Decision Activity: Quamino, New Brunswick, NJ, Somerset County, 1789

Decision Activity: Quamino

Somerset County, NJ 1789

Quamino was born near New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1762. Young Quamino had a complete family unit when he was living in Somerset County. Despite describing Quamino as “compliant,” his contemporary biographer William Allinson described a horrific episode where young Quamino was forced to watch a fellow enslaved person burned at the stake as punishment for alleged crimes. At no point in the memoir or in any other documentation is Quamino described as rebellious or uncooperative. Much of this is attributed to his religious conversion and subsequent piety. Allinson essentially uses Quamino as the model version of a benign, non-threatening Black man as a means of condemning the institution of slavery, consistent with Allinson’s abolitionist views. Allinson’s book is described as a memoir, including numerous quotations directly from Quamino, but neglects to offer a physical description of the man, the names of his siblings, or many of his inner emotions and rationale for his behavior.

At age nine, Quamino was essentially rented out to an enslaver in Poughkeepsie, New York. He was separated from his family and upon the commencement of the Revolutionary War was unable to have any communication with his “master” (and thereby his family). From roughly age 9 to 18, he remained in New York, but in 1780 was unexpectedly returned to his original enslaver and reunited with his family. Allinson wrote, “Overcome with this too sudden announcement, he burst into a violent and uncontrollable fit of crying, and for hours cried aloud as though he had been beaten — unable to answer questions, or to stay his emotions at the kindest efforts to pacify him.”[2]

How do you think each of the following may have contributed to his uncontrollable response to the news?

  1. Shock that his situation would ever improve.
  2. Joy at the prospect of being reunited with his family.
  3. Separation from his family caused emotional deprivation.
  4. The experience of enslavement is a form of mental and physical torture.

Consider the implications of each of the items in a response of two or three sentences.

Back in Somerset County, Quamino had a religious experience, claiming that God had spoken to him, thus beginning his period of devout faith in the Methodist religion. His enslaver looked suspiciously upon enslaved people’s faith, believing it could interfere with maintaining a degree of ignorance and thus make them less “serviceable” as workers. He even suspected Quamino’s position was a pose, designed to gain a level of respect from others in the community. Consequently, he would criticize and may have beaten Quamino for participating in religious services, but Quamino accepted the consequences and maintained his personal beliefs.

As there is only one source for this information, we have no idea of how sincere Quamino’s religious conversion was, but either way, one could argue that maintaining his faith was an exercise of autonomy and personal agency.

Two Options to Consider:

  1. Quamino was wholly genuine in his religious conversion, and was willing to deal with any obstacles in his path to exercise his faith.
  2. Quamino was less than 100% genuine in his conversion, but believed that some degree of deception would provide him some degree of social standing.

Describe in two to three sentences how each of the options would mean that Quamino was exercising personal agency.

In 1788, he married Sarah, an enslaved woman who lived nearby. She was soon sold and moved five miles away, allowing them to see one another as infrequently as once a week. When Quamino’s enslaver died around 1789, he was passed onto one of the enslaver’s sons. Several years later, he was beaten by his enslaver. Quamino told him he refused to work for him further, a tactic that some other enslaved people had used to demand being sold to a new owner. In some locations, the relationship between enslaver and enslaved was perceived as a sort of social contract with obligations flowing in both directions. “Unjustified” abuse might be grounds for “slave quitting” depending on local customs. Although enslaved people might be aware of instances of slave quitting via word of mouth, nothing was in the law, thus employing this tactic was enormously risky for Quamino.

Consider the possible outcomes of this risky decision.

Three Options to Consider:

  1. His enslaver could have rejected the claim and then worsened his treatment of Quamino.
  2. His enslaver could agree to sell him to a new enslaver whose treatment of Quamino could be the same (or worse).
  3. His enslaver could agree to sell him to a new enslaver whose treatment of Quamino would be an improvement.

Which of the following seems the most likely outcome?

If your choice was either A or B, would Quamino have regretted his decision of refusing to work?

Why was it difficult for Black Americans to enjoy the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence?

Quamino was sold to a new enslaver, who did not seem to have used physical violence against those he enslaved. Quamino even arranged for his new enslaver to purchase Sarah, allowing the couple to live together as husband and wife.  In 1806, Quamino was manumitted through an elaborate process that included having to testify before a committee to demonstrate that his freedom would not be a burden upon the state of New Jersey. Sarah died in 1842 and Quamino lived to around 1850 (age 88). They had at least two sons together, although it appears at least one of them was sold as an infant.


[1] Frontispiece of William Allinson, Memoir of Quamino Buccau, A Pious Methodist

[2] Allinson, page 6.

Decision Activity: James Parker – Perth Amboy, NJ Middlesex County, 1777

Decision Activity: James Parker

Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, NJ – 1777

My name is James Parker and the year is 1777. I am sitting in my living room in my large home in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the state capitol of New Jersey.  I own large areas of land in eastern New Jersey in Middlesex and Hunterdon counties.   My family has served the colony of New Jersey for the British government for many generations, having opportunities and wealth that could not have been obtained in Britain. I have worked directly as a councilor under the Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Franklin, and my brother-in-law, Cortlandt Skinner, served as Royal Attorney General for New Jersey before joining the Loyalist forces in 1776.

