Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting in the spring of 1775 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia between September 5, 1774, October 26, 1774; the Second Congress moved incrementally towards independence. It adopted the Lee Resolution which established the new country on July 2, 1776, it agreed to the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; the Congress acted as the de facto national government of the United States by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, making formal treaties such as the Olive Branch Petition. The Second Continental Congress came together on May 11, 1775 reconvening the First Continental Congress. Many of the 56 delegates who attended the first meeting were in attendance at the second, the delegates appointed the same president and secretary. Notable new arrivals included John Hancock of Massachusetts.
Within two weeks, Randolph was summoned back to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses. Henry Middleton was elected as president to replace Randolph. Hancock was elected president on May 24. Delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies were present when the Second Continental Congress convened. Georgia had not participated in the First Continental Congress and did not send delegates to the Second. On May 13, 1775, Lyman Hall was admitted as a delegate from the Parish of St. John's in the Colony of Georgia, not as a delegate from the colony itself. On July 4, 1775, revolutionary Georgians held a Provincial Congress to decide how to respond to the American Revolution, that congress decided on July 8 to send delegates to the Continental Congress, they arrived on September 13. The First Continental Congress had sent entreaties to King George III to stop the Coercive Acts; the Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775 to plan further responses if the British government had not repealed or modified the acts.
For the first few months of the war, the Patriots carried on their struggle in an ad-hoc and uncoordinated manner. They had seized arsenals, driven out royal officials, besieged the British army in the city of Boston. On June 14, 1775, the Congress voted to create the Continental Army out of the militia units around Boston and appointed George Washington of Virginia as commanding general. On July 6, 1775, Congress approved a Declaration of Causes outlining the rationale and necessity for taking up arms in the Thirteen Colonies. On July 8, they extended the Olive Branch Petition to the British Crown as a final attempt at reconciliation. Silas Deane was sent to France as a minister of the Congress, American ports were reopened in defiance of the British Navigation Acts; the Continental Congress had no explicit legal authority to govern, but it assumed all the functions of a national government, such as appointing ambassadors, signing treaties, raising armies, appointing generals, obtaining loans from Europe, issuing paper money, disbursing funds.
The Congress had no authority to levy taxes and was required to request money and troops from the states to support the war effort. Individual states ignored these requests. Congress was moving towards declaring independence from the British Empire in 1776, but many delegates lacked the authority from their home governments to take such a drastic action. Advocates of independence moved to have reluctant colonial governments revise instructions to their delegations, or replace those governments which would not authorize independence. On May 10, 1776, Congress passed a resolution recommending that any colony with a government, not inclined toward independence should form one that was. On May 15, they adopted a more radical preamble to this resolution, drafted by John Adams, which advised throwing off oaths of allegiance and suppressing the authority of the Crown in any colonial government that still derived its authority from the Crown; that same day, the Virginia Convention instructed its delegation in Philadelphia to propose a resolution that called for a declaration of independence, the formation of foreign alliances, a confederation of the states.
The resolution of independence was delayed for several weeks, as advocates of independence consolidated support in their home governments. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution before the Congress declaring the colonies independent, he urged Congress to resolve "to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances" and to prepare a plan of confederation for the newly independent states. Lee argued that independence was the only way to ensure a foreign alliance, since no European monarchs would deal with America if they remained Britain's colonies. American leaders had rejected the divine right of kings in the New World, but recognized the necessity of proving their credibility in the Old World. Congress formally adopted the resolution of independence, but only after creating three overlapping committees to draft the Declaration, a Model Treaty, the Articles of Confederation; the Declaration announced the states' entry into the international
United States Declaration of Independence
The United States Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration announced that the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain would regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America; the declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. The Lee Resolution for independence was passed on July 2 with no opposing votes; the Committee of Five had drafted the Declaration to be ready. John Adams, a leader in pushing for independence, had persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress edited to produce the final version.
