The Significance of Suffield’s 1774 Resolves

In response to the 1773 Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts. The Coercive Acts, also referred to as the Intolerable Acts by the Colonists, were four laws passed in protest to the Colonists rising rebellion, with the hope of restoring order. Among these acts was the Massachusetts Government Act, which provided the British Parliament full control over any elections, and prohibited town meetings.The Colonists protested these acts in many ways, including the creation of The Committee of Correspondence, which was started in 1772 by Samuel Adams. Small towns of Massachusetts and Connecticut  joined in on this, creating their own committees, including Suffield. The town of Sheffield was one of the first to create Resolves, and was the template for other towns. Their resolves petitioned against British tyranny and manifesto for individual rights, and were approved on January 12th, 1773. A month later on February 18th, the Sheffield resolves were printed in the Massachusetts Spy, also known as Thomas’s Boston Journal. Having these resolves printed in a newspaper allowed them to be shared and seen all around the colonies. Of their resolutions, one stands out the most, “Mankind in a state of nature are equal, free, and independent of each other, and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property,” this resolution foreshadows a huge part of the Declaration of Independence and the Colonies fight for freedom and independence.

In August of 1774 a committee was formed in Suffield, Connecticut, by Gideon Granger, Alexander King, and Joseph Pease. These three men were all influential men in the community and crucial for the fight for freedom in Suffield. Gideon Granger trained young men to attend Yale and become lawyers. Joseph Pease was a strong supporter and extremely wealthy. He had a diary, and there is specific evidence that shows town residents were ready to go to Boston in the fall of 1774 during the false alarm.

They composed their own resolves and sent it to Boston where the Committee of Correspondence met. The small text, “Suffield and the Lexington Alarm in April, 1775” by H.S. Sheldon described the resolves perfectly.

“A year previous, many of the Towns had, like Suffield, passed Resolutions of condolence with the suffering inhabitants of Boston, and of resistance to the tyrannical acts of the British Parliament. It is worth of comment, that the ‘Resolves’ were conceived two years before the Declaration of Independance, and are in some respects similar in spirit and language.”

The resolves are the clearest description of a peek into the mindset of the town in 1774, and rather than just investigating how the country reacted, we can learn about how the town we live in responded to the Boston Tea Party.

There are many significant aspects of the Suffield resolves.

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Original Sheffield Resolves

This collective claim gives the class a better understanding of how the people throughout the thirteen colonies felt about the closing of the ports, as well as the British influence, as the resolves were written in order to support the residents of Boston. These resolves fought to reject the Massachusetts Government Act, and boycott all imported British goods with the hope of having the Coercive Acts repealed. Another important aspect of the resolves was the fact that it inspired many people. For instance, slave Elizabeth Freeman, better known as Mum Bett was so inspired by the resolves that it gave her the courage to sue for her freedom in 1781. Once she gained her freedom other slaves such as Quack Walker decided to sue as well. The resolves helped people gain strength to fight for what they believed in.

The town of Suffield had many influential visitors such as John Adams and George Washington.Both of these men were strong patriots and had a very noticeable impact on the town, as so many rallied behind them and supported their fight for freedom. George Washington stopped in Suffield on his way to take over the army. This suggests that Suffield was a force that had to be acknowledged.

In a diary entry written by John Adams, while passing through Suffield, he recalls seeing a group of militiamen trained with a man in a green coat.

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John Adam’s Diary Regarding Suffield

This goes against what most people know about the revolutionary war. This is because most people thought the militiamen were just untrained soldiers who did guerrilla warfare.  This diary entry from John Adams shows us that the Suffield men were in fact trained, even if it was just for a small period of time.

Committees from Suffolk, Middlesex, and Essex counties all met in Boston to create a formal response on August 26th, 1774, showing great representation and initiative from all the small towns working together, including Suffield. The declaration, formally made on September 9th, 1774, rejected the Massachusetts Government Act and boycotted imported goods from Britain, unless the intolerable acts were repealed. These resolutions showed great foresight for the Declaration of Independence, as one of the main arguments was a man’s right to life, liberty, and happiness.

 

Places:

“Suffield Historical Society,” 2016.

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/

“Suffield Town Hall,” 2017.

http://www.suffieldct.gov

 

Documents:

“Suffield.” NYPL Digital Collections. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/87721580-da40-0132-1544-58d385a7b928>.

“Boston Committee of Correspondence Records 1772-1784 D.” Boston Committee of Correspondence Records. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <http://archives.nypl.org/mss/343#overview>.

“Voices of the Revolution: Sons of Liberty.” The Sons of Liberty. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/sons-of-liberty/>.

Documentary History of Suffield : In the Colony and Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, 1660-1749. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017. <https://archive.org/stream/documentaryhisto00shel#page/22/mode/2up/search/harry+roco&gt;.

