Elbridge Gerry – an unsung hero of the American Revolution

See pp 34 and 35 from my text of: Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution:

“During the British army’s pre-dawn march to Lexington to engage in the battle that officially began the war, the British raided the tavern. Lee and the others, Azro Orne and Elbridge Gerry, fled and hid in a cornfield. In the early morning hours the men suffered from exposure, and Lee contracted a fever that led to his death on May 10, 1775.

Following Lee’s untimely demise, Gerry continued working seamlessly with Gardoqui. Lee died an unsung hero of the revolution.5 Fortunately the incriminating letter did not fall into British hands. It remains, however, proof that aid received from the French, Spanish, and Dutch had begun much earlier than the British suspected.”

In case you are not familiar with his name, Elbridge Gerry was a native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, born there in 1744. After graduating from Harvard he joined his father’s shipping business. They shipped codfish to Barbados and Spain. The Gerry’s and their business were flourishing under colonial rule before the British closed the harbor at Boston in 1774.

Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge served in the colonial legislature from 1772-1774. During that time he became acquainted with Samuel Adams and took part in the Marblehead and Massachusetts committees of correspondence.

With the port of Boston being shut down, the shipping business moved sharply to the north and to Marblehead. Thus shipping to and from Marblehead was a relief for patriots in need of all kinds of supplies, not only of a personal type, but soon, became a covert delivery point of aid to the patriots.

From 1774-1776 Gerry sat in on two provincial congresses and served with Samuel Adams and John Hancock on the council of safety and as chairman of the committee of supply. He was the best man for the job on the supply side because of his shipping business. See the preceding pages in my book on how he aided the rebel Americans to arm and suppply the Continental Army and patriots who fought at the Battle of Lexington and Concord April 15, 1775.

Gerry continued to work covertly to aid the patriots after the death of Jeremiah Lee. He imported war materiel and cash donations from Holland, France, and Spain at great risk to his finances, his shipping business and his personal safety, in order to assist in the birthing of the United States of America.

He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He went on to serve in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention and as Vice President to James Madison. He died on his way to the Senate in 1814. He had risked life and limb to help create the American way of freedom.

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