Bon Anniversaire cher Marquis!

Happy Birthday to the Marquis de Lafayette!!!

How old is the great benefactor of the American Revolution?  He was born at Chateau Chavaniac in South Central France on 6 Septembre 1757.  This year he would have fretted his 259th!

Marquis de Lafayette's theme table setting
We are celebrating his natal day this week on our porch. I set the table with the beautiful plates I bought in France at the time of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution.  My friends Mary Conseur and David Beglan, both great followers of history, especially French and American history, brought me these gorgeous red, white and blue flowers to use as a centerpiece.

If you are so inclined, you might want to scroll down, way down, in my Blog list to find the explanation of how we decorated our master bed chamber at our home after Lafayette’s natal bedroom at Chavaniac. John and I visited Chavaniac at the time of a complete renovation of their 100 rooms. Do check us out.

prerevolution

Come celebrate with us. Roll out the red carpet and remember how Lafayette helped America!

Huzzah!    Huzzah!     Huzzah!   Hooray for the red, white and blue and the bleu, blanc et rouge!

Just when you thought there were no more surprises!

The King of Spain should be remembered for his contribution to the American cause, without which we might have faltered!

Please go to page 309 in my book:

Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant
A French General’s Role in the American Revolution

 

 

King Carlos III.

Carlos, King of Spain: Former king of Naples and Sicily and former duke of Parma and Piacenza; born Catholic into the House of Bourbon, the same family as King Louis XVI of France. He married Maria Amalia of Saxony, ascended to the throne of Spain in 1759, and reigned until his death in 1788.

King Carlos did not fully support American independence since he thought it might ignite an uprising in his own country, but he tolerated and supported covert aid beginning in 1776. After declaring war on Britain in 1779 he continued to aid the American cause in indirect ways while at the same time meeting Spain’s goals. At the request of Rochambeau and La Luzerne, De Grasse assembled the funds needed for the siege of Yorktown from Carlos’s subjects in Havana, Cuba.

Spain and its Generals on both sides of the Atlantic were most helpful in sending supplies to the insurgents in Massachusetts and in the Louisiana area as well. Spain has not received due credit for all it did to aid the UIS. I am making sure my readers are aware of their contribution.

Still Another Unsung Hero of the American Revolution!

What a stunning surprise from this brave man who helped us!

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

He was a French dramatist and a covert defender!

Beaumarchais did not fit the mold at all. He was, therefore, never suspected as he carried on his undercover work to aid America~ Here is a little about him taken from p. 308 in my book from the section I call: Key Participants.  There is more on Beaumarchais on pages 36, 37, and 154.  Enjoy!

French dramatist who wrote The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. He encouraged King Louis XVI to become involved in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists. On April 26, 1776, he learned of the king’s decision to aid the insurgents. He sent volunteers, munitions, and supplies covertly to America through the Rodrigue Hortalez Company.

More in 3 weeks!  Keep tuned to this station!

Voila Another Frenchman who helped America behind the scenes during the Revolutionary War!

Do you know him?

Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir

Once again, in the early days of the American Revolution, in the year 1775, Bonvouloir (even his name signifies a man of good will), served the American cause!

Let us remember!

Only a few months after the untimely death of Colonel Lee in Massachusetts in August 1775, Vergennes, “acting on the advice of his ambassador in London, approved the sending of a secret messenger to the American Continental Congress. Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir was the man chosen for the job. His “mission was a major turning point in both American and French diplomacy.

When he reached Philadelphia in December 1775 he found as a ready audience the newly appointed Committee of Secret Correspondence. Between December 18 and December 27, Bonvouloir met three times with the committee  December 27, Bonvouloir met three times with the committee, including Benjamin Franklin, at Carpenters’ Hall.

The meetings went extremely well. The committee posed several leading questions to Bonvouloir, asking “if France were disposed favorably toward the Americans, if she would send them two good army engineers, and if she would sell them arms and war supplies in her ports. They also expressed their need of naval support. Bonvouloir gave positive responses to all their requests. In his December 28 report to Versailles he enthusiastically wrote, “Independency is a certainty for 1776.” When Vergennes received news of the success of the meeting, he “proposed a major shift in French policy toward the American Revolution.

