The post-war lives of Maryland’s revolutionary soldiers

First Maryland Regiment Retaking British Field Artillery at Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Courtesy of Art.com.

An Irish-born man named Robert Ratliff, a Baltimorean named William Marr, a Marylander likely born in Cecil County named George Lashley, a Charles County man named John Plant, another man from the same county named John Neal, another Marylander likely born in Cecil County named John Lowry, and one Marylander likely born in the same county named William Dawson all have one thing in common: they had fought in the Maryland Line. While Ratliff was a five foot, eight inch tall man who was part of the Seventh Independent Company, which recruited from the Eastern Shore, just like Dawson, Marr and Lashley were part of the Col. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, mustered at Whetstone Point (present-day Fort McHenry), part of the First Maryland Regiment. [1] As for the other Marylanders, Plant and Neal were part of Captain John Hoskins Stone‘s First Company of the First Maryland Regiment, enlisted in Port Tobacco, Maryland, while Lowry was part of  Captain Peter Adams‘s Sixth Company of the First Maryland Regiment. [2] Even with arguably shared military experience, their lives after the revolutionary war were different and tell us about the lives of Maryland soldiers in later years.

After the war, Dawson returned to Cecil County. On December 29, 1780, he married a woman named Elizabeth Graves, with the matrimony affirmed by minister William Thomson of an Episcopal Church in Elkton, Maryland. [3]The same year, on February 27, Neal stayed in  Somerset County, where he had been discharged, marrying a local woman named Margaret Miller in Boundbrook, New Jersey. [4] They had two children named Benjamin (b. 1781) and Theodocia (b. 1802).

As for Lowry, in 1783, he was living as a single man in Harford County’s Spesutia Upper Hundred. [5] The same year, Dawson was in a similar predicament. He was described as a pauper, living on the land, which was likely rented, with nine other inhabitants. [6] While Dawson was granted 50 acres of bounty land in Western Maryland after the war, it sat vacant. He may have felt with fellow veteran Mark McPherson who said the land, located in a remote mountainous area of Western Maryland, was “absolutely good for nothing . . . unfit for Cultivation.” [7] Plant was also settling down after the war. Living in Charles County, he became a well-off small farmer and slaveowner who owned two horses, one cattle, and one enslaved black child. [8] The same was also the case with Ratliff, who settled down in Cecil County. In 1783, he lived with his relative, James, who owned four horses and 150 acres of land. [9]

Three years after Marr ended his war service, he settled down and his life changed. On June 14, 1784, Airey Owings married Marr in Baltimore County at St. Paul’s Parish, with the ceremony conducted by Reverend William West. [10] Marr and Airey lived in Baltimore County, raised “a family of children,” including a son named William, and he worked as a reputable farmer. [11] It is possible that Marr’s farm was among the 45.6% of Maryland dwellings that we not taxed, explaining its absence from the 1783 tax assessments. [12] At this time, Baltimore County had a varied economy with ” furnaces, forges, cotton mills, and wollen factories,” even by the early 19th century, while Baltimore was gaining importance as a commercial center. [13] One “William Marr” is listed in the 1810 US Census as the head of household along with his wife and three children: one male child under 10, one male under 16, and one female under age 10. [14]

Coming back to Neal, while he was living in New Jersey, he served in the militia in Somerset County, which fought off British incursions in New Jersey until the end of the war, serving at least one four-month term. [15] In the county, called the “crossroads of the revolution” by some, the destruction of the war had dissipated by the 1780s, with industry and commerce thriving in the final years of the war even as militiamen decried depreciation of Continental currency. [16]

On October 13, 1787, Ratliff married Mary Kirk. [17] A few years later, on December 23, 1800, he married another woman named Anne Husler. [18] The reason he remarried is that his wife died. At some point, Anne died and he married a third time to woman named Elizabeth, who survived him. [19] He had two children named James and Elizabeth, but the mother’s name is not known.

As for Plant, on June 15, 1788, he married an eighteen-year-old woman named Mary Ann Davis. [20] He later reminisced about his revolutionary service with his cousin, William Stewart, who said that Plant had “strict integrity” and good character. [21] Sadly, more recounts on his memories on his war service other than a few pages of his pension cannot be found.

At some point before 1788, while living in Harford County, Lowry married a woman named Hannah Finney. [22] In the spring of 1788, Finney’s mother, Manassah, died, and willed ten acres of her farm to Finney and Lowry to use until 1789. [23] This bequest reaffirmed a lease Lowry and Manassah made in 1783 that the farm was near Welles Swamp, and was given under certain conditions. [24] Likely the farm was on one of the two tracts owned by Manassah in Harford County’s Deer Creek Middle Hundred, named Giles and Webster’s Discovery, a tract of land that spanned 70 acres in total. [25] While Lowry was called to testify against his brother-in-law, James Barnett, who was the executor of her estate, in 1791, he later received money, along with his wife, when assets of the estate were distributed in 1809. [26]

By 1790, John Lowry was living with his wife, and possibly two children, in Cecil County’s Elk Neck. [27] They were possibly living on a 100-acre land tract, which he had leased to a wealthy Cecil County man named Samuel Redgrave in February 1781. [28] The tract was called Tedart and sat on the west side of the Elk River. The tract had been owned by his father, James, before his death.

In the late 1790s, Ratliff and his wife were living in Kent County, Maryland. [29] In 1802, still living in Kent County, he bought land in New Castle County, Delaware, preparing for the next stage of his life. [30]

Years later, in 1805, he was living in Harford County and received compensation for his revolutionary war service. [31] However, in the early nineteenth century, Lowry bought land in Fells Point, Baltimore, called Leasehold, some of which he leased, and lived in Baltimore County until his death. [32] At that time, he was staying with his second wife, Elizabeth Maidwell, who he had married on October 22, 1801. [33] In the fall of 1804, she leased him land in the town of Baltimore, for the next 99 years, which had part of the estate of her former husband, Alexander Maidwell. [34] The fate of Lowry’s first wife, Hannah, is not known.

In later years, Plant and his wife moved to what became Washington, D.C. At the time, it was a largely rural and sparsely populated area which had thriving ports at Georgetown and Alexanders, in addition to the federal town of Washington City, which had about 8,200 inhabitants. [35] Slavemasters and over 7,900 enslaved blacks living in the area were an important part of D.C.’s society. [36] Plant died there on November 14, 1808. [37]

As for Dawson, in later years, he lived in the Bohemia Manor area of Cecil County, Maryland, staying there until 1810, with his wife Elizabeth and one child whose name is not currently known. [38] In 1808, he petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates saying he had served in the Revolutionary War and prayed “to be placed on the pension list.” [39] The House of Delegates endorsed his plea and in 1810, Dawson, a “meritorious soldier in the revolutionary war,” in an “indigent situation” because of his old age, was paid the half pay of a private. [40] He was paid a state pension for years to come. Sometime in the fall of 1815, before September 6, John Lowry died in Baltimore County without a will, and his estate was administered by Cornelius Willis. [41]

In 1810, Ratliff was living in St. George’s Hundred, in the same county of Delaware, with his wife, children, and two enslaved blacks. [42] A few years later, in 1813, he was a farmer in Delaware’s Appoquinimink Hundred, on a plot of land with his wife. [43] He was well-off, owning a walnut dining table, small looking glass, 3 cows, 7 sheep, and a few horses. [44] Being very “weak in body,” Ratliff wrote his will on April 5, 1813, making his “beloved wife” Elizabeth his executor, manumitted an black enslaved woman, named Jane, and distributed his land to his children. [45] He died sometime between the writing of his will and collection of testimony on November 3, 1814.

Dawson moved from state to state. In 1810, he was living in Glasgow, New Castle County, Delaware, with his wife and a young child. [46] Eight years later, he was living in New Castle’s Pencader Hundred, in Delaware, just over the Maryland line. [47] Two years later, he moved back to Cecil County and settled in Elkton, Maryland. [48]

Neal, like Dawson, also had moved out of the state. By 1810, he and his family had moved to Ovid, New York, in the northern part of the state near the Finger Lakes, where they lived. Once there, he filed for his Federal veterans pension in 1818. [49] Two years later, he lived in the adjoining town of Covert, New York on a half-acre of land, with a wooden clock, a chest, and some cookery, a shabby wagon, small pigs, one cow, and eight sheep. [50] In his pension application, he claimed to be in “reduced circumstances” and that he had lost his discharge papers or any other paper records proving his service in the First Maryland Line, an appeal that was successful.

