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SEARCHING FOR TUN TAVERN TaoWriter Powered By Docstoc
12-02-2009. MTM-

                    Temple University Archive
                   Historical Marker date 1925
                  “appears outside Tun Tavern”


                      MIKE MALSBARY
                               Block print from the archive of the
                          Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Museum- 5

               DRAFT-SEARCHING             FOR TUN TAVERN-DRAFT


After reading several current works on the American Revolution, I ran across a number
of on-line web sites featuring articles about the Marine Corps Birthday of November 10,
1775. A 1933 Marine Corps Gazette article by Major L.E. Fagan II USMC is thorough
and very well written. Major Fagan sets the standard for anyone writing on the subject.
Of a variety of write ups on the Marine Corps Birthday or general information about Tun
Tavern these sites are a good survey. But if more about the social network and political
developments and socioeconomics that created the Marine Corps birthday is needed, read

Several modern works on the Revolution, Bodle’s The Valley Forge Winter, Lockhart’s
biography General Frederick Von Steubin and Raphael’s Founders , all take a fresh,
realistic perspective on unfolding events between 1670 and 1800. Steven Russwurm’s
Arms, Country & Class provides us with copious detail about life in Philadelphia around
1750. The realism is enhanced by logical interpretation of period demographics, letters
to and from the Continental Congress and its fascinating committees as well as parallel
chronologies, e.g. ship movements, imports and exports, manifests and destinations. The
forces that eventually precipitated the American Revolution slowly brewed from early
settlements in New England and, in Pennsylvania the colonial towns of Reading,
Lancaster, Allentown, and the primary focus here, Philadelphia from 1680 to 1776.

The question regarding the Marine Corps birthday was first put to me while standing in
formation during inspection at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot on a cold South
Carolina morning in February 1963. An eighteen year old recruit, I’d guess my answer
was, “Captain Samuel E. Nicholas Sir!” Today, forty six years later I find some the
existing internet articles about the early Marine Corps a bit one dimensional, and
especially undocumented. I decided to step up and to apply some original document
research that would consolidate and improve the existing event mosaic.

It occurred to me that there is a distinct difference between what one knows and what is
known about a particular subject. The first task was to merge those two perspectives as
close as possible before writing about such a hallowed subject as the Birthplace of the
United States Marine Corps. Tun Tavern, one of many taverns in Philadelphia in early to
mid 1700s was the center of unique social networks that resulted in the selection of
Captain Samuel Nicholas as the first Commandant of the Colonial Marines and later of
course the United States Marine Corps.

The compelling questions that energize this inquiry would, therefore state the following
rules: Including only foot noted facts supported by well sourced documents, tertiary,
secondary and primary sources acceptable. Build the case to the very moment a
Continental Marine resolution was issued and follow the resulting records of early
conflicts in which they became involved. Support files and pictures will be included if
possible to assist the viewer instant access to the evidence supporting the fact presented.

1.At what point did passive resistance against the British administration of the colonies become active.
2.What evidence, in the form of correspondence, acts of anarchy, overt civil resistance, ultimately
formalized resolutions and declarations of war by the Continental Congress.
3.Ship building in Philadelphia from around 1680 to 1778. The general economic environment. The
merchant ship Black Prince.
4.Did the need for Continental Marines come from General George Washington, historically an infantry
officer or individual(s) on the Marine Committee, of the Continental Congress…or both? Existing Marine
organization models prior to 1775.
5.Philadelphia-the specific economic environment. The explosive atmosphere of mobilization.
6.Likely comings and goings at Betsy’s Red Hot Beefsteak House, Tun Tavern around 1774. The tavern
customs at the time. Find and photograph the exact location – research John Carpenter
7.The purchase and commissioning of Black Prince to the ship Alfred. Fitting out a man-or-war.
8.The appointment of Captain Samuel E. Nicholas and the sourcing of 1st Marine Battalion.
9.Orders to the first Colonial Naval Flotilla. The general tasks of Colonial Marines at sea and in combat,
weaponry and uniform.
10.Colonial Marine action on land and sea up to Commodore Edward Preble and seaman and Marine action
in Tripoli 1804-1805 Resolution.


Tun Tavern is indicated to be in three different locations according to some internet
articles. The Philadelphia Historic Marker Commission in November 2005 located a
marker for Tun Tavern at Penn’s Landing at Front Street between Chestnut and Walnut
Streets. Another source locates Tun Tavern at King Street (now Water Street) at the
corner of Wilcox, which as of 1887, became Ton Alley. An added note that it was
between Chestnut and Walnut might verify the PHC’s placement. . The tour map of
Philadelphia noted a Tun Tavern marker on Front Street between Walnut and Delancey
Streets. A photograph of an early historic marker, gray with weather an corrosion is dated
1925. In the archive of Temple University, the marker’s placement at that time is

 “Peggy Mullen’s Red Hot Beefsteak Club aka House” the restaurant in the duplex next
door was said to be at 10 South Water Street. An early map overlay with the street
locations marked, placed over a current Philadelphia map should clarify these locations.
One mission of this article is to explore the various locations noted. If Tun Alley did not
exist before 1887, any historical documents, broadsides or diaries would refer to a tavern,
possibly Tun Tavern located on Wilcox Street. Much early work of committees of the
Continental Congress was done in tavern meeting rooms, Tun one of about forty in early
18th Century Philadelphia.

An early watercolor, likely done by architectural artist William L. Breton (1773-1855), is
often included in Tun Tavern internet features. This is a, much copied block engraving
now in the possession The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. The rendering shows Tun
Tavern as a free standing duplex style building. The location of taverns, shops and
businesses in alleys during the early 1700s was so prevalent that congestion became a
huge problem. If Tun Tavern was located even near Wilcox or Tun Alley, this enormous
congestion problem would seem to rule out the free standing building in William
Breton’s watercolor as being the Tun Tavern. Early 1700 map details will illustrate this
point. Some research to pursue and document a clearer Tun Tavern story should be fun.

