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.


Hermione at Newport: Part 3 of 4:

Day one afternoon at Fort Adams under the tent as “Guests” (see photos below)

At Fort Adams we were able to get a close up look at the frigate with our Guest stickers on our lapels We gained entrance to the huge tent for special guests.  It was set up at the dock beside the frigate.

Let us not forget that the arrival of the Hermione was a salute to our two countries, France and America, who had been covert friends before the 1776 Declaration of Independence. In fact the French covertly shipped arms and cash via the wealthy Marblehead, Massachusetts, shipping merchant Jeremiah Lee.  His ships picked up war materiel in Spain contributed by the Dutch, the French and the Spanish, right up to the eve of the battle of Lexington and Concord.

This day in Newport, we celebrate the alliance of France and America that has extended over a period of some 240 years at least.  The dignitaries under the tent were many, some in French naval uniform, some in American Naval uniform, along with re-enactors sporting their colors representative of Revolutionary times and the rest of us in our best red, white and blue street clothes. With those three colors, one cannot go wrong as the tricolor is celebrated by both nations.

Represented under the tent were those who gave brief addresses to welcome the Hermione and her wonderful crew. The Naval War College of Newport band played patriotic songs and anthems.

Following the requisite speeches and thanks to the sponsors of this momentous event of huge proportion, we left the tent, hoping for some air to cool our brows. There was not much of that unfortunately. The late afternoon sun was unrelenting. We knew we would be welcomed aboard the frigate, but would have to stand in line even as “guests” that we were, so we opted out due to the incredible heat.

Instead we posed for some photos by the masthead of the ship, a romping lion in coat of gold! This lion had led the way across the Atlantic in peace to make its way up the Atlantic seaboard from Yorktown, where the final battle was fought under the leadership of the stalwart General Rochambeau from France and his commander while in America, General George Washington.

Moi in patriotic dress with Golden Rampant Lion Prow over my Shoulder. Photo: John L. Vail 7/8/2015

Moi in patriotic dress with Golden Rampant Lion Prow over my Shoulder.
Photo: John L. Vail 7/8/2015


Photo below with Hermione!

From left to right:  David Beglan and his wife, Mary Conseur; my husband, John Lester Vail and moi.


Hermione with David Beglan and wife, Mary Conseur, John and Jini 7-9-2015 August 19th

Don’t we look cool??? Well, we are far from it.  We are in fact, melting before your eyes, while trying to show a stiff upper lip.  The Frigate, Hermione, is really cool however, proudly showing her colors held out by a tiny breeze that seems to have missed the four of us!

We finally left the dock at Fort Adams for the cool of our B&B, the Jailhouse Inn, where we showered and readied for a fine French repast in an air-conditioned restaurant. The four of us dined with David’s brother, Brigadier General (Ret) John L. Beglan an, Jr. his wife, Paquita; my daughter, Heather Woodring and my granddaughter, Jessie Woodring. We even had 2 Society of the Cincinnati families in our number.

That night we chose the four star French restaurant, Bouchard’s. We were seated comfortably at a round table and enjoyed each other’s company for at least 3 hours! The Dover Sole is beyond belief!

Stay tuned for the last segment of our inspiring Newport trip.