Revolutionary War 1776: On this Day in History, King speaks for first time since independence declared

Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young George in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

On this 30th day of October in 1776, in his first speech before British Parliament since the leaders of the American Revolution came together to sign of the Declaration of Independence that summer, King George III acknowledges that all was not going well for Britain in the war with the United States.

In his address, the king spoke about the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary leaders who signed it, saying, “for daring and desperate is the spirit of those leaders, whose object has always been dominion and power, that they have now openly renounced all allegiance to the crown, and all political connection with this country.”

The king went on to inform Parliament of the successful British victory over General George Washington and the Continental Army at the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776, but warned them that, “notwithstanding the fair prospect, it was necessary to prepare for another campaign.”

The Delaware Regiment at the Battle of Long Island.

Despite George III’s harsh words, General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, still hoped to convince the Americans to rejoin the British empire in the wake of the colonists’ humiliating defeat at the Battle of Long Island.

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The British could easily have prevented Washington’s retreat from Long Island and captured most of the Patriot officer corps, including the commander in chief. However, instead of forcing the former colonies into submission by executing Washington and his officers as traitors, the Howe brothers let them go with the hope of swaying Patriot opinion towards a return to the mother country.

The Howe brothers’ attempts at negotiation failed, and the War for Independence dragged on for another four years, until the formal surrender of the British to the Americans on October 19, 1781, after the Battle of Yorktown.

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  1. Although the memories start to fade, I can’t forget the recreation of the Battle of Long Island with the artillery pieces from either side across a small creek banging away at each other (blanks with wads) only a couple of hundred feet apart. When the light started to fade they mixed the gunpowder with flour, which makes a huge orange flash, but is the very devil to clean afterwards. Our main opponent for the various skirmishes we took part in (The Brotherhood Winery of White Plains being my very favorite) was the 64th Regiment of Foot. Everyone had to wear period clothing, pewter buttons, unbleached coarse cotton, etc.

  2. I agree with Bob, and would add, that the British were not “swaying” anyone at the time. Below is a quote from History of Westchester county 1776.
    “”There are within the British lines banditti, consisting of lawless villains, who devote themselves to the most cruel pillage and robbery among the defenseless inhabitants between the lines; many of whom they carry off to New York, after plundering their houses and farms. These shameless marauders have received the names of Cowboys and Skinners. By their atrocious, they have become a scourge and terror to the people. Numerous instances have been related of these miscreants subjecting defenceless persons to cruel tortures, to compel them to deliver up their money or the places where it is secreted. …cont

    • …It is not uncommon for them to hang a man by his neck till apparently dead, then restore him, and repeat the experiment, and leave him for dead.” A little further down the account…. “ They began with what they call scorching, covering his naked body with hot ashes, and repeating the application till the skin was covered with blisters; after this they resorted to the halter, and hung the poor man on a tree by his neck, then took him down, and repeated it a second, and even a third time, and finally left him almost lifeless” The British would allow marauders and feign ignorance upon being told the reports. Classic good cop bad cop. Very bad cop.

  3. Interesting article. The only exception I take to it is the claim that the Howe brothers allowed George Washington and the rebels to escape from Long Island. I’ve always read that the escape from Long Island was due to the courage and skill of John Glover and his Marblehead fishermen/soldiers who ferried the rebels off of Long Island after their defeat in the Battle of Long Island. After the American rebels were chased out of New York and New Jersey, Glover and the Marbleheaders saved them again by getting them across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. On the night of December 25, 1776 Glover and his men were also key in the revolution-saving battle of Trenton as they transported Washington and his rebel army across the Delaware River to attack at Trenton.

    Progress! Bob Johnson

  4. I just got through watching the “John Adams” DVD’s based on the novel by David Mculloch. Anyone who has an interest in how our country was formed should watch this. For all it’s flaws, it is THE most excellent and detailed insight I have ever seen. During the bicentennial, I was an historic recreator as a sergeant in 42nd Lancaster Militia. I participated in most of the major battles and skirmishes at the date and time of their actual occurance 200 years before. I encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1976, and stayed in replicas of the original cabins (12 to a 6×8 straw filled shoebox, with a fire at one end. How we all didn’t burn to death that night is beyond me). Because of all this, I was able to access original documents and letters written by Washington and others. Very revealing.

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