After the war, Lashley continued to live in the state of Maryland. On April 25, 1816, Lashley married Jane Bashford, a 41-year-old woman, in Cecil County. [51]

In 1819, one year after Marr began collecting his pension and one day before July 4, he died in Baltimore at the age of 66. [52] He died without making a will and left Airey a widow, who never remarried, allowing her to receive pension money at his death. [53] She lived to April 1843, aged 79, working to collect some of the pension in the 1830s and 1840s given due to her late husband’s military service. [54] At his death, while he may not have been well honored by people within the military and different levels of government, his story is still one worth telling.

In September 1820, when Lashley began receiving his federal pension, despite losing his discharge papers, he was living in the same county with his wife and had no children or heirs. [55] Since his memory was failing him, he originally said he was part of the Second Maryland Regiment, but later corrected himself and two long-time residents recalled seeing him march “away with the said [Ramsey’s] Company.” [56]

In Dawson’s 1820 application for his Federal veterans pension, he said that his wife was sixty years old and “infirm,” just like himself. [57] Additionally, he noted that a young grandchild living with him whom also had to support. He also owned three dollars worth of farm animals (a cow and a calf) and was living in “reduced circumstances” with twenty dollars of debt. His “infirmities of old age,” which had “disabled him in “his left arm and leg,” led him to be classified as an “invalid.” [58] Despite the fact that his discharge papers had been lost, his pension was granted in the fall of 1820. [59]

Dawson’s life after this point is unclear. While final payment vouchers say that payments to him ended in 1820, he did not die that year. [60] Instead, he died on July 11, 1824, and his state pension payments were sent to his administrator, Jane Dawson, possibly his second wife. [61] The following year, another soldier passed away. On July 22, Neal died in New York State. [62]

In November 1823, members of Ratliff’s family agreed that Ratliff’s son, James, should own his father’s estate in Delaware. [63] A few years later, James negotiated to buy his father’s land in Delaware. [64] By the 1850s, the Ratliff family was still living in Appoquinimink Hundred. [65]

As for Lashley, in 1827, he received payment from the State of Maryland equal to half pay of a private as a result of his service in the Revolutionary War. [66] He continued to receive payments quartetly until his death on March 4, 1831 at the age of 76. [67] Five years later, his declared legal representatives, Mary Sproul and Nancy Lashley, received the money that was due to him before his death in 1831. [68]

Mary Ann, the wife of Plant, fought to receive her husband’s pension payments. In February 1835, she asked for “remuneration” for her husband’s military service from the U.S. House of Representatives, and following year asked the same from the U.S. Senate. [69] By 1838, at sixty-eight-years-old, she petitioned the federal government for pension benefits. However, because Plant either had no official discharge papers or had lost them, Mary Ann had trouble receiving money. [70] Her fate is not known.

Notes

[1] Lashley enlisted in the company at a public house called Battle Swamp tavern, near present-day Woodlawn, Maryland.

[2] Pay Role of Prisoners taken on Long Island from 27th August to the 10th Dec. 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-19-02 [MSA S997-19-2 01/07/03/15]; Journal of the House of Representatives of the United StatesAt the Second Session of the Eighth Congress, in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington City: Samuel Harrison Smith, 1805), 242; Henry C. Peden, Abstracts of the Orphans Court Proceedings 1778-1800: Harford County Maryland (Westminster: Family Line Publications, 1990), 38-39. Lowry was grievously injured in the groin and was taken prisoner by the British after the Battle of Brooklyn, then released from British custody in December 1776.

[3] Marriage of William Dawson and Elizabeth Graves, 1780, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 23 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38]; Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Philadelphia: John Pennington and Henry C. Baird, 1853), 338-389.

[4] Pension of John Neal; Ronald V. Jackson, Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. New Jersey Census, 1643-1890. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. It is likely that he knew Miller before he married her in 1780, possibly from his militia service.

[5] Record of John Lowry, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 54 [MSA S1161-67, 1/4/5/49].

[6] William Dawson record, 1783, Cecil County Fourth District, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 6 [MSA S1161-39, 1/4/5/47].

[7] Westward of Fort CumberlandMilitary Lots Set Off for Maryland’s Revolutionary Soldiers (ed. Mary K. Meyer, Westminister: Heritage Books, 2008), 21, 103; William Dawson’s lot in Western Maryland, Land Office, Lots Westward of Fort Cumberland, MdHR 17302, p. 27 [SE1-1]; Pension of Mark McPherson and Widow’s Pension of Mary McPherson. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804, W 2144. 1-73. From Fold3.com. His lot was number 273.

[8] John Plant assessment record, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, CH, Seventh District, General, p. 9 [MSA S1161-52, 1/4/5/48]. The child was male and under age eight.

[9] Record of James Ratliff and Robert Ratliff, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 7 [MSA S1161-37, 1/4/5/46].

[10] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Marriage of William Marr and Arrey Owings; “Part IV: Marriages proved through Maryland pension applications,” Maryland Revolutionary Records, pp. 118; Bill and Martha Reamy, Records of St. Paul’s Parish Vol. 1, xi, 39, 150.

[11] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com.

[12] Shammas, “The Housing Stock of the Early United States: Refinement Meets Migration,” 557, 559, 563.

[13] McGrain, From Pig Iron to Cotton Duck: A History of Manufacturing Villages in Baltimore County; Vol. I, 2; Hall, Baltimore: Its History and Its People; Vol. 1, 39, 56; Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore; Vol. 20, 17.

[14] Third Census of the United States, 1810. (NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls). Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[15] Pension of John Van Tuyl, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2451, pension number W.22483. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Service Card of John Sebring, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, National Archives, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0641. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Folkerd Sebring, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2147, pension number W. 24926. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Abraham Sebring, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2147, pension number S. 22972. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of John Van Tuyl; Pension of John Haas, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1150, pension number S. 1,012. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Isaac Manning, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1624, pension number W. 7400. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of David King, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1428, pension number S. 13655. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Jacob Mesler, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1717, pension number R. 7143. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of John Swaim, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2326, pension number W. 2486. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Abraham Sebring; 2nd Battalion of Somerset rolls, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, Record Group 93, NARA M846, Roll 0063, folder 60. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of William Durham, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 0874, pension number R. 3160. Courtesy of Fold3.com; James P. Snell and Franklin Ellis, History of Hunterdon and Somerset counties, New Jersey, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881), 83, 98. Census records show a “John Neale” living in Burlington County in 1790 and 1800, but it cannot be confirmed this is the same person as John Neal.

[16] William A. Schleicher and Susan J. Winter, Somerset County: Crossroads of the American Revolution (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 1999), 7-8, 17-18, 22, 24-25, 34; Multiple authors, Somerset County Historical Quarterly Vol. VII (Somerville, NJ: Somerset County Historical Society, 1919), 18-20, 31, 79, 104, 170-172; Abraham Messler, Centennial History of Somerset County (Somerville: C.M. Jameson Publishers, 1878), 69-71, 74, 77-78, 81, 101, 109-110, 112-113; Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians, 1769-1775: A Biographical Dictionary (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 28-29, 80-81. It may have been called the crossroads because competing Continental and British armies maneuvered in the county and Morristown was also located there.

[17] Marriage of Mary Kirk and Robert Ratliff, 1787, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 45 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[18] Marriage of Anne Husler and Robert Ratliff, 1800, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 127 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[19] Will of Robert Ratliff, 1813, New Castle County Court House, Wilmington, Delaware, Register of Wills, Book R 1813-1823, p. 40-41. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Probate of Robert Ratliff, 1814-1815, New Castle, Register of Wills, Delaware State Archives, New Castle County Probates, Record Group 2545. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Indenture between Robert Ratliff, Elizabeth, and Sarah Baird, June 13, 1799, Kent County Court, Land Records, Liber TW 1, p. 214-216 [MSA CE 118-31].

[20] Pension of John Plant.

[21] Ibid. Sadly, the specifics of what Plant told his cousin are not known.

[22] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 18, 661; Will of Manassah Finney, 1788, Harford County Register of Wills, Wills, Liber AJ 2, p. 206-207 [MSA CM599-2, CR 44758-2]. Sometimes her last name is spelled Phinney or Finny.

[23] Will of Manassah Finney.

[24] Lease of John Lowry and Manassah Finney, 1788, Harford County Court, Land Records, Liber JLG H, p. 435 [MSA CE 113-8].

[25] Record of Manasseth Finney, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 90 [MSA S1161-67, 1/4/5/49]; Patent for Manassah Finney, 1774, Land Office, Patent Record, MdHR 17455, Liber BC & GS 44, p. 395-396 [MSA S11-145, 1/23/4/9]; Patent for Manassah Finney, 1772, Land Office, Patent Record, MdHR 17461, Liber BC & GS 50, p. 70 [MSA S11-151, 1/23/4/18]. This assessment record lists Finney as owning two tracts of land: Giles and Webster’s Discovery (75 acres) and Renshaws Last Purchase (50 acres). Other records show that Renshaws Last Purchase was considered part of Baltimore County at one point, so it is unlikely the farm was on this land.

