Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia was the heart of the fastest growing American colony. Established in 1682, Philadelphia was relatively young by colonial standards and was laid out on a neat grid between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Philadelphia boomed in the 18th century, becoming the biggest city in British North America, exceeding Boston and New York by 1775 with over 30,000 inhabitants.

Philadelphia’s population and location near the center of the loose confederacy of rebellious colonies gave it a central place in the colonies’ politics. It was here that the First Continental Congress sat in 1774 to iron out unity of purpose between the delegates. Its successor, the Second Continental Congress, also sat in Philadelphia and ultimately directed the war that achieved American independence. Effectively the capital of the American states, it was a critical site militarily as well as politically. As a major port, Philadelphia became a hub for bringing together war material and provisions as well as manufacturing equipment. These industries waxed and waned, but over the course of the war they included a laboratory for making cartridges and other ordnance, a shoe factory, the Continental Armory, and even a cannon foundry.

In 1777, a British army under General William Howe embarked from New York with sights set on the American capital in Philadelphia. Outmaneuvering Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, Howe entered Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. While the British had hoped that taking Philadelphia would force the Americans to surrender, Congress simply left the city and continued to govern from York, Pennsylvania. The Continental Army decided to winter just outside the reach of the British, but close enough to monitor them, at a place called Valley Forge. By spring, after the surrender at Saratoga and the entry of France into the war, the British decided to evacuate Philadelphia, which they did on June 18, 1778.

Congress returned to Philadelphia in July of 1778, but they left again in 1782, this time due to Continental soldiers who marched on Congress demanding pay due to them for their service. Despite being the seat of government for most of the war, Congress’ departure meant the final treaty of peace and Washington’s resignation as the army’s commander did not happen in Philadelphia. After the war, the city’s centrality made it an ideal location for a convention in 1787 that drafted the Constitution of the United States, and the city served as the second capital of the United States of America from 1790 to 1800.

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The city of Philadelphia was the heart of the fastest growing American colony. Established in 1682, Philadelphia was relatively young by colonial standards and was laid out on a neat grid between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Philadelphia boomed in the 18th century, becoming the biggest city in British North America, exceeding Boston and New York by 1775 with over 30,000 inhabitants.Philadelphia’s population and location near the center of the loose confederacy of rebellious colonies gave it a central place in the colonies’ politics. It was here that the First Continental Congress sat in 1774 to iron out unity of purpose between the delegates. Its successor, the Second Continental Congress, also sat in Philadelphia and ultimately directed the war that achieved American independence. Effectively the capital of the American states, it was a critical site militarily as well as politically. As a major port, Philadelphia became a hub for bringing together war material and provisions as well as manufacturing equipment. These industries waxed and waned, but over the course of the war they included a laboratory for making cartridges and other ordnance, a shoe factory, the Continental Armory, and even a cannon foundry.

In 1777, a British army under General William Howe embarked from New York with sights set on the American capital in Philadelphia. Outmaneuvering Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, Howe entered Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. While the British had hoped that taking Philadelphia would force the Americans to surrender, Congress simply left the city and continued to govern from York, Pennsylvania. The Continental Army decided to winter just outside the reach of the British, but close enough to monitor them, at a place called Valley Forge. By spring, after the surrender at Saratoga and the entry of France into the war, the British decided to evacuate Philadelphia, which they did on June 18, 1778.

Congress returned to Philadelphia in July of 1778, but they left again in 1782, this time due to Continental soldiers who marched on Congress demanding pay due to them for their service. Despite being the seat of government for most of the war, Congress’ departure meant the final treaty of peace and Washington’s resignation as the army’s commander did not happen in Philadelphia. After the war, the city’s centrality made it an ideal location for a convention in 1787 that drafted the Constitution of the United States, and the city served as the second capital of the United States of America from 1790 to 1800.

Objects in the Philadelphia Case

Robert Knox and Sarah Hollingshead Knox

Robert Knox was born in Ireland and became a successful merchant and shipowner with extensive properties within and beyond the city. He was also active in the revolutionary movement.

