Gen. John Sullivan
  • Print
Written by Link Free or Die

Revolutionary (1740 - 1795)

Extremely controversial in his day, Somersworth's John Sullivan became the first "president" of New Hampshire. He served three terms in the role we now call governor. Sullivan cut his teeth as a young lawyer in Portsmouth, NH and became the first attorney in Durham. His goal in life was to be wealthy and his litigious pursuit of debtors in his hometown led to angry mobs surrounding his house. He served courageously, some say brazenly, in Revolutionary War battles, though he had been a friend of exiled British NH governor John Wentworth, whom he later replaced. Captured by the British, Sullivan became a courier between the two sides for which he was severely criticized. Sullivan joined the Seacoast NH uprising at Fort William and Mary in 1774, then served in a number of failed battles. George Washington was not fond of Sullivan, but called on him often. Major General Sullivan was among the troops at Quebec, and a leader at Trenton, Brandywine and Germantown. Washington called on him again in 1779 to literally wipe out all Native American settlements that threatened colonists in New York and Pennsylvania. Sullivan's March, as it was called, devastated Indian populations there as his troops destroyed all native housing and crops. He served in both the first and second Continental Congress. After the war he returned to his law practice and was made a federal judge, though he was often too ill, often from alcohol, to serve. The NH town and county of Sullivan are among the many places dedicated in his name.

A contoversial figure in and out of war,
Sullivan was NH's first Governor

More Famous NH People 



Framers of Freedom: John Sullivan
A critical biography by Steve Adams balanced by an essay by Gerald Foss about Sullivan's carrer as a NH Mason

Famous Figures of New Hampshire
Portraits in the Concord, NH state capitol building

The Young John Sullivan
The young lawyer tries his first case in Portsmouth, NH in this ramble from 19th century historian Charles Brewster

John Sullivan on Bartleby


Raid on Fort William and Mary
Sullivan was among the early revolutionaries at the first shots (not) heard round the world in December 1774.

A Slave of Gen. Sullivan
Sullivan was a slave owner and this anecdote comes from WC Nell's
"Colored Patriots of the Revolution"

Sullivan's Indian Expedition
This is focused on the traditional American battle story with a focus on New York and the Battle of Newton

Sullivan's Expedition Against the Iroquois
The general's complete report from Teaogo, Sept. 30, 1779

Continental Regiment from Boston to Quebec

Battle of Trenton, Order of Battle, December 25-26, 1776

Sullivan Defends John Paul Jones
Sued by his own crewman while in Portsmouth, NH, Jones hired Sullivan as his attorney in 1781

Sullivan Meets Washington in NH, 1789
Sullivan was "president" of NH when Washington visited

Battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777

Washington's Diary, Visiting NH

Shaping the Community: Gen. John Sullivan, Road Designer

Sullivan's Feud with Judge Ebenezer Thompson
It all started with their sons

Sullivan Changes History of Carrot and Parsnip
From the Carrot Museum -- How he wiped our 160,000 bushels of root vegetables


Sullivan Memorial Park, Cheumung Valley, NY

More on Sullivan Monument
The Newtown Battlefield, NY

A Monument in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Where Sullivan camped (scroll down)

Old Fort Niagra, Youngstown, NY
Washington's orders to Sullivan

Sullivan Historical Marker in Durham, NH

Sullivan's March in the Poconos
Ends the occupation of Native Americans


Fort Sullivan, USN
Little known site of fort on Seavey Island at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from the web site

Was Sullivan. IL Named for the General?

Sullivan County, NY

Major General Sullivan Lodge, #2, Epping, NH

John Sullivan Wells (1803 - 1860)

Sullivan, NH

Sullivan Bridge, Seacoast, NH
At Dover Point and Newington, NH but no link found


Search for out of print books on Bibliofind

Thomas C. Amory, Military Services and Public Life Of Major-General John Sullivan, Wiggin & Lunt, 1868

Peabody, Oliver W. B. (Sparks, Jared, ed. Library of American Biography), Life of John Sullivan; Boston: Little Brown, 1955.

John Sullivan, Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army, Edited by Otis G. Hammond. Concord, NH,
1930-31-39, three volumes

Charles Whittemore, A General Of The Revolution: John Sullivan Of New Hampshire, Columbia, 1961

More Famous NH People 

Photo: NH State House portrait of Sullivan
Copyright © 2001 All rights reserved.