The political climate is tense in New Jersey, it is changing with the loud majority supporting the Patriot cause.  I oppose the actions of people using intimidating tactics to coerce people to agree with the more radical Patriot factions.   You may agree that the taxes are burdensome, but as a former merchant, property owner, landlord, lawyer and having also served as the Mayor of Perth Amboy, you have a solid perspective of the complexity of trying to manage multiple ventures and properties with the associated financial responsibilities.  You are trying not to be bold with your political feelings, but are well known in your associations.

The new patriot led state government, having set up a Council of Safety to protect the people who disagreed with the British government, is asking you to swear an Oath of Abjuration, swearing allegiance to the patriotic government. You still feel that all of the benefits you have were due to Britain opening up settlement in the colonies.   Do you take this oath to protect yourself from being fined or even jailed, or do you stand by your principles?

Debate with yourself (or another person) by examining both choices and considering the positive and negative impacts of each.  Write a short paragraph regarding your choice, explaining your rationale as well as the potential consequences. Consider explaining what would happen if you made the opposite choice. Think about the following:

A. How might your family react?

B. How might your neighbors and town of Perth Amboy react?

C. What might be the physical consequences?

d. What might be the moral consequences?

James Parker refused the oath and was sent to jail in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1778, he was paroled in exchange for a patriot held in New York.  Possibly fearing for his family’s safety, he chose to move his family to Union Township in Hunterdon County, where he owned a large amount of property and a home. However, he still needed to conduct his business as a proprietor and maintain his family’s historical residence by traveling frequently to Perth Amboy, one of the two capital cities of New Jersey at the time. 

To financially conduct business during colonial times different denominations of money were used.  There was a definite lack of hard cash.  The saying “cold, hard cash” back then meant coins, because they were metal and the only legal tender.  You may have had to deal with coins as James Parker did. He mentions using Continental dollars, “Johannes”, which were Portuguese gold coins, English pounds, shillings, Guineas, New York currency, New Jersey money. The weights were measured and a considered a reliable method of measuring the purity of a coin.  A moidore, an English version of a Portuguese term for a gold coin, was equivalent to 27 shillings.

One of the problems with using the paper Continental currency was counterfeiting. James Parker notes in his farm journal on January 19, 1779 that he was paying for a piece of property from Abraham Bonnell and felt it important enough to mention that he could not confirm if the bills he used were counterfeited. He also noted that Bonnell said that he did not believe so and said he didn’t believe any of it was counterfeited, as he had been careful to examine, though he had heard that a mark of a printer was not necessarily proof of authenticity.  Parker also notes that he “Paid for a bushel of wheat in hard money”.  Write a short paragraph describing how you would keep track of the different currencies.  

What difficulties would you have as a landowner during this time with handling currency? Consider the following:

A. The different denominations and origins of the currencies at the time

B. Values of Continental money and ease of counterfeiting

It is December of 1778. You will be expected to help quarter General Burgoyne’s troops as they pass through your town on their way to Virginia. It could take a week or more for them to bring all of the divisions of soldiers through. 

How would this affect your business, how you feel and what will you do? Write a few sentences describing how your farm operations would be affected and how you feel about hosting the soldiers on your property and feeding and housing the British officers.

You have heard of a Loyalist family by the last name of Vought, who were suffering due to their allegiance to the crown. The father, John Vought, was particularly well known because of his participation in a violent uprising against the local Patriots in 1776. After being fined heavily, John joined the British army later that year. In the summer of 1778, the Council of Safety confiscated all of their property in Clinton, Hunterdon County and auctioned it off about three miles from your home.

Write a few sentences about how you feel about this woman being left without any belongings while her husband was serving in the British Army?  Would you do anything to help or would you be afraid that your help might bring reprisals from your neighbors?  Would your good standing in the community counter any harmful reactions?

James Parker was asked to contribute to a relief fund by Dr. Isaac Smith, who was collecting various items and livestock for Mrs. Vought.

How difficult and important is it to choose a path of humanitarian support following your religious and moral beliefs, even when they are in conflict with popular sentiment?

Decision Activity: Philip Freneau – Matawan, NJ, Monmouth County, 1778

Decision Activity: Philip Freneau

Matawan, NJ. Monmouth County – 1778

Parents throughout history want what is best for their children, sometimes they try to pressure their children into decisions that may be against what the child wants to do.  An example of this was Philip Freneau, whose family moved from New York in 1762 to what is now known as Matawan, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  He attended the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, beginning in 1768 and majored in theology at the urging of his parents.  While attending, Philip became acquainted and made friends with people who would be very influential in the impending conflict with England.  Some of the notable people included the president of the college, Reverend John Witherspoon who was delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Freneau’s roommate was James Madison, future father of the Constitution and President of the United States.  His good friend, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, was a teacher, newspaper editor, chaplain in the Continental Army, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, and influential in Thomas Jefferson’s campaign for President.  Aaron Burr and “Lighthorse” Henry Lee also attended Princeton University while Philip was there.

Philip Freneau and Hugh Henry Brackenridge became notorious for writing poetry which included the mistreatment of the colonies by Britain. This debate was intensified by two campus organizations, the American Whig Society and the Clio-Sophic Society, which the Whigs referred to as the “Tories”. Philip enjoyed writing and composing poetry, yet was influenced by the stories from his father, who was a merchant in the wine trade sailing from the colonies to Madeira off the coast of northwest Africa, to the Caribbean and back to the colonies.

