.

General Putnam took a very active part in the
memorable battle of the 17th of June, on Bun-
ker Hill. He had the chief direction and com-
mand on that occasion. Colonel Prescott com-
manded in the Fort; but General Putnam was
engaged in bringing up, rallying and directing
the men in that affair. There was, indeed, no
proper organization or system prepared for the
occasion. General Washington had not then
arrived at Cambridge. The expedition was
hastily got up, and all suitable military arrange-
ments had not been made. But Putnam was
the highest officer there, and though part of the
time with the Connecticut troops, directing and
urging them on, when the British Phalanx ap-
proached, he rode to all other places where the
Americans were stationed, and gave advice and
orders, proper only for one who had a right to
direct and command. His whole conduct on
that memorable day, gave proof of courage,
judgment and foresight. He remained in mili-
tary service, and enjoyed the entire confidence
of the commander in chief. When it was pro-
posed, in the winter of 1775 6, to make an at-
tack on the British troops in Boston, Washing-
ton selected Putnam to command, though there
were two other general officers in the detach-
ment. Unforeseen events induced General
Washington not to make the attack.


During the war, General Putnam rendered
important services, on several trying occa-
tions; and was held in high estimation both for
courage and patriotism. General Washington
often placed him in very responsible stations;
nor was he ever disappointed in his expectations
of the activity and resolution of our hero. In
1779, when four years of the war had passed,
and most of the hard fighting was over, except
in the capture of Cornwallis, and the partisan
warfare at the south, General Putnam was at-
tacked by a paralytic affection at the age of
sixty-three, which rendered him incapable of
active service. He survived several years, how-
ever, and enjoyed most of the ordinary comforts
of life. He was highly esteemed by his ac-
quaintance and neighbors ; and his memory is
held in great respect by his countrymen, as one
of the distinguished patriots and heroes, to
whom they are indebted for independence.

One of the most remarkable feats of this res-
olute man, for which it will be difficult to find
a parallel, was riding down the precipice of a
ledge, whose declivity was so great, that steps
had been made to enable foot passengers to as-
cend it. On a view of the precipice, one is
ready to say, it would be impossible to ride
down in safety. The distance is between sixty
and seventy feet. The enemy came upon him
unexpectedly while he was visiting his out-post,
at Horse-neck. The few men he then had with
him, saved themselves by retiring into thick
swamp, where they could not be pursued by the


British dragoons. Nor had any one of them
the courage, or rashness, to pursue Putnam
down the precipice which he had descended at
the most imminent danger.

General Putnam was as prompt and decisive
in writing as in action, which required great
personal efforts. A tory officer in the British
army fell into his hands when he commanded at
Peekskill. The British General demanded the
officer to be delivered up; and threatened ven-
geance, if he should be executed. General
Putnam's answer to this demand was as follows,
viz. 'Nathan Palmer, a Lieutenant in your
King's service, was taken in my camp as a spy ;
he was tried as a spy ; he was condemned as a
spy, and you may be assured he will be hanged
as a spy.

P. S. Afternoon. He is hanged !'


Thaddeus Kosciusko was born on the 1 2th
of February, 1746, at the Chateau of Siennie-
wicze. Of a noble, though not very illustrious
family, he was early initiated in the science of
war, at the military School of Warsaw, In his
youth, his affections were engaged to the daugh-
ter of the Marshal of Lithuania; but, crossed
in his love, he saw her married to another,
Prince Lubomirski. He then went to France,
and on his return applied to Stanislas for a mili-
tary appointment; but was refused, because he
was a favorite of Adam Czartoryski, whom Sta-


nislas hated. Kosciusko sought to dispel his
disappointment in the labors of a martial life.
The American colonies were, at that time,
throwing off the yoke of their unnatural mother
country : their cause was that of justice and
liberty, and one dear to the heart of a young,
proud-spirited Pole. He was cordially welcom-
ed in the New World and served in the ranks of
Gates and Washington ; and was appointed
aid-de-camp to the latter. When the glorious
struggle of " the Rebels " was crowned with


success, he returned to his own native land,
where he found an equally glorious field for
his exertions. He held the rank of Major-Gen-
eral under Joseph Poniatowyski, in the cam-
paign of 1792, to which office he had been rais-
ed by the diet, and gave ample earnest of what
he might have accomplished, had not his ardor
been checked by the King's irresolution.

When the sword of insurrection was drawn,
at Cracow, in 1794, the garrison and all the
troops proclaimed him Generalissimo ; they
took an oath of allegiance to him, and by deed
appointed him Dictator, in imitation of the Ro-
man custom, on emergent occasions. His
power was absolute. He had the command of
all the armies, and the regulation of all affairs;
political and civil.

The revolt was unsuccessful. Kosciusko
was wounded and taken prisoner by the Rus-
sians; and soon after the struggle ceased, and
the soldiers and generals of the revolution were
either killed or dispersed immured in the
prisons of Petersburg, or sent to Siberia.

The death of Catharine, on the 17th of No-
vember, 1796, delivered the Poles from a de-
testable tyrant. Her successor, the Emperor
Paul, commenced a new era in Russian history,
that of clemency. His behavior to Kosciusko
was almost heroic. He visited him in prison,
embraced him warmly, and told him he was
free. Paul also proposed to present him with a
high military post : this was declined. He then
gave him 1500 serfs and 12,000 roubles, as a
testimony of regard. But Kosciusko, determin-


ed to go to America, returned these presents.
He then proceeded, by way of England, to the
New World, when, having spent some time with
his old comrades in arms, he went to Paris and
settled near Fontainbleau.

It was in 1798 that he touched at England,
on his passage to America. Dr. Warner, who
saw him at the house of the consul at Bristol,
says, * I never contemplated a more interesting
human figure than Kosciusko, stretched on his
couch. His wounds were still unhealed, and
he was unable to sit upright. He appeared to
be a small man, spare and delicate. A black
silk bandage crossed his fair and high, but
somewhat wrinkled forehead. Beneath it his
dark eagle eye sent forth a flame of light, that
indicated the steady flame of patriotism which
still burned within his soul, unquenched by dis-
aster and wounds, weakness, poverty, and exile.
Contrasted with its brightness was the paleness
of his countenance, and the wan cast of every
feature. He spoke tolerable English, though in
a low and feeble tone ; but his conversation, re-
plete with fine sense, lively remark, and saga-
cious answers, evinced a noble understanding
and a cultivated mind. On rising to depart, I
offered him my hand: he took it. My eyes fill-
ed with tears ; and he gave it a warm grasp. I
muttered something about " brighter prospects
and happier days !" He faintly smiled, and said,
" Ah ! sir, he who devotes himself for his coun-
try must not look for his reward on this side of
the grave." '

When, in 1806, Napoleon felt what powerful


allies the Poles, fighting for liberty, would be
against Russia and Prussia, he used many arts
to engage them in his cause. There was one
man then living near Fontainbleau, whose name
alone would have raised the whole population of
Poland Kosciusko. Bonaparte made him the
most pressing invitations to share in the cam-
paign, and urged him, again and again, to ad-
dress his fellow-countrymen, and call upon the
Polish nation to embrace the present opportuni-
ty of regaining their liberty. But Kosciusko
was not dazzled by the splendor of Napoleon's
career ; and he divined that a military despot
might be as treacherous as hereditary tyrants.
He seemed too, to share in a degree, the feel-


Online LibraryHenry C. (Henry Clay) WatsonHeroes of the Revolution : with fine portraits → online text (page 1 of 2)