The Declaration was a formal explanation of why Congress had voted to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America" – although Independence Day is celebrated on July 4, the date that the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved. After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms, it was published as the printed Dunlap broadside, distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson's hand. Jefferson's original draft is preserved at the Library of Congress, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Jefferson's notes of changes made by Congress; the best-known version of the Declaration is a signed copy, displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.
C. and, popularly regarded as the official document. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19 and signed on August 2; the sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing 27 colonial grievances against King George III and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution, its original purpose was to announce independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few in the following years. Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his policies and his rhetoric, as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863. Since it has become a well-known statement on human rights its second sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life and the pursuit of Happiness; this has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language", containing "the most potent and consequential words in American history".
The passage came to represent a moral standard. This view was notably promoted by Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy and argued that it is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted; the Declaration of Independence inspired many similar documents in other countries, the first being the 1789 Declaration of United Belgian States issued during the Brabant Revolution in the Austrian Netherlands. It served as the primary model for numerous declarations of independence in Europe and Latin America, as well as Africa and Oceania during the first half of the 19th century. Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose. By the time that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in July 1776, the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain had been at war for more than a year.
Relations had been deteriorating between the colonies and the mother country since 1763. Parliament enacted a series of measures to increase revenue from the colonies, such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. Parliament believed that these acts were a legitimate means of having the colonies pay their fair share of the costs to keep them in the British Empire. Many colonists, had developed a different conception of the empire; the colonies were not directly represented in Parliament, colonists argued that Parliament had no right to levy taxes upon them. This tax dispute was part of a larger divergence between British and American interpretations of the British Constitution and the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies; the orthodox British view, dating from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was that Parliament was the supreme authority throughout the empire, so, by definition, anything that Parliament did was constitutional. In the colonies, the idea had developed that the British Constitution recognized certain fundamental rights that no government could violate, not Parliament.
After the Townshend Acts, some essayists began to question whether Parliament had any legitimate jurisdiction in the colonies at all. Anticipating the arrangement of the British Commonwealth, by 1774 American writers such as
Cliveden (Benjamin Chew House)
Cliveden known as the Benjamin Chew House, is a historic mansion at 6401 Germantown Avenue in Germantown, Pennsylvania. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle of Germantown, fought in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War. Built between 1763 and 1767 by Benjamin Chew, the mansion was inhabited from colonial times by seven generations of the Chew family, until 1972. Chew was head of the Pennsylvania Judiciary System under both Colony and Commonwealth, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania. From his legal mentor, Andrew Hamilton, he inherited Hamilton's lifelong clients, the descendants of William Penn. For Chew's safety, the Executive Committee of the Continental Congress forcibly removed him and his family from Cliveden, as his close friend, George Washington, was ordering his troops to move towards Philadelphia. British Colonel Musgrave quickly occupied the sturdily built mansion and fought off the attack from within with muskets and bayonets.
Washington's army was driven back down Germantown Avenue in defeat. In 1961, Cliveden was designated a National Historic Landmark, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, it is part of the Colonial Germantown Historic District. The National Trust for Historic Preservation operates Cliveden as a historic house museum and offers tours from April through December. Significance: Cliveden is an outstanding example of Philadelphia Georgian architecture. Designed by Chew and Jacob Knor, a master carpenter, the stone masonry house has fine interior woodwork; the original estate included a number of other structures, including a stable and coach house, a smoke house, hen house, summer house. The landscaping features statuary and gardens with over 200 varieties of shrubs. In 1868, a two-story addition was added in the original courtyard. A window on the second-floor stair landing in the main house was converted into a hidden doorway to create an entrance to the addition; the Chew Family Papers, containing an extensive collection of correspondence, financial records and other materials, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Architectural details Wyck House John Johnson House List of National Historic Landmarks in Philadelphia National Register of Historic Places listings in Northwest Philadelphia Official website Cliveden at USHistory.org Cliveden's summary listing as a National Historic Landmark Cliveden, National Historic Landmark Nomination. 2014 update. Historic American Buildings Survey No. PA-1184, "Cliveden", 87 photos, 14 color transparencies, 17 measured drawings, 12 data pages, 7 photo caption pages Exterior view of the building at the Library of Congress YouTube, Growing Up at Cliveden Benjamin Chew, Esq. A site dedicated to emerging research on Benjamin Chew, Esq
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, political theorist, freemason, scientist, humorist, civic activist and diplomat; as a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod and the Franklin stove, among other inventions, he founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies; as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, community spirit, self-governing institutions, opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment.
