The Year Was: 1776

I wrote an article entitled The Year Was: 1949 with no real direction of where it would take me or how to begin a series of articles of that subject material. However, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to write about every year from the year our nation became a free and sovereign country via the Declaration of Independence up to recent years that revealing events and society a particular year, which will be over 225 entries. Therefore, here is what should have been the first article of this new series – 1776.

Seventeen Seventy Six was a leap year that started on a Monday of the Gregorian calendar.

On January 1st 1776, General George Washington hoisted the Continental Union flag for the first time and the second day the first revolution’s flag was displayed publicly. In the same month, an Assembly of New Hampshire met and adopted its first state constitution. The book that George Washington passed to his troops a newly published book intended to boost morale entitled Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

The Continental Congress approved enlistment of free black Americans, later any slaves were legally freed who served and fought in the revolution for twelve months.

South Carolina Loyalists, led by Robert Cunningham, signed a petition from prison agreeing to all demands for peace by the newly formed state government of South Carolina. General Henry Knox arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts with his artillery that he transported from Fort Ticonderoga. At the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, North Carolina Loyalists charged across Moore’s Creek Bridge near Wilmington to attack whom they believed to be a small force of rebels. Several loyalists were killed and the rebel victory ends all British authority in that town.

Edward Gibbon published the first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in England that would later be used in American colleges and universities in their history classes; six volumes published from 1776 to 1788. Initially banned in several countries, his history, perceived to be sarcastic towards Christianity; Gibbon merely wrote the historical truth of the practice of Christian Church (from 98 AD to 1590) and its doctrine to be religiously intolerant and declared wars in the name of God. The only weakness in his volumes was the scanty coverage of Byzantium history and the Eastern Church. His writing influenced writers that lived long after Gibbon died, like Winston Churchill and Isaac Asimov. Gibbon was one of the authors of the Enlightenment period as Americans like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, as well as other Founders of the United States and supported the American Rebellion. In March of 1776, Americans captured Dorchester Heights at the port of Boston, Massachusetts. Threatened by Patriot cannons, the British evacuated Boston. The Royal Colony of North Carolina produces the Halifax Resolves that made it the first British colony to authorize the Continental Congress delegates to vote for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations.

In May of 1776, Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III of Great Britain.

In June of 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposes to the Continental Congress that “these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” In the Battle of Trois-Riviéres, American invaders are driven back at Trois-Riviéres, Quebec. The Continental Congress appoints a committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. George Mason writes the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Virginia Convention of Delegates adopted it. The Delaware General Assembly voted to suspend government under the British Crown. At Monterey, California, Lt. Jose Joaquin Moraga led a band of colonists and constructed the Mission of Dolores of the newly formed Presidio of San Francisco.

On July 2nd 1776, the final draft of the US Declaration of Independence was completed with minor revisions and the Continental Congress passed the Lee Resolution. On July 4th 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence officially declares independence from the British Empire. On July 8th the Liberty Bell rings as the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence occurs. On July 9th, an angry mob in New York City topples an equestrian statue of King George III in Bowling Green.

By August of 1776, most of the American colonies ratify the Declaration of Independence. First of the Hessian troops land on Staten Island to join British forces on August 15th; mercenaries of King George III. On August 27th the Battle of Long Island takes place and George Washington’s troops are routed in Brooklyn by British General William Howe.

In September of 1776, the world’s first submarine attack occurs by the Turtle that attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship HMS Eagle in New York Harbor. On September 15th, British troops landed at Manhattan’s Kip’s Bay. The following day the Battle of Harlem Heights was fought. On September 22nd, Nathan Hale, former schoolteacher from Connecticut and 1Lt Connecticut militia at the Battle of Long Island, who volunteered to collect intelligence information, was hung as a spy in New York City. In San Francisco, California, Father Francisco Palou founds Mission San Francisco de Asis.

On October 11th, the Battle of Valcour IslandLake Champlain, began with the British fleet, led by Sir Guy Carleton defeats 15 American gunboats commanded by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. All of Arnold’s ships are lost in the two-day battle, but provides Patriot forces time to prepare defenses of New York City. On October 28th, the Battle of White Plains took place with British forces capturing Americans at Chatterton Hill. On October 31st, King George III delivers his first speech before the British Parliament since the Declaration of Independence and admits that the war with the American “rebels” is not going well.

On November 16th 1776, Hessian mercenaries under leadership of Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen captured Fort Washington. The captain of the American navy ship USS Andrea Doria fired a salute to the Dutch flag on Fort Oranje and Johannes de Graaf answers with a salute of eleven guns. It was the first salute given by the American navy. At the College of William and Mary, the Phi Beta Kappa society is founded on December 5th.

