Last week guest blogger Ray Raphael laid out a challenge: Choose seven people to follow through the entire American Revolution whose stories, when combined, would tell the whole of that political, military, and social change.
I shared my thoughts, and Boston 1775 readers rose to the challenge with many more suggestions. I also promised to reveal the folks whom Ray chose to follow in Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation, and here they are:
- George Washington. Virginia planter. Delegate to the House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress. Generalissimo. Chairman of the Constitutional Convention. President. You’ve heard of him, right?
- Joseph Plumb Martin. Native of Massachusetts raised in Connecticut. Private soldier from 1775 to 1783, reaching rank of sergeant. Settled in Maine. Published a lively account of his military career, most likely edited from his contemporaneous journals because of all the detail, in 1830.
- Mercy Otis Warren. Political writer. Sister of James Otis, Jr., wife of James Warren, friend of John and Abigail Adams. Active Whig, Anti-federalist, and Jeffersonian. The Woman Who Did Everything More Beautifully Than You.
- Robert Morris. British-born Pennsylvania merchant. Delegate to the Congress. Financier and financial manager of the U.S. of A., founder of the Bank of North America, lender of large sums to the new republic. Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and Senator. Land speculator and debtor.
- Timothy Bigelow. Blacksmith from Worcester. Local political organizer. Colonel of a Massachusetts regiment in the Continental Army. Developer of Montpelier, Vermont. Debtor.
- Henry Laurens. South Carolina planter. President of the Continental Congress after John Hancock. Diplomat and eventually one negotiator of the Treaty of Paris. Father of John Laurens. Highest-ranking U.S. government official ever captured by the enemy.
- Dr. Thomas Young. A New York country doctor, deist, and poet. Helped found the Albany Sons of Liberty before moving to Boston. Soon one of the town’s top Whig organizers. Fleeing the troops in Boston in September 1774, he joined the Patriots in Rhode Island. Then he moved on to Philadelphia, becoming a leader of the state’s radical party and an army surgeon. Coined the name “Vermont.”
Washington, Martin, and Bigelow were all in the army at Valley Forge and Yorktown, but, holding different ranks, experienced the war in different ways. Morris and Laurens were very important figures in the civil government while Warren and Young wrote political essays and exercised behind-the-scenes influence. Washington, Morris, and Bigelow all invested in land development after the war; Martin was one of the small farmers who settled on such newly developed land. Only one of these people didn’t live to see Britain acknowledge American independence.