SynopsisAmerica's most acclaimed historian presents the intricate story of the year of the birth of the United States of America. 1776 tells two gripping stories: how a group of squabbling, disparate colonies became the United States, and how the British Empire tried to stop them. A story with a cast of amazing characters from George III to George Washington, to soldiers and their families, this exhilarating book is one of the great pieces of historical narrative.
A FAITHFUL ACCOUNTING OF THE YEAR 1776
OF MUCH USE TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE PRESENT AGE
IN THE YEAR 2006
Despite being called ‘Continental’ the American military force at this point is composed almost entirely of soldiers from New England or 'Bible-faced Yankees' as one British general calls them. The Continental Army flag has 13 red and white stripes with British colours represented in the top right corner. When the British first see it flying in Boston, they think it is a flag of surrender.
George Washington christens the Continental Army with a 13-gun salute.
John Adams writes to George Washington, telling him New York is the 'key to the whole continent' and must be secured against attack.
A performance of the Tory musical 'The Blockade' at Boston’s Faneuil Hall turns into a panicked riot when an actor reports news of a surprise attack by rebel soldiers.
A patriotic American spoof is published almost immediately, entitled 'The Blockheads', or, 'The Affrighted Officers'.
Thomas Payne anonymously publishes Common Sense.
George Washington born, 1732
Washington and his war council decide on a surprise attack at Dorchester Heights using bales of hay to camouflage soldiers as they roll munitions and twenty cannons up a hill.
Battle of Moore’s Creek. The British governor of North Carolina is forced to surrender.
New York street names that changed after the revolution:
Crown St. became Liberty St.
George St. became Spruce St.
Little Queen St. became Cedar St.
King St. became Pine St.
Hanover Square survived the revolution
The Battle of Dorchester: With the help of a full moon, Washington’s army takes the Redcoats entirely by surprise.
The battle rages on: The British general exclaims 'My God, these fellows have done more work in one night than I could make my army do in three months!'
The British call off the attack and invite the Tories to evacuate Boston.
New York: Also known as York Island or the Island of Manhattan
Brooklyn: Also known as Long Island
Harlem: Called 'The Outward' because it consists entirely of farms, large country estates and untenanted land.
George Washington leaves for New York. Perils that await him and his men in New York include:
Bands of loyalists lying in wait in the swamps of Long Island
The entire (Tory) population of Staten Island
First anniversary of the singing of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Some lesser-known verses:
And there was Captain Washington
And gentle folks about him,
They say he’s grown so tarnal proud,
He will not ride without them.
Sheep’s Head and Vinegar
Buttermilk and Tansy,
Boston is a Yankee town
The month that Fort Sterling, Fort Box, Fort Putnam, Fort Greene, and Fort Defiance are founded in Brooklyn by the Continental Army.
Martha Washington born 1731
Martha Washington dies 1802
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces a resolution to the Second Continental Congress 'that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…'
After several days of debate, Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee asks Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft, which he completes in just two days.
In Philadelphia the Continental Congress votes to 'dissolve the connection' with Great Britain.
CONGRESS FORMALLY ADOPTS THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'
The Declaration of Independence is read aloud in New York City. Patriots behead a gilded statue of George III at Bowling Green. The statue is later melted down for bullets.
British invasion of Long Island. Cornwallis and 15,000 advance-guard troops press on to pastoral Flatbrush, where they camp in apple orchards.
The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn: 300 American troops are killed and more than 1,000 taken prisoner in old jails, church crypts, and British prison ships.
Washington’s entire army (9,000 troops) and munitions retreat across the East River from Brooklyn to New York under cover of darkness. The British are astounded and expect Washington to surrender.
The first-ever submarine attack. The American 'submersible' ship, 'The Turtle', attempts to attach a bomb to the hull of Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship, the Eagle, in New York harbour.
The Great Fire. A large part of New York City burns to the ground.
* The fire begins in a low grogery (otherwise known as a dive bar) called the Fighting Cocks, at Whitehall Slip.
* No warning bells can be rung because they’ve been carried off by the American soldiers under Washington’s orders to be recast for cannon.
* Trinity Church is destroyed along with nearly 500 houses – a quarter of those in the city.
John Adams, second president of the United States, born 1735.
Battle of White Plains. British forces capture Chatterton’s Hill from the Continental Army.
A few popular Yankee names due for a reival: Ebenezer, Ewald, Jabez, Jadidiah
American staff officer William Demont defects to the British from Fort Washington, bringing plans of the fort with him.
The Americans surrender Fort Washington to General Knyphausen, commander of a Hessian battalion.
Washington retreats from Fort Lee across New Jersey to Newark. Cornwallis captures Fort Lee. Washington’s army down to 3,500 from 20,000 in August.
Evacuation of Trenton, Princeton and Philadelphia in advance of Hessian invasion, The Hessians pin their victims to trees with bayonets and travel with military musicians, including oboists.
Washington crosses the Delaware to the Pennsylvania shore to defend Philadelphia.
The American General Lee is captured in his robe and slippers by a British scouting party. The British cavalry celebrates by getting Lee’s horse, and themselves, drunk.
25 Washington’s army crosses the Delaware in preparation for a surprise attack on Trenton. The secret passwords for the attack were 'Victory or Death'
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