If Tun Tavern was purportedly the location of the earliest Colonial Marine recruitments
beginning November 10, 1775 a postulate of origin must be considered. A well regarded
socialite and tavern keeper himself, S.E. Nicholas, an academic of noted achievement and
man of Philadelphia society with apparently no military training6, is named in several
well written articles as founder of the Colonial Marines. An understanding of the
socioeconomic picture in 18th Century Philadelphia will allow a proper stage for this
investigation. Did Captain Nicholas create the framework and style of the Colonial
Marines based on some working knowledge of a marine model? What role did the tavern
keeper Mr. John Mullens, purportedly the first recruiting officer, play in this
organizational design? Who was John Mullens? What was the custom in taverns at that


The Tun Tavern story often and must begin with mention of Samuel Carpenter, a Quaker
who arrived in a dusty, muddy Philadelphia from the British outpost in the West Indies
around 1684. Born in England in 1649, by age thirty five, he sought to continue his
Barbados business success in Philadelphia. Somewhere there is an application to Penn’s
Council in 1683-84 to build the first wharf. Completely unaware that he would become a
part of Marine Corps history, Carpenter’s wharf was the first of many, all with steps from
the Delaware waterline up to the top of the river bank, where shops and warehouses and
taverns flourished.

A map detail of early to mid 18th Century Philadelphia clearly shows the emergence of
numerous alley ways of about twenty feet in width perpendicular to the river edge. The
alleys beginning at roughly (street) to the south and (street) to the north were cut by First
Purchasers of lots, the intention being to maximize building and business construction
and allow quick appreciation of real estate as the city grew. By 1698, as the Seventeenth
Century closed, more than nine alleys had been cut from Front Street to Second Street.
Dozens of other alleys by the city surveyors, making Philadelphia of 1700 the most
congested city in America. 7
The primary commodity of the tavern was hard liquor mostly rum, wine, beer, food and a
place for meetings. But it should be indicted that in keeping with the class structure of
society there were taverns patronizing the better sort and then there were taverns catering
to the middling and lower sort.8

   “While all classes frequented taverns, the lower sort seem to have had a special tavern and dram shop
    life all their own. As early as 1744, the Philadelphia grand jury complained about the area which the
    “common People:” called Hell town and noted that the many houses serving “strong liquor” presented
    a great “ temptation to entertain Apprentices, Servants and even negros.: The Number and activities of
    these tipping houses which were “little better than Nurseries of Vice and Debauchery,” seemingly
    changed little during the next forty years; …..For most of the laboring poor, drink was an essential part
    of their lives, whether at work or at muster day.” 9

Commodities such as beer wine and rum were often attained by tavern owners as specie
from carpenters and other craftsmen performing work for the tavern owner and business
person. Payment in kind, would have rum, flour, cheese, stockings etc. delivered
exchanged by Samuel Carpenter in exchange for the construction of several hundred
barrels to contain rum and flour intended for export. Now doubt the frenzy of
manufacture and commerce of this type, created solid bonds between craftsmen, usually
of the lower sort and merchants, many of whom enjoyed great wealth, and possible
entrée’ to the better sort.10

All business ventures come with risk which even the shrewdest can not always fully
manage. Carpenter had built a large slate roofed town house on Second Street-now
Sansom- and was the residence of William Penn while in town. Carpenter also owned
buildings in which a coffeehouse and tavern were operated. In 1704 in the wake of King
William’s and Queen Anne’s War, Carpenter suffered devastating losses at the hands of
French Pirates. Leaving only, for our story at least, the possibility that the Coffeehouse
and Tavern was the soon to be Tun Tavern and Betsy Mullen’s Red Hot Beef Steak Club.
             PHS archive


To fully grasp the British mechanism of colonization, colonization in general and full
meaning of events converging on Tun Tavern, it might be sufficient to indicate the
importance of the Company as a business entity. Most have heard of the British East
India Company. In the various American colonies one finds the Ohio Company or the
Pennsylvania Company as two examples. The role of the Company in forming legal
foundation for risky far flung business enterprises are best described in a 17th century
English document Charter Of The British West India Company.

 “…and we find by experience, that without the common help, assistance, and interposition of a General
 Company, the people designed from hence for those parts cannot be profitably protected and maintained in
 their great risqué from pirates, extortion and otherwise, which will happen in so very long a voyage. We
 have, therefore, and for several other important reason and considerations as thereunto moving, with
 mature deliberation of counsel, and for highly necessary causes, found it good, that the navigation, trade
 and commerce, in the parts of the West-Indies, and Africa, and other places hereafter described, should not
 henceforth be carried on any otherwise than by the common united strength of the merchants and in
 habitants of these countries; and for that end there shall be erected one General Company, which we out of
 special regard for their common wellbeing, and to keep and preserve the inhabitants of those places in good
 trade and welfare, will maintain and strengthen with our Help…..”

                                           Lillian Goldman Law Library, The Avalon Project
                                           Yale Law School- century
                                           Charter of the Dutch West India Company 1621

The legal entity of the company provided a matrix whereby issues of whatever nature,
criminal or otherwise might be argued in a court of law, English Law. Very early matters
of heated disagreements were argued and settled in courts of law, and the decisions
abided by until revolution.

Early active resistance in the New England Colonies is aptly described by Historian Ray
Raphael in Founders. He cites preacher-lawyer John Otis appearing before the Superior
Court of Massachusetts in 1761 to challenge the Writs of Assistance. The British
exercised unlimited and unchecked power to shake down colonial citizens in search of
smuggled goods. In great detail John Adams describes for any artist he hoped would
depict the event, the eloquence and passion of John Otis arguing his case. Quoting John
Adams retrospective words, Raphael writes, “Then and there the child of Independence
was born.”1

In New York British land jobbers (year) charged tenants exorbitant rents and prevented
enterprising colonials from getting in on the action. A slick trader named John Henry
Lydia’s, who “making liberal use of rum” had purchased land from the Indians in New
York for the purpose of Land Jobbing. The colonial government in New York rendered
Lydia’s acquisitions invalid. Lydia’s lawyer Thomas Young argued that such a practice
denied entrepreneurial rights to ordinary people. Quoting Young, Raphael cites a
populist paper written by Young.2

“..All we ask, request, and implore, is, that we may enjoy our undoubted rights, and not have them so
cruelly rent out of our hands to give to people, at least no more celebrated for their loyalty or love to their
country than we are.” 3

Similarly Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys contested land acquired in New
York State, land which became the core of real estate that would become the Colony of

But as every school child will tell you, it was the infamous Stamp Act of 1764 that lit the
fuse. If James Otis’s legal challenge in court was the gentleman lawyer’s challenge to
British authority, it was the anarchistic mobs in the streets of Boston in protest of the
Revenue Act of 1764 that shook the fist of revolution. An effigy of the revenue collector
Andrew Oliver, “the stamp man” was hung from a tree and eventually beheaded while in
great angry theatrics, a mob of over a thousand paraded through the streets, ending up at
tax collector Oliver’s newly constructed house, dismantling it board by board. New
pamphlets and gazettes rushed to get the story to the colonies.