Pennsylvania has a unique military history. Politically dominated by Quakers, it was the only colony without a militia prior to the Revolutionary War. In 1775, Pennsylvanians revived the concept of voluntary military associations, known as Associators. Robert Knox served as a major of the 3rd Battalion of the Philadelphia Associators and fought at the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton. The Associators, drawn from across the social spectrum, including poor and working-class citizens, felt their service benefited all and vocally advocated for compulsory militia service. The Associators were able to shape the state’s constitution of 1776, ending Pennsylvania’s official pacifism and ensuring that men either served in the militia or were fined.

Robert became the colonel of the 6th Battalion of the city’s militia under the new Militia Act of 1777, a position he held until 1780. He married Sarah Hollingshead in 1779, and the couple lived in the Southwark neighborhood. Colonel Knox died in 1784. Sarah remarried and died in 1787. The artist, Charles Willson Peale, also served in the Philadelphia Associators, and their shared service may have encouraged Knox’s request for this pair of portraits.

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Robert Knox was born in Ireland and became a successful merchant and shipowner with extensive properties within and beyond the city. He was also active in the revolutionary movement.

Pennsylvania has a unique military history. Politically dominated by Quakers, it was the only colony without a militia prior to the Revolutionary War. In 1775, Pennsylvanians revived the concept of voluntary military associations, known as Associators. Robert Knox served as a major of the 3rd Battalion of the Philadelphia Associators and fought at the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton. The Associators, drawn from across the social spectrum, including poor and working-class citizens, felt their service benefited all and vocally advocated for compulsory militia service. The Associators were able to shape the state’s constitution of 1776, ending Pennsylvania’s official pacifism and ensuring that men either served in the militia or were fined.

Robert became the colonel of the 6th Battalion of the city’s militia under the new Militia Act of 1777, a position he held until 1780. He married Sarah Hollingshead in 1779, and the couple lived in the Southwark neighborhood. Colonel Knox died in 1784. Sarah remarried and died in 1787. The artist, Charles Willson Peale, also served in the Philadelphia Associators, and their shared service may have encouraged Knox’s request for this pair of portraits.

Officer’s Fusil

This fusil is one of only three surviving weapons attributed to Thomas Palmer, a Philadelphia gunsmith. Palmer established his trade in the early 1770s and made firearms for notable customers from Philadelphia and beyond. He made arms for some of the Associators, the city’s voluntary military association, as well as for the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety. George Washington even commissioned firearms from Palmer for companies in Virginia.

The side plate of this firearm is engraved “Capt Wm Gray.” William Gray was captured during the Battle of Long Island in 1776 while serving in Colonel Samuel Miles’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, but was eventually exchanged for a British officer. Commissioned a captain on January 3, 1777, Gray then saw action at the battles of Brandywine, Paoli, and Germantown outside Philadelphia and survived the critical winter at Valley Forge. He continued to serve in the Pennsylvania Line until 1781 and was engaged at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 and at the Battle of Newtown on Sullivan’s campaign into Iroquoia in 1779.

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This fusil is one of only three surviving weapons attributed to Thomas Palmer, a Philadelphia gunsmith. Palmer established his trade in the early 1770s and made firearms for notable customers from Philadelphia and beyond. He made arms for some of the Associators, the city’s voluntary military association, as well as for the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety. George Washington even commissioned firearms from Palmer for companies in Virginia.

The side plate of this firearm is engraved “Capt Wm Gray.” William Gray was captured during the Battle of Long Island in 1776 while serving in Colonel Samuel Miles’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, but was eventually exchanged for a British officer. Commissioned a captain on January 3, 1777, Gray then saw action at the battles of Brandywine, Paoli, and Germantown outside Philadelphia and survived the critical winter at Valley Forge. He continued to serve in the Pennsylvania Line until 1781 and was engaged at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 and at the Battle of Newtown on Sullivan’s campaign into Iroquoia in 1779.

Spadroon type sword

Like many Philadelphians, Richard Humphreys (1750-1832) was an immigrant. Born to a Quaker family on the British island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands, Humphreys apprenticed with a silversmith in Wilmington, Delaware before moving to Philadelphia in 1772 to set up his own shop. As the Revolutionary War began, he strayed from the pacifism of the Quakers. He was disowned by his faith when he was elected as an officer of the Philadelphia Associators, the city’s private military association. Humphreys was eventually commissioned as a captain of the light infantry company of the 1st Battalion of the Associators and served at the head of his company through the Trenton and Princeton campaign. Likely sometime prior to late 1776, he crafted the fine silver hilt that adorns this sword, one of the more martial expressions of the luxury trade of silversmithing. It survives as an object that speaks to the convictions that moved individuals to break from their own pasts and chart new destinies in the Revolutionary era.

