United States and American History: Early 1775

About the early part of 1775 in United States history, some famous firsts including the first Jewish person in office and the first abolion society as well as Patrick Henry's famous speech and the Battle of Lexington and Concord.


--Baltimore, Md., appointed a woman, Mary Katherine Goddard, to the office of postmaster. Jan. 1 Of 37 newspapers now being published, 23 were of the patriot persuasion, 7 were loyalist, and 7 were neutral. One, the New York Weekly Mercury, had something for everyone: a patriot edition in Newark, N.J., and a loyalist version in New York City. The average weekly circulation for all papers: 3,500.

Jan. 11 Francis Salvador was the 1st Jew to be elected to public office. His term of office was brief. On July 31, he also became the 1st Jew to die for U.S. Independence.

Mar. 6 Masonic Lodge 441, operating under the Irish Constitution, initiated a Negro member. The man, Prince Hall, formed African Lodge 1 in July. It was not recognized by American Masons.

Mar. 23 Virginia's 2nd revolutionary convention was being held in Richmond's St. John's Episcopal Church, and proposals were being made for a peaceful settlement between the Colonies and England. On the 3rd day, one impatient delegate, Patrick Henry, known as the Virginia Demosthenes by admirers, decided he'd had enough of this compromise talk. He rose to his feet and offered a resolution: Since war was inevitable, the Virginia militia must be armed for defense. With growing passion he concluded his speech--

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be

purchased at the price of chains and

slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know

not what course others may take, but as

for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry's eloquence carried the day. His resolution to arm the militia was adopted unanimously.

Apr. 14 The 1st Abolition Society was organized in Philadelphia, Pa.

Apr. 19 Milestone Battle: Lexington/Concord. British losses: 73 killed, 200 wounded or missing. Rebel losses: 49 dead, 46 wounded. Also lost: Paul Revere's horse, commandeered into British army service after Revere was captured. Released, Revere walked home.

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