In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders". After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper, known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of British policies, he pioneered and was first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769.
Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations, his efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France. He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General, he was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania, he owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750s, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.
His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, his status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill and the names of many towns, educational institutions, corporations, as well as countless cultural references. Benjamin Franklin's father, Josiah Franklin, was a soaper and candlemaker. Josiah was born at Ecton, England on December 23, 1657, the son of blacksmith and farmer Thomas Franklin, Jane White. Benjamin's father and all four of his grandparents were born in England. Josiah had seventeen children with his two wives, he married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated with her to Boston in 1683. Following her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689 in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin's fifteenth tenth and last son. Abiah Folger was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1667, to Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher, his wife, Mary Morrell Folger, a former indentured servant.
She came from a Puritan family, among the first Pilgrims to flee to Massachusetts for religious freedom, when King Charles I of England began persecuting Puritans. They sailed for Boston in 1635, her father was "the sort of rebel destined to transform colonial America." As clerk of the court, he was jailed for disobeying the local magistrate in defense of middle-class shopkeepers and artisans in conflict with wealthy landowners. Ben Franklin followed in his grandfather's footsteps in his battles against the wealthy Penn family that owned the Pennsylvania Colony. Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, baptized at Old South Meeting House, he was one of seventeen children born to Josiah Franklin, one of ten born by Josiah's second wife, Abiah Folger. Among Benjamin's siblings were his older brother James and his younger sister Jane. Josiah wanted Ben to attend school with the clergy, but only had enough money to send him to school for two years, he did not graduate.
Although "his parents talked of the church as a career" for Franklin, his schooling e
Robert Morris (financier)
Robert Morris, Jr. was an English-born merchant and a Founding Father of the United States. He served as a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, the Second Continental Congress, the United States Senate, he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution. From 1781 to 1784, he served as the Superintendent of Finance of the United States, becoming known as the "Financier of the Revolution." Along with Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, he is regarded as one of the founders of the financial system of the United States. Born in Liverpool, Morris migrated to the United States in his teens becoming a partner in a successful shipping firm based in Philadelphia. In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, Morris joined with other merchants in opposing British tax policies such as the 1765 Stamp Act. After the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he helped procure arms and ammunition for the revolutionary cause, in late 1775 he was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
As a member of Congress, he served on the Secret Committee of Trade, which handled the procurement of supplies, the Committee of Correspondence, which handled foreign affairs, the Marine Committee, which oversaw the Continental Navy. Morris was a leading member of Congress until he resigned in 1778. Out of office, Morris refocused on his merchant career and won election to the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he became a leader of the "Republican" faction that sought alterations to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Facing a difficult financial situation in the ongoing Revolutionary War, in 1781 Congress established the position of Superintendent of Finance to oversee financial matters. Morris accepted appointment as Superintendent of Finance and served as Agent of Marine, from which he controlled the Continental Navy, he helped provide supplies to the Continental Army under General George Washington, enabling Washington's decisive victory in the Battle of Yorktown. Morris reformed government contracting and established the Bank of North America, the first bank to operate in the United States.
