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James Monroe and Crossing the Delaware

The future 5th President of the United States, James Monroe, is born this year. (He will win with 80% of the electoral vote and a nearly a unanimous vote for a second term.) He will also be the last President to have served as an officer during the American Revolution. (Andrew Jackson will serve as a courier during the Revolution at 13-years-old.) As a young man, Monroe will abandon his college studies, sign up with the Virginia Militia and receive an officer's rank. He will march his regiment through a snow storm to join General Washington for his famous crossing of the Delaware as part of a bold (and successful) raid on the Hessians (HEH-shuns) at the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas night. Monroe will be wounded as he rushes to take the cannons with his men. As President he will be known for the Monroe Doctrine which, in essence, warns Europe that an attack on a sovereign country in South or Central America will be considered an attack on the USA. (Just like the NATO treaty of the 20th century.) [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
If you look carefully at the famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware of 1851, you can see James Monroe holding the Stars and Stripes....a flag that did not exist at the time of the crossing. And this depiction of Washington does not reflect reality. It was raining, miserably cold, and dark during the crossing. The boat has problems too. Washington was using a type of boat with high sides so he certainly could have been standing... but not in a boat like the one in the painting. Another example of inaccuracy is the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Some of the people in the famous painting hadn't even been elected to the Congress by July 4th, 1776. Perhaps these historical distortions are forgivable. There were no photographs, no audio recordings. They tended to look back at the Revolution with nostalgia and their children looked back with more than a little hero worship. [5] [6] [7]

Young George Washington Resigns His Commission... Again

George Washington has his doubts about his superiors' plans to attack the French garrison at Fort Duquesne (doo-CAIN) and he is making his criticisms known loud and clear. His concerns are based on a previous attempt to take the Fort which ended in a massacre. The British-born General Braddock had discounted advice given by the "Americans" (an insulting reference to the British colonials). To be fair, Braddock knew how to fight in Europe, but in the wilds of West Pennsylvania it was a bad idea to drag massive cannons over hill and dale. You needed to travel light, remain mobile and fire from cover or you were dead. Braddock was killed along with many of his troops when they accidentally ran into a large detachment of French and Indian troops. The British lined up as they always had in Europe and then were mowed down in rows while the French and Indians fired from the cover of the woods. Panic ensued but Washington managed to organize an orderly retreat. Now he is part of second expedition to take the Fort. This time things go better for the British, but most of the French escape. Washington is disgusted so he returns home, resigns his commission and proposes to Martha Dandridge. They will marry next year. [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Just to be clear, George Washington had a heck of a temper. He knew he had to keep it under control and he did, mostly. He was a man driven by ambition and in order to achieve his ambitions he had to keep his natural desires under control. One of his desires was for a certain pretty lady named Sally Fairfax... a married lady. But their communications were always cordial if somewhat flirtatious at times. (Really. I think everyone stayed on the right side of good.) His marriage to Martha was one of social positioning and for money. She came with a large dowry (including slaves) that he used to expand the plantation at Mount Vernon, but his real wealth was already made. His commission in the French and Indian War had come with a bonus: land grants. They weren't worth much at the time, but by the end of his life, they made him one of the richest men in the United States... land rich, anyway. Did he love Martha? Probably not at first, but over time, yes. I think so. [10] [11]