Making a decision about a future career can be difficult.  If you had the choice to pursue a steady and sustainable career in the ministry or education, or chasing the romantic, adventurous stories of your father, which would you choose and why?

Freneau chose to begin his career as a teacher in New York, perhaps a career more in line with his parent’s expectations but lasting only thirteen days. “Those who employed me were some of the gentlemen from New York; some of them are bullies, some merchants, others scoundrels.  They sent me eight children, the eldest of whom was ten years old.  Some could read, others spell, and a few stammer over a chapter of the Bible – these were my pupils and over these I was to preside” (Griswold)

He realized that he was unsuited for teaching school and yet failed to return the money he received as a retainer for employment.  After spending time at his mother’s farm, called Mount Pleasant, in Matawan, New Jersey, he realized that he was also not particularly fond of the farming life and accepted an invitation from his friend, Henry Brackenridge to come to Maryland as a teacher in his school. He taught there for three years before heading home to Mount Pleasant and then moving to New York to pursue his love of writing and publishing poetry. 

How do you think he felt with his lack of success?

Freneau continued to publish poems for little or no profit, using this medium to express his feelings on the political climate which was difficult due to the occupation of British forces in New York.  His writing expressed his hope for reconciliation with Britain, but also the idea of liberty. Poetry at this time was read as entertainment and at times used to verbally and satirically discredit and attack public figures.  Poems were published in newspapers, broadsides, and books. Earning a living from publishing was difficult due to the expenses of printing and binding books.

An excerpt from Freneau’s poem:

TO THE AMERICANS On the Rumoured Approach of the Hessian Forces, Waldeckers, & c. (Published 1775)

If Britain conquers, help us, heaven, to fly:

Lend us your wings, ye ravens of the sky;—

If Britain conquers—we exist no more;

These lands will redden with their children’s gore,

Who, turned to slaves, their fruitless toils will moan,

Toils in these fields that once they called their own!

To arms! to arms! and let the murdering sword

Decide who best deserves the hangman’s cord:

Nor think the hills of Canada too bleak

When desperate Freedom is the prize you seek;

For that, the call of honour bids you go

O’er frozen lakes and mountains wrapt in snow:

No toils should daunt the nervous and the bold,

They scorn all heat or wave-congealing cold.

Haste!—to your tents in iron fetters bring

These slaves, that serve a tyrant and a king;

So just, so virtuous is your cause, I say,

Hell must prevail if Britain gains the day.

How does this poem try to influence the reader’s opinion? What examples of influential vocabulary is he using?  How would you write a poem about the Boston Massacre that would influence your audience to follow your perspective of the incident if you were a Boston resident?

For male citizens in the eighteenth century, militia duty was often required; if you were at sea for business, you would be exempt.  Freneau used his family’s connections to go to sea and gained valuable career experience by staying in Santa Cruz, now known as St. Croix.  He observed the effects of plantation slavery, having previously only been exposed to the few house and field slaves owned by his family.  He was thoroughly disgusted by the treatment Caribbean slaves received and wrote poetry reflecting his feelings.  He then traveled on ships to islands and in Bermuda he fell in love with a local woman, who unfortunately became ill and died.  He returned home in 1778 and joined the New Jersey militia, serving as a lookout by patrolling and scouting the shore area for British ships. 

Philip took every opportunity to sail ships, serving as a privateer, sailing between Philadelphia and the West Indies.  He participated in successfully capturing the British Ship Brittanie on December 30, 1779. At the end of his militia duty he continued his privateering activities as a civilian on the ship Aurora,  while trading tobacco in the Caribbean.  His ship was attacked by the British Ship Iris and all of his belongings were confiscated and he was held captive on a British prison ship in New York Harbor.  He was held in miserable and filthy conditions for three weeks before becoming ill and taken to a hospital ship where conditions were not much better.

Imagine being locked in a cell on a rotting and filthy ship, not knowing when and if you would be included in a prisoner exchange?  How would you pass the time?  Would you give up and sink into misery, why or why not?  How would you find ways to try to occupy your mind to keep your spirits up in hopes for release? 

Freneau later wrote a poem about his experiences called The British Prison Ship.

THE various horrors of these hulks to tell,

These Prison Ships where pain and penance dwell,

Where death in tenfold vengeance holds his reign,

And injur’d ghosts, yet unaveng’d, complain;

This be my task —ungenerous Britons, you

Conspire to murder whom you can’t subdue. —

No masts or sails these crowded ships adorn,

Dismal to view, neglected and forlorn;

Here, mighty ills oppress’d the imprison’d throng,

Dull were our slumbers, and our nights were long——

From morn to eve along the decks we lay

Scorch’d into fevers by the solar ray;

No friendly awning cast a welcome shade,

Once was it promis’d, and was never made;

No favours could these sons of death bestow,

‘Twas endless vengeance, and unceasing woe:

Immortal hatred does their breasts engage,

And this lost empire swells their souls with rage.

He was released after six weeks and needed to decide how he should pursue a career. Philip moved to Philadelphia and became a writer for the Freeman’s Journal, an anti-British publication.  At the time, it was a frequent practice for writers to take pseudonyms in order to avoid persecution over political statements.  Words were used as political pressure and were often combined with entertainment using satire.  Freneau’s writings would often be targeted as well as a target for more conservative publications such as The Pennsylvania Packet and The Pennsylvania Gazette and his brutal criticism and biting satire made so many enemies that he was pressured to resign as editor.

