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American Revolution Began in New Hampshire


First armed aggression


This is heady stuff. Imagine 400 Seacoast residents storming the Pentagon today and driving off with tanks, guns, and ammunition. According to John Wentworth’s letters to his colleagues in England, the rebels took away 100 barrels of gunpowder. Legend says this powder was stored in a Durham church and later used at the Battle of Bunker Hill. A much larger force of citizens returned the following day and carried away many light cannon and 60 muskets.

The leaders of the Portsmouth insurgents were committing treason against their king, a crime punishable by death. And worse, Paul Revere was misinformed. There were no British troops on the horizon. The warship Scarborough did not arrive for many weeks. Governor Wentworth was sympathetic to his townspeople. He personally condemned the rising British taxes and the order to ban arms to colonists. In a private letter to British General Gage, Wentworth openly blamed “the imbecility of this government” for not protecting its own fort with adequate troops.

On December 26 Wentworth issued a stern proclamation that was delivered at the Portsmouth State House. He demanded that the “high-handed offenders” should return the stolen munitions. The citizens of Portsmouth “are arming and exercising men as if for immediate war,” Wentworth wrote to his friend Lord Dartmouth in England.

Although the governor publicly pretended not to know who was behind the raid, it seems likely from his private letters that he knew the main culprits, yet he never turned them in. Revolutionaries John Langdon and John Sullivan, like Wentworth, were educated, white, wealthy, slave holders. Both men would become early governors of the sovereign state of New Hampshire where only property-owning males received the freedom to vote in the American Revolution.

CONTINUE Raid on William and Mary

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Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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