tv Beginning of the Revolutionary War CSPAN November 11, 2016 3:30pm-4:36pm EST
valuable documents in the, and the mag in a carta is the document that he's been asked to preserve for the brits. >> sunday night on q&a. in april 1775 the british arm marched from boston
to concord, to -- including some stolen from the british. along the way, the patriots met the british troops in lexington where the first shots of the revolutionary wear were fired. just ought thor j.l. bell talks about his "the road to concord." he discussion the events leading up to the start of the revolutionary war, and the british plan to get them back. the society of the cincinnati hosted this hour-long event.
good evening i'm the exec difficult director of the society of the cincinnati. it's my inestimable is pleasure to introduce our speak this evening. this is his book, he is going to talk to us about it. the book is "the road to concord."
or how four stolen cannon ignited the revolutionary war. he will defend that premise for us a bit later, but i want to tell you what my reaction to this book is. i've had the opportunity to read it already. it's one of three books i read cover to cover. i don't read it quickly. the reason is, first, it is extremely well written. it is graceful prose of an old-fashioned sort, and it is wonderfully researched, what i was taught in graduate school to refer to as a revisionist work
of history, that is all good works of history if they're original are revisionist in some way, but he's telling us a new story about the coming of the revelation in massachusetts. this book is a reflection of two things. one really good old-fashioned history writing of a kind that we don't see as much as we used to. the second thing is it's indicative of the emergence of a -- what i think is a new sort of history writing, or a any kind of history research. to research the lives of second and third and fourth tiered vehicle, they didn't leave
behind large bodies of paper. it's possibly to talk about the revolution through the experience of fairly ordinary people who did extraordinary things. es it's analogous to crushing lots of low-yield ore to extract a pressure amount of metal. you had to travel from place to place if you were -- fugitive references, people who are doing it for a hobby and genealogyists who are tracking their ancestors in a maniac pursue. to find -- because of about a role of their own family
experience. they tended to high away from those characters because writing about them and researching them was so arduous. so we gets lots of books about george washington, adams, and not so many about the second and third-level characters that make up the characters in this remarkable little book about the coming of the revolution. this kind of research is now made possible by the growth of the internet. the enter net is to be praised and despised. it contains a lot of junk, but it contains an awful lot, a growing am of primary sort material which is being made available by institutions, so that you can reach and mine what i describe is that low-yield ore
and crush it and draw from it precious metals aren't you can tell stories that it was so impossible, that they never got told there's a whole new generation of practitioners of this kind of historical research. we see them in libraries, and it's liable the library downstars in the process of digitizing their material to help facilitate this kind of work. it's a new wait of doing which histori historian, good ones, have been doing for a very long time. if you have the patients for it. he's in this book which at the end of tonight's lecture, every one of you will go to the back
table and acquire for yourself -- i hope you will. shame on you, you need two. you will find what i'm talking about. let me assure you no matter how good he is as a public speaker, and i have no idea. he's probably a better writer, because he as an extraordinarily good one. he is a historian. that's all you really need to know. i'm not going to stand up here and tell you about the credentials because they don't matter if you want to see some of had is work go to hiss website. boston 1775.net, detailing events and people and ideas that relate to the american revolution in its early stages in boston. i have to confession. i've terrorismed to persuade him that the revolution didn't end when the british evacuated
boston. it continued thereafter, the entire story is not the entire story there were that happened that happened in the american revolution, which seems to be a revelation to him, but mining this ore, he is elling it us an extraordinary story, a new story about what you would think is the one day of the american revelation april 19th, 1775, we would already have done all of the research on. we haven't. there's a lot more to be done. now i'm going to plug us for just a moment. this is the first program in a whole series of programs that relate to the theme of artillery in the american revolution.
october 1st we're going to open an exhibition called boom. artillery was essential to the revolution, and washington was disparate to have a final artillery service, and his alexanderer, he developed it from a germ instate that was admired by both of french and the bridge, and they didn't admit that very on which. alongle way we overcame lots of problems.