On December 7th 1776, the Marquis de Lafayette attempts to enter the American military as a major general. On December 21st, the Royal Colony of North Carolina reorganizes into the State of North Carolina after adopting its own constitution. Richard Caswell becomes the first governor of the new state. Thomas Paine had been living with George Washington’s troops and begins to publish the pamphlet entitled The American Crisis with stirring phrases like: “These are the times that try men’s souls”. On December 2245th, General George Washington orders The Crisis pamphlet to be read on Christmas Eve, at 6pm 2,600 American troops march to McKonkey’s Ferry. Washington and his army cross the Delaware River and land on the Jersey bank at 3am, Christmas Day. The following day, the Battle of Trenton began by Washington’s troops surprising 1,500 Hessian troops under the command of Colonel Johann Rall at 8am outside of Trenton. The American forces, victorious, take 948 prisoners, and only had five casualties.

Society in the colonies from 1730 to 1776 was marked by many changes: a Seven Years War, the Great Awakening, (in three periods: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) and new ideas concerning the role between slave owners and their slaves, as well as religion and political issues. Fashion did not change too much during those years, which was standard in the history of human civilization until the 20th century when fashions changed more markedly and more quickly.

Politically and economically, the taxes, imposed by the British was to compensate for war debt incurred during European and the American French-Indian War and was opposed violently by the American colonists.

Men of religious affiliation originally governed towns or economic wealth were scrutinized by colonists as to their methods of rule and amount of power they held by the time the events of 1776 occurred. The relationship between slaves and colonial families also changed in a society that adopted those social standards. All of these changes led towards the formal separation of America from Great Britain in 1776.

By the time the British had signed the Treaty of Paris of 1763, they had developed a national debt of £137 million. [Norton Reader, p. 124] Solution to that debt was increasing taxes, much as the same attitude our government has today. The Navigation Act had been enforce for more than 100 years, but had become more strictly enforced in order to obtain increased revenue to the Royal Treasury, but proved not to be enough, so the Stamp Act of 1765 was implemented; despite the British stated that –

it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people and undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes by imposed on them without their own consent, given personally or by their representatives.

In that measure, our government fails today, and indeed, over-taxation of some to redistribute to others by the authority of government constitutes the violations that caused the American Revolution in 1776. The taxes imposed by the Stamp Act were solely for British revenue, without regard to wishes of the colonists, nor to their benefit. Daniel Dulany wrote (1765):

A right to impose an internal tax on the colonies, without their consent for the single purpose of revenue, is denied, a right to regulate their trade without their consent is admitted.

Unfair charters, agreements, and taxation had been mostly unchallenged until 1763. Between the 1760s and 1770s, Parliament had attempted to exercise its authority in the colonies by threatening custom sanctions, provoking acts of tyranny, and creating the impression by colonists that they were enslaved to the whims of British government with no one to speak for them back in England. The year of 1776 marked the founding of American liberty and self-government affirmed by the Declaration of Independence. That document marked the official beginning of the American Revolution, and by 1783, it had become the guiding principles of American government doctrine for the newly established nation. The US Constitution was developed to replace the Articles of Confederation in order to decentralize government and limit power of the federal government in order to prevent corruption and the re-introduction of tyranny. Unfortunately, as time progressed, Americans forgot those principles and blindly followed political leadership that led to today’s problematic issues we face today.

Those glorious and pure principles of 1776 must be returned and in practice today if we are to survive as the Republic of which the Founders created so meticulously and with great effort and self-deprivation.

The long struggle between the British government and the colonies isolated Americans artistically as well as commercially. [Met Museum]

As the American Revolution swung into full circle in 1776, many colonial painters went abroad for various reasons and some never returned. Charles Wilson Peale, who studied in London between 1767 and 1769, returned to Philadelphia and fought in the war for independence. He was an artist, inventor, scientist, writer, museum founder, and good friend of George Washington. Later, in 1779, he would be commissioned to paint a full-length painting of George Washington for the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. With the assistance of his brother, James (noted portrait miniaturist and still-life painter), he painted more versions of the original work.

John Trumbull, son of Jonathan Trumbull, Royal Governor of Connecticut (not to become confused by John Trumbull the poet) became a famous American artist contributing to American art with his Revolutionary War scenes, capturing the moral purpose of the revolutionary war. However, those paintings were performed between 1786 and 1788 in England.

The most successful Connecticut painter was Ralph Earl, who studied in London and traveled extensively.

Paul Revere, famous for his “Midnight Ride” (1775) represented the colonial smiths of the day.

The American Revolution was instigated by unjust taxation and taxation without representation. Is this not what is going on today by tyranny not across the ocean, but from the federal government operated by those who were voted in office and swore/affirmed under oath to protect and abide the Constitution of the United States?

This tax/IRS subject continues in: Time To Dissolve the IRS and 16th Amendment posting tomorrow.