     Historical Document
  Collection, Boston Gazette
 Library of Congress, web link

These corner stones of
early active resistance
present tangible , evidence
of escalating discord with
England, discord that
ultimately lead to
resolutions by the
Continental Congress in
Philadelphia, one of
which created the
activities at Tun Tavern in 1775 over ten short years later. The colonial administration of
the American Colonies like the French administration of Indochina as well Dutch in
Indonesia and other colonizing nations of Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries sought to
exploit land labor and trade for the export of riches to the colonizing nations, expansion
often part and parcel with religious conversion. But for the early colonies in America,
the society had developed quickly and sufficiently to allow institutions to spawn.
Institutions like the Continental Congress, a budgeting process, a foundation of a Free
Press, a parliamentary process of resolutions, declarations and eventually common law.


Philadelphia in the late 1600s reflects a telling balance of trade The colonies exported
flour, grain, bread and bread stuffs primarily,
   “A generation before the revolution, middling farmers in southeastern Pennsylvania sold between a
    third and half of their crops yearly. By the early 1770s, Delaware Valley merchants were sending vast
    shipments of wheat, flour, and breadstuffs into the Atlantic market and dominating the cereals trade
    with the Mediterranean world and the British West Indies.” Wayne Bodle , The Valley Forge

Seasoned merchants and new entrepreneurs, British and Colonial, came to make money.
William Penn, using inviting, apocryphal renderings of Philadelphia enticed craftsmen
and artisans from Europe to come and be a part of America.
HOUSE PHILADELPHIA. –chronology discrepancy.

Ibid- Rosswurm
As land acquisitions, approached the late 1700s, farming produced salable and exportable
goods all of which eventually found their way to the shipping docks up and down the
colonies. The Colonial coast was crawling with brigs, schooners, barks, square riggers,
colliers, transporting every conceivable commodity of the day, lumber, wheat, sulfur, salt
peter, to and from colonial warehouses.

In the wake of the Stamp Act turmoil of 1764, a non importation resolution was floated
about the colonies. Merchants in Philadelphia feared a disruption of trade and the serious
loss of business. As the colonies worked through their various governing bodies to
support the non importation resolution, or at least amend it to a supportable document,
merchants sat on their import orders or requisitions destined for England.
   “The merchants planned to wait until March before making good on their thinly veiled threat, hoping
    that events on the other side of the Atlantic would render further action unnecessary. But on February
    6, 1769, with a vessel waiting in port to receive their requisitions for the following fall, they decided at
    last to endorse the sweeping no importation agreement. In stead of placing the usual orders, they told
    their agents in Great Britain to hold off on all purchases save for a carefully selected list of exclusions
    vital to the health, welfare and defense of the colonist: gunpowder, shot, lead, sailcloth, wool-shearing
    implements (to help colonials make their own cloth), medicines, salt, coal, and schoolbooks. If any
    other items found their way to the local marketplace, the merchants promised not to purchase them
    and to discountenance such persons: who had imported them” Ray Raphael, Founders

To counter the boycott or non importation Parliament applied the Coercive Acts which
were a variety of acts designed to punish the Colonies for such un-colonial behavior.
England’s accounting books were deeply in the red and her natural impulse was to
recover in the form of taxation. Even today, we understand the public reaction to
increased taxes, represented by a single line of income tax deduction on our paychecks
that directly affects our net incomes, indeed our very life styles. “And what is this going
for?” comes the usual heated rhetorical, non-patriotic gesticulation.

Boston had been the epicenter of restrictive acts, laws and military muscle which
explosively interacted with the free, entrepreneurial Colonial spirit. Theater, the burning
of British administrators in effigy, the raucous storming of British administration offices,
the shock and rage following the Boston Massacre, rippled through the Colonies in the
form of express letters, gazettes and pamphlets run down the coast on horse back and
schooner. The purpose here is not to tell the whole story, done by writers more learned
than I, but to distill the finite impulsion that created such a conspiratorial atmosphere in
and around Tun and other taverns and meeting halls of Philadelphia as well as up and
down the Colonies around 1774 and 1775; an atmosphere the spawned the American

Swiftly approaching an appointment with destiny John Adams leaves Boston for
Philadelphia in late 1774.

   “On August 10, 1774, accompanied as far as Watertown by sixty men on horse back to see them off,
    the Massachusetts delegates- Cushing, Pain and the two Adamses- left for Philadelphia.”
   “..Along the way, especially in Connecticut, crowds greeted “the Boston committee” with enthusiasm.
    In New Haven, horsemen and carriages came out to meet them, bells were rung.” Men, Women and
    Children were crowding at Doors and Windows.”
   “By August 20, Adams and the others reached New York., where they stayed six days at the private
    house of Tobias Stoutenberg on Nassau Street near City Hall….”The streets of this Town are vastly
    more regular and elegant than those in Boston, and the Houses are more grand as well as neat. They
    are almost all painted-brick building and all.” ...and “…With all the Opulence and Splendor of this
    City, there is very little Breeding to be found. We have been treated with an assiduous Respect. But I
    have not seen one real Gentleman, one well bred Man since I came to Town. At their Entertainment
    there is no conversation that is agreeable. There is no Modesty- No Attention to one another. They talk
    very loud, very fast and altogether. If they ask you a question, before you can utter 3 Words of your
    Answer, they will break out upon you, again- and talk away.”
   “On August 29, Adams and his colleagues reached Philadelphia, then a city of thirty thousand, twice
    the size of Boston. As soon as he arrived- after a hot and dusty trip of nineteen days- he sent out his
    laundry, six shirts, five stocks, two caps, a pair of worsted stocking and one silk handkerchief.”..and
    “Dined with Mr. Chew, Chief Justice of the Province, with all the Gentlemen from Virginia, Dr.
    Shippen, Mr. Tilghnam and many others. We were shown into a grand Entry and stair Case, and into
    an elegant and most magnificent Chamber, until Dinner….The Furniture was all rich,-Turttle, and
    every other Thing- Flummery, Jellies, Sweetmeats of 20 sorts, Trifles, Whip’d Syllabubbs, floating
    Islands,..and then a Desert of Fruits, Raisins, Almonds, Pears, Peaches- Wines most excellent and
    admirable, I drank Madeira at a great Rate and found no Inconvenience in it…” Jack Sheppard, The
    Adams Chronicles12