Morris believed that the national government would be unable to achieve financial stability without the power to levy taxes and tariffs, but he was unable to convince all thirteen states to agree to an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. Frustrated by the weakness of the national government, Morris resigned as Superintendent of Finance in 1784. In 1787, Morris was selected as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, which wrote and proposed a new constitution for the United States. Morris spoke during the convention, but the constitution produced by the convention reflected many of his ideas. Morris and his allies helped ensure that Pennsylvania ratified the new constitution, the document was ratified by the requisite number of states by the end of 1788; the Pennsylvania legislature subsequently elected Morris as one of its two inaugural representatives in the United States Senate. Morris declined Washington's offer to serve as the nation's first Treasury Secretary, instead suggesting Alexander Hamilton for the position.
In the Senate, Morris aligned with the Federalist Party. During and after his service in the Senate, Morris went into debt speculating on land. Unable to pay his creditors, he was confined in debtors' prison from 1798 to 1801. After being released from prison, he lived a quiet, private life in a modest home in Philadelphia until his death in 1806. Morris was born in Liverpool, England, on January 20, 1734, his parents were Robert Morris, Sr. a factor for a shipping firm, Elizabeth Murphet. Until he reached the age of thirteen, Morris was raised by his maternal grandmother in England. In 1747, Morris immigrated to Oxford, where his father had prospered in the tobacco trade. Two years Morris's father sent him to Philadelphia the most populous city in British North America, where Morris would live under the care of his father's friend, Charles Greenway. Greenway arranged for Morris to become an apprentice at the shipping and banking firm of Philadelphia merchant Charles Willing. In 1750, Robert Morris, Sr. died from an infected wound, leaving much of his substantial estate to his son.
Morris rose from a teenage trainee to become a key agent in Willing's firm. Morris traveled to Caribbean ports to expand the firm's business, he gained a knowledge of trading and the various currencies used to exchange goods, he befriended Thomas Willing, the oldest son of Charles Willing, two years older than Morris and who, like Morris, had split his life between England and British North America. Charles Willing died in 1754, in 1757 Thomas made Morris a full partner in the newly-renamed firm of Willing Morris & Company. Morris's shipping firm was just one of many such firms operating in Philadelphia, but Willing Morris & Company pursued several innovative strategies; the firm pooled with other shipping firms to insure vessels, aggressively expanded trade with India, underwrote government projects through bonds and promissory notes. Ships of the firm traded with India, the Levant, the West Indies, Spanish Cuba and Italy; the firm's business of import and general agency made it one of the most prosperous in Pennsylvania.
In 1784, with other investors, underwrote the voyage of the ship Empress of China, the first American vessel to visit the Chinese mainland. Morris's partnership with Willing was forged just after the beginning of the Seven Years' War hindered attracting the usual supply of new indentured servants to the colony. Pot
Battle of White Marsh
The Battle of White Marsh or Battle of Edge Hill was a battle of the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought December 5–8, 1777, in the area surrounding Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania. The battle, which took the form of a series of skirmish actions, was the last major engagement of 1777 between British and American forces. George Washington, commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces, spent the weeks after his defeat at the Battle of Germantown encamped with the Continental Army in various locations throughout Montgomery County, just north of British-occupied Philadelphia. In early November, the Americans established an entrenched position 16 miles north of Philadelphia along the Wissahickon Creek and Sandy Run situated on several hills between Old York Road and Bethlehem Pike. From here, Washington evaluated his options. On December 4, Gen. Sir William Howe, the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, led a sizable contingent of troops out of Philadelphia in one last attempt to destroy Washington and the Continental Army before the onset of winter.