[26] Peden Jr., 42; Distribution of Manassah Finney’s Estate by James Barnett, June 27, 1809, Harford Register of Wills, Distributions, Liber TSB 1, p. 88-89 [MSA CM557-1, CR 10960-1].

[27] Census for Elk Neck, Cecil, Maryland, First Census of the United States, 1790, National Archives, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 3, page 323, image 553. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[28] Lease of John Lowrey and Samuel Readgrave, February 3, 1781, Cecil County, Land Records, Liber 15, p. 88-89 [MSA CE 133-17]; Record of Samuel Redgrave, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, Cecil County Fourth District, p. 1, 10 [MSA S 1161-4-2, 1/4/5/47].

[29] Indenture between Robert Ratliff, Elizabeth, and Sarah Baird.

[30] Record of Robert Ratliff, June 1802, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 440, 442. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Session Laws, 1824, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 629, 44. Ratliff owned land near John Zillefro/Zilerfrow. This man was the first husband of Rachel Ozier, who was living with her second husband, Maryland 400 veteran Andrew Meloan, and their children, in Montgomery County, Kentucky at the time.

[31] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United StatesAt the Second Session of the Eighth Congress, in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington City: Samuel Harrison Smith, 1805), 242.

[32] Purchase of land by John Lowry from Elizabeth Mains, October 10, 1803, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 78, p. 363-365 [MSA CE 66-128]; Deed and Gift of land to John Lowrey from Joseph Lambert, December 1803, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 78, p. 365-366 [MSA CE 66-128]; John Lowry lease to John Griffith, April 11, 1805, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 84, p. 412-413 [MSA CE 66-134]; List of Letters Remaining at the Post-Office, Baltimore, June 6, 1800, Federal Gazette, Baltimore, June 7, 1800, Vol. XII, issue 2040, p. 2. Two men named John Lowry are recorded as living in Baltimore in 1800.

[33] Marriage of John Lowry and Elizabeth Maidwell, October 22, 1801, Baltimore County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9122, p. 59 [MSA C376-2, 2/14/14/12].

[34] Elizabeth Maidwell lease to John Lowrey, November 1, 1804, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 84, p. 410-412 [MSA CE 66-134]; Marriage of Alexander Maidwell and Elizabeth Winnick, April 27, 1795, Baltimore County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9121, p. 143 [MSA C376-1, 2/14/14/11]. Elizabeth Maidwell, whose maiden name was Winnick, had only married Alexander Maidwell, her first husband, in April 1795.

[35] J. D. Dickey, Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), ix, xiv, xvii, 1, 3, 4, 7-9, 12, 14-15, 17, 19-22, 24-25, 28, 31; Tom Lewis, Washington: A History of Our National City (New York: Basic Books, 2015), xx, 1, 10, 14, 20, 24. The estimate of population comes from data assembled by Social Explorer for the 1810 census.

[36] According to data assembled by Social Explorer for the 1810 census, the rural Washington County, a jurisdiction within D.C., had only about 2,300 residents, a county Plant may have lived in. This data also shows 7,944 non-white persons, excluding Indians, living in D.C. in 1810.

[37] Pension of John Plant.

[38] Census for Bohemia Manor, Cecil County, 1790, First Census of the United States, 1790, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 3, page 320. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Census for Bohemia Manor, Cecil County, 1800, Second Census of the United States, 1800, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 10, page 53. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[39] Journal of the House of Delegates, 1808, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 556, 16, 31, 73.

[40] Session Laws, 1810, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 599, 100.

[41] Bond of Cornelius Willis, Edward Vernon and William H. Lenox, September 6, 1815, Baltimore County Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, MdHR 11644, Liber 11, p. 76 [MSA C264-11, 2/28/12/35]; Administration Docket of John Lowry, 1815, Baltimore County Register of Wills, Administration Docket, Liber 6, p. 171 [MSA CM130-6, CR 10674-2]. This means none of the three invalid pensioners named John Lowry listed on the 1835 pension rolls are him.

[42] Census of St. Georges Hundred, New Castle, Delaware, 1810, Third Census of the United States, 1810, National Archives, NARA M252, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 4, Pagw 287. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[43] “Ratliff’s land,” 1813, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 435. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

[44] Probate of Robert Ratliff. He also owned a young enslaved black male who was only two years old.

[45] Will of Robert Ratliff.

[46] Census for Glasgow, New Castle, Delaware, 1810, Third Census of the United States, 1810, NARA M252, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 4, page 261. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[47] Pension of William Dawson.

[48] Pension of William Dawson; Census for Elkton, Cecil County, 1820, Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll M33_40, page 135. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[49] Pension of John Neal; Tacyn, 318; Pension of Abraham Sebring; Third Census of the United States, 1810, Ovid, Seneca, New York; NARA M252; Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives; p. 252; Image: 00160; Family History Library Film: 0181390. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Ovid included a town and village of the same name which was still small even in 1850 and to the present-day. A number of men named “John Niles” were living in the town of Oneida, as recorded by the 1800 census, which is about 81 to 96 miles away from Ovid, but it cannot be confirmed this is the same man as John Neal.

[50] Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, Covert, Seneca, New York; NARA M33; Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, p. 298, Image: 61. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Covert was a town formed from part of Ovid.

[51] Marriage of George Leslie and Jane Bashford, 1816, Marriage Licenses, Cecil County Court, MdHR 9435, p. 247 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[52] Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, compiled 1818 – 1864, Record Group 217, roll box06_00007, pensioner William Marr, July 3, 1819. courtesy of fold3.com; National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; United States Senate.The Pension Roll of 1835. 4 vols. 1968 Reprint, with index. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992; “Persons on the Pension Roll Under the Law of the 18th of March, 1818, Maryland,” Pension List of 1820, pp. 547.

[53] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Adminstration Docket of William Marr.

[54] Ibid; Archives of Maryland, vol. 214, page 717.

[55] George Lashley Pension; Marriage of George Leslie and Jane Bashford, 1816, Marriage Licenses, Cecil County Court, MdHR 9435, p. 247 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[56] George Lashley Pension.

[57] Pension of William Dawson. Dawson had been applying for pension benefits since 1818.

[58] Pension of William Dawson.

[59] Dawson specifically accused Lieutenant John Sears of losing his discharge, saying that “this despondent cannot produce the said discharge, having sent by Lieutenant John Sears to Annapolis” after he was discharged.

[60] Final Payment Voucher for William Dawson, 1820, Final Revolutionary War Pension Payment Vouchers: Delaware, National Archives, NARA M2079, Record Group 217, Roll 0001. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Final Payment Voucher for William Dawson from General Accounting Office, 1820, Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, 1818-1864, National Archives, Record Group 217, box05_00005. Courtesy of Fold3.com. It is clear that William Dawson is not the same as a Justice of the Peace in Talbot County.

[61] Record of pension payment to William Dawson, Treasurer of the Western Shore, Military Pension Roll, MdHR 4534-4, p. 31 [MSA S613-1, 2/63/10/33]; “Sheriff’s Sale,” American Watchman, Wilmington, Delaware, June 5, 1827, page 3. He may have died in Delaware but this cannot be confirmed. By 1827, his heirs may have been living in Delaware, as a sale by a local sheriff in Wilmington, Delaware, mentions “heirs of William Dawson.” However, it is not known if this the same as Dawson, who may have moved back to Delaware before his death.

[62] Pension of John Neal; Letter about John Neal, September 18, 1895. New York County, District and Probate Courts. Administration, Vol C-D, 1815-1883, p. 136. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Hector, Tompkins, New York, NARA M432; Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives; p. 420A, Image: 441. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. His wife, Margaret, was the administrator of Neal’s estate after his death. Years after his death, his wife re-married to a man named John Benjamin Smith. She continued to fight for Neal’s pension payments until at least 1850, living in the small town of Hector, New York, only about 16 miles away from Ovid, with another family. She died in the 1850s, the exact date not known.

[63] Indenture between James Ratliff and Hannah, Thomas Ratliff and Mary, and Henry Webb and Elizabeth, November 23, 1823, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 4-6. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Session Laws, 1824, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 629, 44; Indenture between James Ratliff and Jacob Hornes (Colored Man), May 26, 1826, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 300-301. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. These members of his family included his son James and his wife Hannah in Cecil County, Thomas Ratliff and his wife Mary in Butler County, Ohio, and Elizabeth Webb, his daughter, and Henry Webb. They all received some part of the estate.

[64] Indenture between James Ratliff and Jacob Hornes (Colored Man).