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Like many Philadelphians, Richard Humphreys (1750-1832) was an immigrant. Born to a Quaker family on the British island of Tortola in the Virgin Islands, Humphreys apprenticed with a silversmith in Wilmington, Delaware before moving to Philadelphia in 1772 to set up his own shop. As the Revolutionary War began, he strayed from the pacifism of the Quakers. He was disowned by his faith when he was elected as an officer of the Philadelphia Associators, the city’s private military association. Humphreys was eventually commissioned as a captain of the light infantry company of the 1st Battalion of the Associators and served at the head of his company through the Trenton and Princeton campaign. Likely sometime prior to late 1776, he crafted the fine silver hilt that adorns this sword, one of the more martial expressions of the luxury trade of silversmithing. It survives as an object that speaks to the convictions that moved individuals to break from their own pasts and chart new destinies in the Revolutionary era.

Anthony Walton White’s Camp Cups

These camp cups were made for Anthony Walton White (1750-1803), whose initials appear engraved on the front. White briefly served as an aide-de-camp to General Washington in 1775. He did not hold that position for long and moved through a variety of commands, including serving as lieutenant colonel of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment in 1776 and later commanding the 1st Continental Light Dragoons. He served in the Philadelphia campaign, the Battle of Monmouth, and the Siege of Charleston while dogged by his own prickly character and difficult reputation. He married into a slaveholding South Carolina family and pursued his fortune in Georgia before moving back north. He died in New Jersey in 1803.

The cups were made by Richard Humphreys, who also made the sword here. It is not known when Humphreys made these cups, but they were not the only ones he produced for Continental officers. In 1780 he produced a half dozen for General George Washington. While his client Anthony Walton White prospered from marrying into the slaveholding system of the South, Humphreys bequeathed a substantial part of his estate to support a school for “the descendants of the African Race” upon his death in 1832. The Richard Humphreys Foundation still exists to this day, providing scholarships for Cheyney University.

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These camp cups were made for Anthony Walton White (1750-1803), whose initials appear engraved on the front. White briefly served as an aide-de-camp to General Washington in 1775. He did not hold that position for long and moved through a variety of commands, including serving as lieutenant colonel of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment in 1776 and later commanding the 1st Continental Light Dragoons. He served in the Philadelphia campaign, the Battle of Monmouth, and the Siege of Charleston while dogged by his own prickly character and difficult reputation. He married into a slaveholding South Carolina family and pursued his fortune in Georgia before moving back north. He died in New Jersey in 1803.

The cups were made by Richard Humphreys, who also made the sword here. It is not known when Humphreys made these cups, but they were not the only ones he produced for Continental officers. In 1780 he produced a half dozen for General George Washington. While his client Anthony Walton White prospered from marrying into the slaveholding system of the South, Humphreys bequeathed a substantial part of his estate to support a school for “the descendants of the African Race” upon his death in 1832. The Richard Humphreys Foundation still exists to this day, providing scholarships for Cheyney University.

Thomas Proctor’s Cane

Thomas Proctor was another of Philadelphia’s numerous Irish immigrants. In late 1775, he raised a company of artillery that guarded the Delaware River approaches to Philadelphia. They later served under George Washington in the thick of the fighting at the Battles of Trenton, Brandywine, and Germantown and wintered at Valley Forge. Later in 1778, Proctor’s Pennsylvania Artillery was formally accepted into the Continental Army as the 4th Continental Artillery. They served in General Sullivan’s campaign against Iroquoia and bombarded dug-in Native forces during the August 29, 1779 Battle of Newtown near modern Elmira, New York. Proctor resigned his commission in early 1781, missing the Siege of Yorktown, where some of his old 4th Artillery manned the American guns that finally forced the surrender of General Cornwallis’ British.