to have a service that made it possible for us to win the revoluti revolutionary war. it's really exciting to start tonight with the cannons that started the revolution so welcome j.l. bell. inch thank you to everybody for inviting me back and for supporting my travel. this talk begins with a basket question -- what were the british soldiers in concord on and i want 19th, 1775 looking for. we usually say the revolutionary war started that day is it
started at dawn on the 19th when blish soldiers killed eight militia men on the lexington common, but they were on their way to concord, but general thomas gage had ordered them to search concord for something in particular. now, what did he hope they would find in a standard description of what the proenvironmentals appears in the siege of boston. the committee of supplies gathered together a few hundred picks axes, a muskets, 4,000 flint, and a small supply of peas and flour. a pitiful attempt to compete with the vast resources of great britain this was written on --
this town is full of cannon, ammunition, stores, et cetera and the army long for them. the people are ready and determined to defend this country. alan french's history reflected back as poorly armed underdogs. james warren less reflects how they saw themselves as well-armed defenders of their traditional rights. including their rights to a militaryself defense which men cannon the goal of that race was particularly field pieces, cannons designed for use in battle.
equipped with the available tools with the most advanced battlefield weapons of the time, unlike muskets, there there was no peacetime use for cannons. they were weapons of war and nothing but. there were many cannon around both everyone many a shore batteries, on castle islands. on shore batteries, where there are little red spots. at that time boston was a peninsula connected toed mainland by a neck have i narrow at high tide, so easily defended from theland. s on september 2nd, 1774, that situation changed.
on september 1st, the royal governor thomas gage, also commander of the british army in north america ordered the soldiers under hi command to empty this storage house outside of boston. he also had his men take two small cannon away from the local county militia. the next day, the men of eastern massachusetts rose up, 4 thousand dollars armed new england ers marched to cambridge. now, that confrontation ended without violence, being it was revolutionary, by the end of the day it was clear to everyone that there was a new political and military order in massachusetts. general gage's authority now stops at the gates of boston. 8th could not enforce royal laws. it was for all intense and
purposes politically independent. gage was not back to the situation worrying about how to defend boston from the mainland. between the royal navy and his men at castle william, the major fort, the harbor was safe, but the countryside was hostile. fortunately for gage, had had a contingent of the king's army, including the royal artillery. so on september 3rd, as thomas newell wrote, four large field pieces were dragged from the common and placed at the only entrance to this town but land, on the boston neck. to the people in the country side that looked like the royal government was taking away their militia cannon that came on top of this long time of disputes over taxes and governance. so the people of the countryside began to collect cannon
themselves. each side was feared the other was repreparing for wars, so they had needed to keep cannon away from the other side, but it's easy to slide to taking cannon for yourself and then being says prell pared to use it. >> there were lots of cannons around boston, and the charles town battery on this peninsula north of boston, it contained five cannon, 18-pounders, meaning they could fire fireballs that wade the 18 pounds apiece. the governor send an over over on september 7th to 1r5i9. here's how john andrews described how people reacted. >> the habitants provided a number of teams and slung all
the guns together belonging to the battery and carried upcountry together with a reposit of shot, et cetera. about midnight another formidable expedition was set on foot. all the royal navy ships, where a man with us soldiers, and orders to dismantle fort, but i imagine their chagrin was as great as their disappointment. ox teams had hauled all the guns away, reportedly on school house hill under what a historian determined as stable dirt. people in other towns followed charles town's example. samuel pierce rorded in his diary the great gun was removed from preston's point this is a map shows showing the town's facilities.