After the Revolutionary War was over, he went back to sea in 1784, but was shipwrecked in a storm off the coast of Jamaica. He survived and made it to land and returned to Philadelphia.  He tried his hand at publishing yet again, but could not earn enough money to survive, so he went back to sea on a ship owned by his brother in Charleston, South Carolina.  He continued writing and publishing poetry. 

How would you feel about your writing if you had a group of critics and opponents just waiting for an opportunity to argue with your work? What should Freneau do?

The shipping business struggled and Philip returned to his mother’s farm. He continued writing and publishing. While in Matawan, he married Eleanor and acquired more land to add to his family holdings.

To augment the income from the farm and support his growing family, he became an editor of a New York paper The Daily Advertiser. With the relocation of the nation’s capital to Philadelphia, New York was no longer a profitable market for newspapers and he moved back to New Jersey and started his own newspaper, The Monmouth Gazette. The newspaper followed his anti-federalist views, agreeing with the principles of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Through James Madison, Freneau was offered the position of clerk for foreign languages in the new capital city. He.  He was also offered a position with The National Gazette, through his connection with Thomas Jefferson.

Were these appointments ethical?  Why or why not?

Philip took the opportunity afforded by his editorial position with the National Gazette to antagonize the Federalists in the Executive Branch, especially targeting Alexander Hamilton and comparing Washington’s presidency to a monarchy. In a letter to Henry Lee in 1793, Washington states:

 “The publications in Freneau’s and Beach’s Papers are outrages on common decency; and they progress in that style, in proportion as their pieces are treated with contempt, & passed by in silence by those, at whom they are aimed.” (Washington, n.d.)

The National Gazette continued in publication through the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793, but the exodus from the city of Philadelphia eventually led to a decline in subscriptions and the end of the paper.  Freneau resigned as editor as well as Clerk of Translation, as he was highly unqualified, knowing only English and French.  He spent a majority of his money paying other people to translate for him and returned to Matawan with little income. 

How would you feel if it seemed that the careers you tried for success kept failing? What would you do next?

Philip began his own local paper, The Monmouth Almanac, which communicated important local events such as the schedule of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Quaker Church meeting places and times, and the weather. He also published poetry and sold subscriptions with moderate success. For more income he began to publish The New Jersey Chronicle which promoted his Republican agenda. Unfortunately, this publication failed.

Persevering, Freneau found a partner in Alexander Menut in 1797, to co-print a newspaper in New York called The Time Piece and Literary Companion. This paper, like Freneau’s previous, attempted to influence the citizenry of New York toward his Republican ideals.  He criticized the XYZ affair in 1797, which resulted in many canceled subscriptions and financial losses.

While in New York, Freneau was enlisted by Deborah Sampson Gannett to petition Congress for a pension.  Mrs. Gannett had enlisted as a soldier in the Revolutionary War by disguising herself as a man from May of 1782 to being honorably discharged in October of 1783. She had been wounded in battle and claimed disability due to her injury.  Freneau used his knowledge of her situation to write an ode that channeled his displeasure with the Federalists. As a result, Deborah Gannett did not receive her pension for many years, eventually receiving it in 1805.

Career and financial misfortune followed. He returned to his land with a loan and a financial gift from his brother in order to stay out of debtor’s prison.  He needed money to pay dowries for the weddings of his daughters and for running the farm. He sold property to raise money.  In October 1818, a fire burned the Freneau home to the ground, including many unpublished poems.  He and his wife settled in a new house under construction on the property.  In his family Bible it states:

“The old house at Mount Pleasnt accidentally took fire on Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock October 18th – 1818 precisely one year after my mother’s decease. It was consumed to the ground with a large part of property therein. The following day we began to remove into the New House, which was partial finished. The Old House was built in 1752 by my father – 42 feet in length and 24 in breadth.” (Ryer, n.d.)

In his elder days Philip Freneau was seen roaming the roads to Freehold and the local hills wearing worn clothing and was well known for frequenting the local taverns, libraries and country store. The lack of money forced his family to sell off more property and the Freneau’s poverty led them to move to an abandoned house belonging to Eleanor’s brother.  Philip had a reputation for excessive drinking which may have led to his final demise. On December 18, 1832 he had been at the local country store, meeting with friends and died of exposure when walking home alone; he was found the following day.  Philip Freneau is buried in the locust grove in Matawan near his mother.

References:

Freneau, Philip. n.d. “To James Madison from Philip Freneau, 22 November 1772.” Founders Online. Accessed March 4, 2022. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-01-02-0016 .

LEWIS, FRED. n.d. “The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Poems of Philip Freneau (Volume I).” Project Gutenberg. Accessed February 23, 2022. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/38475/38475-h/38475-h.htm

“Press Attacks · George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” n.d. Mount Vernon. Accessed March 4, 2022. https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/press-attacks/

Ryer, James B. n.d. “History of Freneau’s house in Matawan.” Philip Freneau’s home Philip Freneau house in Matawan. Accessed March 4, 2022. http://philipfreneau.com/history.html

“To George Washington from Anonymous, March 1792.” n.d. Founders Online. Accessed March 4, 2022. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-10-02-0108

Washington, George. n.d. “From George Washington to Henry Lee, 21 July 1793.” Founders Online. Accessed March 4, 2022. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-13-02-0176

Young, Alfred F. 2005. Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier. N.p.: Vintage Books.