 

Books:

Egerton, Douglas R. “Mum Best Takes a Name.” Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. 150-90. Print.

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Traitor in Pomfret, CT

My class has been investigating about Patriots and Loyalists in Pomfret, CT in 1774, and my research led me to Nathan Frink who was born in Pomfret in 1757 and lived there around 1774. Frink was a successful lawyer and ultimately described as a traitor. His sister married Israel Putnam’s youngest son, Schuyler Putnam, which made him an in-law of Israel Putnam’s family. Putnam was a noted military man, a Son of Liberty, and Patriot during the Revolutionary War. Because of this marriage, Nathan Frink pretended to be a Patriot, but he did not see a future for him with the Patriot cause and became King’s Attorney. He took on the position of “deputy stamp-master of the north part of Windham County” and built an office near Rectory School’s campus to manage the stamps. However, the Pomfret residents never let him open it, and kicked him out of town.

Benedict Arnold

Subsequently, Frink offered his services to the British commander in New York. As a loyalist, he served as a Captain in the King’s American Legion, the unit raised by Benedict Arnold after his defection, and during the British raid on New London and Groton (1781), Frink acted as an aide and guide to Benedict Arnold.  A quote from the book History of Windham County Connecticut shows us the reaction of his family and friends. Frink’s “aged father most piteously bemoaned ‘that he had lost his son…[and everything that] was dear to him,’ and soon went down into the grave mourning. His sister, the wife of Schuyler Putnam, a large circle of family connections, and all the earnest patriots of Pomfret and its vicinity were overwhelmed with grief, shame, and resentment at this ’mournful defection.’”

After the American Legion disbanded, Nathan Frink resettled to Saint-Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada with other Loyalists in 1783. He lived there until his death on Dec 4, 1817, and he was buried at the Loyalist Burial Ground in Saint-Stephen. The inscription on his gravestone reads “In memory of/Capt. Nathan Frink/who died/Dec 4, 1817/in the 60th year/of his age.”  Additional evidence that he was a loyalist is his listing in the directory of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC).

Loyalist Burial Ground in Saint-Stephen

Sources:

http://historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=7649

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=aek740a&id=I058207

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Frink&GSfn=nathan&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GScntry=10&GSob=n&GRid=43262882&df=all&

http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/detail.php?letter=f&line=359

https://books.google.com/books?id=RkxKAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA57&dq=nathan+frink+windham+county&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjg_vrTu53TAhXm7YMKHRTfDMMQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=nathan%20frink%20windham%20county&f=false

https://benedictarnold.smugmug.com/As-British-General-in-Connecti/Capt-Nathan-Frink-Grave/i-BSXDJL2

Griggs, Susan J. Early Homesteads of Pomfret and Hampton. Salem, MA: Higginson Book, 1984. Print.

Larned, Ellen D. History of Windham County, Connecticut. N.p.: Swordsmith Edition, 2000. Print.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbststep/loyalistcem/loyalistbg.htm

Photo Credits:

factfile.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Benedict-Arnold-Facts.jpeg

http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/detail.php?letter=f&line=359

 

 

 

 

 

Browne Plantation

 

In my first blog, I wrote about Godfrey Malbone who, owning a 3000 acres farm in Pomfret, Ct with 27 slaves, was long thought to be the largest slave owner in Connecticut. However, during my research, I found out about an even larger plantation located in Salem, CT (“in what was then Lyme” CT). This plantation was 13,000 acres, had 60 slave families, and was owned by a wealthy Salem, Mass., merchant, Col. Samuel Browne.  Browne never lived on the land, but he hired overseers. He rented out large tracts but retained about 4,000 acres for himself that passed to his son and then his grandson.

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Picture of Gerald Sawyer

 

The site of Browne’s plantation is being explored by archeologists from Central Connecticut State University, and the lead researcher is Gerald Sawyer.

 

“For perspective on the Salem plantation, Sawyer refers to new research done by anthropologist Robert Fitts in southern Rhode Island, an area better known for having had slave plantations. Combing Colonial records, Fitts found that most Rhode Island plantations had fewer than a dozen slaves, numbers similar to those in Virginia’s famed Tidewater region and that only three had as many as 19 slaves.

Sawyer’s excavations of the Salem plantation have unearthed artifacts believed to be from “known African-American ritual practice” and burial customs.

Sources:

Lang, Joel. “Chapter One: The Plantation Next Door.” Courant.com. N.p., 12 July 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.courant.com/news/special-reports/hc-plantation.artsep29-story.html&gt;.

Schwartz, Sydney. “Yankee Slavery.” Archaeology Archive. Volume 54, Number 5, September/October 2001.  