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Thomas Proctor was another of Philadelphia’s numerous Irish immigrants. In late 1775, he raised a company of artillery that guarded the Delaware River approaches to Philadelphia. They later served under George Washington in the thick of the fighting at the Battles of Trenton, Brandywine, and Germantown and wintered at Valley Forge. Later in 1778, Proctor’s Pennsylvania Artillery was formally accepted into the Continental Army as the 4th Continental Artillery. They served in General Sullivan’s campaign against Iroquoia and bombarded dug-in Native forces during the August 29, 1779 Battle of Newtown near modern Elmira, New York. Proctor resigned his commission in early 1781, missing the Siege of Yorktown, where some of his old 4th Artillery manned the American guns that finally forced the surrender of General Cornwallis’ British.

Button, 22nd Regiment of Foot

Although found here at Ticonderoga, this button’s revolutionary story began in Philadelphia. New clothing for the British 22nd and 40th Regiments of Foot was shipped to America in early 1775. The ship carrying that clothing sailed toward Philadelphia on August 12, 1775, not realizing that war had begun. She was promptly captured off Gloucester, New Jersey, and her cargo was brought into Philadelphia, where the clothing was held aside for the use of Congress. The need for clothing was so great that the bales and casks were sent all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they could be issued out for the benefit of the Continental Army. Many of the Americans who were issued these captured clothes were ordered to the Champlain Valley in 1776, leaving a trail of lost buttons from British regiments that had never set foot in the area.

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Although found here at Ticonderoga, this button’s revolutionary story began in Philadelphia. New clothing for the British 22nd and 40th Regiments of Foot was shipped to America in early 1775. The ship carrying that clothing sailed toward Philadelphia on August 12, 1775, not realizing that war had begun. She was promptly captured off Gloucester, New Jersey, and her cargo was brought into Philadelphia, where the clothing was held aside for the use of Congress. The need for clothing was so great that the bales and casks were sent all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they could be issued out for the benefit of the Continental Army. Many of the Americans who were issued these captured clothes were ordered to the Champlain Valley in 1776, leaving a trail of lost buttons from British regiments that had never set foot in the area.

Cast of the 40th Regiment’s Germantown Medal

This cast was made from one of the few medals produced for a specific regiment during the 18th century. Originally made in 1784 – silver for officers and bronze for the rank and file – the medal commemorated the heroic stand of the British 40th Regiment of Foot during the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. That morning, General Washington sprung an ambitious, multi-pronged surprise attack on the British lines. The 40th barricaded itself inside Cliveden, a stone country house, where it held out against hundreds of Continental infantrymen and artillery. Attempting to take the building drew the attention of the American troops away from other objectives. This distraction, combined with the complexity of Washington’s plans and the arrival of British reinforcements, prevented the Continentals from achieving a victory.

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This cast was made from one of the few medals produced for a specific regiment during the 18th century. Originally made in 1784 – silver for officers and bronze for the rank and file – the medal commemorated the heroic stand of the British 40th Regiment of Foot during the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. That morning, General Washington sprung an ambitious, multi-pronged surprise attack on the British lines. The 40th barricaded itself inside Cliveden, a stone country house, where it held out against hundreds of Continental infantrymen and artillery. Attempting to take the building drew the attention of the American troops away from other objectives. This distraction, combined with the complexity of Washington’s plans and the arrival of British reinforcements, prevented the Continentals from achieving a victory.

Broadside, April 14, 1778

Between September of 1777 and June of 1778, Philadelphia was a city fully under British occupation. General William Howe, who commanded the British army in America, effectively governed from the captured city. This document deals with drafts for bills that had been put before Parliament, largely aimed at appeasing the rebellious population to end the war. One bill proposed the local use of tax revenues, and the other appointed the Carlisle Peace Commission, a late attempt to end the war through diplomacy.

This document was printed by the partnership of Donald McDonald and Alexander Cameron, Scots who arrived in New York following its British capture in 1776. They were tightly connected to the military establishment in America. They followed the army to Philadelphia and later to Charleston, South Carolina, printing material by and for the army. McDonald died in Long Island in 1782, but his partner Cameron outlived him and likely evacuated with the rest of the army in 1783.

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Between September of 1777 and June of 1778, Philadelphia was a city fully under British occupation. General William Howe, who commanded the British army in America, effectively governed from the captured city. This document deals with drafts for bills that had been put before Parliament, largely aimed at appeasing the rebellious population to end the war. One bill proposed the local use of tax revenues, and the other appointed the Carlisle Peace Commission, a late attempt to end the war through diplomacy.