[65] Indenture between Thomas Ratliff and Ann Ratliff, October 9, 1854, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 59-62. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[66] Session Laws, 1826 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 437, 253.

[67] George Lashley Pension; State Pension of George Lashley, Treasurer of the Western Shore, Pension Roll, MdHR 4534-4, p. 36, 48 [MSA S613-1, 2/63/10/33].

[68] Session Laws, 1835 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 214, 754. While his pension says he has no heirs, this legislation says “the heirs and legal representatives of George Lashly.” It is possible that this language is just a formality, but there is no explanation as to why Lashley had heirs by his death or if the legal representatives are his children.

[69] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: Being the Second Session of the Twenty-Third Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, and in the Fifty-Ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1835), 390; “Twenty-Fourth Congress First Session,” Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., April 26, 1836, Vol. XXIV, issue 7240, p. 3.

[70] Pension of John Plant. As one ancestor put it years later, this situation led to Mary Ann almost being “deprived of a pension.”

Persecuted in Revolutionary Baltimore: The Sufferings of Quakers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

“Quaker Lady detaining the English General.” This engraving refers to Mary Lindley Murray who, as legend has it, delayed Sir Henry Clinton and his officers by treating them to food and drink, tempting them with her charms, while the Americans under the command of Israel Putnam escaped after the disastrous Battle of Kip’s Bay in September 1776. This cartoon counters the feelings of some revolutionaries by making Quakers seem favorable to the revolutionary cause.

In March 1777, revolutionary leader John Adams wrote an angry letter to his wife, Abigail. He declared that Baltimore was a “dull place” where many of the town’s remaining inhabitants were Quakers, who he described as “dull as Beetles” and a “kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids.” [1] This article continues the series about Baltimore Town by focusing on the Baltimorean Quakers, also called the Society of Friends. These Quakers were living in a town where religious beliefs interlinked with political events. You can read our other posts about Baltimore during the Revolutionary War period here.

Adams clearly misrepresented the role of Quakers in Baltimore Town. [2] The Quakers were controversial in the public arena because of their dedication to pacifism resulting in refusal to pay war taxes, assert loyalty to the colonies, or lend supplies to the Continental Army.

Even though some Maryland Quakers raised money to feed the people of Boston in 1775, revolutionaries still saw them as supporting the Crown, rather than taking a neutral position. [3] Revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine, the son of a Quaker, even declared that “were the Quakers…influenced by the quiet principles they profess to hold, they would…be the first of all men to approve of independence” because it gives the opportunity of “carrying their favourite principle of peace into general practice, by establishing governments that shall hereafter exist without wars.” [4] Others thought that the Quakers engaged in espionage for the British, were treasonous to the revolutionary cause or partook in illegalities. [5]

The negative perception of Quakers by revolutionaries led to fines, looting of their property, imprisonment, and numerous other forms of discrimination. [6] However, they didn’t stay silent. One letter to the Maryland Journal, in 1777, by a presumed Quaker named ‘Pacifius’ defended neutrals, like Quakers, saying “let us remember our duty, as Christians, to love our enemies” and that the Maryland legislature should repeal “acts, which create disqualifications, or impose a tax on…neutrals.” [7]

The Maryland Committee of Sufferings recorded acts of Quaker persecution in the turbulent revolutionary environment. This committee, similar to Meetings for Sufferings created in the Northern colonies in the early 1770s, petitioned the state government of Maryland about discrimination against them, pushed for exemptions to military service, and generally advocated on behalf of Quakers. [8]

In October 1778, the Committee of Sufferings in Kent County, the first of its kind in Maryland, told fellow brethren that Quakers experienced long terms of imprisonment and banishment. [9] They endured the consequences of not wanting to comply with “human injunctions and institutions.” [10] Their reasoning was laid out in detail in an appeal to the Maryland General Assembly in October 1778 by this committee. In the letter they declared that they were resolute in their principles and opposed their Revolutionary War:

“…we behold…the devastation occasioned by the present war…we believe it to be our indispensable duty to abstain from all wars & combat which have the tendency to destroy the lives of men….we cannot, consistent with our religious principles, join with either of the contending parties….constrained from entering into solemn engagements of allegiance with either….in consequence thereof, we have been brought under great sufferings…[the state] government will not derive any advantage from…continuing our sufferings…we charitably hope the Legislature of Maryland would…avoid…the imputation of persecution…we…desire to live peace with all men, and should of any of our members now deviate from our…principles by joining in war, entering into plots…against the government…the guilt of such will most assuredly be on themselves” [11]

The war caused divisions in the Quakers community. Some Quakers wanted to give their oaths of allegiance or otherwise join the revolutionary cause. [12] This concerned those on the committee because this action went against established principles since it constituted participating directly in the war’s bloodshed. Other “concerned Quakers” made munitions for the Continental Army, worked for the Army, or gave starving soldiers food and supplies. [13] Later in the war, in Philadelphia, some joined the “Free Quakers,” and took up weapons against the British.

Still, the majority of Quakers adhered to their pacifist principles and disowned such dissident forces, charging them with disobedience. If someone was disowned they would be forcibly renounced or no longer accepted in the Quaker community, which could result in exile.

The story of a Cecil County man, named Jeremiah Brown, shows discrimination that Quakers faced and how the Quaker community stuck together. On March 24, 1778 he admitted his wrong at the Brick Meeting House in Calvert, Cecil County:

“…when my wagon and team came back, which were forcibly taken to carry military stores, [I] did receive wages for the same and was paid for one of the horses which were lost in the journey, which compliance has not been easy to mind, being convinced that the testimony of truth is against such, I do not hereby acknowledge my weakness therein, hoping and desiring for the future to give closer attention to the inward principles which preserve the error.” [14]

This was against Quaker rules because it constituted complicity in the war. While the meeting was unhappy that a member of Brown’s family went to check to see on the care of their impounded horses, Brown could have felt “weak” since he been a loyal Quaker for many years. [15] Interestingly, there is no record that Brown was exiled from the Quakers since he was an active member for years to come. [16]

Actions similar to Brown’s admission either didn’t happen or were downplayed in the Baltimore meeting. This was proven to be the case when in 1781, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting declared to fellow members that “most Friends appear to be careful in maintaining our testimony against war by refusing payment of taxes.” [17]

The Baltimore meeting of Quakers was politicized by slavery. Throughout 1776, they discussed slavery in their quarterly meetings. [18]. By 1777, Maryland Quakers, under the jurisdiction of the Baltimore meeting, were threatened to be disowned if they manumit their enslaved blacks. [19] From February 1776 to November 1777, a report was prepared by Henry Wilson, Benjamin Howard, and other brethren, on those Quakers who kept slaves. The meeting recorded the manumissions of sixty-two enslaved blacks owned by fellow members and continued to assist their fellow brethren in other matters. [20] However, manumissions were not an end to slavery. The use of manumissions in Baltimore Town, for example, sustained and expanded slavery for years to come. [21] Compounding this reality was the vital role the town played in the regional slave trade, which it had largely siphoned off from Philadelphia. [22]

In November 1777, the report, strongly condemning the practice of slavery, was released to the Baltimore quarterly meeting. The committee reported that

“…they have carefully visited nearly all the families of friends that are involv’d in the oppressive practice of Slave-keeping & have with sorrow to observe the backwardness that prevails with too many Elders in society, to do Justice to that oppressed people…Testimony should be maintain’d against this oppressive practice.” [23]

While Quakers were seen by revolutionaries as siding with the British Crown, they took sides when it came to the moral issue of slavery.

In the turbulent revolutionary environment, Quakers in Baltimore Town survived through a war which would change the new United States as the British imperial system was removed and the colonial elite structures remained.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.

[2] It is possible that Adams was factious in this letter.

[3] Indian Spring Monthly Meeting: Minutes (Sandy Spring), 1772-1817, 27 October 1775 [MSA SC 2978 SCM 638-1]. The Indian Spring meeting specifically, as some have noted, “even indirectly contributed to the war effort by raising money in 1775 for the inhabitants of faraway Boston after the start of the Revolution.”

[4] Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis Number III,” Maryland Journal, May 6, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 182, page 2.

[5] Maryland Journal, May 13, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 184, page 1; Maryland Journal, September 16, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 202, page 1-2.

[6] J. Saurin Norris, The early Friends (or Quakers) in Maryland (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1862), 25; Camila Townsend, Tales of Two Cities: Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America: Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Baltimore, Maryland (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 105. In Maryland, the General Assembly, even in 1747, passed a law to condemn public drunkenness outside Quakers houses of worship among other laws in 1718, 17481752, 1757, and 1765. Even so, they continued to meet in a Baltimorean private dwelling, a meeting place since about 1700. Starting in the 1770s, Quaker millers, who lived in Philadelphia, were displaced by the Revolution and settled near Baltimore. It is worth noting that a general meeting of the Quakers for the state of Maryland was not held in Baltimore until 1787.