Politics in Philadelphia during 1774 and 1775 apparently riled a lot of people up
throughout the colonies. A universal compliance with the non important resolution, to the
point of costly penalties upon those who slipped out the back door to purchase British
goods, has cost those who could not afford it great hardship. The cry for independence
from England, cut clean and fend for our selves, did not ring well for certain groups of
people in Philadelphia. To understand these groups will better illuminate the atmosphere
in which ships were purchased, fitted out with cannon, loaded with cannon ball and shot
and enough provision to operate a colonial navy and marine force for the months ahead.

An election in May 1776 caused the splintered groups of citizens to take their side in
support for reconciliation with Great Britain on the best terms they could get. The groups
had names and special interests in influencing the Continental Congress ultimate
decision. Representatives of the poor segment of the colony, the middling and lower sorts
represented by (            ) were proindependance. The Committee of Inspections, The
Committee of Privates and the Patriotic Society, the Militia, The Committee of Safety
and the Associators, all represented some degree left to right, radical to progressive with
respect to reconciliation or cutting clean from England. One might wonder how this
demographics affect John Mullen’s task of recruitment.

A sampling of the attitude is typified by Steven Rosswurm in Arms, Country and Class.

   “Perhaps, then, one should interpret this election neither as an indication that Philadelphians were
    equally divided over the issue of independence, nor as a mark of degree to which independence had
    lost support since the publication of Common Sense. The election rather suggest that the enfranchised
    were about evenly split over independence..”
    Dec 1776-Charles Lee: “My God why does not your Province arouse themselves .Kick the Assembly
    from the seat of representation which they so horribly disgrace and set “em to work German Town
    stockings for the Army- an employment manly enough for them. Oh, in the language of Piercy, “I
    could brain’em with their wives distaffs’”

Where did this conservativism originate? A quick snap shot of the poor lower sort
segments of Philadelphia, why they felt the way they did, might begin to develop a scene
in which Samuel Nicholas and the Marine Committee proceed to staff a naval flotilla and
put to sea with rules of engagement.

Steven Rosswurm, expertly details the demographics and emerging Philadelphia politics
in Arms, Country and Class. The lower sort was divided into two groups, the vicious poor
and the industrious poor. Each had specific behavioral dynamics. The middle class, or the
middling sort, represented citizens, mainly merchants and craftsmen, and the better sort,
the wealthy, comprised of a variety of gentry, deriving their wealth from inheritance,
successful merchant trade and combinations of both.

   “”From 1756 to 1775 inequality in the distribution of taxable wealth increased greatly, with the better
    sort reaping the benefits. In 1756, the top 10 percent of the city taxables owned more than 46 percent
    of the taxable wealth’ by 1767, it had increased its share by almost one half, to more than 65 percent.
    The growing inequality adversely affected those in the 31 to 60 percent bracket; their share dropped
    from 14 percent in 1756 to 5,5 percent in 1767.”13

So in a city of thirty thousand in 1756, only three thousand were of the better sort and
owned about half of the wealth in the Philadelphia. By 1776 the same better sort segment
owned about two thirds of the wealth in the form of personal property, liquidity, rental
property or some form of taxable wealth. The remaining twenty seven thousand
inhabitants of Philadelphia were either middling sort or the vicious poor and industrious
poor of the lower sort.14

The maritime sector was the largest employer for those who labored in Eighteenth
Century Philadelphia. Merchants depended on trade generated goods for their livelihood.
As the non importation boycott on imported British goods took hold, the loss of business
was immediately felt by merchants all who worked for them as petty producers, rope
makers, cooper, carpenters, shipping companies ceased to hire on sailors. Most laborers,
merchant seamen, and journeymen cordwainers and tailors “lived in or on the edge of
poverty” during the fifteen years before the revolution. 15

Here is how the shipping business worked in mid 18th Century Philadelphia.

   “Trade with the West Indies was conducted by Philadelphia merchants mainly as a speculative venture,
    at the risk of the merchant. He brought up a cargo of flour, bread, lumber, and other Philadelphia
    produces, shipped it to the islands without having assured buyers- several merchants together often
    investing in a ship’s cargo- and sold the goods (and sometimes the ship too) either through a
    supercargo who accompanied the ship o more often through a resident factor in the islands. The factor
    acted as the Philadelphia merchant’s agent. Selling the cargo to West Indian planters, generally on
    several months’ credit, and collecting produce and money from the planters to remit to Philadelphia.
    Only occasionally did the factor become more than and agent by buying a share of the venture.” 16


The presence of a marine organizational model of some sort must be established as a
possible origin of an operational and conduct model. The impetus likely came from some
particular individual(s) which will also be explored. The nearest, most likely image of a
working historical model surely must have been the ever present and visible British

Good evidence as to the early presence of British Marines may be found in the diaries of
George Washington, copiously kept and notated daily through out his life. Even as heated
events in Boston escalated between 1760s and 1770, (the period covered by Volume II)
George Washington, a veteran of the French and Indian war, was preoccupied with fox
hunting and farming his land at his home at Mount Vernon. Although the transcribers of
his diaries point out that at this time he does attend the House of Burgesses of Virginia to
participate in the implementation of the non importation resolution, his diary entries,
never note any concerns over then contemporary developments, instead we learn of the
daily weather, a visit with a neighbor for dinner, attendance at church, the toil of cutting a
road on his land, locking a bitch hound in the barn, or simply remaining at home alone all
day. 17

Washington was also preoccupied with increasing his land holdings by cashing in on the
benefits bestowed by the British upon him and his fellow veterans of the French and
Indian War. Around 1754 the French began to move into the Ohio Valley which up to
then was, by treaty with the Native American Indians, belonged to the British. The
coming military contest, the French and Indian War, was about acquisition and
development rights to these lands. At the time, a young George Washington age 21
served the British in an expedition across Pennsylvania into Ohio and was then about to
experience the sting of combat against the French.