the pieces in red were under the control of the british military. the pieces in blue were boston militia buildings. two large batteries overlooked the main harbor. in 1770, they contained 22 cannon between them. the royal artillery was use the south battery to store supplies, but the north battery was still under militia control. on wednesday, september 14th, sailors from the royal navy entered the north battery and spiked all the guns inside. the boston post boy record thatted cannon were cleared the next day without much difficulty. spiking a gun was a way to render it temporarily use this is, but not permanently. the same newspaper writer didn't ajsz, the cannons in the back of governors's island were rear moved by the general's order. the sailor had probably -- so
the locals couldn't attack them while they disabled. which provided -- which presented more of a threat to the navy. they were keeping the shipping channel safe and causing a bit of a headache for the local mill lira. they have had won that lapse of the arms race. now, cannons in the batteries they were old, heavy, they weren't uneasily maneuvered carriages for battles a provincial arm would need field pieces, smaller cannon. maneuverable karens to move with teams of horses and men, the best field pieces were masse of brass, and the militia had four brass cannon. they belonged to the town's artillery company called the train and they were stored in two brick armories or gun houses. these were small guns, even by
the standard of field pieces. some they arrived in february of 1768, and the boston gazette described them as two beautiful brassfield pieces, with the province armies thereof, the massachusetts coat of arms. the town paid for these guns and also paid for a new gun house besigned the cannon to store them. when a yankee town spent money on something, that showed they really valued having this militia artillery. the boston train displayed that skills. in september 1772, they published a long description of what is essentially warm games with half -- portraying the hated friend. fires a cannon required a whole
squad of men to work, everything do his squob properly at the rite tame or else they could blow themselves you up up. >> i argument that greater sense of cohesion of trust of working together than your average 18th century infantry. but the boston train was developing a split. the man in charge of the company, militia major edno peta was in england and he he led the crowd. the others were strong wigs. on september 5th, 1774, the same busy work, they were supposed to have a training day. instead of drilling, the company seems to have fallen apart. the major had reaffirmed his loyalty to the royal government and the men refused to serve under him. it just sort of dissolved as a working unit. gauge didn't want to lose control of that company's fuel
pieces. ever since the cannon were taken away at charles town, the governor ordered a double guard to the new and old gun houses. but that guard wasn't enough. on september 14th, the same night that the royal was busy with governor sunderland, we know the half moonset about 10:00. one man wrote in his diary that it rained. so it was literally a dark and stormy night. when the sun came up at 5:45 in the morning, people found a hole. naturally, general gage put a stronger guard in front of the new house. it was right next to the common. it was close to the tents of the king's own ridge meant.
they we the door to the street was guarded and locked. there was another wider door around this side. but it was barred on the inside. even to get to that side door meant going through a gate in the view of the camp or over a high fence around the yard or through the south school which shared that yard with the gun house. and that school was in session nearly the full day with about 200 boys inside. on friday, september 16th, john
andrews wrote. they removed the guards to put in the cannon. he swore the devil must have helped them get away. how did the patriots move the guns without the guard hearing? almost 50 years later, one of the men involved, samuel gore, claimed to know what happened. now, contemporaneous records were confirmed that gore was an active patriot. as a teenager he was wounded in a riot in 1770, 11 days before the boston massacre. his family hosted a spinning bee. he participated in the boston tea party. about 50 years later, every revolutionary veteran in boston accepted gore's story about these cannons. so it seems to be that he is a very reliable person, a very reliable witness in this. we have a portrait of samuel
gore. would you like to he see a picture of bold and dangerous rebel? this is from the mid 1750s. july 1774, the second son at this point. the older brother later dies. so he became the eldest son. he was a member of the boston train of artillery, militia artillery company. his older sister francis is doing the things you do in 18th century portraits where you sit the girl down so she doesn't the tower over the boy. she was wife of thomas craft, third in command of the train and active political organizer. so this family had great ties to the train. so let's go back to that gun house beside the common. gore and other patriot members
of the train waited until the fourth regiment which meant lots of drumming, marching and shouting. which all that noise covered up their movements. they made the proximity of the camp, which had, for most hours of the day, was an obstacle, into an advantage. when the south writing school was not in session, the foreman went through the school house into the yard. the second obstacle of the high fence then also became an advantage because it was hiding them from the soldiers across the street. the back door of the gun house was barred on the inside but wasn't locked. it just had a bar across it. the men poked it up through a crevasse in the door. they carried them out of the gun house and into the school. then they hid them indeed the firewood box next to the school master's desk. and then they walked away. according to gore, the royal