Photo Credit:  http://archive.archaeology.org/image.php?page=0109/

Battle of Bunker Hill and Col. Thomas Grosvenor (1744-1835)

In my research on 1774 and Pomfret, CT, I discovered a specific soldier that fought in the Revolutionary War and who also happens to be from Pomfret, Connecticut. Thomas Grosvenor was the sixth child of John and Hannah Grosvenor. He served in the military, and one of the famous battles he participated in was Bunker Hill. He joined the 1st Co. 3rd Connecticut Regiment, which was commanded by Israel Putnam in the battle of Bunker Hill. He killed 9 British soldiers, and he was also wounded in his right hand, which he bound with a white cravat during battle. (Yale University Library)

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Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant

The portrait, Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant, is a detail oil sketch from the picture of the Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull, which was painted 10 years after he painted the original. This repaint was requested by a French portraitist. In the picture, Grosvenor is standing with his “faithful servant.” Both of them are looking to their right anxiously. According to the Yale Center for British Art, they were considering whether to retreat or go help General Warren.

The African-American person standing behind Thomas Grosvenor often has been falsely identified as Peter Salem. However, recent research shows that he might be a slave of the Grosvenor family named Asaba, who is recorded as a free servant in later records. Asaba is noted in Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783 by David O. White. Asaba is also listed in National Mall Liberty Fund D.C.’s The Hometowns of Connecticut’s African American Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors and Patriots.

The Rectory School’s East part of the Main building was built by Col. Thomas Grosvenor in 1792; it was known as the Mansion House. “The house was always open to the chance visitor and for many years was a refuge for the remnants of Indian tribes that still lingered in Connecticut…” It is said that a young Mohican Indian danced upon the ridgepole as part of the celebration.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Grosvenor

White, David. Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783, Pequot Press, 1973.

www.libertyfunddc.org

Clement, Peter. “The Rectory School – Main House – Grosvenor Text.” Rectory School Archives, 2002.

Image:

http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/299/lieutenant-thomas-grosvenor-1744-1825-and-his-negro-servant

African American slaves earned position by fighting in the Revolutionary War!

 

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My second topic is how the Revolutionary War led to changes in laws about slavery and how people thought about the African-American slaves.

“By 1775 more than a half-million African-Americans, most of them enslaved were living in the 13 colonies including Connecticut.” Early in the 18th century, people suggested that slavery was against the original goal of this new nation, but they were ignored. By the 1760s, however, as the patriots began to speak out against British ruling, more Americans “pointed out the contradiction between advocating liberty and owning slaves.” Abigail Adams wrote in 1774, “it always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”

 

 

Abigail Adams

The idea of freedom and equalness of everyone spread widely. Thousands of slaves had high expectations for their future, and “many were ready to fight for a democratic revolution that might offer them freedom.” “In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. By 1776, more and more black people participated in the war.” However, the war didn’t give African-Americans the freedom they wanted.

African-Americans served as the “helper” in the army; their jobs were doing hard labors, carrying guns, cannons, and food, and making camps. They weren’t treated equally in the army in the beginning. However, after more and more men died in the war, they started to serve as formal soldiers in the army. The government even set up troops that are all formed by African Americans. The African Americans showed their bravery and wisdom during these years; some earned social position and respect from white soldiers. According to the data, “there were 820 soldiers from Connecticut, which represents 16 percent of the known 5,000 African Americans who served from the 13 colonies and territories. Ten of them are from Pomfret, they are “CAESAR, CATO, DICK, GROSVENOR, ASABA, JAMES, LEWIS/LUIS, SQUIB, CHRISTOPHER, JEREMIAH, WAMPFE and JOSH.”

African-American soldiers doing labor

 

After the patriots won the Revolutionary War, more and more people started looking for equality and liberty for black people as they had contributed in the Revolutionary War. Some of them felt bad because according to the Continental declaration, everyone was born as equal and free. They began to find a way to change the treatment of the African-Americans. Their efforts were seen by the government, and in 1784, The “Gradual Emancipation Act” declared that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784, were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25.

I think the African-American soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War earned their rights through hard-working and bravery. They made efforts to change people’s opinion of them, they proved that they were warriors, not slaves. They could fight the same as the white people.

Sources: http://libertyfunddc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WINDHAM-COUNTY-BACKGROUND-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-RESOLUTION.pdf

http://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/african-americans-and-the-american-revolution/

http://slavenorth.com/connecticut.htm

http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1980/6/80.06.09.x.html

Photo Credits: http://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/african-americans-and-the-american-revolution/(image included in here)

http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/black-troops-civil-war-georgia

http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=2

 

Battle of Bunker Hill: “The whites of their eyes”

 

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John Trumbell’s Painting, The Battle of Bunker Hill

Currently, in my class, we are studying what it was like in Pomfret, CT in 1774, and the topic of my first blog was the background and making of a major Revolutionary War hero, Israel Putnam. As a follow-up to the first blog, my second topic is about Israel Putnam’s role in the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of his most notable battles.