The diary entries below occur in 1770, fifteen years after his participation in the French
and Indian War, along side British troops whom he unsuccessfully lead to construct a fort
near present day Pittsburgh, Fort Duquesne; a disastrous British action challenging
French presence in the area. The benefits were in the form in entitlements to lands to the
northwest frontier. But like merchants, shipping tycoons and business men, and
gentlemen farmers, Washington too began to feel the threat of increased restrictions
applied to the Colonies that came in the form of Parliamentary acts.

Originally the plantation Little Hunting Creek, Mount Vernon was granted to
Washington’s great grandfather John Washington in 1674, and left to George
Washington’s elder half brother Lawrence. Lawrence renamed the estate after Edward
Vernon of the British Navy. George inherited the estate at the death of Lawrence’s
widow in 1761. 18

Mount Vernon, over looking the Potomac River and located near Belvoir, (now Fort
Belvoir Army Base), must have been an enticing port of call for the British Frigate man-
of-war HMS Boston, captained by Sir Thomas Adams, then on tour for three years in
American waters. Dropping in on a veteran, officers of the ship Boston, on July 5,
1770, attended a fine dinner table, sipped port and engaged in obviously off the record
conversation. Among the guests, “Mr. Johnston of Marines”.

   June 29, 1770 -“29. Dined at Belvoir. Went on Board Boston frigate to Drink Tea and returned in the
    Afternoon. “
    July 4, 1770 -“4. Went into my Harvest field between Breakfast and Dinner
   July 5, 1770 -“5. Sir Thomas Adams and Mr. Glasford his first Lieutt. Breakfasted here. Sir Thos.
    Returned after it, but Mr. Glasford dined here as did the 2 Lieutt. Mr. Sartell Mr. Johnston of Marines
    Mr. Norris & Mr. Richmore-two Midshipmen.”’ Donald Jackson Editor, Volume II The Diaries Of
    George Washington 1766-1770 19


English settlers began populating New England around 1640. By 1748 the French too had
begun exploration and settlement expansion from Canada. In concert with early British
expansion various units of British Marines were formed. During the same period,
Spanish, Portuguese and French Marine organizations originated. From 1664 to 1770
Britain engaged in six wars in the race for territory. In roughly the same period British
Marines emerged through ten organizational inaugurals thus creating the operational
model that, by 1770, was both successful and apart from a field army concept. Often
referred to as “naval infantry”, the presence of British Marines insured orderly non
mutinous crews as well as military muscle if needed ashore or combat at sea. 20

But perhaps the roots of opinion and preference in the quiet conversations and
correspondence regarding the design of a new Colonial armed force of 1775 came in the
long intimacy of kinship, George Washington’s half brother Lawrence. In this Royal
Marine History, Gooch’s Marines, is the very same Gooch, William Gooch who later
managed the Colony of Virginia.

   “17 November-22 November 1739 – Six Marine Regiments (1st to 6th Marines, 44th Foot) were
    raised…for the War of Jenkins’ Ear, with four more being raised later. One large Marine Regiment
    Spotswood’s Regiment later Gooche’s Marines, the 61st Foot) was formed of American colonists and
    served along side British Marines at the Battle of Cartagena de Indias, Columbia and Guantanamo
    Bay, Cuba in the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1741) Among its officers was Lawrence Washington, the half
    brother of George Washington. In 1747, the remaining regiments were transferred to the Admiralty
    and then disbanded in 1748. Many of the disbanded man were offered transportation to Nova Scotia
    and helped form the city of Halifax. Nova Scotia.. “
    Royal_Marines, date of search 11/11/2009

Lawrence’s war, The War of Jenkins’ Ear, 1739-1743 a conflict in part related to Spanish
search for gold northward from the swampy wilds of Native Indian and frontier territory,
is also an event listed in the chronology of British Marine History. The first British
Governor and administrator of the Georgia Colony, James Oglethorpe struggled with
maintaining a defense of scattered settlements, then exposed to Indian and Spanish raids.
As a British official, he repeatedly requested from the British War Office additional
attachments of “Rangers” to assist in the defense of the colony. 21 Governor Oglethorpe,
receiving slow response from the war office in London, made a management decision to
call on Captain James McPhearson’s company of South Carolina mounted Rangers.
Oglethorpe’s concerns about security fostered an unstable alliance with the Cherokee. To
cover any reversals, he created numerous ranger troops under general orders to delay or
warn of any encroachments from land or sea by the Spanish should war break out.

    “The answer, as Oglethorpe saw it, was to form two 30-man troops of American rangers and post
    them on the frontier, from where they could warn of, and slow, any Spanish advance into Georgia.
    Oglethorpe hoped that a third company of rangers patrolling Georgia’s coastal waterways in specially
    designed shallow-draft “scout boats” would detect an amphibious Spanish or French invasion of the
    colony.” 22

Sir. William Gooch, 1681-1751, whose name often appears in Marine Corps summaries
and researches of various internet sites because of his related military experience (at age
fifty eight) in service to Britain during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-43) born and died
in England. But during his life, after Jenkins’ Ear, he served Britain as Royal Lieutenant
Governor of Virginia. As Lieutenant Governor, he required tobacco transferred to public
warehouses to be inspected in order to eliminate fraud. The resulting high quality of
tobacco branded Virginia Tobacco a higher quality thus increasing selling price and
demand for the state’s major commodity. His military experience as an officer in the
British Royal Marines during the War of Jenkins’s Ear creates the connection to an early
pre Colonial armed force model and Lawrence Washington.

    “He had many military credentials including under John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough in his
    campaigns in the Low countries, and with Admiral Edward Vernon in his expedition against
    Cartagena, New Grenada (now Columbia) as part of the War of Jenkins’ Ear. 23

Gooch, George and older half brother Lawrence Washington; it would not be too much of
a stretch in relating this story to imagine the three of them at some early time before
Lawrence’s death in 1752, say 1745, at Little Indian Creek sitting around a fine table, like
the officers from the HMS Boston, conversing about military organization, mistakes and
successes in the long British history. In a blink of years, the muzzles of George
Washington’s army would be pointed at the heads of many dinner guests of his youth.
As writer of this piece, it my own impression that it is unlikely that George Washington
exercised any input to the Continental Congress or the Marine Committee regarding the
creation of a Continental Marine force. His limited exposure to the sea included a voyage
to Barbados in 1751.