artillery officer came for his cannon went into the school house to look for them. he found 200 plus boys working on handwriting and a arithmetic. he found the master sitting at his desk with a bandage on his foot and his foot propped on the firebox. the officer was too much a gentleman to ask the teacher to move. the teacher was in on the secret, and he kept the secret. the two cannons stayed in the firewood box for two weeks. i'm sure some of the boys saw them there. no one told the royal authorities. during lunch breaks or dinner breaks as it was called at the time, girls came into that school for handwriting lessons as well. some of them probably saw the cannon. no one told the royal authorities. after a couple weeks with it removed from the gun house, the comrades returned to the school is and came with a large trupblg on a wheelbarrow and carried it
up to the south end and deposited under the coal. weston was a blacksmith with a long record of resisting the royal authorities sometimes violently. for instance, in 1769, after a soldier's gun went off in a small riot outside his shop, he slugged the guy in the face. he was a brave and determined patriot, just the sort of person you can trust with cannon in his shop. so how did the the situation in boston change in the september 1774? at the end of the month, the army had control of more inside boston and had captured more weapons. but the patriots had hidden four small cannons. two were in weston's on pleasant street. according to william toured, the other two lay in a stable somewhere on the south side of queens street in the center of
boston. now, later that month, the two sides shifted their attention to cannons because they could arm ships in time the of war. some hardware merchants had guns on sale in their shops. both carrying iron cannon out of town. that cargo was seized by the royal navy. at the end of the month, a big confrontation over joseph scott and the royal artillery carried away all of his goods. he went in hiding from the mob who thought he should have resisted more. in fact, september 1774 was a very busy start to the arms race in boston. this calendar lists all the major military development in and around town. the blue stars indicate where the provincial resistance gained control of cannon and the red is where the royal military did.
the next month, so we are already in military preparations here. but the next month the political side caught up. in early october, the massachusetts provincial congress convened to fill the a little bit cat vacuum outside boston and to organize resistance against the crown. they drew up a military budget that called for four mortars, carriages and other military supplies. the provincial congress had a committee on supplies which met in charles town on november 15th. and they voted unanimously to get seven large pieces of cannon on the best terms and to get them in the best place in the country. so massachusetts was sitting down and decide to go build an artillery force, only useful in a war. they chose david mason, who had
cofounded the train of artillery in boston before he moved to salem and away from the british troops. mason on the left here left a small notebook at the massachusetts historical society which shows his operation. it shows how he dated his work from mid-november 1774. it shows collecting mortars and cannon of 3, 4, 6, 9, 12-pound caliber. he received guns and money from this man on the right and other people in essex county beyond general gauge's reach. in disease 1774, the new england arms race spread outside massachusetts to the neighboring colonies. on december 8th, the rhode island assembly voted to remove almost all the guns from fort george up to new proof lens. the people of new london, connecticut, move their cannon away from the ocean. on that same day the, december
13th, new hampshire militiamen stormed fort william and mary in portsmouth harbor to take its gun powder away from the british military. the portsmouth raid was the most open confrontation yet. the local militia operated in daylight. the patriot politician didn't condemn the take over. it is greatly regretted we can't do anything about it. instead they went back two days later and took more stuff. the captain reported shooting three four-pounders at the militia companies as they came into the fort. fortunately those cannon shots didn't hurt anybody. but if they had, if that fight
up in portsmouth harbor had caused casualties, it's very possible we would date the start of the revolutionary war from december 13th, 1774. and we started with americans storming a very loosely defended british fort rather than the british army coming and invading a peaceful american farm the way we do. so let's get back to massachusetts. what happened to the men in the boston artillery training that spirited out of their armories? on january 5th, 1775, the committee of safety and supplies said dr. joseph warren decided to wait on colonel robbins to send two brass cannon and mr. william diaws have one brass
cannon. and in the other cannon that required it. this is the first evident that the patriots had gotten two of their cannon out of boston, and the committee wanted the other two as well. he was in the commissary overseeing all applies. a pro venue challenge delegate commanded the suffolk county militia company from outside boston. he was also proprietor of this liberty tree tavern where the sons of liberty dined in 1769. and he had apparently two brass cannons already hidden at his tavern january 1775 reportedly under a compost heap.
