United States and American History: 1771

About the year 1771 in United States history, events leading up to the Revolution, the beginning of genealogy, umbrellas, and Ben Franklin's autobiography.


--pound 8,921 in customs duties was collected at Boston. In this year, and the 2 to follow, the town imported a total of nearly 500,000 lbs. of tea.

--A Philadelphia theatrical group produced a play titled The Rising Glory of America.

--Benjamin Franklin started to write his Auto-biography. His purpose was to acquaint his son, William, now the New Jersey governor, with his family background. Franklin's famous work combined remarks on literary affairs, religion, and utilitarian philosophy, with colorful comments on his life in Boston, Philadelphia, and London.

--Philadelphians ridiculed the use of a new device-the umbrella-to ward off sunburn. Effeminate, said the newspapers. The doctors were all for it, however. Good for preventing vertigo, epilepsy, sore eyes, fevers, and other ailments.

--Genealogy in America began. Ebenezer Watson published a 24-page pamphlet on the Stebbins family of Hartford, Conn. It gave births, marriages, and deaths from 1707 to 1771 for the Samuel and Hannah Stebbins ancestors.

Mar. 15 The Virginia Gazette recorded the marriage of William Carter, 23, and Mrs. Sarah Ellyson, widow of Gerald, aged 85. The former Mrs. Ellyson, it said, was "a sprightly old Tit, with three Thousand Pounds Fortune." Recording a bride's worth was common practice in the Colonies.

May 16 Some North Carolinians calling themselves the "Regulators" protested to the royal governor, William Tryon, about discrimination in new laws and lack of representation for western counties. A battle at Alamance Creek followed, between Tryon's 1,200 soldiers and 2,000 Regulators, the latter mostly without weapons. Tryon's forces won, and tried 13 men for treason. Seven were executed.

Aug. 22 The Widow Bignall placed an advertisement in the Massachusetts Spy. The notice informed seekers of the bizarre that a 22''-high dwarf could be seen at her Boston home near Hancock's wharf. Admission: 1 shilling. The exhibition of this 53-year-old man was the 1st such event in the Colonies.

Dec. 31 American imports from England totaled more than pound 4,200,000 for the year.

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