   “Washington knew nothing of ships and the sea. He had made only one ocean voyage in his life,
    accompanying his halfl-brother Lawrence to Barbados in 1751. Lawrence had made the trip hoping
    the climate would provide a cure for his tuberculosis. Instead George had contracted smallpox, which
    left him with barely discernible pockmarks on his face as well as an immunity to the disease that
    would kill thousands o his fellow soldiers during the Revolution”. 24

James Nelson’s account in George Washington’s Secret Navy, indicates that on the
afternoon of May 25, a month after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, around five
o’clock, British Marines landed on Noodles Island. This was among the first battles of
many in which ruffian colonial militia first tasted combat with the British. To summarize
Nelson’s expert account, Noodles and Hog Islands were uninhabited islands among the
many that comprised Boston Harbor. The islands were used by the British for grazing and
grain cultivation. The water there was shallow, especially at low tide.

The rebels, mandated by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, splashed across the
shallows onto Noodles Island and set fire to the crops. Seeing the smoke, the British
launched the boats sailors at oars and British Marines at the ready.

   “The flag ship signaled for the marine companies on all vessels in the harbor to land on the island.
    Longboats and pinnaces were hauled around to the ship’s sides, and blue-jacketed sailors held their
    oars erect in two lines as the marines with their red coats and white crossbelts clambered down to
    boarding ladders and took their places on the thwarts. The Preston, Somerset, Glasgow, Cerberus and
    Mercury soon had “”all boats mann’d & arm’d to land the marines on Noodles Island.””
   “It was around five o’clock in the afternoon when the marines landed on Noodles Island and began
    advancing on the rebel forces. By then the island was blazing, with barns full of hay and several
    houses engulfed in flame…The American troops fell back quickly in the face of the marines’
    disciplined fire and steady advance. The Cerberus landed two 3 pounder field pieces and a party of
    seamen to fire them. And those guns added their more lethal discharge to the fight”
   “…The entrenched Americans could not long endure the combined fire of the marines and sailors and
    the Diana’s guns. They fell back from Noodles and Hog islands across the shallow water to Chelsea.
    ..Amos Farnsworth, an American soldier, recorded in his diary, “thanks be unto God that so little hurt
    was Done us when the Bauls Sung like Bees Round our heds” Nelson James L., George
    Washington’s Secret Navy25

British Marines were present at the Battle of Bunker Hill a month later on June 17th where
those same regulars once again engaged the seasoned British Marines.

Continuing with Washington for a moment, James Nelson indicates a related situation in
Boston, in which Washington exercising his first year of his command was shocked to
discover that there was only enough gun powder for about nine shots per soldier. A
bookkeeping entry by the quartermaster in Philadelphia, Washington launched a top
secret effort to secure gun powder. His previous disinterest in a Colonial Navy had begun
to sway with the discovery of and skilled whale boats sailors quartered in his army,
sailors who might pilot them as a defensive extension of his pickets.

But needing such a large quantity of gunpowder, Washington looked to a larger design, a
sloop owned by a Providence merchant, the Katy. Long story short, the Katy was
dispatched to Bermuda where it was known that gunpowder was available. Upon the
Katy’s return to port in Rhode Island several months later, no gunpowder was to be had
in Bermuda. Add to this Washington’s exasperation with what we called in the Corps of
the early Sixties, a lackadaisical, blasé attitude on the part of his new army. Some soldiers
fired their muskets indiscriminately either into the air in camp, or wondering outside the
perimeter, would take pot shots at British soldiers visible at a distance.

If not Washington, who then? The designers of the new Colonial Armed Forces had to
include first and foremost, John Adams who had seen the growth and potential power,
albeit rag tag, of the Massachusetts Militia, and the expertise of the ships of Rhode
Island’s small Colonial Navy. The answer surely will be found in the full membership of
the Marine Committee, the embryo of the U.S. Department of the Navy. Throughout the
seminal years 1774 and 1775, the information kept coming in from the colonies, perhaps
updating design concepts, postulating what-ifs, and early consideration of the whose-who
among them who could lead men in battle.

The Continental Congress was not interested in forming an expensive Navy. Except for a
few men, pressing forward with any plan for a Colonial Navy, the conventional wisdom
seemed to favor an land army which was easier to supply on the move. Provisioning a
ship with crew, armament, supplies enough for months at sea would be expensive.

   “There was in Congress a small cabal of men who were intensely interested in maritime affairs.
    Foremost among the was John Adams, delegate from Massachusetts….John Adams considered
    himself something of an authority on maritime affairs…Adams had spoken at length with cod
    fishermen, whalers, and merchant seamen. He had “heard much of the Activity, Enterprise, Patience,
    Perseverance and daring Intrepidity of our Seamen: and come to the conclusion that if those men were
    let loose against the British shipping, “they would contribute greatly to the relief of our Wants as well
    as to the distress of the Ennemy”.
   “Also at the center of Congress’s naval cabal was fifty-one-yea-old Christopher Gadsden, a delegate
    from South Carolina and one of the few Southerners with interest in maritime affairs. Gadsden had
    served as an officer in the British Navy in his younger years and so had a more realistic view of British
    naval power than those who were overawed by the Royal Navy’s reputation.“
   “Eldridge Gerry showed the letter containing Gadsden’s thoughts to James Warren, who heartily
    approved, writing to Adams, “I thought it very happy to have so great an authority confirming my own
   “With the exception of Gadsden and later Richard Henry Lee, most viewed a navy as a New England
    affair that would result in big costs and few benefits to the South.”26

Developing activities in Congress and urgent logistics related to Washington’s new
command in Massachusetts around the last half of 1775 seems evidence enough to allow
the conclusion that it was the four delegate cabal seeded a developing plan to rough out
what would become the first Continental naval flotilla. But those who opposed or had
little interest stood on a glaring point. Buying ships, re-fitting them as armed man-of- war
vessels, recruiting competent crews and providing for their defense would be a Herculean
task, especially in the swiftly passing days and weeks after the chips were put squarely on
the table.