dawes was a tanner. a role of the officers in 1772 list him as an administrative officer. so he knew every militia man in boston. if he didn't know where the two brass cannons already, he knew who did know. he was asked how to get them out. according to william toured, mr. williams, a respected farmer roxbury was taken into that street. it was put in the bottom of the cart, loaded with manure, and they were taken out of the town without opposition. there was quite a respectable farmer named joseph williams. his daughter abigail raised william dawes's wife. it looks like he he got his grandfather-in-law to smuggle the last two brass cannon out to robinson's tavern.
the next month, however, dr. warren heard disturbing news. the blacksmith obadiah win son might be switching side. on february 10th, the doctor wrote to samuel adams, he is now making carriages for the army. he assisted in getting them to colonel robinson at dorchester, where they are now. he says the discovery of this will make him. and he threatens to make the discovery tore disclosure. adams passed on that warning to provincial congress february 13th, three days later. as soon as they removed them to the town of were concord. now, there is no evidence list ton told the royal authorities about the brass con cannes nonhe helped to move to dorchester.
he was cut out of the wig network and was deemed a loyalist and had to leave for canada. he continued his letter to samuel adams this way. dr. church and i that it ought to be clear not in one minute, the general in the place in which they are kept. unfortunately, dr. benjamin church jr. was top leader of the wigs inside boston but he is general gage's best placed spy. and the general wanted to the get the boston trades back. so he knew they were being moved out of dorchester. dr. benjamin church started to attend meetings of the committees of safety and supplies with warren february 21st, 1775, one week later. on that the day they decided they had enough cannon. they would start organizing artillery companies. they assigned dr. warren to talk with members of the boston trade to find out how many can be
depended on on. both dr. warren and dr. church went to boston that night. within a day or two, general gauge wrote there are 38 fuel companies and 19 artilleries companies. he probably heard that from dr. church. thanks to church, gage knew most of congress's guns were at worcester, a few at concord, a few at watertown, and at least eight at salem. the cannon at salem were under the control of david mason, the painter who had commissioned to collect ordinance. mason was running. he obtained the carriages to roll the fuel guns into battle. they were used on ships were just not useful on on battlefields. they had to be strong and easily
maneuvers and required the best work of the wheel rights and blacksmiths. they were expensive. by february 1775, several cannons collected were collected in the north salem shop of robert tpoefrt, who is making carriages for them. on sunday, february 26th, mason was attempting church when someone ran in with the news british soldiers had just arrived and landed in the neighboring town marblehead. they sent lieutenant colonel leslie to search for weapons and to search for weapons at fosters blacksmith shop where he knew they were. mason raced out to move the cannon from foster's shop and to block the soldiers from getting him. he and others managed to delay the british column, move the cannon, force the troops to return to their ship without doing a thorough search is.
that is known as leslie's retreat. just like the fight at fort william and mary in portsmouth. that could have been the start of the war, but no one died. so we skip over it. on march 3rd, later the gazette reported 27 pieces of cannon were removed in order to be out of the way of robbers. they were removed to the same place, concord. now new militia colonel, 65-year-old farmer and representative to the provincial congress. he put the boston guns in his cellar. they needed more protection than the others, so he kept them close. he was organizing his neighbors.