[7] Pacificus, “To the Public,” Maryland Journal, June 16, 1778, Baltimore, Vol. V, issue 242, page 1. This is not the same as Alexander Hamilton, a man who took the pseudonym ‘Pacificus’ and debated with framers of the Constitution.

[8] Arthur Mekeel, “The American Revolution: New York Divided,” Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings (ed. Hugh Barbour, Christopher Densmore, Elizabeth H. Moger, Nancy C. Sorel, Alson D. Van Wagner, and Arthur J. Worrall, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1995), 51-61; David Cooper, “For the Testimony of Truth,” American Quaker War Tax Resistance (ed. David M. Gross, second edition, ebook: CreateSpace, 2011), 216-217; “Conclusion of the Piece Begun in the Maryland Journal Extraordinary of the 6th of November,” Maryland Journal, December 3, 1782, Vol. IX, issue 483, page 1. Based on the types of persecution that Quakers endured in later years it is possible to infer the conditions that they lived through in that fateful year of independence. Even with their outspoken beliefs, the Quakers were still worshipping in a meeting house in Baltimore by the end of the war, along with the town’s other religious denominations.

[9] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841, October 1778, p. 2-3 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[10] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1776, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 132 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1].

[11] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, October 1778, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841, p. 4-5 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[12] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, October 1778, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841,  p. 4-5 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[13] Peter Brock, Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 223, 228; Maryland Journal, November 4, 1777, Vol. v, issue 209, page 4; Maryland Journal, April 21, 1778, Vol. V, issue 233, page 1.

[14] Brock, 39, 223; Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, Calvert, Cecil County, Maryland (Lancaster: Wickersham Printing Company, 1902), 55. This text also notes that Brown was born in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, which had its own meeting of Quakers was associated with the East Nottingham meeting in Maryland, which was in Cecil County’s East Nottingham Hundred.

[15] Brock, 223; Grace L. Tracey and John Philip Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland 1721-1743 (Baltimore: Genealogical Printing, 1989), 82; Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, 46, 53, 56. It is possible that some of these Jeremiah Browns could have been his father.

[16] Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, 66, 70.

[17] Brock, 212; “The Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq; before the House of Commons,” Maryland Journal, November 23, 1779, Baltimore, Vol. VI, issue 322, page 1; “A Further Extract from the Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq; by a Committee of the British House of Commons,” Maryland Journal, December 7, 1779, Baltimore, Vol. VI, issue 324, page 1. It is likely that Quakers lived under similar conditions in 1776, especially after the Declaration of Independence. During the British occupation of Philadelphia after 1778, the British reported that one-fourth of the population were Quakers and that they refused to carry arms.

[18] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1776-1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 131, 133-134 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]. They also discussed slavery in their yearly meetings, of course.

[19] Herbert Aptheker, “The Quakers and Negro Slavery.” The Journal of Negro History 25, no. 3 (1940): 352; Jennifer H. Doresey, Hirelings: African American Workers and Free Labor in Early Maryland (London: Cornell University Press, 2011), 40; David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 25; David W Jordan, “”Gods Candle” within Government: Quakers and Politics in Early Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 39, no. 4 (1982): 653. In earlier years, Quakers in Baltimore had “participated integrally in the local and provisional life of the colony,” even engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

[20] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 135-137 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]; Baltimore Yearly Meetings, Miscellaneous Contents, 1677–1901, Advice (General), p. 6-7 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 551-1].

[21] Stephen Whitman, “Diverse Good Causes: Manumission and the Transformation of Urban Slavery.” Social Science History 19, no. 3 (1995): 334.

[22] Jean R. Soderlund, Quakers and Slavery: A Divided Spirit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 57.

[23] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 137 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]. In that meeting, the investigation of fellow brethren who held enslaved blacks was continued, with a report scheduled for the next quarterly meeting.

A “little groggy”: the deputy sheriff of Baltimore and his “bowl of toddy”

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I worked at the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

Photograph of two hot toddy drinks
On December 21, 1776, Sergeant John Hardman of the Edward Veazey‘s Seventh Independent Company arrived at a public prison in Baltimore Town with captured British soldiers. [1] He was there escorting the British prisoners from Philadelphia. That night, Hardman ordered a “bowl of toddy” for the prisoners. Toddy, a popular drink originally adopted by the British, consisted of rum, hot water, and sugar.
Two other men, Daniel Curtis, the Baltimore County Sheriff, and John Ross, his deputy, asked for a “bowl of liquor.” [2] Ross, also a keeper of the town’s poor house, engaged in a friendly conversation with the prisoners, amongst whom Hardman was sitting. [3]
What happened next made people uneasy. Ross lifted the bowl of toddy, meant for the prisoners. He offered a toast, drinking to “damnation to General Washington & his army” and success “to Lord Howe & his army,” as well as to Lord Dunmore. [4] It was not unusual that he made a toast. [5] However, guards, likely Continental soldiers, saw his loyalty as antagonistic to the revolutionary cause. Since the Stamp Act in 1765, British royalty were praised less than the American colonists in toasts. This was magnified after independence.
Ross’s toast was particularly inflammatory in Baltimore. In 1775, Dunmore, then Governor of Virginia, declared that enslaved blacks and indentured servants who joined British ranks would become free. While few servants and enslaved blacks responded to his proclamation, the order echoed through the Chesapeake Bay as Dunmore formed the “Ethiopian Regiment.” [6] When Ross toasted to Dunmore, the prison guards were sure he was a sympathizer of the British Crown.
By the second toast, Ross, appearing a “little groggy,” asked the prisoners to drink “the same toast.” [7] The prisoners refused and Ross became belligerent. He drank the toddy, declaring that “they should not drink his toddy,” and that the prisoners should get a bowl for themselves. Then, appearing to “be a little in liquor,” he changed his allegiance. Ross “drank damnation to General or Lord Howe.” [8] Afterward, Hardman “challenged the said Ross,” saying he “would mark him” down for his disturbing conduct. Later, Hardman asked several people about Ross’s identity. [9]
James Calhoun, Chairman of the Committee of Observation for Baltimore Town, a provisional government in Baltimore, compiled depositions about the event in January 1777. [10] Ross was told to attend the next meeting of Maryland Council of Safety. On January 27, Ross appeared before the Council to directly address Hardman’s complaint, but Hardman was not present. [11] This was likely because he had enlisted in the Second Maryland Regiment and was not in the state at the time. The Council told Ross to appear before the Maryland General Assembly the following month on February 10. The resolution of this incident is not known. [12]
Drunken outbursts were common during colonial times. In 1770, every American over age 15, drank an average of about six shot glasses of whiskey, which is about 40 percent alcohol, every day! [13] With drinking alcohol as an important past time, it was viewed as pleasant and useful by fellow colonists. While public drunkenness was illegal, drinking played a central role in social activities, with taverns and public houses serving as places to drink and forums for revolutionary ideas. [14]
The Revolutionary War also changed Americans’ drinking habits. Americans settled on whiskey as a substitute for molasses and rum which were limited by the British naval blockade. [15] During the war, troops of the British and Continental armies were issued rations for alcohol but both armies prohibited drunkenness. [16] After the war, alcohol consumption declined slightly, but increased after 1790. [17] The spike in alcohol consumption ended with the success of the temperance movement in the nineteenth century, with more Americans criticizing alcohol use. [18]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.

Notes

[1] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4748; Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore, December 23, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, Red Book 13, MdHR 4575-179 [MSA S989-19, 1/6/4/7]; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1766-1768, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 61, 14, 8687, 185299, 308310, 361368, 387, 389390393442, 520; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1769-1770, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 62, 126; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 7172; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1771 to June-July, 1773, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 63, 37282; Correspondence of Governor Sharpe, 1757-1761, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 9, 421; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 199, 337; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 374. The British soldiers, recruited in North Carolina, may have been captured at the Battle of White Plains. Hardman was under the command of Levin Winder, who had recently been appointed as a captain.

[2] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 47. When Hardman describes Ross as a “sub-sheriff” this means that Ross is an assistant or deputy sheriff.

[3] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1769-1770, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 62, 387, 403; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 47; Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and making of a vast industry (USA: Basic Books, 1982),105; Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 1, 194-196, 199-200, 203, 205-208, 210-212, 337; Camilla Townsend, Tales of Two Cities: Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America: Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Baltimore, Maryland (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 37, 39, 122, 283-284; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1766-1768, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 61, 96; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 23; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 178, 267, 581; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1789-1793, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 72, 347; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 48, 150; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268269. Interestingly, no hard liquors were allowed in the poor house. The poor house, also called an almshouse, on the outskirts of Baltimore Town, was created to serve as “relief” for the poor. It aimed to “reform” the poor to not be disorderly and engage in “meaningful” work.