August 1774- John Adams travels to Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress
September 5, 1774.
September- 1774- First Continental Congress convenes. Some delegates not present.
June 21, 1775- The Second Continental Congress votes George Washington Commander
and Chief of the Continental Army. He leaves Philadelphia immediately for Boston.
July 3, 1775- General Washington steps out of the shade of an elm tree, his sword drawn
and in full view and takes command of his army. Would command for nearly eight years.
July 24, 1775- Letter from John Adams in Philadelphia to Abigail Adams in Braintree
intercepted by British near Newport. “….Men have a constitution to form for a great
Empire, at the same Time that they have a Country of fifteen hundred Miles extent to
fortify, Millions to arm and train, a Naval Power to begin….” The British publish the
letter in the Boston New Letter. Members of Congress explode at the mention of
beginning a Naval Power.27
August 1775-Boston-G.Washington quietly leases sloop Hannah, from merchant and
ship owner John Glover and at CC’s expense refits her as man-of-war. Avoids informing
CC. GW slowly began to see benefits of a naval attachment to his command. Hannah
would be first armed vessel in service of United States. Nicholas Broughton selected to
captain the Hannah and her crew. Washington specifies letters or marques.
August 1775-John Glover marches his 21st Regiment from Cambridge to Beverly.
Uniformed in short blue jackets and tarred trousers they welcomed return to the sea.
September 7,1775- Hannah departs Beverly under orders. Diary of Ashley
Bowen:”..sailed on an unknown expedition a schooner of Captain John Glover, Nick
Broughton, Captain of Marines and John Gale, master of the schooner…” 28
November 10, 1775- Samuel Nicholas appointed Captain of the Colonial Marines.
Birthday of United States Marine Corps.

  Early Rochambeau Tactic Map
“Amérique campagne” 1775 LOC

Modern Philadelphia, like all early colonial cities, if viewed through a 1700 lens,
becomes so radically altered that all of the stimuli of the present is completely eliminated
in the imagination. Unlike locations in Europe, Eighteenth Century Philadelphia is under
layers of concrete. Except for a few precious remnants, the past has vanished. The
current Independence National Park bordered by 7th Street to the west, Delancy Street to
the north, Pine Street to the south and a series of concrete piers, Penn’s Landing and the
Independence Seaport Museum, roughly embody early Philadelphia.

                                                                    Library of Congress,
                                                                    Rochambeau Maps

                                                                    A close examination of
                                                                    several early maps, one
                                                                    the Rochambeau Map
                                                                    1776 , an 1800 version,
                                                                    and a current version
                                                                    can begin allow us to
                                                                    imagine the scale of life
                                                                    in Philadelphia of 1700.
                                                                    As John Adams noted
                                                                    upon his arrival in late
1774, it was a town of about thirty thousand. “Twice the size of Boston.”29 The city was,
in sociological terms, distinctly divided by class. Since the early Swedes and Welsh
arrived in the 1600s, and before, there were now second and third generation citizens,
American born. In early and mid 1700 the presence of British among them was likely
indistinguishable. Leaving the city in 1774, John Adams referred to lower and middling
                                           sort Philadelphians, “poor English”.

                                          Water Street is the very first street running the
                                          full length of the river and docks. Dock street
                                          evolved closer to the river edge and was much
                                          lower in elevation. Note that the streets continue
                                          west only to about 8th or 9th Streets. Russell
                                          Weigley indicates “But hardly anyone lived
                                          west of 4th Street in 1702.”30 Front and Broad
                                          today, similarly go the full lengths. Water Street
                                          is not identified on the Rochambeau map but is
                                          noted on the map of 1800. Tun Alley is not
                                          indicated on any early map. But one early map
gives good detail on the practice of cutting through lots, subdividing and building for
maximum rents or work space along the river. The cut through, noted were alleys unique
to Dock and Water Streets. Independence Hall was and is between fifth and 6th Streets.
  W.Breton engraving c1778– View to Water
Street from river. Alley cut through. PHS archive

 Alley detail, about 1790                                   Current map overlay of 1840
                                                              Philadelphia of mid-late


So, active early supporters of forming a navy were John Adams(MS), Richard Henry
Lee(VA), Christopher Gadsden(SC), Eldridge Gerry(RI), Stephen Hopkins(RI), Samuel
Ward(RI), James Warren (RI Colonial Legislature)

Insert chronology, letters and communications from Marine Committee.


“On every social level the convivial club became a feature of the Philadelphia scene, often encompassing
purposes of mutual benevolence or self-improvement but always focusing on the potential of a growing
population for enlarged sociability. The first Philadelphia club may have been an association of bachelors
formed some time before 1728. In 1729 Welshmen of the town organized the “Society of Ancient Britons”
to observe St. David’s Day, promptly precipitating formation of a similar organization of Englishmen to
give due honor to St. George’s Day. Sportsmen formed themselves into fishing clubs, the first of which was
the Colony in Schuylkill which had its birth in the same year that George Washington was born. The
Colony was complete with governor, sheriff and even a coroner, at its courthouse on the west bank of the
Schuylkill near present day Girard Avenue Bridge….Pre-Revolutionary membership such mayors of the
city as Thomas Lawrence, William Plumstead and Samuel Shoemaker. ..the State of Schuylkill holds claim
to being te oldest organized men’s club in the English speaking world.”31

A glance, in the context of this research, at Philadelphia of 1700s in the broad stroke
immediately conjures the question of what exactly Samuel Nicholas was doing in the
midst of the turmoil before the revolution. Born 1744- Son of Andrew and Mary Shute
Nicholas. His father Andrew Nicholas was a prosperous Quaker blacksmith. His mother
Mary was the sister of Atwood Shute, Mayor of Philadelphia 1756-1758.

At age seven, Samuel began his schooling at a new school, the Philadelphia Academy.
Graduating in 1759, age fifteen. At age sixteen, he was admitted into the Schuylkill
Fishing Company also known as the State of Schuylkill. In 1766 at age twenty two he
was one of the organizers of The Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, with members of high

Samuel Nicholas also became proprietor of the Tavern, The Conestoga Wagon, a
business belonging to the family of Mary Jenkins, of Jenkintown, whom he soon married
in 1778. 32

The Second Continental Congress in November 1775, seeking to fill a severe shortage of
seamen for a Navy, offered Nicholas a commission as captain of the Marines at age
Thirty One. A document dated 28 November 1775, confirms the appointment indicating a
pay of $35.00 per month. The document is signed by John Hancock. Further staffing
included, Esek Hopkins and John Paul Jones.