This document was printed by the partnership of Donald McDonald and Alexander Cameron, Scots who arrived in New York following its British capture in 1776. They were tightly connected to the military establishment in America. They followed the army to Philadelphia and later to Charleston, South Carolina, printing material by and for the army. McDonald died in Long Island in 1782, but his partner Cameron outlived him and likely evacuated with the rest of the army in 1783.

Satirical print titled The Commissioners

In late 1777, after news of the British surrender at Saratoga, Prime Minister Lord North struggled to resolve the war in America and dispatched a last-ditch effort to make peace. A commission led by the Earl of Carlisle was empowered to make considerable concessions to the Americans, largely giving them all they had asked for in the lead up to the war. The commission arrived in North America to find the British Army in Philadelphia, and they tried in vain to get the Continental Congress to accept their terms. The landscape for negotiations had changed so much that after six months the commission failed to achieve any results. Independence was now a firm goal of Congress and by the time the British commissioners arrived, France had already entered the war and acknowledged American statehood. This print, published in London by the satirists Matthew and Mary Darly, mocked the expectations of success, even before the commission had completed their task.

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In late 1777, after news of the British surrender at Saratoga, Prime Minister Lord North struggled to resolve the war in America and dispatched a last-ditch effort to make peace. A commission led by the Earl of Carlisle was empowered to make considerable concessions to the Americans, largely giving them all they had asked for in the lead up to the war. The commission arrived in North America to find the British Army in Philadelphia, and they tried in vain to get the Continental Congress to accept their terms. The landscape for negotiations had changed so much that after six months the commission failed to achieve any results. Independence was now a firm goal of Congress and by the time the British commissioners arrived, France had already entered the war and acknowledged American statehood. This print, published in London by the satirists Matthew and Mary Darly, mocked the expectations of success, even before the commission had completed their task.

Silhouette of John Taylor Gilman

This silhouette was made in Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum. It shows John Taylor Gilman, a New Hampshire minuteman of 1775, who was later a Continental congressman and twice governor of New Hampshire. Peale opened his first museum in 1782. By 1802, it had moved into the Long Room of the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Guests could have their portrait made on a physiognotrace, a device that copies the moves of an artist’s hand tracing a silhouette. close to 8,000 guests, about 80% of the visitors, had their portraits made in the museum’s first years of operation.

Beginning in 1802, the museum’s “Cutter of Profiles” was a man named Moses Williams. His parents, Scarborough and Lucy, were enslaved by Peale until 1786, when a state law Peale had voted for required him to free them. Pennsylvania’s Gradual Abolition Act only applied to adults, and children remained enslaved until the age of 28. Moses grew up in slavery alongside Peale’s children, learning a number of skills, including how to operate the physiognotrace and cut profiles. Peale gave Moses his freedom only in 1802. Once free, Moses prospered as the cutter of profiles. He married the Peales’ cook, and bought property in the city. However, the movement of the museum in 1823 and changing tastes saw Moses’ fortunes decline, and he died without any of the fame that accumulated around the Peale family.

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This silhouette was made in Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum. It shows John Taylor Gilman, a New Hampshire minuteman of 1775, who was later a Continental congressman and twice governor of New Hampshire. Peale opened his first museum in 1782. By 1802, it had moved into the Long Room of the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Guests could have their portrait made on a physiognotrace, a device that copies the moves of an artist’s hand tracing a silhouette. close to 8,000 guests, about 80% of the visitors, had their portraits made in the museum’s first years of operation.

Beginning in 1802, the museum’s “Cutter of Profiles” was a man named Moses Williams. His parents, Scarborough and Lucy, were enslaved by Peale until 1786, when a state law Peale had voted for required him to free them. Pennsylvania’s Gradual Abolition Act only applied to adults, and children remained enslaved until the age of 28. Moses grew up in slavery alongside Peale’s children, learning a number of skills, including how to operate the physiognotrace and cut profiles. Peale gave Moses his freedom only in 1802. Once free, Moses prospered as the cutter of profiles. He married the Peales’ cook, and bought property in the city. However, the movement of the museum in 1823 and changing tastes saw Moses’ fortunes decline, and he died without any of the fame that accumulated around the Peale family.

To view more information about the objects in this exhibit, visit the Ticonderoga Online Collections Database!