Decision Activity: Dr. William Leddel, Morristown, NJ, January 1779

Decision Activity: Dr. William Leddel

Morristown, NJ, Winter 1779

I am the son of William Leddel, a French naval surgeon who settled in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, born in 1747. Upon my father’s death in 1766, I (William Jr.), moved to Mendham, New Jersey and apprenticed myself to Dr. Ebenezer Blachy. I established myself as a physician and practiced in Mendham for the remainder of my life.

I chose to be active in military matters, serving as a lieutenant in the Morris County Troop of Light Horse during the Revolution. I participated in the Battles of Connecticut Farms (Elizabeth) and Springfield and in the retreat of George Washington from New York.

I married Phoebe Wick, the daughter of Henry Wick, in 1770 and we settled at Washington Corner on a part of the Wick tract in Mendham. It was here that we raised our five children: Mary (1774-1780), Henry (1776-1799), Tempe (1779-1810), Eliza (1781-1803), and John (ca.1784-1865).

I also used my medical skills to tend to Washington’s troops during their stay in Morristown in the winter of 1779-1780. Later, I was a major in the forces that put down the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 and served as a captain of the cavalry during the War of 1812.

I served two terms as Morris County’s sheriff from 1783-1785 and tried cases before the Justices of the Peace.

Decision Activity 1:

The Leddel family had a lot to lose in this fight. He was a well-established doctor in the prosperous colony of East Jersey and living on a large property in Mendham with three young children. During the war, they faced many risks to their lives and property. When Dr. Leddel provided medical care to General Washington’s army during their retreat through Morristown, the conflict was brought to the doorstep of their home. 

1. Should Dr. William Leddel join the Continental Army in 1776?

2. Should Dr. Leddel join as a foot soldier, medical doctor, or in another capacity?

3. Should his wife, Phoebe, encourage him to remain at home in Mendham or to join the Continental Army?

Decision Activity 2:

Dr. Leddel’s father left France during a time of conflict, high taxes, and economic difficulty. As the son of immigrants who came to New Jersey in search of a better life, how might his family’s story have influenced his decision to support the ideals of the American Revolution?  

1.During the winter of 1779, Tempe was born and her five year old sister, Mary, was ill.  General Washington’s troops, his entire army of about 13,000 troops, are at Jockey Hollow and in need of medical care. Should Dr. Leddel leave his family and provide care for the soldiers?

2. What are some possible challenges the Leddel family faced, as a family from France, when they moved to New Jersey?  Write a few sentences about the possible challenges they faced, especially during the years of the French and Indian War.

 3.  How did the events of the French and Indian War impact the urgency of the decision? How could the relationships and attitudes change between the colonists and England deteriorate so quickly? How should Dr. Leddel and his family handle the impact of prejudice against colonists of French heritage?

 4. Explain the implications or consequences for the Leddel family. How were they impacted socially, economically, professionally and politically?

Talking point and Comparison of modern conflicts (Writing Prompt):

Dr. Leddel and his family risked everything in his decision to support the American Revolution. The Wick family, he married into, was a leading family in Morris County.  This made for a very contentious debate within the family.  His wife, Phoebe’s sister supported the Loyalists. In 1780, after the death of Tempe’s father, her mother became seriously ill and asked Tempe to get Dr. Leddel to care for her. How did the Revolution bring conflict within families and how do you think families dealt with these divided positions of support? Were they able to trust each other?

Home of Henry Wick, Morristown, NJ, circa 1750. (1930’s image)

Wick House – Henry Wick built this Cape Cod Style house around 1750. His 1,400 acre farm, most of which was covered by forest, made him the largest landowner in Morristown. Henry Wick’s trees attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking. During the winter of 1779-1780 the army chopped down over 600 acres of his trees on Mr. Wick’s property and more on the neighbor’s property. Additionally, Major General Arthur St. Clair, commander of 2,000 Pennsylvania soldiers, made his quarters in Mr. Wick’s home for the winter. Today the house is furnished to portray its use as a general’s headquarters.

Decision Activity: Samuel Sutphen, Hunterdon County, NJ, 1778, 1832

Decision Activity: Samuel Sutphin

Hunterdon County, NJ 1778,1832

After a month’s service in the militia, Casper Berger had had enough. He was in his 50s and the physical labor and drudgery were beyond him after a career as a stonemason. Given a break from service, he returned to his home in Readington, desperate for a way out of the remaining months of his obligation. He was more than willing to pay his way out of service and return to his current vocation as a tavern operator.

Berger’s neighbor, Guisbert Bogart, enslaved a man in his late 20s named Samuel. Berger knew that it was legal to provide an able-bodied substitute for militia service, so he inquired with Bogart whether he could purchase Samuel. The two arrived at a payment of $92.10, but Berger knew that Samuel would need to be at least somewhat willing to serve as a substitute. An unwilling enslaved person would be rejected, as the militia wouldn’t have time to deal with forcing someone to work. Berger promised Samuel his freedom at the war’s end in exchange for consenting to the deal.