[4] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 46. The prison guards may have also been suspicious of him considering that he never praised the Continental Army and George Washington in any of his toasts.

[5] Peter Thompson, “”The Friendly Glass”: Drink and Gentility in Colonial Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 113, no. 4 (1989): 553, 557-558, 560; Richard J. Hooker, “The American Revolution Seen through a Wine Glass.” The William and Mary Quarterly 11, no. 1 (1954): 52-77; Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States (New York: Free Press, 2010), 5. Not all of those who are toasted were praised. Hardman suspected Ross as “a Tory.”

[6] Gary B. Nash, Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000, fourth edition), 274-275; Ray Raphael, A People’s History of the American Revolution (New York: Perennial, 2002, second edition), 309-311, 316, 320-327, 331-332, 335, 342, 355, 358, 385, 397; Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics and the Revolution in Maryland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 184-185. This regiment fought in the Battle of Great Bridge (1775) near Chesapeake, Virginia before many of those in the regiment succumbed to smallpox. In later years, every time British ships would come down the Chesapeake Bay, runaway slaves would flock to the incoming ships. Enslaved blacks renounced their owners and flocked to British lines, with some fugitives attacking plantations of their former masters on the Eastern Shore. Not surprisingly, desperate slaveowners in Maryland appealed to the state government, originally the Maryland Council of Safety, asking them for assistance.

[7] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4647.

[8] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore.

[9] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore. This is interesting considering that earlier prisoners had told Ross who Hardman was.

[10] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4647. These people made depositions: Elizabeth Dewit, wife of prison guard Thomas Dewit, prison guard Constantine O’Donnell, John Hardman, sergeant of Edward Veazey‘s company, Ross’s associate Daniel Curtis, and civil servant William Spencer.

[11] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 59, 60, 83.

[12] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 21, 568. Ross appears again in October 1779 asking for, along with a number of others, a recount in an “unfair” county election of sheriffs, but the Council of Maryland refused to do that, saying that the election was “valid & effectual.”

[13] Jessica Kross, “”If You Will Not Drink with Me, You Must Fight with Me”: The Sociology of Drinking in the Middle Colonies.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 64, no. 1 (1997): 28; W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 10; Russell, 6-7; Alcohol and Drugs in North America: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vol 1: A-L (ed. David M. Fahey and Jon S. Miller, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013), 84; W. J. Rorabaugh, “Alcohol in America.” OAH Magazine of History 6, no. 2 (1991):17. Americans drank whiskey that “80 proof,” referring to the weight of an average spirit and indicating the drink is 40 percent alcohol. Historian Jessica Kross said that this number “might well understate beer consumption and assumes women drank more than men” which was echoed by other scholars. Americans, of all ages, guzzled three and half gallons of alcohol per year, on average. They drank rum and cider at every meal.

[14] Kross, 43; Peter Thompson, “”The Friendly Glass”: Drink and Gentility in Colonial Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 113, no. 4 (1989): 549; Russell, 20, 26; Christine Sismondo, America Walks Into A Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), xv, 54, 78-79; Peter Thompson, Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 13, 20, 75, 143, 145. Taverns were also places for revolutionary recruiting and organizing. Politicians even fished for votes among inebriated citizens.

[15] Rorabaugh, 17; Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 31. At the same time, rum consumption declined since rum became associated with Great Britain.

[16] Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 32; Eric Burns, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004), 16; Sarah H. Meachan, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: JHU Press, 2009), 5, 95. George Washington specifically hated alcohol abuse even though he ordered alcohol for his men, as a morale booster.

[17] Rorabaugh, 10; Korss, 48; Thompson, 549; Russell, 28, 30, 33; Sharon V. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking in Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 246, 252, 282; Rorabaugh, 21, 25, 36, 67, 136, 149-150, 167, 219; Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 38, 46; The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (ed., Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, and Adam Rothman, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 405. Americans continued to drink in huge quantities, despite the failed efforts of temperance advocates, like Benjamin Rush, to limit consumption in taverns, inns, and drinking houses.

[18] Peter McCandless, Slavery, Disease, and Suffering in the Southern Lowcountry (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 196, 272; Drugs in America: A Documentary History (ed. David F. Musto, New York: New York University Press, 2002), 3; Scott C. Martin, “Introduction: Toward a Cultural Theory of the Market Revolution,” Cultural Change and the Market Revolution in America, 1789-1860 (ed. Scott C. Martin, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005), 3;  Mitchel P. Roth, Crime and Punishment: A History of the Criminal Justice System (Second Edition, United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010), 112; Marvin Kitman, The Making of the President 1789: The Unauthorized Campaign Biography (New York: Grove Press, 1989), 40.

The political climate of Baltimore in 1776

Reposted this from Academia.edu. I originally posted this while working at the Maryland State Archives as part of the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

An illustration from 1777 drawn by British printmaker Matthew Darly. It is captioned: “Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his American children and therefore is England marred and forced to go with a staff.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Baltimore Town was more than a diverse and pre-industrial port town that sat on the Patapsco River. It had numerous sentiments, ranging from the pro-revolutionary, some of which were militant in their beliefs, to support for the British Crown. This article continues the series about Baltimore Town by focusing on the town’s political climate in 1776. You can read our other posts about Baltimore during the Revolutionary War period here.

The structures governing the town’s 6,700 inhabitants included a board of commissioners which were handpicked by the general assembly in Annapolis, a development which irked Baltimoreans. [1] This was countered by a powerful alliance between merchants and mechanics on efforts for increased local independence for the town and united in the town’s Whig Club. [2] The Baltimore Whig Club was an organization fanatically dedicated to the revolutionary cause and made up of officers of the First Maryland Regiment, mechanics and merchants. Ultimately, inhabitants of Baltimore Town were allowed to vote for representatives of Baltimore County in the Convention of Maryland. [3] Demands for local independence were so strong that state elites gave the town two seats in the assembly, just like the city of Annapolis. [4]

While Baltimore was a “Whig stronghold” and the First Maryland regiment was also stationed in the town, like Annapolis, there were numerous differences. [5] Annapolis, within the rich Anne Arundel County, had a established planter gentry and served as a huge marketing center for the state’s agriculture. [6] The Revolutionary War gave the merchant community an advantage since it became a distribution center for military supplies, and an armed camp, with troops stationed in the city throughout the war. [7] By 1776, the merchants allied with the British Crown had left or were pushed out, leaving Annapolis to give determined and concentrated support to the revolutionary cause. [8]

Baltimore and Annapolis had a feud which was not healed by 1776. For instance, Baltimoreans were mad that the state assembly perceived them as a backwater village.[9] Relatively, Annapolis had a higher level of affluence than Baltimore and not only were merchants “flush with wartime profits” by the end of the war but the city’s maritime culture prospered. [10]  In this commercial and bustling port city, delegates, as part of the Convention of Maryland, met and declared that Marylanders have “no security for their lives or liberties” under the rule of the British Crown. [11]

The Whig Club, which absorbed and represented much of the pro-revolutionary sentiment, was not the only organization with same sentiment in town, or even the first. For example, the Sons of Liberty existed in the town at the same time. [12] As for the Whig Club, its activities ended in April 1777, but it became a manifestation of a new order in Baltimore and set the stage for the post-war environment.

In 1775, the precursor to the club was created by town mechanics. These mechanics were skilled laborers in the clothing, construction, food, and shipbuilding trades. [13] The group was called the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers. It was the descendant of the Baltimore Mechanical Company, the “closest thing that Baltimore had to representative town government” in the 1760s. [14] The Volunteers was an organization which allowed mechanics to gain confidence in themselves, “their abilities to command and their right to be heard” in the political scene in Baltimore Town. [15]

These Volunteers transformed again as the war progressed forward. In 1775, Baltimoreans proudly organized a Baltimore Mechanical Volunteer Company, a group of militia to defend the town in case of a British invasion, and many of the company’s members were mechanics themselves. [16] This not only politicized the town’s mechanics but the company provided many of the officers who later became part of the Baltimore Whig Club. [17] Later in the war, Baltimorean mechanics also fought as part of the Continental Army.