mason came out to congress from salem to work on the cannon of colonel barrett. activists were still struggling to mount the cannons so they could be useful. they were mounted but so bad they could not elevate them more than they were. the provincial congress let in late march amidst all the supplies they had gathered. it was then james warren wrote to his wife mercy, this time is called cannon. warren and his colleagues could overlook the problems that the guns still had. the fact that they weren't very well known and they didn't have carriages. what was important they thought is that congress had any artillery at all and the population was determined to keep it out of the enemy's hands, the army's hands. meanwhile, on april 14th, general gage received orders from london. his superiors did not authorize him to take military action against the growing rebel yon,
they ordered him to. according to the british spies in concord that same day, april 14th, dr. warren and paul revere warned them that a body of regulars might come to take possession of the town. locals got frightened. they ordered colonel barrett to empty of the 12 cannon and all the ammunition. so basically congress's townhall was full of 14 cannon and gun powder. and the town said you have to the take it all away. the next day dr. church sent general gage a report and said the government was about to raise an army of 8,000 men and had authorized six companies of field artillery. so all the signs were telling general gage it was now time to act. seizing the field pieces at barrett's farm would require a march deep into territory.
they would be more exposed than the time the men sent searching. but if the mission succeeded it would erase the embarrass than having let the guns be stolen in the first place. when they wrote out his first draft of orders for francis smith, the top item he wanted his soldiers to look for were four brass cannon and two mortars in the cellar by mr. barrett on the other side of the ridge. already, james barrett and his family were starting to move the most important military supplies to neighboring towns and hiding the rest. colonel barrett grandson james remembered how he and other boys removed them and deposit theed them into the woods and concealed them a cartthe load at a time under pine boughs.
they plowed a field and laid musk ets and put dirt of them. and women covered musk et balls in the attic with feathers. they took four cannon to stow where they were hidden in the woods of the lower village not far from the residence of henry gardener. he was the treasurer. he was in charge of keeping their valuables. and he was -- looked like he was now guarding their valuable brass cannon. sometimes april 18th he received that news. the military stores are removed. the fuel pieces, four accepted which are now in the concord town house. so is was he he thinking where
the four fuel pieces were the only four left of the guns from boston? it was worth a shot. he revised his instructions to be less specific. he still hoped the troops would find artillery. and he said if you meet with any brass artillery, you will beat their muzzles in to render them useless. september out mounted officers to patrol the roads and to stop all messengers from getting through. this is what he learned about the salem march where they had received early warning. ironically, those mountain officers alerted many locals that they were up when you see mounted officers through your town. lexington, on the small town of the road to concord, militiamen saw them and started to gather. on april 18th, 1775, about 800
british soldiers rode quietly out of boston on their way to concord. but they were the too late to catch those cannon. on the road to concord, the british soldiers would come across the alerted lexington militia company lined up on their town common. there would be shots. there would be fatal shots and that's when the war would begin. that is how four stolen cannon ignited the revolutionary war. thank you. [ applause ]. of the four at barrett's farm, two of them survived. one is in the 1780s. the secretary of war henry knox had them engraved with adams and hancock nicknames in honor of
samuel adams and john hancock who happened to be in lexington when they came through. the hancock is on display at the visitors center. and adams was conserved by the national park service. in june it went on display to the bunker hill monument. next time you can actually see two of the four stolen cannon that ignited the revolutionary war. thank you. and i'll be happy to take questions. [ applause ]. yes, ma'am. >> do you think by now -- in the time, contemporary people found out young was a spy? >> dr. church. >> dr. church, yeah. >> yes. in fall of 1775, dr. church's
mistress was -- he had asked her to send a letter into boston for him. she was living down in newport. or she had traveled down to newport to do it. she made the mistake of asking her ex-husband to mail this letter for her. and he thought it was suspicious. so he sat on it for a while. he got another question, have you mailed that yet? he was more suspicious because he knew somebody was waiting for it in boston. then after weeks he went to the authorities. they opened the letter and found it was in code. nothing suspicious here sending a letter across town. well, washington personally had this woman brought to headquarters and interrogated her for hours until she gave up the name of her lover, dr. church, who was by that point not simply a boston patriot, he was the surgeon general of the united states army or the
continental army living down the street from washington. so they interrogated him. he denied everything. they had experts decode the letter and it was suspicious but it wasn't -- it wasn't the smoking gun. they weren't sure what to do with church. they kept him in jail for a long time. finally, after a couple of years, they made a deal and said that you have to leave what is now the united states. they exiled him to the caribbean eye land of martinique. he got on a ship, and the ship was not seen again. until the 20th century when they were able to look at general gage's papers did they discover more letters that could only have come with dr. church with morin discriminating information. so it is definitely clear now that church was a spy for the
british starting in early 1775. possibly earlier, but i think early 1775. so there is no longer any doubt about that. back in his lifetime, there was still a little doubt and they detected him coming out of the network. yes, sir. >> what happened to the patriots that were involved in this episode? for example, you mentioned dr. warren. to the best of my memory, he died in the battle of bunker hill and was a major setback for the american revolution. >> did i research what happened to the men involved in this episode afterwards? yes, i did. and that's the last chapter of the book. because, yes, indeed, dr. warren was killed in the battle of bunker hill.
