J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

The 2013 Desk Calendar Contest

If you didn’t win last week’s wall calendar contest, don’t despair! I also have an extra Colonial Williamsburg desk calendar for the coming year. It’s spiral-bound, about 9 inches wide by 8 tall, with a page for each month and each week, all facing color photographs of Williamsburg sights. And I’m going to give this one away, too.

I’ve written capsule descriptions of eleven men linked to the American Revolution, broadly defined. Some of them were named John Robinson. Some of them were named William Smith. One of them was named neither John Robinson nor William Smith. The challenge is to identify the Robinsons and Smiths and name the odd man out.

1) Member of Parliament and Secretary of the Treasury in London from 1770 to 1782, he was Lord North’s principal political fixer.

2) Aide-de-camp to Gen. John Sullivan, Gen. Lafayette, and finally Gen. George Washington, he served as a diplomat and a Congressman, and became an in-law to John Adams.

3) An officer in the Westford militia company in 1775, he took part in the provincials’ advance toward the North Bridge without his men. Eleven years later he returned to Concord to help close the county courts during the Shays’ Rebellion.

4) Appointed a Commissioner of Customs, he went into hiding after a coffee-house brawl and sailed secretly to London with a set of pro-Crown reports about the Boston Massacre.

5) A historian of colonial New York, he railed against the idea of an Anglican bishop for America and sought compromises between Patriots and the Crown. He served as Chief Justice of both New York and Québec/Lower Canada.

6) Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he spent the entire Revolutionary War as an attorney in England. Back in America, he was elected to the first five Congresses under the new Constitution.

7) Invited to America by Benjamin Franklin, he helped to set up both the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University. He lobbied for an Anglican bishop for America and was driven from Philadelphia as a suspected Loyalist.

8) By training a carpenter, he had to leave Cambridge, Massachusetts, after the “Powder Alarm.” After convincing the Crown to support a settlement at Penobscot Bay in Maine, where he owned land, he endured a siege by Massachusetts forces.

9) He’s one of America’s leading historians on the poor in the late colonial and early national period, particularly in Philadelphia.

10) He died in office after serving for many years as both Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Treasurer in Virginia, and the government discovered he’d embezzled large sums of money.

11) Theologically liberal minister of the town of Weymouth, Massachusetts, he became an in-law to John Adams.

Some of these William Smiths and John Robinsons had middle names as well, but the descriptions are all straightforward. All research resources are allowed and encouraged.

Instead of challenging individuals to identify all the men at once, I’m inviting you folks to “crowdsource” the answers. If you can name one or more of the numbered men, do so in a comment with a confirming link or reference. (For example, if you think number 7 was the odd man out and named Dr. Samuel Gardner, your comment could say that and include a link to a webpage about him or cite a book that mentions him.) Make sure your comment has a name or unique pseudonym attached.

I’ll run the complete set of correct identifications next Saturday. And I’ll choose a Boston 1775 reader who contributed to the answer to receive the desk calendar. Happy searching!


josephadelman said...

I'll start things out with one that's easier for the academics out there: number 9 is Billy G. Smith. (So one of the William Smiths.)

G. Lovely said...

Google makes life too easy:

1. Jack Robinson - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Robinson_(mythical_person)
2. William Smith - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Stephens_Smith
3. John Robinson - http://www.westford.com/westford1775/jr_trail.htm
4. John Robinson - http://drbenjaminchurchjr.blogspot.com/2010_12_26_archive.html
5. William Smith - http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/archivalcollections/legacyfiles/smithwilfa.txt
6. William Smith - http://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/william_smith/410107
7. William Smith - http://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/upt/upt50/smithwm.html
8. John Nutting - http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2008/09/john-nutting-loyalist-carpenter.html
9. William (Billy) Smith - http://www.montana.edu/wwwhi/2010/FacultyWebPages/History/Smith.html
10. John Robinson - http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/political/john_robinson.htm
11. William Smith - http://www.masshist.org/adams/biographies

J. L. Bell said...

Regular Boston 1775 reader G. Lovely has submitted a comment with all the men identified. I’m holding that back so other folks can have a try, but the bar has been set!

GSGreatEscaper said...

11 is a Wm Smith - Abigail Smith married John Adams.

Michael Hattem said...

Nos. 5 and 7 are William Smith and no. 10 is John Robinson.

James Kabala said...

Tough ones! The only ones I can identify with confidence are 2, 6, 10, and 11. 10 and 11 are already answered above; 2 and 6 are William Smiths.

J. L. Bell said...

No one (but G. Lovely) has yet spoken for gentlemen 1, 3, 4, and 8.

Chaucerian said...

OK, I'm in a setting-straight mood. Here's my try at 1,3,4, and 8:
1. John Robinson was Lord North's secretary of the treasury, appointed in 1770 ( www.historyhome.co.uk/people/robinson.html ).
3. Lt. Colonel John Robinson served under Colonel W. Prescott in the 10th regiment, fighting at Bunker Hill ( www.westford.com/westford1775/Col_John_Robinson,html ).
4. "John Robinson, one of the most obnoxious of the Commissioners," is discussed in O. M. Dickerson, "The Customs Commissioners and the 'Boston Massacre'", The Newt England Quarterly _27(3)_, 307-325 (Sept., 1954).
8. I am nearly defeated by this fellow, in that he is of low degree and I can't find reference to a Smith or a Robinson being instrumental in establishing a Crown settlement in Maine, but I'm going to go with Robinson, on the grounds that there is a Robinson Point near Penobscot, Maine.
Many thanks to Google -- but, having used it so heavily, I realize that I will never be able to play football for Harvard under the honor code of the 1950's, when we did our own work.