There were also sentiments favoring the British Crown despite the strong bloc of revolutionary sentiment. Even David McMechen, a member of the town’s Whig Club and a soldier in the First Maryland Regiment, wrote in 1776 that he could not “stay in such a violent place” as Baltimore since he had “too many enemies.” [18]

It is interesting that McMechen said this because in late 1776, supporters of the Crown took up arms after being harassed by the Baltimore Whig Club. [19] British supporters were pushed back until they received support from “the town’s free Negroes who offered protection in their quarters,” and they remained there until they could depart secretly and safely to New York. [20] Still, McMechen could be partially correct. In July 1776, Samuel Purviance, an eminent merchant, wrote that restrictions on trade with Britain were viewed less favorably in Baltimore County, which the town was then part of, than elsewhere. [21]

In the early months of 1777, Baltimore was shaken by disruptions to public order. On January 11, Captain Alexander Furnival complained that his soldiers, including William Grimes, had the “hard duty” of keeping guard in Baltimore Town “over the public Stores,” meaning supplies. [22] As a result, some of the local militia were used to take the place of Furnival’s men. Seven days later, the Baltimore County’s Committee of Observation ordered that the artillery companies commanded by Nathaniel Smith and Alexander Furnival, and William Galbraith’s Company of militia in the Baltimore Town Battallion be put on guard to preserve stability in the town. [23] The Committee gave these companies the duty of ending “all Riots and Tumults within the said County, or Baltimore Town” if necessary. [24] Around this same time, three soldiers of Smith’s Company, two of whom were named David Welsh and a drummer named Harry, searched the house of a wealthy merchant, who favored favoring the British Crown, named Melchior Keener. [25]

In line with the tactics used by militant revolutionaries in the town, the soldiers allegedly came in with muskets and bayonets drawn, searching the house in a “Riotous manner, and were guilty of divers irregularities.” [26] Not long after, the Council of Safety wrote to the Committee, describing the following:

“We are much concerned that we have cause again to trouble you on behalf of Melchior Keener, who hath lately been very ill used as he alleges, by some Soldiers of Capt. Nathl Smith’s  Company, and others who came without any authority or war- rant that he knows of, to search his house, and committed divers irregularities, two of the Soldiers were David Welch [or Welsh] and Harry the drummer…the Whig club…had no hand in this riot. We wrote to Capt Smith, and request you would with his assistance inquire into the affair and see that the peace is preserved. If Keener be guilty of any offence, let him be prosecuted according to law…We must observe once for all that mobbing men of doubtful principles is not the way to gain friends to the cause of America…What you tell us of the people framing a petition to Lord Howe and the Riots complained of in Baltimore Town have induced the Council of Safety to pass an order…inclosed to you and to each of the Captains.” [27]

While David Welsh’s name does not reappear in Volume 16, it is likely that he is the same as David Walsh, one of the 74 enlisted men who said they were committed to defending “libertys of the country.” [28]

Keener, president of the Baltimore Mechanical Company before the war, had experienced similar treatment. In the fall of 1776, The Whig Club had branded him a traitor and faced with their threats, Keener fulfilled their demands, returning to the town that December. Keener was not the only one threatened in this blazon manner. In March 1777, William Goddard, a well-off printer who rhetorically battled with the Whig Club, was “forcibly haled out of his own House and taken down the street to Mr. Rusk’s Tavern” by a pro-revolutionary mob. [29] The militia of William Galbraith, who were supposed to stop this, allying themselves with these militant revolutionaries, who were part of the town’s Whig Club.

In this contentious environment in Baltimore, the Continental Congress, still sitting in the town, ordered that signed copies of the Declaration of Independence be printed. These copies were printed by publisher and bookseller Mary Katherine Goddard and distributed across the thirteen colonies. The political climate in Baltimore was undoubtedly lively despite the disappearance of the Whig Club in mid-1777. For example, the mechanics, who had worked with the Whig Club, were forming a “new collective identity.” [30]

As the war continued, Baltimore Town changed with the establishment of a new political order, and gained an important economic position, which situated it well in the postwar environment.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 4, 10.

[2] Ibid, 11; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 296, 300-301; Tina M. Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830, ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 22-23.

[3] Robert Purviance, A Narrative of Events Which Occurred in Baltimore Town During the Revolutionary War (Baltimore: Jos. Robinson, 1849), 43.

[4] Steffen, 10-11, 72.

[5] Purviance, 61; Keith Mason, “Localism, Evangelicalism, and Loyalism: The Sources of Discontent in the Revolutionary Chesapeake.” The Journal of Southern History 56, no. 1 (1990): 24.

[6] Alice Hanson Jones. Wealth Estimates for the Southern Colonies About 1770 (Chicago: Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, 1973), 34; Steffen, 9, 122; Edward C. Papenfuse. In Pursuit of Profit: The Annapolis Merchants in the Era of the American Revolution, 1763-1805 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 6. It is also worth noting that in 1776, there was a large amount of British-held debt in Maryland as Papenfuse notes on pages 40-41.

[7] Papenfuse, 2, 78, 80, 86, 83; Rosemary F. Williams, Maritime Annapolis: A History of Watermen, Sails & Midshipmen (London: The History Press, 2009), 24; Elihu S. Riley, “The Ancient City”: History of Annapolis, in Maryland (Annapolis: Record Printing Office, 1887), 182. On July 10th, six companies of the first regiment of Maryland troops commanded by Col. Smallwood headed up the Chesapeake Bay and were joined by three companies in the same regiment stationed in Baltimore.

[8] Papenfuse, 50-51; Williams, 88; Riley, 165.

[9] Steffen, 10, 24, 60, 63.

[10] Papenfuse, 2.

[11] “A Declaration of the Delegates of Maryland July 6,” July 7, 1776, Maryland Journal Vol. III, issue 135, Baltimore, Maryland, pp. 539.

[12] Steffen, 66.

[13] Ibid, xiii, 14, 27, 95-96, 112, 171. Most of the mechanics were propertyless. Like other laborers, mechanics were divided by class position, with some with more wealth than others.

[14] Ibid, 53-54, 57, 171.

[15] Ibid, 53. It is not known if the mechanics, rejected the “selfish principles of corrupt oligarchy” as strongly as the mechanics in the city of New York in June 1776 as noted in the Address of the Mechanics of New York City (June 14, 1776) to the Colonial Congress Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America (Reprint, ed. Hezekiah Miles, New York: A.S. Barnes & Co. Publishers, 1876), 176. In later years, the Volunteers would be a militia unit that defended Baltimore from British invasion during the War of 1812 as noted by the National Park Service, the Historical Marker Database, and other sources. There were other companies of the same name in the 1820s and 1840s. They also were well-honored enough to be mentioned in laws passed by the General Assembly in 1792, 17931797 along with laws passed in 1758, and in 1768.

[16] Ibid, 61.

[17] Ibid, 61, 63, 66, 69. Apparently, some Baltimoreans went further, taking matters into their own hands, possibly engaging in acts of violence, since they felt “pinned between a tyrannical [British] government abroad and a submissive one” in the state itself.

[18] Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette Annapolis, July 9, 1776 Vol. II, issue LXII, pp. 3. For these reasons and others, there was a new police force, made up of adult males, in Baltimore created around the same time which had night watchpersons to preserve “the good order and peace” (Clinton McCabe. History of the Baltimore Police Department (Baltimore: Allied Printers, 1907), 15-16).

[19] Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics and the Revolution in Maryland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 184.

[20] Ibid. John C. Rainbolt adds on page 435 of his “A Note on the Maryland Declaration of Rights and Constitution of 1776” (Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 66, no. 4 (Winter 1971)) that later on in 1776 the committee pushing for independence removed a section from the Maryland bill of rights which made a declaration against the slave trade, proving that there was greater reception for newer political values than “racial and religious values of the enlightenment.” This was likely influenced by the fact that the Black community on the Eastern Shore, thanks to Dunmore’s Proclamation, allied with those favoring the British Crown, participating in an insurrection that was put down by “organized military force” (Hoffman, 184-185). As  Donald Marguand Dozer put it in Portrait of the Free State, “in Baltimore…the Whig Club assumed the authority of government and drove the Tories out of Town” (pp. 259). Other writers claim their were “battles” in Baltimore between the Whig Club and “armed loyalists” but never explain if these battles were ideological or pitched street fights (Robert J. Brugger, Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634 – 1980, 123).

[21] Purviance, 61.

[22] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 40, 41.

[23] Heitman, 340, 505; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 363, 384; Steffen, 70, 72.

[24] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 58. By August of that year, there is still discussions of whether supplies can be left in Baltimore Town safely “or removed to the Fort” (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 325). The worries about security in Baltimore continued to even December 1777 (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 436).

[25] Steffen, 60, 69.

[26] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 58.

[27] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 59, 60.

[28] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 73, 74. All of these men are asking to be discharged, then re-enlist a second time as long as they receive rations they need, have higher wages, and bounty “given in other Companys.” Later on, Smith said his troops were “troublesome” but he was keeping them in order (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 139).

