United States History and the American Revolution: Late 1775

About the year 1775 in United States history and the American Revolution, the Continental Army in Boston, the first Post Office and Marines.


July 3 General Washington took formal command of the Continental Army. Traditionally, the ceremony occurred under a large elm near Mason and Garden streets in Cambridge, Mass. No contemporary documents exist to support the story. The fabled elm died in 1923, and an examination of its growth rings gave it an age of just over 2 centuries. A cutting, taken before its death, was planted near the original site in Boston.

July Washington's siege of Boston began. By Sunday, March 17, 1776, General Howe and over 7,000 of his men had pulled back to the safety of British ships in Boston harbor, abandoning the town.

July 25 Dr. Benjamin Church was appointed surgeon general. In October, Church was tried by court-martial, with General Washington presiding at the trial. The charge: "Criminal correspondence with the enemy." He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but allowed to remain free for reasons of health.

July 26 The U.S. Post Office was established by the 2nd Continental Congress. Its 1st Postmaster: Benjamin Franklin.

Fall Folks of Tar River, N.C., changed its name to "Washington," to honor the new leader.

Sept. Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, French dramatist and secret agent, returned to France after an undercover reconnaissance. He advised King Louis XVI to assist the Colonists, and reported they could well be the means for bringing civil war to England, France's eternal enemy.

Nov. 10 The 1st day of existence for the U.S. Marines. "Semper Fidelis"-- "Always Faithful."

Nov. 29 Congress established the Committee on Secret Correspondence, the forerunner of the Department of State. Members: John Dickinson, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Johnson. Purpose: to sound out European powers on their feelings toward the Colonies, for possible military and economic aid.

Dec. 3 The 1st official American flag was raised aboard Commodore Esek Hopkins' flagship, the Alfred. The flag had 13 red and white stripes, plus the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew.

Dec. 31 On this day, most enlistments in the Continental Army expired. Of the 16,770 who had been in service in the year that Washington assumed the command, 3,100 had already gone home prior to the end of their 12 months' term, or were otherwise unfit for active duty. By January 10, 1776, the ranks had swelled slightly due to 5,582 new arrivals.

--The Committees of Safety, with the authorization of the Continental Congress, seized property owned by British sympathizers including the 6-million-acre Fairfax estate in Virginia, the 300 sq. mi. Philips estate in New York, and the domain of Sir William Pepperell which stretched along 30 mi. of Maine coastline.

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