After Israel Putnam’s early life as a military hero, he returned to Pomfret (Brooklyn) in 1773. Putnam lived for two years as a farmer, until one day a rider appeared with news that the previous morning Massachusetts Minutemen and British Redcoats had exchanged deadly musket fire in the towns of Lexington and Concord. This was the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first military engagement of the American Revolutionary War.

During this period, he was an ordinary farmer with more than a local reputation for his previous exploits. As soon as Putnam heard the news, he left his plow in the ground and traveled nearly 160 km in eight hours, reaching Cambridge the next day and offering his services to the Patriot cause.

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Connecticut State Capitol

After he had arrived, Israel Putnam was named Major General, making him second in command (behind William Prescott) of the Army of Observation. Israel Putnam was told directly by General Ward to set up the defenses on the Charlestown Peninsula, specifically on Breed’s Hill. One of the most famous quotes in US history was created during this battle. Philip Johnson relates of Putnam: “I distinctly heard him say, ‘Men, you are all marksmen – don’t one of you fire until you see the white of their eyes.’’” General Putnam “seemed to have the ordering of things.” He charged the men not to fire until the enemy came close to the works, and then to take good aim, and make every shot kill a man, and he told one officer to see that this order was obeyed. Other quotes told by General Putnam was, “Powder is scarce and must not be wasted.” “Fire low.” “Take aim at the waistbands.” “You are all marksmen and could kill a squirrel at a hundred yards.” “Reserve your fire and the enemy will all be destroyed.” “Aim at the handsome coats.” and “Pick off the commanders.”

The significance of Israel Putnam in CT can be seen if you stand in front of the Connecticut State Capitol Building, located in Hartford. In front of the entrance, there are friezes on top of the archways that record main events that happened in the US history. If you look at the archway (picture below), you can see the sculpture of Putnam Leaving His Plow For Lexington.

The Frieze

One of the most famous paintings that describe the nation’s history was ‘The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill’, by John Trumbull (1756 – 1843). Many famous people are shown in the painting, including Israel Putnam on the far left, and Thomas Grosvenor on far right holding a sword. The interesting part about Thomas Grosvenor is that he is actually related to The Rectory School. In 1792, he built the main admission house, which we are using right now.

As a follow-up for this blog, I am planning to write further about the connection between General Israel Putnam and Colonel Thomas Grosvenor.

Pomfret’s Resolves

In my last post, I wrote about how Patriots in Pomfret sent aid to the residents in Boston when they were being flooded by British soldiers. Many towns in CT wrote resolves against British influence and in support of the people of Boston when the British Parliament closed the Boston port. These resolves were made to show a whole town’s support against the British policies and forces.

On June 23, 1774, Pomfret declared its resolves, and the town adopted a resolution that they felt passionate about. This sentiment is expressed in the Resolves opening sentence: “The present situation of the American colonies … has become … of so serious

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Page from the Pomfret Resolves

a nature that it calls aloud for the sentiments of every town and even every individual to be known and communicated.”

The key parts of the Resolves are “we therefore hereby assure our brethren that we will to the utmost of our abilities, contribute to the maintaining and supporting of our just rights and privileges, and to the removal of those evils already come upon us, and more particularly felt by the town of Boston.” The Resolves also declared that they would “encourage” “such a spirit of …  frugality among ourselves” that they would not have any need for British goods.  Furthermore,  “we do resolve, that every person who shall hereafter send for, and impact any British manufactures from Great Britain, or trade or deal with any who shall do so, until the loyal subjects of America are restored to, and can enjoy their just rights and privileges, shall be deemed and treated by us an ungrateful enemy to America.” What that means is anyone who deals or trades with the British will be considered an enemy; it was at that point that the citizens against the British considered themselves wholly patriotic.

After the Resolves were made, three people from Pomfret were chosen to be the messengers between the towns and to communicate with other Committees of Correspondence. These people were Ebenezer Williams, Thomas Williams, and Samuel Crafts. The Committees of Correspondence was a “provisional Patriot emergency government” first formed in November 1772 in Boston by the Patriots to support opposition to British policies. They were also the way of communication between Patriots in the 13 colonies.

Sources:

Larned, Ellen. History of Windham County Connecticut 1760-1880. Self-contained book, Swordsmith Productions, September 2000, Pomfret, CT 06258.

https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/committees-of-correspondence

Image Credit: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/324c0ab0-da3e-0132-d05e-58d385a7b928