After a series of skirmishes, Howe called off the attack and returned to Philadelphia without engaging Washington in a decisive conflict. With the British back in Philadelphia, Washington was able to march his troops to winter quarters at Valley Forge. After their October 4, 1777, defeat at the Battle of Germantown, Washington's army retreated along Skippack Pike to Pawling's Mill, beyond the Perkiomen Creek, where they remained encamped until October 8, they marched east on Skippack Pike, turned left on Forty-Foot Road, marched to Sumneytown Pike, where they camped on the property of Frederick Wampole near Kulpsville in Towamencin Township. While there, Brig. Gen. Francis Nash died of wounds incurred at Germantown and was buried in the Mennonite Meeting Cemetery. Washington remained at Towamencin for one week, gathering supplies and waiting to see if Howe would move against him. On October 16, Washington moved his forces to Methacton Hill in Worcester Township. After learning of Howe's withdrawal from Germantown to Philadelphia, Washington moved his army to Whitpain, 5 miles closer to Philadelphia, on October 20.
On October 29, Washington's army numbered 8,313 Continentals and 2,717 militia, although the terms of enlistment of many soldiers from Maryland and Virginia were due to expire. With his ranks reinforced, Washington dispatched a brigade to assist with the defense of Forts Mifflin and Mercer, on the Delaware River. On November 2, at the recommendation of his council of war, Washington marched his forces to White Marsh 13 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Washington established headquarters at the Emlen House, where his aides were quartered. At White Marsh, the army began to build redoubts and defensive works, including abatis in front of their encampment. After the surrender of British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne after the Battles of Saratoga, Washington began drawing troops from the north, including the 1,200 men of Varnum's Rhode Island brigade, about 1,000 more men from various Pennsylvania and Virginia units. Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates sent Col. Daniel Morgan's rifle corps, the brigades of Paterson and Glover.
With these additional forces, the pending onset of winter, Washington had to face the problem of supplying his army. A quarter of the troops were barefooted, there were few blankets or warm clothing. Washington became so desperate that he offered a reward of $10 to the person who could supply the "best substitute for shoes, made of raw hides". Morale was so low and desertion so common that Washington offered a pardon on October 24 to all deserters who returned by January 1. Washington's loss of Philadelphia and inactivity brought criticism from Congress, who pressured him to attack the city, he therefore called a council of war on November 24 which voted against an attack 11 to 4. Nonetheless, Washington rode out the next day to view the British defenses, which turned to be stronger than he had expected. On October 19, Howe withdrew the British forces from Germantown and focused on the defense of Philadelphia. British military engineer Capt. John Montresor supervised the building of a series of fourteen formidable redoubts that began at Upper Ferry, along the Schuylkill River, extended eastward to the shores of the Delaware River, just north of Philadelphia.
Howe took advantage of his time in Philadelphia to raise additional forces from the loyalist population in the region. Newly-promoted Maj. John Graves Simcoe reinforced his unit, the Queen's Rangers, which had lost over a quarter of its men at the Battle of Brandywine. William Allen, Jr. the son of notable loyalist William Allen, raised the 1st Battalion of Pennsylvania Loyalists, was made its lieutenant colonel. Loyalist James Chalmers raised the 1st Battalion of Maryland Loyalists, was given its command. Recruitment took place among the city's Irish Catholic population, with the formation of the Irish Catholic Volunteers, in the counties surrounding Philadelphia. In mid-November, the fall of Forts Mifflin and Mercer ended American control of the Delaware River, much-needed supplies began arriving at the city's docks, along with 2,000 additional British soldiers; the weeks with two major armies sitting within miles of each other were not without conflict, a petite guerre ensued in the no man's land between White Marsh and Northern Liberties.
Minor skirmishes between light troops increased in intensity throughout November, with daily losses being incurred by both the British and the Americans. In retaliation, on November 22, Howe ordered his troops to set fire
Valley Forge functioned as the third of eight military encampments for the Continental Army's main body, commanded by General George Washington. In September 1777, British forces had captured the American capital of Philadelphia. After failing to retake the city, Washington led his 12,000-man army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia, they remained there for six months, from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778. At Valley Forge, the Continentals struggled to manage a disastrous supply crisis while retraining and reorganizing their units. About 1,700 to 2,000 soldiers died due to disease exacerbated by malnutrition. Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park preserves and protects over 3,500 acres of the original encampment site. In 1777, Valley Forge consisted of a small proto-industrial community located at the juncture of the Valley Creek and the Schuylkill River. In 1742, Quaker industrialists established the Mount Joy Iron Forge. Thanks to capital improvements made by John Potts and his family over the following decades, the small community expanded the ironworks, established mills, constructed new dwellings for residents.