It would be inappropriate and presumptuous for individuals in the 21st century to try to imagine what it was like to be an enslaved person — let alone second guess their decisions — but Samuel’s options were limited:

  1. Consent to the deal based on the promise of freedom when the war eventually ends.
  2. Reject the deal.

Describe the potential ramifications of each in 2 to 3 sentences.

Reflecting on this decision, Samuel said, “I believed the white man’s word, hoping to be free when the fight was over. I took no paper to show the bargain, but trusted to my master.”

Samuel fought in the Battle of Long Island (August 1776), the Battles of Princeton (January 1777), the Battle of Millstone, where he captured a prisoner of war (January 1777), and the Battle of Monmouth (June 1778), among others. On sentry duty at West Point in New York, he was shot twice in his leg, one wound driving a bullet into his leg, thereby ending his active militia service. At the end of the war he asked his enslaver Casper Berger to grant him his freedom as promised. Berger had three choices:

  1. Grant Samuel his freedom as promised.
  2. Renege on the deal and sell Samuel to a new owner.
  3. Renege on the deal and keep a disgruntled enslaved person in his service.

Describe the potential ramifications of each in 2 to 3 sentences.

Despite support from neighbors and fellow veterans, Samuel’s enslavement would continue for another 20 years as Berger opted to sell him to Peter Sutphen. Eventually, Samuel was allowed to purchase his freedom using money he saved up by selling rabbit, raccoon, and muskrat fur.

An Act of Congress in 1832 provided a pension to enlisted men who had served for at least two years. Although the federal government wanted to do right by veterans, it also required adequate proof that the claims were valid. According to the pension board, “It must, in every case, be clearly shown under what officers the applicant served: the duration of each term of engagement; the particular place or places where the service was performed; that the applicant served with an embodied corps called into serve by competent authority; that he was either in the field or in garrison; and for the time during which the service was performed, he was not employed in any civil pursuit.”

Samuel first applied for a pension in 1832 at age 85, but a lack of specificity in his testimony, perhaps compounded by a failing memory, led to a series of rejections from the pension board. Samuel’s name did not appear on any official roster, though it is unknown what last name he might have been listed under. In 1775 Samuel also only spoke broken English, using primarily Dutch to communicate up to that point. That he would have difficulty remembering specific names is unsurprising as a result, particularly at his advancing age.

In 1834, former Congressman Lewis Condict offered his support. Condict, who was also a doctor, examined Samuel’s scars and testified that they were wholly consistent with the injuries Samuel had described in his previous testimony. Witnesses even testified seeing him at particular battles and many of his neighbors testified as character witnesses.

DECISION ACTIVITY

Imagine you are a member of the pension board. Select one option and explain your answer in 4 to 6 sentences.

  1. Abide by the guidelines provided by the War Department and reject any claim that does not meet the letter of the law.
  2. Appeal to your superiors to approve the pension based on the particular circumstances and weight of the evidence.
  3. Grant the pension and suffer whatever consequences might arise as a result of your bending of the rules.

Samuel’s fifth petition was ultimately denied, but some important individuals became aware of his plight. Both Dr. Condict and New Jersey Governor Peter Vroom took up his case, and the New Jersey General Assembly passed an act providing Samuel a pension of $50 per year until his death in 1841.

Decision Activity: Theodosia Ford, Morris County, NJ, January 1777

Decision Activity: Theodosia Ford

Morris County, NJ January 1777

Today is Friday, January 10, 1777 and it is the worst day of my life. The war for independence has been going on for over a year, although the fighting only began in New York City about four months ago and my area of Morristown has not been attacked as has Fort Lee.  The battle at Princeton was only last Friday and you would think that I would be feeling encouraged with the British Hessians fleeing to New Brunswick. However, we are quartering 35 Patriot soldiers from Delaware in our home this winter and all of them are tired, depressed, and will likely bring sickness into our new home. General Washington’s army is now less than 1,000 men as some have deserted the cause of liberty and young men re not enlisting. We also have 30 Hessian soldiers staying on the property of our gunpowder ill in New Hope. Fortunately, John Jacob Faesch speaks German as he is from Switzerland.

I was born 36 years ago in Southampton, Long Island to a preacher, Pastor Timothy Johnes  at the First Presbyterian Church here in Morristown.  I am the mother of  five children, two girls and three boys. Elizabeth DeSaussure, Jacob Ford, III, Timothy Ford, Phebe Ford, Gabriel Hogarth Ford. After the death of my first husband, I married Jacob on January 27, 1762 at the age of 21. He was a wonderful man and a caring father to my daughter, Elizabeth.

My husband and I believe in a consumer economy. We can both read and write and my husband is skilled in understanding the mining of iron and its importance to our economy. The war has changed everything and iron and gunpowder are very scarce and materials needed to win the war for liberty.

Today, my husband, Jacob, died of pneumonia at the age of 38.  He had been working long hours trying to finish building our dream home whole overseeing the gunpowder mill.  This tragedy destroyed me and challenged my commitment to the American cause for liberty and independence. But two weeks later, my father-in-law, will also become ill and die.  Death freaks me out!  But within a few weeks my mother-in-law, Hannah will die as will my precious two-year old daughter, Phoebe. I am devastated with grief, in spite of my devotion and faith in God.

What should Theodosia do in the middle of a Revolution and civil war in New Jersey?

a. Remarry to provide for her family.

b. Hire local men to continue producing gunpowder at the secret mill?

c. Move to another area of NJ in an attempt to remain healthy and care for her children

d. Continue to live at her new home with Isaac and Hannah Till as her servants.

e. Encourage my oldest son, Jacob, age 17, to enlist.

f. Other

How will Theodosia and her children view the Declaration of independence during the war?

