This Day in History

April 27, 1773:

British parliament passes unpopular Tea Act.

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament passes the Tea Act, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company from bankruptcy by greatly lowering the tea tax it paid to the British government and, thus, granting it a de facto monopoly on the American tea trade. Because all legal tea entered the colonies through England, allowing the East India Company to pay lower taxes in Britain also allowed it to sell tea more cheaply in the colonies. Even untaxed Dutch tea, which entered the colonies illegally through smuggling, was more expensive the East India tea, after the act took effect.

British Prime Minister, Frederick, Lord North, who initiated the legislation, thought it impossible that the colonists would protest cheap tea; he was wrong. Many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny, precisely because it left an earlier duty on tea entering the colonies in place, while removing the duty on tea entering England.

When three tea ships carrying East India Company tea, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to send back the cargo, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the so-called Boston Tea Party with about 60 members of the radically anti-British Sons of Liberty. On December 16, 1773, the Patriots boarded the British ships disguised as Mohawk Indians and dumped the tea chests, valued then at £18,000 (nearly $1 million in today’s money), into the water.

Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, known to colonists as the Intolerable Acts, the following year. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to what they saw as British oppression.

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18 Miles

18 miles to go

There, an encampment awaits us

Swarming with men who have differing points of view

It’s the potential setting of my demise

But I don’t really know that

I never do

I just march

Because I’m told

The consequences of not marching far outweighs what is in store for us there

Mile after mile I envision it

My ending

I shouldn’t do so

It just tears my stomach raw

But I can’t help it

I fret for my commrades

Whom I’ve known for mere months

Their existence in my life a meager fraction

Of my total days

Letters written

Painting an auspicious depiction

No need to worry them

Any more than they already are

My one hope

Is that my words of promise

Bestow a surplus of comfort

Shall these be my final 18 miles

Lost Dog of the American Revolution: General Howe & George Washington


The story begins on a bloody battlefield one cold foggy morning in October. A huge battle rages all around in a small place called Germantown. Men by the thousands are engaged in the fighting. Chaos is everywhere among the muskets and canons. Washington has eleven-thousand men against the British’s nine-thousand soldiers. A little dog is lost in the aftermath…

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This Day in History

March 18, 1766:

Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.

After four months of widespread protest in America, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, a taxation measure enacted to raise revenues for a standing British army in America.

The Stamp Act was passed on March 22, 1765, leading to an uproar in the colonies over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation. Enacted in November 1765, the controversial act forced colonists to buy a British stamp for every official document they obtained. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense–“Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

The colonists, who had convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the impending enactment, greeted the arrival of the stamps with outrage and violence. Most Americans called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest, and an appeal by Benjamin Franklin before the British House of Commons, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.

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This Day in History

January 5, 1781

Benedict Arnold leads British naval forces in an attack on Richmond, Virginia during the American Revolutionary War. Arnold offered to leave the city unharmed if Thomas Jefferson would agree to surrender its tobacco stores and military arms, but Jefferson refused. In response, Arnold ordered the city to be burned. The capture and subsequent burning of Richmond was one of Arnold’s most notorious actions. His actions angered George Washington so much, a bounty was placed on Arnold’s head.

Taken from:

This Day in History by Jim Daley; Copyright 2019; Publications International, Ltd.

Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel

Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel by Charles A. Jellison; Published 1983

Ethan Allen did not have a self esteem issue.  Regardless of his escapades, whether it be starting a bar brawl or leading his militia, Allen was always quite sure of himself and made sure he commanded the spotlight and was received in a positive light.  Yet, it was this behemoth of a man, in stature and voice, who supposedly played a leading character in the birth of a state and a nation.

In his book, Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel, Charles A. Jellison takes us through Allen’s adventures, such as the personal fight to protect his land, at the front of his guerilla group, the Green Mountain Boys.  In this case, land that the locals assumed was theirs, in what is now Vermont, was the subject of a dispute between established states New Hampshire and New York.  Allen and his boys pestered their neighbors from the east and west to defend what they felt belonged to them.

Jellison brings us through the rugged wilderness to a standoff between Allen and American commander Benedict Arnold during the early portion of the American Revolutionary War.  Their paths crossed while both were on a mission to capture the lightly guarded Fort Ticonderoga (New York) from the British.  Allen’s men refused to follow Arnold’s lead, forcing the commander to take Allen along with him.  When the mission was successfully completed, Allen ensured he received the credit.

We learn of Allen’s faults, as well, in an attempt to generate big headlines.  For example, in a plan that was not properly planned for, he attached Montreal and was captured.  We go with Allen as he spends several years on a British prisoners of war ship.