Surrounding the valley was a rich farmland, where Welsh-Quaker farmers grew wheat, hay, Indian corn, among other crops, raised livestock including cattle, sheep and barnyard fowl. Settlers of German and Swedish descent lived nearby. In the summer of 1777 the Continental Army's quartermaster general, Thomas Mifflin, decided to station a portion of his army's supplies in outbuildings around the forges, due to its variety of structures and secluded location between two prominent hills. Fearing such a concentration of military supplies would undoubtedly attract the British, the forge-ironmaster, William Dewees Jr. expressed concerns about the army's proposal. Mifflin established a magazine at Valley Forge anyway. After the British landing at Head of Elk, Maryland on August 25, 1777, the British Army maneuvered out of the Chesapeake basin and towards Valley Forge. Following the Battle of Brandywine and the abortive Battle of the Clouds, on September 18 several hundred soldiers under General Wilhelm von Knyphausen raided the supply magazine at Valley Forge.
Despite the best efforts of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton and Captain Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, the two Continental army officers selected to evacuate the supplies from Valley Forge, Crown soldiers captured supplies, destroyed others, burned down the forges and other buildings. Political and environmental factors all influenced the Continental Army's decision to establish their encampment near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in the winter of 1777-1778. Washington conferred with his officers to select the site that would be most advantageous to his army. Washington first asked his generals where to quarter the Continental Army in the winter of 1777–1778 on October 29, 1777. In addition to suggestions from his officers, Washington had to contend with the recommendations of politicians. Pennsylvania state legislators and the Continental Congress expected the Continental Army to select an encampment site that could protect the countryside around Philadelphia; some members of the Continental Congress believed that the army might be able to launch a winter campaign.
Interested parties suggested other sites for an encampment, including Lancaster and Wilmington, Delaware. However, following the inconclusive Battle of Whitemarsh from December 5–8, increasing numbers of officers and politicians began to appreciate the need to defend the greater Philadelphia region from British incursions. Considering these questions, an encampment at Valley Forge had notable advantages. Valley Forge's high terrain meant, its location allowed for soldiers to be detached to protect the countryside. Proximity to the Schuylkill River could facilitate supply movements down the river. Wide, open areas provided space for training. On December 19, Washington conducted his 12,000-man army to Valley Forge to establish the encampment; the encampment was situated along the high, flat ground east of Mount Joy and south of the Schuylkill River. In addition to a concentration of soldiers at Valley Forge, Washington ordered nearly 2,000 soldiers to encamp at Wilmington, Delaware, he posted the army's mounted troops at Trenton, New Jersey, additional outposts at Downingtown and Radnor, among other places.
In the two winter encampments prior to Valley Forge, the Continental army had sheltered themselves in a combination of tents, constructed huts, civilian barns and other buildings. Valley Forge would mark the first time Washington ordered the army concentrated into a more permanent post where they constructed their own shelters; this strategic shift encouraged a whole new host of problems for the American Patriots. The Valley Forge encampment became the Continental Army's first large-scale construction of living quarters. While no accurate account exists for the exact number of log huts built, experts estimate a range between 1,300-1,600 structures. Brigadier General Louis Lebègue de Presle Duportail selected grounds for the brigade encampments and planned the defenses. Afterwards, brigadier generals appointed officers from each regiment to mark out the precise spot for every officer and all enlisted men's huts. Despite commanders' attempts at standardization, the huts varied in terms of size and construction techniques.
Military historian John B. B. Trussell Jr. writes that many squads "dug their floors two feet below ground level," to reduce