United States History and American Revolution: 1778

About the United States in 1778, the American Revolution continues, the Secret Service starts, Molly Pitcher comes out, the US signs a treaty with France and the Indians.

1778

--According to Thomas Jefferson, "30,000 slaves escaped from Virginia in the year of 1778."

Jan. 5 David Bushnell tested the 1st naval contact mine. He combined a gunlock, acting as a contact fuse, with a keg of gunpowder. Several hundred of these "mines" were set afloat amid the drifting ice in the Delaware River at Philadelphia. The kegs were seen, and the English ships commenced fire. For days after, they fired at anything afloat, inspiring the ballad, "The Battle of the Kegs," by New Jersey congressman Francis Hopkinson. One quatrain which appealed to most described Lord Howe's love life:

Sir William, he, as snug as flea

Lay all this time a-snoring;

Nor dreamed of harm, as he lay warm

In bed with Mrs. Loring.

Feb. 6 France signed a treaty with the U.S. It brought the benefits of economic and military assistance, which the U.S. badly needed. This treaty was the 1st and only military alliance made by the U.S. until April 4, 1949, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created.

Mar. 11 Said the Pennsylvania Ledger, commenting on John Hancock's vanity and love of display:

John Hancock of Boston appears in public

with all the state and pageantry of an

Oriental prince; he rides in an elegant

chariot . . . attended by 4 servants

dressed in superb livery, mounted on

fine horses richly caparisoned; and escorted

by 50 horsemen with drawn sabers,

the one half of which precedes and

the other follow his carriage.

May 18 Sir William Howe, resigning his command because his request for reinforcements had been ignored, was given a farewell party called the "Meschianza." The pageant, which recreated a tournament in the Middle Ages, included: decorated barges, heralds and trumpeters, a jousting field, and the Knights of the Blended Rose. The costumes used over pond 50,000 worth of silks, paid for by rich junior officers. Capt. John Andre was the designer. (He was to be hung as a spy in October, 1780.)

June The U.S. Secret Service was organized.

Director: Aaron Burr.

June 28 In later years, she remarried and friends knew her as Molly McKolly. But American folklore calls her "Molly Pitcher," for her alleged efforts to provide thirsty cannoneers with water during the Battle of Monmouth, N.J., fought on this day. The official records list 59 British and 40 American deaths from a common enemy: sunstroke. The temperature soared over 100 deg.

July 3-4 Col. John Butler, leading 400 Tories, and Iroquois chieftain Joseph Brant, with 500 of his warriors, swept into Wyoming Valley, Pa. They massacred some 360 settlers, taking over 200 scalps.

Sept. 17 The 1st Indian peace treaty was signed, at Fort Pitt. Signing for the Delawares: Captains Pipe, John Kill Buck, and White Eyes.

Dec. 29 The British invaded the deep South, capturing Savannah, Ga.

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