Allen’s time with the British allows him to foster relationships with people behind enemy lines.  This potentially played a role in his further dealings the governor of Quebec regarding the establishment of Vermont as a British province.  Allen made a few enemies once these negotiations were public, with many considering him treasonous.

Jellison takes the story to the end of Allen’s life, including his role in promoting an independent Vermont, as well as day to day life on his farm.   In addition, Allen publishes a writing that attacked the method of Christianity, while offering an alternative naturalistic view of religion.  We finally are brought to Allen’s untimely death at the relatively young age of 52 years old.

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring Than Saved The American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger; Published 2013

1776 was a difficult year in the American cause for independence.  Crushing battlefield defeats, declining morale, and scores of defections threatened to halt the objective not terribly long after the first shots rang out at Lexington and Concord were just part of the issues.  Undoubtedly, the most disturbing event was the loss of New York City to the British.  No one felt the burden more than General George Washington.

With the British showing its might, Washington was fully aware that his army was incapable of beating the king’s army head-to-head.  Rather, the general realized his only hope was to outsmart his opponent.  Truly believing that his hopes of turning the tides of the war depended on taking back New York, Washington recruited a major in the Continental Army, Benjamin Tallmadge.

In George Washington’s Secret Six:  The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, authors Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger take us on a journey from the formation of what became the Culper Spy Ring through the war that ended with the ragtag Patriot army somehow emerging victorious.  In contrast to the secretive nature of the ring, the identity of its members, and its role in helping the American cause, the reader obtains concrete knowledge of each member, prior to, during, and after the war.  We are informed of duties carried out under dangerous circumstances that played a deciding factor in the outcome of the war.

The first half of the book primarily provides the setting and introduces to us the main players, its fears, near misses during the ring’s infancy stages, and takes us through a period of fits and starts where the knowledge gained, perhaps does not warrant the dangerous nature of the work. It is here where it is said that key members went almost completely silent, fearing their lives were threatened. Up to this point, the book meanders along a rigid timeline, almost setting us up for the thrilling climax.

As promised, it is the second half where things rapidly pick up.  Here, we find out how the ring was able to thwart Benedict Arnold’s plan to turn over West Point to the enemy. Furthermore, intelligence from the ring garnered that the British were going to attack the incoming French navy, who had recently agreed to align with the Americans. This led to Washington planting false evidence that he was going to assault New York, forcing the British to call off their plans with France and return to fight a fictitious battle against Washington. We also learn how the Culper’s intelligence played a key role in the American victory of the decisive battle of Yorktown.  The ring’s efforts were so paramount, it led to Washington winning the war without achieving his main goal of taking back New York.

Secret Six is a spy thriller in the deepest sense.  Upon reading, this reviewer finished the last 150 plus pages in an afternoon, unable to put the book down.  This book is recommended for any lover of history who wishes to discover a network of American heroes that textbooks were unaware of for more than two centuries.

Secret Mission

Infiltrate the lion’s den

Mission of the most critical kind

Everything rides on my execution

Succeed and I’ve fulfilled my duty

Fail and I die

Nothing more, nothing less

I do this not for the noteriety

It does not exist here

The players are unnamed and the achievements unknown

It’s not for the selfish sense of adventure

For I am fraught with worry

Sleepless nights precede each mission

Enjoyment cannot be afforded

No, it’s because of the personal request of his excellency himself

Bowing out gracefully not an option

I’m a proud American

I’ll do whatever it takes

Even if it’s looking into the eye of the lion

Peace and Horror

It’s peaceful here; Nary a human voice hits my eardrums; Only the fabulous songbirds and the occasional chirping of a chipmunk; It’s okay, though; We can coexist up here

Gentle slopes and charming wood lots; Rolling hills and sun drenched meadows; A calm, quiescent brook babbles in the not too distant; I sit here often and soak it all in

It wasn’t always this way; Our descendants experienced here quite differently; Cracks of musket fire and roaring of cannons once drowned out the songbirds of the day; Large trees reduced to rubble; Craters filled the hillsides; Limbs blown off, lifelessness strewn across the meadow; The desperate shrieking of young boys dying in the background forever to haunt those who were just out of harm’s way; When the dust settled, those who were left had to grieve for their fallen comrades all the while carrying them piece by piece off the battlefield

I sit here often and soak it all in; How many took their last breath underneath the rock upon which I sit? How many souls are forever stuck here in their personal hell, a place I come to for peace and tranquillity? How ironic…..

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