[29] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 89190, 225; Steffen, 65, 70-74, 90. The tavern, where Goddard was brought to “stand trial,” was owned by David Rusk who not only was committed to pro-revolutionary sentiment and a member of the Mechanical Company (Steffen, 71-2; George Washington McCreary, The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore (Baltimore: Kohn & Polleck, 1901), 25-26). The Whig Club also had meetings in the house of Rusk, who was a member of the club at the time. Goddard bated radicals throughout the war in his newspaper. Due to this environment it isn’t surprising that the Council of Safety said that Scottish prisoners should be removed from Baltimore as soon as possible, that a jailkeeper named Thomas Dewitt was arrested, likely because he was seen as allied with the British Crown, and that there was “an Insurrection in the upper Part of that [Baltimore] County” suppressed, in part, by Andrew Buchanan (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 229, 231, 246, 272, 388, 389, 390). It is important to note that Goddard is not the same as the Massachusetts printer who has the same name.

[30] Steffen, 70-71, 276. In 1800, the next organization of the mechanics dissolved and they moved into the political arena with candidates (Steffen, 172).

A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

In 1776, Baltimore’s population was just over 6,000. This zoomed-in version of a map, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows how Baltimore was portrayed in 1776.

In May 1776, the Revolution had been raging for almost a year with skirmishes between the British imperial army and the rag-tag revolutionaries. William Marr, probably with his brothers Nicholas and James, enlisted in the Continental Army in Capt. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, a section of the First Maryland Regiment, at Whetstone Point. [1] It was not uncommon for multiple men of the same immediate family to enlist in the Revolutionary War. Many company members were young and residents from the Baltimore area. The Fifth Company included the Marr brothers at Whetstone Point, fortified with 38 cannons and earthworks, two miles below Baltimore, to defend it from British attack. [2] They were joined by Daniel Bowie’s Fourth Company and Samuel Smith’s Eighth Company, as we have noted on this blog in the past. The Marr brothers and members of the three companies of the First Maryland Regiment would have seen a Baltimore that few of us can imagine today. This article is the beginning of a series about Baltimore.

In 1776, Baltimore was a small, pre-industrial town on the Patapsco River. It was officially called Baltimore Town until a city charter was received in 1797. [3] The Revolution caused difficulties by ending trade of exports such as wheat, flour, and tobacco with the British West Indies, but due to the war, Baltimore still grew economically and by population beyond 6,000 residents. [4] John Adams, in his stay in late 1776 and early 1777 as part of the Continental Congress, described the town as “very pretty” with revolutionary sentiments, but having dirty, mirey, and foul streets, a “monstrous price of things,” unhealthy air and a “dull place” not even worth defending from the British. [5] Still, Baltimore Town was a bustling and growing commercial port with a job market open to immigrants containing more than 500 dwellings. [6]

Baltimore Town was not as big as Philadelphia, in terms of population. However, the seventy-four enlisted soldiers in the Fifth Company would have seen people of varying backgrounds. There were people from many trades ranging from blacksmiths, shipbuilders at Fells Point, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, shoemakers, among others. [7] Many of these local artisans supplied common amenities and engaged in craft services in Baltimore and neighboring counties, working in a town economy “dominated by commerce.” [8]

Many of these craftspeople relied on unpaid labor such as indentured servants, mostly comprised of male English convicts, thousands of whom were trafficked into the Chesapeake Bay from the early 1700s up until 1776. [9] However, convict trade was brought to a halt due to ending of trade between Britain and colonial America as a result of the beginning of the Revolution. The enlistment of servants to the Continental Army created a labor shortage addressed by an increase of slave importation by master craftspeople. [10] At the time, others entering Baltimore included those of a “middling sort,” German immigrants, and Irish immigrants. [11] In describing Baltimore, John Adams once said that there were a few planters and farmers, who were also merchants, with lands cultivated and trades exercised by convicts and enslaved Blacks. [12] He further described these planters and farmers as having “little public spirit” as they held their enslaved Blacks and convicts “in contempt” and thought of themselves “a distinct order of beings.” [13] It is possible Adams thought lowly of these planters and farmers because they were not contributing to the revolutionary cause as much as he wanted. Still, the attitudes and actions of the planters and farmers was not unique to Baltimore.

Throughout and after the war, Baltimore Town continued to expand. Evidence suggests the Marr brothers likely settled in the Baltimore area, among other surviving soldiers. Meanwhile, Baltimore Town continued to grow by population and export of commodities, such as wheat, although there were price increases, and became an important market. [14] Despite increases in trade and availability of agricultural products, many of the tradespeople could not afford to become property owners as the town was building its unique identity. [15] As 1800 approached and Baltimore developed into more of a maritime city, the town continued to change demographically. [16]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016

Notes

[1] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Order to give back pay of Nicholas Marr, William Marr’s brother, to Lewis Lee. MdHR 19970-05-01-07 [MSA S997-5-7, 1/7/3/11].

[2] Neal A. Brooks and Eric G. Rockel. A History of Baltimore County. Towson: Friends of the Towson Library, 1979. pp. 85, 101; Richard C. Medford. Book Review: ‘Mirror of Americans,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. XXXIX, March 1949, no. 1. pp. 90; S. Synthes Bradford. ‘In Fort McHenry 1814: The outworks in 1814,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 52, no. 2, June 1959. pp. 188-189, 191; Christopher T. George. ‘Book Review of Fort McHenry,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 9, no. 6, 1996. pp. 224; Hamilton Owens. Baltimore on the Chesapeake. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1991. pp. 85. Years later, in 1814, Whetstone Point, like during the during the Revolution, then the site of Fort McHenry (‘Notes and queries: The President visits Maryland, 1817,’ Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. XLIX, June 1954, no. 2. pp. 168), held off the British destruction of the “”very pretty town.”

[3] Charles Francis Adams. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams. New York: Hund and Houghton, 1876. pp. 296; Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984. pp. 3; Kathryn Allamong Jacob. ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 263.

[4] Edward J. Perkins. The Economy of Colonial America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988, 135; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 4; Matson, Cathy. “The Atlantic Economy in an Era of Revolutions: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 360; US Census. A Century of population growth from the first census to the twelfth. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909. pp. 30; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ 296; Jacob Harry Hollander. The Financial History of Baltimore vol. 20. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1899. pp. 17; Arthur M. Schlesinger. ‘Maryland’s share in the last intercontinental war.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VIII June 1912, no. 2. pp. 125; Sherry H. Olson. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. pp. 15; Henry C. Ward. The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society: War and Society in the United States, 1775-85. New York: Routledge, 1999. pp. 152.

[5] Owens, Baltimore on the Chesapeake, 110; Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States Vol. III. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851. pp. 25, 198; Tina M. Sheller. ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town.’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830 (ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. pp. 26; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 237; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 9, 1777); Jacob, ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797,’ 291.

[6] Lawrence C. Wroth, ‘A Maryland Merchant and his friends in 1750,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VI, Sept. 1911, no. 3. pp. 215, 219; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves,’ 18; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 20.

[7] Daniels, Christine. “”WANTED: A Blacksmith Who Understands Plantation Work”: Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810.” The William and Mary Quarterly 50, no. 4 (1993): 760-761, 766; Mariana L.R. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth Century Americas. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. pp. 90; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 18; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 10 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 18, 25.

[8] Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 19-20.

[9] Daniels, ‘Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810,’ 752; Morgan, Kenneth. “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775.” The William and Mary Quarterly 42, no. 2 (1985): 203, 205, 211, 217; M. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in Eighteenth Century Americas. pp. 40-41.

[10] Morgan, “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775,” 202, 222; Darlas, Black Townsmen, 75; Ward, The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society, 215; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 27.

[11] Eugene Irving McCormac. White servitude in Maryland, 1634-1820. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1902. pp. 32; Middleton, Simon, and Smith Billy G. “Class and Early America: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 63, no. 2 (2006): 219; Allan Kulikoff. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986. pp. 425; Olson, Baltimore, 15.

[12] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 23, 1777).

[13] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 28, 1777).

[14] Brooks and Rockel, A History of Baltimore County, 107; Hunter, Brooke. “Wheat, War, and the American Economy during the Age of Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 510, 516, 522, 524; Cometti, Elizabeth. “Inflation in Revolutionary Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 8, no. 2 (1951): 230; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 25; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 10-11; Olson, Baltimore, 10; Shammas, Carole. “The Space Problem in Early United States Cities.” The William and Mary Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2000): 505-506, 509.

[15] Steffen, Charles G. “Changes in the Organization of Artisan Production in Baltimore, 1790 to 1820.” The William and Mary Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1979): 103, 113.

[16] Mark N. Ozer. Baltimore: Persons and Places. Baltimore: Garden Publishing, 2013. pp. 37; Olson, Baltimore, 10.