he was thought to have great potential as a state leader and died in his early 30s. other men, david mason in the artillery regiment. he was involved in the seize in boston during the preparations for the push on the heights of the on dorchester peninsula in march 1776, which was the last big action of that. he was involved is in setting off this huge mortar and it exploded and wounded him badly. he was put out of action for a while. he he started the laboratory at springfield, massachusetts, which has become the springfield nationally armory. samuel moore, the young man who
helped to steal the cannon, he served a little bit during the war. he managed to be rested during the seize of boston by both sides. so he was in a bit of trouble. he became a well-known paint dealer. he invested with glass factories. he became quite rich. and 1820s he went bankrupt. he ended his life with a daughter -- he didn't have any money left so he moved in with his daughter. and the daughter was living on the land that had been confiscated from adino paddock. so all of these people are still connected in some strange way in boston. yes, sir. >> i'm curious about william
knox. we know he was at the boston massacre and played a role there. and see him of course at the dorchester heights and going up to fort ticonderoga. can you talk about what he did in that critical two years in between. >> here's the thing about henry knox. most biographers say he was a stout wig, a member of the patriot resistance in the 1770s. i have not found any evidence of that. what he felt internally, i can't say. but he does not show up on the list of activists, the a little bit of political activists and people in charge of forcing boy cotts and things like that. instead, knox married into a loyalist family. he married the daughter of the royal secretary, merchant. it was a love match between he and lucy flipper. it was at that point he was
faced with a choice of possibly becoming a loyalist, becoming a wig or working more strongly with the wigs. in that 74, 75 period when the british soldiers were in boston, there is a letter, contemporaneous letter saying from somebody down in quincy, south of the town, talk thing about k-x bookstore, which is clearly henry knox. he has become using his status as a member of a loyalist family. i think he at that point was using that status to be trusted by the british military. the war broke out in april. in may, he and lucy flipper left
town. reportedly his sword was hidden in their carriage. he almost immediately went to work with the continental army. he met george washington on the 5th of july. washington liked the fortification, invited knox to have dinner. by october, washington was lobbying for knox to be reported to a high rank in the continental artillery. so although i don't think knox was an activist in the prewar years, he clearly made a choice in 1775 to throw his lot into the continental cause, continental army. his wife joined him in that choice after may 1775, with when they left boston, she never saw her family again.
>> i still don't get it. how did he wind up in such a high position? how did he transition to that? >> that's a really good question. some people say he was a member of the train of artillery as well. there aren't very good records of militia during peace time. in fact, in the early 1770s, henry knox was involved in forming a different militia company, the grenadier company. they got uniforms. he was marching in his uniform. they had this parade took place a few weeks after he had wounded himself in a hunting accident. he was marching with a uniform, big guy, big bandaged hand. and this young lucy flipper saw him and thought, hmm, i want to
know more about this man. that's supposedly how they met. literally becoming a militia officer was his rise up in society. as to whether he had any artillery experience, i don't know. i can't find it. one of his die gravies, 1900 biographer credited him with taking the cannon out of boston. although it happened in may 1775 after the war began, which is impossible. a fortification, and b, fortification. he understand how the army should work together. he seems to be an intelligent man, hard working. i think washington recognized
those strengths. he had been soured on the existing commander of the massachusetts and then continental artillery. and he wanted that man out. so there is a fair amount of political maneuvering. eventually washington got his man, henry knox, and they were a team for decades. yes, sir. >> reporter: revolution has this wonderful t-shirt, henry knox slept here. it commemorates his bringing the cannon down fort ticonderoga, 59 of them. so at that point while he's doing that he's a civilian. and he gets an appointment as colonel. so when he gets to cambridge at some point he is informed of his appointment. and he is a colonel in the continental army. and having brought these 59 to cambridge. >> he did not receive his commission, you're right, until he got to cambridge.