  1. With the personal loss of her husband, his parents, and her young daughter, liberty has little meaning to Theodosia and she will not and should not risk her life for it.
  2. Theodosia likely understands the personal sacrifices made by her husband and others and values liberty and freedom for her children. She will support the Patriots and Continental Army.

What do you think Theodosia Ford should do?

  1. Put the needs of her family before her country and leave New Jersey for a safer area?
  2. Place her faith in God and conscience and remain in New Jersey?
  3. Risk her life and daily needs by freeing her enslaved workers, Isaac and Hannah?

Decision Activity: Samuel Allinson, Burlington County, NJ, July 1778

Decision Activity: Samuel Allinson

Burlington County, NJ, July 1778

Have you ever stood up for what you believe in?

My name is Samuel Allinson. I was born in 1739, and lived in Burlington County New Jersey. Professionally, I was a lawyer who was considered to be very talented during my career. I was an abolitionist and Quaker. During the Revolution, I was a supporter of Loyalist ideals because enslaved peoples who were able to get to England in the late 1700s would be offered freedom. In my life, I worked to manumit the enslaved with my father-in-law, David Cooper. I worked hard to give freedom to Catherine and her daughter Esther in 1774. In 1782, I manumitted Jean and her three children Deborah, Violetta, and Edward. 

As a prominent member of the Quaker community in Burlington County, I led meetings in the 1780s to help members of my religion understand the immorality of slavery. More importantly, I used these meetings as an opportunity to help educate free blacks in my community-an unprecedented option at the time. 

During the revolution, I wrote letters to two well-known founding fathers: William Livingston and Patrick Henry. In my letter to Livingston, I explained why the institution of slavery was immoral. I was hoping that New Jersey would lead the way of abolition for the new nation, but unfortunately, Governor Livingston would not be able to do this during his time in office. I didn’t know Patrick Henry, but my words to him were adamant about the abolition of slavery.

So, knowing all of this about me, I ask you: When have you taken a stand for what you know is morally right?

Why did Samuel Allinson decide to contact prominent men during the Revolutionary War era?

   

Did Samuel Allinson’s decision to speak out against slavery have any benefit?

     

If you could ask Samuel Allinson one question today, what would it be?

     

What causes do you believe in or support?

What factors influence our decisions to stand up for what is morally right?

   

Decision Activity: Margaret Hill Morris, Burlington County, NJ December 1776

Decision Activity – Margaret Hill Morris

Burlington, NJ, December 1776

I am now 39 years of age, widowed and providing and caring for with my four children of ten to seventeen years of age, living in Burlington near my sister, Sarah.  I am also a nurse and a Quaker. It is horrible that this war has come to our great land. On December 8th, I am thinking about the thousands of troops passing through here who will lose their lives.

Recently, we heard for days on end that the British troops were heading towards us. Now, the Hessians are camping nearby for the winter. When the Hessians entered our town, their colonel promised us safety, so long as they could quarter in town and that none of the inhabitants of Burlington had arms to use against them. However, the retreating Continental Army is also around, and they have ships on the Delaware River prepared to fire on the Hessians should they find them.

Captain Mooretried to deliver this message of peace from the Hessians to the ships but failed. A few of our townsmen went outside and nearly got hit with a cannonball! Then, when some Hessians went out, the ships fired all night on the town since they thought Burlington was full of Hessians. My neighbors felt incredibly concerned and disappointed at this treacherous attack against our town by our own people. My family is caught in the crossfire.

One of my neighbors told us to go and hide in our cellar. Thankfully, my home stayed in a peaceful state, and I trusted that God would protect each of us, despite my feelings of loneliness and uncertainty about what might happen next.

In the following days, the Hessians eventually left town and then the sailors came and went on searches for Tories destroying property and bring fear to every innocent resident. They captured 17 of my neighbors and friends and took them to prison. This is very frightening for all of us, especially our children.

What should Margaret do in this situation?

  1. Go about life as usual continuing her trust in God.
  2. Continue hiding in the cellar with her children and sister.
  3. Leave and walk to the countryside during this cold weather with her family and take a risk that some stranger will let them in, because it seems too unsafe to stay in Burlington.

Although Margaret appears neutral, like most Quakers, which side should she consider supporting?

  1. She should support the British, since the colonies belong to Britain, and the Hessians seem more accommodating than the Patriots who fired and arrested her neighbors?
  2. She should support the Patriot cause, in the name of liberty and equality?

Margaret has a secret chamber available in the cellar of her home. One of her neighbors, a doctor and Episcopal clergyman who supports Britain, asks to hide in her home.

Should she let him into her home?

  1. Yes, since he is one of her neighbors.
  2. Yes, if she also supports the British side.
  3. No, because hiding a Loyalist compromises her family’s safety.
  4. No, because supplies are scarce.

Decision Activity: John Hunt, Evesham, NJ, December 1776

Decision Activity: John Hunt

Evesham, December 1776

It is the twelfth month of the year 1776, and I am now thirty-six years of age. I am a farmer and minister living with my wife Esther Warrington and our children in Burlington County. Though three of our children died at an early age, we still have seven with us. I also spend time mending my neighbors’ pumps.

