Decision Activity: Annis Boudinot Stockton, November 1776

Decision Activity: Annis Boudinot Stockton

Princeton, New Jersey, November, 1776

Annis Boudinot Stockton

How can it be that four short months ago, we were here at my home in Princeton, New Jersey, celebrating the Declaration of Independence? I am so proud of my husband, Richard Stockton, for representing New Jersey and signing his name alongside Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and other great Americans in declaring our independence from Great Britain.

My name is Annis Boudinot Stockton, and I am a patriot, a poet, and a mother of six children. The warmth in the air that day in July when we celebrated our independence has turned to a bitter cold this November as news spread that the British have taken New York City, and George Washington is retreating through New Jersey. I frequently correspond with George Washington, and I am sure that our Continental Army is in the very strongest of hands.

However, rumors abound that Washington has been pushed through Newark and New Brunswick and that he is on his way to Trenton, where he will cross the Delaware River to get to Pennsylvania. While I am hopeful he will reach the safety of Pennsylvania, I know that his retreat will bring the might of the British army and the bloodthirsty Hessians right here to Princeton. My beloved home, “Morven,” is a well-known gathering place for the intellectual elites of Princeton, and my husband signed the Declaration of Independence.

We are told that the British are only a couple of days away. My home and my children are in grave danger. I have written to my husband, but he is all the way in Baltimore, meeting with the Continental Congress. It is not our material wealth that I am worried about the British destroying. It is the intellectual wealth contained in the state papers and the collections of writings from the American Whig Society that are here at Morven.

What should Annis Boudinot Stockton do as the British close in on Princeton?

Be sure to provide reasoning for your response.

A. Remain in Princeton and defend her home and her children, even if it means putting her children in grave danger.

B. Stay in Princeton, but deny any involvement with the Revolutionary cause and implore the British for lenient treatment of her husband, Richard.

C. Immediately flee the area with her family for safety, leaving behind all her belongings, the state papers, and the papers of the American Whig Society.

D. Remain in Princeton for a few more hours to bury some of her belongings, the state papers, and the papers of the American Whig Society, but then flee the area as quickly as possible.

Annis Boudinot Stockton was a well-known poet in Revolutionary America and a prolific letter writer.

After making your decision above, complete one of the following tasks:

1. Write a poem about the retreat of the Continental Army through New Jersey and the difficult decision that was made for her family.

2. Write a letter to her husband, Richard Stockton, informing him of the decision made.

Below is a map detailing Washington’s retreat through New Jersey.

Use this map to answer the following two questions:

1. Do you think General Washington believed the Continental Army was safe once they crossed the Delaware River? Explain your answer.

2. After abandoning Princeton during the retreat through New Jersey, the Stockton family sought refuge in Monmouth County. Do you believe Monmouth County was safer than their hometown of Princeton? Why or Why not?

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