Nicholas’ organizational and leadership strengths were likely more valuable to the
Continental Congress than a military background. By the end of 1775 Captain Nicholas
had raised five companies of Continental Marines.
                      THE COMMISSIONS
                      Esek Hopkins age Fifty Seven, from Rhode Island was selected to
                      command the new fleet. He had served on a privateer during the
                      French and Indian War and sailed to the far corners of the earth.
                      Captain Nicholas would serve under Commodore Hopkins. John
                      Paul Jones, born on the south coast of Scotland apprenticed under
                      sail at age thirteen. Disgusted with the slave trade, he joined crew
                      upon the brigantine John. Upon the deaths of the Captain and ranking
                      mate by Yellow Fever, Jones took command and navigated the ship
                      back to her home port in Scotland. Awarded with Ship Master by
                      here owners, his reputation as Master became tarnished with the
                      beating to death of a sailor, a charge to which he was acquitted. In
                      subsequent voyages, commanding the London registered ship Betsy,
he again found himself answering to a charge of murder after killing an alleged mutineer
over a wage dispute. Offering his services to the Continental Congress, Jones was
commissioned with the rank of 1st Lieutenant to serve under Hopkins and along side
Nicholas. If his fellow officers were crusty men of the sea, Nicholas and Mullens,
remember, had just raised five companies of Marines. Nevertheless, like a young Marine
Lieutenant out of Annapolis reporting to command his first combat seasoned infantry
platoon, Captain S.E. Nicholas, perhaps with only a classical education, a highly active
                               and popular Philadelphian, was
                               surely in for quite a command
                               experience. 33

                             How were Nicholas’s Marines
                             trained? Were any of the
                             veterans of Jenkins Ear brought
                             down from Nova Scotia? Was
                             there any turn coat British Royal
                             Marines who decided to join the
                             revolution? Refer to Nelson on
                             internal cabal in the CC. Check
                             broadsides and pos MCHF for
early rosters or bios.
                                 1st Lt John Paul Jones
Captain Samuel E. Nicholas
                         Recruiting Broadside Library of Congress- dated 1777

Transcription: ALL GENTLEMEN SEAMEN and able-bodied LANDSMEN who have a Mind to
distinguish themselves in the GLORIOUS CAUSE of their Country, and make their Fortunes, an
Opportunity now offers on board the Ship RANGER, of Twenty Guns, (for France) now laying in
Portsmouth, in the State of New-hampshire, commanded by JOHN PAUL JONES Esq; let them repair to
the Ship's Rendezvous in Portsmouth, or at the Sign of Commodore Manley, in Salem, where they will be
kindly entertained, and receive the greatest Encouragement.--The Ship Ranger, in the Opinion of every
Person who has seen her is looked upon to be one of the best Cruizers in America.--She will be always able
to Fight her Guns under a most excellent Cover; and no Vessel yet built was ever calculated for sailing
faster, and making good Weather.

Any Gentlemen Volunteers who have a Mind to take an agreable Voyage in this pleasant Season of the
Year, may, by entering on board the above Ship Ranger, meet with every Civility they can possibly expect,
and for a further Encouragement depend on the first Opportunity being embraced to reward each one
agreable to his Merit.

All reasonable Travelling Expences will be allowed, and the Advance-Money be paid on their Appearance
on Board.

In CONGRESS, March 29, 1777.


THAT the Marine Committee be authorised to advance to every able Seaman, that enters into the
Continental Service, any Sum not exceeding FORTY DOLLARS, and to every ordinary Seaman or
Landsman, any Sum not exceeding TWENTY DOLLARS, to be deducted from their future Prize-Money.

By Order of Congress,
JOHN-HANCOCK, President.

DANVERS: Printed by E. Russell, at the House late the Bell-Tavern.34



  Shepherd, Jack, The Adams Chronicles Four Generations of Greatness, Little Brown and Company,
Boston 1975
  Rosswurm, Steven, “Arms Country and Class”
  Ibid- Rosswurm
  Tun Tavern, block print, archive, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Museum, Dumfries, Virginia
  Beardsley, Abigail, Samuel Nicholas Biography Essay, Fall 2008
  Weigley, Russell F., Philadelphia-A 300 –Year History, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1982

    Russwurm, Steven, Arms, Country and Class, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 1987
    Ibid Russwurm
     Ibid- Weigley, Russel E. Philadelphia, A 300- Year History W.W. Norton Company, New York 1982
   Bodle, Wayne, Valley Forge Winter-Civilians and Soldiers in War, The Pennsylvania State University
Press, University Park , 2002
   Shepherd, Jack, The Adams Chronicles Four Generations of Greatness, Little Brown and Company,
Boston 1975

   Ibid- Rosswurm
   Weigley, Russell F., Philadelphia-A 300 –Year History, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1982
   Jackson, D, Twohig, D. Editors, The Diaries of George Washington Volume II 1766-1770, University
Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1976.
   History of Mount Vernon,
   A Brief Chronology of Marines History 1664-2003 Royal Marines Museum
   John Grenier, The War of Jenkins’ Ear 1739-1743,
   John Grenier, The War of Jenkins’ Ear 1739-1743,
Jenkins-ear-17391743-5.html (quoting from footnote James Oglethorpe Letters)
23, search date November 2009
     Nelson, James L. George Washington’s Secret Navy, McGraw Hill, New York, 2008
     Nelson, James L. George Washington’s Secret Navy, McGraw Hill, New York, 2008
     Nelson, James L. George Washington’s Secret Navy, McGraw Hill, New York, 2008
     Ibid Jack Shepard – Adams Chronicles.
     Ibid James Nelson- George Washington’s Secret Navy
   Weigley, Russell F., Philadelphia-A 300 –Year History, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1982
   Weigley, Russell F., Philadelphia-A 300 –Year History, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1982
   Fagan 2nd, Louis Estell, Major USMC, Samuel Nicholas First Officer of American Marines, Marine
Corps Gazette, Vol.XVIII. November 1933, as presented on
33, accessed November 30, 2009

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