There was growing excitement in France for the sake of American liberty. In response to the request of the Continental Congress to Bonvouloir, volunteers were encouraged to serve in America, and many answered the call.

This excerpt is from my book: pp. 35 and 37 Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution

Unknown heroes of the American Revolution

Here, as promised, is the expose of the first of the  earliest, least-known, if not totally UNKNOWN, UNSUNG HEROES of the American Revolution.

Col. Jeremiah Lee of Marblehead, MA

Col. Jeremiah Lee of Marblehead, MA

Lee smuggled funds and war materiel funneled from Holland through France and Spain to Massachusetts at great peril to himself and to his family!

The following are pages 33-35 from my book, Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant:

Since virtually all American records were either lost or intentionally destroyed at the time of the revolt against their  British overlords, little is known of the methods chosen by colonists to import the supplies and armaments needed to aid the organizing insurgents.

France and Spain were willing to help, but covertly. Some insight can be gained from the role of Colonel Jeremiah Lee, successful shipping magnate and devoted revolutionary patriot, who is largely neglected in history books. He served for twenty-five years as a colonel in the British militia at Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1774, in collusion with French and Spanish shippers, at great danger to himself, Colonel Lee initiated covert importation of armaments.

It is unclear whether the arms originated in Holland, France, or Spain, but they were routed to Massachusetts through Lee’s shipping agent, Joseph Gardoqui et Fils, in Bilbao, Spain. At the same time, Lee served as liaison between the citizens of Marblehead and the British king’s agent in Boston, giving voice to the colonists’ grievances.

Colonel Lee was, according to the 1771 Massachusetts tax records, the wealthiest merchant in that colony during the pre-revolutionary period. He was very likely America’s largest colonial ship owner, holding full share in twenty-one vessels, mostly fishing and trading schooners from seventy to one hundred twenty tons each, and at least one transoceanic brig. A letter addressed to Colonel Lee dated February 15, 1775, Bilbao, Spain, and signed, Joseph Gardoqui et Fils, refers to an order being filled at Lee’s request. Although the letter never reached Lee, it stands as a record of the clandestine dealings between Lee, the Dutch, and the Spanish.

The Gardoqui agent writes, “We were determined at all events to assist you accordingly, we found out means to procure as many Muskets & pistols as were ready made on the parts for the Kings Army, the quantity was but small having only 300 Muskets & Bayonets, and about double the number of Pair of Pistols ready… besides which they must be got with a good deal of Caution & Ship… as to secrecy you may depend it is as much our Interest as any ones as the English…will look sharp in every port…however by having timely advise we can bring them [arms and powder] from Holland on Reasonable Terms & ship them as you desire. [You know we] long to see it settled with all our hearts, but should it be otherwise (which God forbid) command freely and you will find us at your service.”

Faithful to the American cause of independence, Colonel Lee met regularly with John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other members of the secret committee in charge of supplies to plan the procurement of provisions and weapons. Each time that Lee arranged to ship supplies from Spain, Holland, and France to America he risked his business and his life, as the British had him under surveillance.

Colonel Lee’s last meeting was on April 18, 1775 (the day preceding the now famous Battles of Lexington and Concord), at Newell’s Tavern in Menotomy (now Arlington), Massachusetts, with another scheduled for the following morning at the Black Horse Tavern where Lee and two other patriot colleagues from Marblehead were lodging overnight. The meeting scheduled for April 19 did not happen.

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. 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.

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A Big Who Knew That…

French, Spanish and Dutch flag

Who knew that the American rebels were receiving cash and war material from the French, Dutch and Spanish by covert means well before the
1776 Declaration of Independence? Regarding these early friends of America, what were the names of the brave men who accomplished this work to help us to birth our great nation?

Next time we meet I will begin a new series of blogs by mentioning the names of these brave men and telling their stories.

You can read about all these men in my book:

Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant
A French General’s Role in the American Revolution

Please stay tuned!

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