United States and American History: 1776

About the United States in the year 1776, events of the American Revolution including the Battle of Trenton, the death of Nathan Hale and women's right to vote accidently given.

1776

--Barmaid Betsy Flanagan mixed the 1st cocktail at Elmsford, N.Y. When a drunk waved at the tail feathers pinned to the wall behind the bar and asked for a glassful of "those cocktails," she refilled his last order and stuck in one of the feathers.

Jan. An ex-corsetmaker and onetime bankrupt, Thomas Paine, came to the U.S. with a letter of recommendation, written in guarded terms, by Benjamin Franklin. Paine quickly found a more receptive niche as a journalist with something to say. His Common Sense, a fervent cry for independence, sold over 100,000 in 3 months, at the rate of one copy for every 20 people in the Colonies at the time.

Feb. Silas Deane utilized invisible ink for the 1st time to convey secret messages between France and the U.S. Using a tannic acid solution, he wrote between the lines of a routine message. A ferrous sulfate bath would combine iron with the tannic acid to form an easily-read dark compound.

June 27 The 1st American army execution in time of war: Thomas Hickey, in New York town. The charge: plotting to kidnap General Washington and deliver him to Lord Howe. A total of 20,000, including all the men in Washington's 4 brigades stationed at New York, turned out to view the spectacle, which was held near the Bowery.

July 2 Women's suffrage vote. By constitutional statute, New Jersey gave "all inhabitants" of adult age, with a net worth of pound 50 and residing in their county for 12 months, the right to vote in the general election. In 1790, after 14 years, someone realized it meant both men and women. The law was legal until November 16, 1807, when the General Assembly passed new laws, limiting the vote to "free, white males."

Aug. 27 Milestone Battle: Long Island, N.Y. U.S. General Israel Putnam was defeated.

Sept. 22 Nathan Hale was hung.

He behaved with great composure and

resolution, saying he thought it the duty

of every good officer to obey any orders

given him by his Commander-in-Chief,

and desired the spectators to be at all

times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.

--Journal entry, Sept. 22,

Lieut. Frederick MacKenzie,

British army, New York

Dec. 5 The oldest Greek-letter society, Phi Beta Kappa, was founded at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va. Charter members: 50. High scholastic achievement soon became a hallmark for admission.

Dec. 19 First appearance of The Crisis by Thomas Paine, with its famous opening, "These are the times that try men's souls . . ."

Dec. 26 Milestone Battle: Trenton. Col. Johann Rall, the Hessian commander, liked both his beer and a good game of cards. A Tory, learning of Washington's plan to cross the Delaware, sent a note to Rall. Intent on the hand he'd been dealt, card-playing Rall stuffed the message into his pocket without reading it. This card game left him unprepared for the fight that cost him his life and gave Washington a much-needed victory.

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