Before my father Robert passed away, he was a first cousin to the minister John Woolman. In 1754, Reverend Woolman warned the Society of Friends that slavery is sinful, and he stated that “the slave trade harms families, prevents enslaved people from knowing God, and violates the Golden Rule.”

During my town’s meetings among Friends (Quakers), we have been discussing what to do about the “negroes”[1] in our community. On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, we had a meeting and afterwards I went to visit some neighbors to talk with them about owning enslaved persons.

I was appointed at the Evesham monthly meeting to convince my neighbors that it is wrong to have slaves and they should see to it that the children should be taught in the wisdom of God.

Earlier this year at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, it was mandated that all Quakers manumit their slaves; those who refused to do so would essentially be disowned. Some of the slaveholders in Burlington County were more resistant to this mandate, while others complied.

Recently, I heard that in the middle of the second month, 1776, John Hay and other men armed with clubs went to a “Negro” man’s home near Haddonfield and tried to take away his son, but a violent fight ensued and they failed to do so.

I wonder if my neighbors are this resistant to ending slavery. Even though our new state of New Jersey has refused to end slavery, I do not know if Quakers can continue to allow it.

 How should John Hunt act in response to Friends in his community who still hold slaves?

a. Visit them privately and urge them to manumit the slaves.

b. Visit them again with other Friends to interrogate them about having slaves.

c. Address this issue as a whole community in a monthly town meeting.

d. Leave them alone.

             Is there a ‘best approach’ to change someone else’s mind who has slaves?

a. How do you argue with someone who believes that they are benefitting economically from slave ownership?

b. How do you explain to a friend or neighbor that it is morally wrong by taking away someone’s liberty?

c. With America fighting for freedom and independence from England, should the emancipation of enslaved persons be one of the reasons for the American Revolution?

d. Is the independence of enslaved persons and ending the slave trade related to the Declaration of Independence?


[1] Note that this was the language used by Hunt and others to describe African American people.

Decision Activity: Elizabeth Beatty Fithian, Burlington County, October 1776

Decision Activity: Elizabeth Beatty Fithian

Burlington County, NJ  October 1776

I was born on March 26, 1752 in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania.  I was the fourth child of Charles and Ann Beatty. My father was a highly respected clergyman from Neshaminy. He was also a huge supporter of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). He served as a trustee for the college for several years. Sadly, my father would die prematurely of yellow fever while on a visit to Barbados trying to raise money for the college in 1772.  His death devastated our family. After a long courtship, I would marry Reverend Philip Vickers Fithian on October 27, 1775, eight months before the signing of the Declaration of independence.

Following Philip’s death from exposure while serving as a military chaplain in New York, I would go on to marry Philip’s second cousin Joel Fithian. Joel and I would have nine children together. 

The death of my husband Philip on October 8, 1776, at the age of 29, affected me deeply. My husband and I were huge supporters of the revolutionary cause.  He lived his life with a belief in duty and service as well as a strong religious devotion and commitment. Philip’s death made me question my support for America’s fight for independence.  My faith had already been tested by the premature death of my father in 1772. Going forward, I had to find a way to carry on in order to live a life devoted to God and country!

What should Elizabeth do, in the middle of the Revolutionary War, following the tragic death of her husband Philip?

  Select one option and explain your answer in 4 to 6 sentences.

  • Remarry in order to have a family of her own.
  • Move in with her brother Dr. John Beatty in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • Move to another area of New Jersey to begin a new life.
  • Continue to live in her husband’s home in Greenwich, New Jersey.
  • Other.

Interview Elizabeth shortly after the death of her husband in 1776. Select one question below and write or record what might have been her response.

  • Would you put your personal welfare and interests before those of your country?
  • Are your religious convictions more important than your family?
  • As a widow, would you risk your life in support of the revolutionary cause?

Below is one of the last letters Philip Fithian wrote to his wife Elizabeth prior to his death.  He wrote this letter 19 days before he died.  Read and analyze the letter and answer the following guided questions:

1. Write a one sentence summary of this letter.

2. What was happening at the time this letter was written?

3. What did you find out from this letter that you might not learn anywhere else?

Camp Near Kings-Bridge, Sept. 19: 1776.

My dear Betsey.

Amidst all the Distress & Ruins of this dreadful War I am yet alive & yours. Our Enemies pursue us close on from Place to place. But we drubbed them well last Monday since which they have laid quiet. Your Brothers John, Reading & Arckee are well, I saw them since the Battle. We expect to have a general Engagement soon, & are not dispirited in the least by our late Losses. I hope to see my dear Betsey by the tenth of December & not before— But wonder much that  I do not hear from her; as it is now more than a Month since she wrote me a Word that I have received:—And since that time I have wrote with this seven long Epistles, a full sheet in each— One Aug.19—One 21st—26th— Sept: 1st 3d 9th & now the 19th.

I pray God daily that you may be preserved & in Health. My Duty to Mr. Green & Family. Last Sund. & Monday were two terrible Days; But on Monday our brave Heroes made them give Way. The English Army, Tories & All, is not supposed to be less than 30,000 strong. But our Army wishes to attack them. Peace, & God’s Blessing be with my Betsey, my dear Wife, forever may you be happy.

Philip V. Fithian.

Mrs. Betsey Fithian

Deerfield, West Jersey