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The Hudson River/Lake Champlain Campaign sample essay

From the Perspective of John Adams

My involvement in the Hudson River/Lake Champlain campaign was mainly from a distance. In 1774, I was elected to serve on the Continental Congress as a delegate of the colony of Massachusetts. The Second Continental Congress played a key role in the Hudson River/Lake Champlain campaign. The congress opened session on May 10, 1775 and Peyton Randolph of Virginia was unanimously voted in as President. The main topic of address was the conflict of hostility amongst the colonies, and, on May 18, “Randolph informed the delegates of the taking of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain by militia led by colonels Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold[1].”

With this in mind, the Congress began to adopt measures to appeal to the king so as to express regret as to our degrading relationship. Nonetheless, we all agreed that our actions were merely defensive in nature and a means of overcoming the oppression that was forced upon us by Parliament.

The next day, on May 19th, John Hancock was elected to take over as president of the congress, while Randolph left to serve over the House of Burgess in Virginia. Finally, we began to discuss military matters and determined that it was necessary to formally establish the Continental Army. On June 16th, General Washington began his service as Commander of the Continental Army, a nomination that I was pleased to have raised myself. Washington was a colleague of mine, and he immediately began to put into action the military strategies that the Second Continental Congress discussed just one-month prior.

Following the events of the Second Continental Congress, it became even more apparent that independence was necessary so as to break away from the tyrannical English government. The manuscript Common Sense that was published by Robert Bell, though the author was unknown. Within no time, over 100,000 copies were in circulation. The purpose of the manuscript was to attack “the very idea of hereditary monarchy as absurd and evil, and named the royal brute George III as the cause of every woe in America”2.

While I did not personally write the document, I was not opposed to the issues presented. I did however, publish the Novanglus essays, where I insisted that parliament has no right to tax the colonies, let alone govern it. Shortly following the release of Common Sense came the need for a formal Declaration of Independence. When the document was signed on August 2, 1776, I made sure to sign with a clear, firm hand. Just following, a great man by the name of John Dickinson, though ill and exhausted, joined the defense of New Jersey by leading troops out of the city.

My biggest fear throughout the Hudson River/Lake Champlain campaign was the shortage of naval support. The British militia was well aware of our shortcomings, and, thus, established troops along the banks of the Hudson river bed. As a result, maintaining control of New York became of vast importance, because “control of its harbor could mean control of the Hudson River and thus the whole Hudson – Lake Champlain corridor north to Canada, which, if seized by the enemy could isolate New England from the other colonies.” [2]

As a result of this, I wrote a letter to General Washington, describing New York as “a kind of key to the whole continent” and “no effort to secure it ought to be omitted.” 3 Our shortage of a navy, and lack of ability to defend the Hudson River territory that held New York, and the colony together, proved it necessary for me to take action. As a result, I built the American navy from scratch and single-handedly served in the department of War and Ordnance. While establishing the Navy, it became apparent that the colony could not adequately protect the Hudson River/Lake Champlain area without the help of an alliance with the French government. As a result, I sailed to France in order to help negotiate a means by which we could protect our beloved land.

From the Perspective of Abigail Adams…

During the period now called the Revolutionary War, particularly during the Hudson River/Champlain Lake conflicts, John and I rarely saw each other. Instead, I took on the role of running our Braintree farm. My “new roles during the Revolution [were my] own contribution to the war on the home front” 4. Most of our correspondence was conducted through letters, and John expected and entrusted in me the ability to “settle labor problems on [our] farm and collect rents from their tenants, as well as to see to it that the work got done.” 4

Overall, the separation from my husband during the Revolutionary War was the greatest hardship that I ever suffered. Regardless, he kept me very abreast of the issues facing the colonies. In one letter, in regards to the article of Common Sense, he stated he thought the mindset presented in the manuscript would become “the common faith, and on learning that in Boston he was presumed to be the author, he felt flattered”2. In response to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he referenced Mr. Dickinson, stating his “alcracivy and spirit certainly becomes his character and sets a fine example.”2

The letters from my husband came frequently at first, and infrequent after awhile. They were mainly political in nature, and I did all I could to support his role in the quest for our freedom. However, I missed my husband very much, and longed for him to return home. He let me know that he was trying to get a replacement for his duties with the congress, but was rather unsuccessful. He was able to visit in November of 1776, which resulted in a pregnancy and a stillborn child. John grieved the child, writing to me stating “Poor, unhappy I! who have never an opportunity to share with my Family, their Distresses, nor to contribute in the least degree to relive them!”

When John made the decision to go to France to seek an alliance with them so as to build up the Navy and better defend the area of the Hudson River, I was devastated, to say the least, as it was several more years until he returned.

[1] Russell, David. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. North Carolina, McFarland and Company: ,1978.

2 McCullough, David. John Adams. New York, Rockefeller Center: 1999.

3 McCullough, David. 1776. New York, Rockefeller Center: 2005.

4 Gelles, Edith. Abigail Adams. Routledge, New York and London: 1998.

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