Other Important Events

  • Noah Webster is born. He will standardize American spelling by turning centre with an RE into center with an ER. He will also produce the first comprehensive American dictionary. [1]
  • (Lord Admiral) Horatio Nelson is born. He will lead the British Navy in a number of decisive naval battles during the Napoleonic Wars. Inadvertently, he will derail Alexander Hamilton's subversion of US foreign policy. Nelson will beat the tar out of the French Navy, thus reducing the hysteria over a possible French invasion of the USA. [1] [12]
  • A knitting machine produces ribbed stockings with elastic! (What next? Sliced bread?) [13] [1]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1758, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 350-351. 
  2. Andrew Jackson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “During the American Revolutionary War, Jackson, whose family supported the revolutionary cause, acted as a courier. He was captured, at age 13, and mistreated by his British captors.”
  3. James Monroe's Seventh State of the Union Address. Wikisource (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”
  4. Battle of Trenton - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal battle during the American Revolutionary War which took place on the morning of December 26, 1776, in Trenton, New Jersey. After General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton the previous night, Washington led the main body of the Continental Army against Hessian soldiers garrisoned at Trenton. After a brief battle, nearly the entire Hessian force was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans.”
  5. Grand Union Flag - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “The 'Grand Union Flag' (also known as the 'Continental Colours', the 'Congress Flag', the 'Cambridge Flag', and the 'First Navy Ensign') is considered to be the first national flag of the United States of America – and previously, that of the United Colonies of North America – until 1777.”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: In the science fiction novel, Timeline by Michael Crichton, a businessman sends a cameraman back in time to film Washington crossing the Delaware. Apparently, reality was not believable, so he staged the crossing more to the liking of his audience.
  7. United States Declaration of Independence - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “The signatures of fifty-six delegates are affixed; however, the exact date each person signed it has long been the subject of debate. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams all wrote that the Declaration had been signed by Congress on July 4.[101] But in 1796, signer Thomas McKean disputed that the Declaration had been signed on July 4, pointing out that some signers were not then present, including several who were not even elected to Congress until after that date.”
  8. Ellis, Joseph J.. His Excellency: George Washington. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1400040310. “Throughout the fall of 1758, as Forbes's army hacked its way across the Alleghenies, Washington kept up a steady stream of criticism: Forbes and Bouquet were both incompetent idiots; the pace of the march, slowed by the need to cut the new road, virtually assured that the campaign would stall in the mountains when the snows came and never reach Fort Duquesne; no one should blame him when this inevitable failure happened and all the world witnessed a repeat of the Braddock fiasco.” 
  9. George Washington - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 April 2016. “In the Battle of the Monongahela the French and their Indian allies ambushed Braddock's reduced forces and the general was mortally wounded. After suffering devastating casualties, the British panicked and retreated in disarray; however, Washington rode back and forth across the battlefield, rallying the remnants of the British and Virginian forces into an organized retreat.”
  10. Martha Washington was a hottie, historians now say - Houston Chronicle. Washington Post (February 3, 2009). Retrieved on 4 April 2016. “The fact that so little is known about Martha is, in part, her fault. After George Washington died, she, as was the custom of well-known people then, burned their correspondence. So we know George wrote two youthful love letters bursting with yearning and passion to Sally Fairfax, even though she was the wife of his good friend. We have a really bad poem he wrote as a teen to a young Virginia beauty ('Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun ... '). We have no idea what he wrote to Martha.”
  11. Fleming, Thomas (Fall 2009). "George Washington in Love: The Vivacious Sally Fairfax Stole the Young Man's Heart Long before He Met Martha". American Heritage 59 (3). https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-207061287/george-washington-in-love-the-vivacious-sally-fairfax. Retrieved 4 April 2016. "The letter was from 26-year-old Col. George Washington to Sally Cary Fairfax, wife of his close friend and neighbor at Mount Vernon, George William Fairfax--four months after the colonel had become engaged to Martha Dandridge Custis, the richest widow in Virginia.". 
  12. Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 April 2016. “He was shot and killed during his final pivotal victory at the naval Battle of Trafalgar against the combined Napoleonic French and Royal Spanish fleets off the southwest coast of Spain in 1805.”
  13. 18th Century Stockings – how shocking!. All Things Georgian (March 31, 2015). Retrieved on 4 April 2016. “It wasn’t until 1758 that we saw the invention of the Derby Rib machine by a Jedediah Strutt of Derbyshire, that allowed elastic to be added to stockings, but these were expensive so only the more affluent could afford them.”

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