i believe he had been told it was coming. but he was still -- it was still unclear. so basic he was going to new york and then up to lake champlain. not on his own authority, because he couldn't show his commission. but on general washington's authority. now, people talk about how -- what a feat this was to bring the cannon down. indeed, it was a feat. winter is when you move things over the roads in new england. so moving the cannon was not that difficult. except we talk about how the winter was, oh, so terrible. actually, it was not terrible enough. they were always complain there should be more snow on the ground because that would make it easy to move heavy objects.
in the back there. >> since we're talking about knox, we would not be be sitting in this building before henry knox. cincinnati was his idea. >> yes, indeed. >> thank you very much. >> [ applause ]. >> i won't take back what i said at the beginning, the book is better than the talk. the book is better. so you have to go back and get it. but what he says is absolutely true. henry knox imagined a veterans
organization for officers of the american revolution, which is what the society became. today it is an organization of descendants of those officers. knox imagined in the winter of 1775-76, he said in one of his letters that we need those of us to have some decoration, some ribbon to put in our button hole of our jacket to show what we did in the war. at this point the war is a year on. he imagines the whole thing will be over by christmas and will go off and be happy veterans. it is the origin of the organization we have today. so you begin with the story of how artillery shaped the organization. and the big guns.
we will have more the next several months. i don't think any will be as good as this one. thank you. [ applause ]. this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, saturday night, a little after 7:00 eastern, kings college london visiting professor andrew roberts discusses the role of u.s. army chief of staff george c. marshall in america's world war ii victories, arguing the skills as a strategist transformed the u.s. army. >> beautiful manners, incorruptible, single minded and astonishingly calm considering the pressures on him. >> then at 10:00 on reel america, the 1921 silent film
created by the u.s. army signal core honoring the unknown soldier of world war i. >> it was tremendous. the streets of washington were lined with folks waiting for the caskets to be removed and brought down by the honor guard across pennsylvania avenue, and into virginia. i think what i've read is one of the largest tourpbouts for any parade in the city. >> sunday evening 6:00 eastern on american artifacts. >> beautiful building. from the moment it opened, it was already too small for what it was about to the face. constructed to handle half a million people a year. it ended up handling, in 1907 alone, 1.2 million people. >> we tour ellis island immigration museum in new york city to learn about the immigrant experience. and just before 9:00, in 1916, president woodrow wilson
nominated boston lawyer louis brandeis, the first jew to sit on the highest court. in commemoration of the 100th anniversary, author of lousv. brandeis talks about his life, career, and legacy. >> brandeis is trying to limit the court to a very specific role, one defined by the constitutional network in which all government operates and which limits or should limit any one branch from exercising power beyond its prescribed province. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. republican donald trump is elected as the next president of the united states. and the nation elect kraols a u.s. house and senate. follow the transition of government on c-span. we'll take you to key events when they happen without
interruption. watch live on c-span, on demand c-span.org or our c-span radio app. >> in 1945, harry truman, winston churchill and joseph stalin negotiated the end of world war ii and europe's reconstruction. next michael neiburg talks about potsdam and the remaking of europe. he chronicles the delegates's personalities, their hopes not repeating the mistakes of the paris peace conference, and how the negotiation toss rebuild europe played out. the kansas city public library hosted this 50-minute event. >> well, thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight. i don't know if it was the air-conditioning, the free wine or what, but i'm glad you're here.