Henry Knox: Wikis

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Henry Knox


In office
March 8, 1785 – December 31, 1794
President George Washington
Preceded by New creation
Succeeded by Timothy Pickering

Born July 25, 1750(1750-07-25)
Boston, Massachusetts, British America
Died October 25, 1806 (aged 56)
near Thomaston, Maine, U.S.
Nationality British (at birth)
American (at death)
Spouse(s) Lucy Flucker
Profession Bookseller, Soldier
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Continental Army
United States Army
Years of service 1775-1784
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel 1775-1776
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General 1776-1781
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General 1781-1784
Commands Chief of Artillery
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War
Battle of Bunker Hill
Siege of Boston
Battle of Long Island
Battle of Trenton
Battle of the Assunpink Creek
Battle of Princeton
Battle of Brandywine
Battle of Germantown
Battle of Monmouth
Siege of Yorktown

Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American bookseller from Boston who became the chief artillery officer of the Continental Army and later the nation's first secretary of war.

Knox supported the American rebels, the Sons of Liberty, was present at the Boston Massacre, served at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and offered his services to Gen. Washington, who had him commissioned a colonel and gave him command of the Continental Regiment of Artillery.

Knox stayed with the main Army throughout most of the active war, and saw further action at several battles. While the Army was in winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, he returned to Massachusetts to improve the Army's artillery capability. He raised an additional battalion and established the Springfield Armory before his return in the spring. That arsenal remained a valuable source of ammunition and gun carriages for the rest of the war.

As secretary of war, Knox urged and presided over the creation of a regular United States Navy and created a series of coastal fortifications. As secretary of War Knox was responsible for managing the U.S.'s relations with the Native Americans in the U.S. Knox used his new position to argue that the U.S. honor the Native Americans' rights. To this end, Knox argued that the U.S. should treat Native American tribes as sovereign, foreign nations. He envisioned a humane policy of treaties that would not be broken, resulting in a series of Indian enclaves in the West where the United States would forbid its citizens to settle.

Knox settled at Montpelier, the estate he built in Maine. He spent the rest of his life engaged in cattle farming, ship building, brick making and real estate speculation. He had assembled a vast real estate empire in Maine through graft and corruption; this triggered an armed insurrection by local settlers who threatened to burn his home to the ground. Although Knox represented his Thomaston in the Massachusetts General Court (Maine then being part of Massachusetts), he eventually became so unpopular that he lost the seat to a local blacksmith.

Contents

Early life and marriage

Henry Knox was born on Long Lane in Boston to parents of Scots-Irish origin, William Knox and Mary (nee Campbell).[1] His father was a ship's captain who died in 1759, in part due to mental stress arising from financial trouble. Henry left school at the age of 12 and became a clerk in a bookstore to support his mother. He later opened his own bookshop, the London Book Store, in Boston. Largely self-educated, he began to concentrate on military subjects, particularly artillery. Knox joined a local military company at 18, was present at the Boston Massacre, and joined the Boston Grenadier Corps in 1772.[2]

1771 advertisement for London Bookstore, Boston

Henry married Lucy Flucker (1756–1824), the daughter of Boston Loyalists, on June 16, 1774. In spite of separations due to his military service, they remained a devoted couple for the rest of his life, and carried on an extensive correspondence. Since the couple fled Boston in 1775, she remained essentially homeless throughout the Revolutionary War. Her parents left with the British during their withdrawal from Boston after the Continental Army fortified Dorchester Heights, which ironically hinged upon Knox’s cannons. She never saw them again.

Military career

Knox supported the American rebels, the Sons of Liberty and was present at the Boston Massacre. He volunteered as a member of the Boston Grenadier Corps in 1772 and served under Gen. Artemas Ward at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Being a member of the Army of Observation, Knox met and impressed Gen. George Washington when he took command. Knox offered his services to Washington, who had him commissioned a colonel and gave him command of the Continental Regiment of Artillery.[2] Washington and Knox soon became good friends.

As the Siege of Boston continued, he suggested that the cannons recently captured at Fort Ticonderoga and at Crown Point could have a decisive impact. Washington put him in charge of an expedition to retrieve them.[2] His force brought them by ox-drawn sled south along the west bank of the Hudson River from Fort Ticonderoga to Albany where he crossed the Hudson, continued east through the Berkshires and finally to Boston. There are 56 plaques on the trail from Fort Ticonderoga to Cambridge, Massachusetts denoting the approximately 56-day length of the journey. Knox and his men averaged approximately 5 ⅜ miles per day, completing the 300-mile (480 km) trip in 56 days, between December 5, 1775, and January 24, 1776. The Cannon Train was composed of fifty-nine cannon and mortars, 29 from Crown Point and 30 from Fort Ticonderoga, and weighed 60 tons. Upon their arrival in Cambridge, when Washington's army took the Heights of Dorchester, the cannons were placed in a heavily-fortified position overlooking Boston from which they threatened the British fleet in the harbor. As a result, the British were forced to withdraw to Halifax on March 17, 1776.[2] After the siege was lifted, Knox undertook the construction and improvement of defenses in Connecticut and Rhode Island to prepare for the British return. He rejoined the main army later during their withdrawal from New York and across New Jersey.

During the Battle of Trenton, Colonel Knox was in charge of Washington's crossing of the Delaware River.[2] Though hampered by ice and cold, with John Glover's Marbleheaders (14th Continental Regiment) manning the boats, he got the attack force of men, horses and artillery across the river without loss. Following the battle he returned the same force, along with hundreds of prisoners, captured supplies and all the boats back across the river by the afternoon of December 26. Knox was promoted to brigadier general for this accomplishment and chief of artillery.[2]

Knox stayed with the main Army throughout most of the active war, and saw further action at Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and Yorktown.[2] In 1777 while the Army was in winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, he returned to Massachusetts to improve the Army's artillery capability. He raised an additional battalion and established the Springfield Armory before his return in the spring. That arsenal remained a valuable source of ammunition and gun carriages for the rest of the war. In early 1780 he was a member of the court-martial of Maj. John André.[2] Knox made several other trips to the Northern states as Washington's representative to increase the flow of men and supplies to the army.

In Pluckemin (a hamlet of Bedminster, New Jersey), in the winter of 1778-1779, Knox formed the Continental Army's first facility for artillery and officer training in what has been named the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment or simply the Pluckemin Artillery Park. The Pluckemin artillery training academy is noted as the precursor to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. While there, through the summer of 1779, Gen. Knox spent most of his time dealing with over 1,000 soldiers in desperate need of formal military training, in the face of low morale and scarce supplies.

After Yorktown, Knox was promoted to major general. In 1782 he was given command of the post at West Point.[2] In 1783 he was one of the founders of the Society of the Cincinnati,[2] and led the American forces into New York City as the British withdrew. He stood next to Washington during his farewell on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern. After Washington retired, Knox served as the senior officer of the Continental Army from December 1783 until he left it in June 1784.[2]

Secretary of war

Henry Knox in the Washington Administration, by James Harvy Young, 1873. From the earlier Gilbert Stuart painting.

The Continental Congress made Knox secretary at war under the Articles of Confederation on March 8, 1785. He held that position without interruption until September 12, 1789, when he assumed the same duties as the secretary of war in Washington's first cabinet.

As secretary, Knox urged and presided over the creation of a regular United States Navy and created a series of coastal fortifications. In 1792 Congress, acting on a detailed proposal from Knox, created the short-lived Legion of the United States.[3]

As part of his duties as secretary of war, Knox attempted the implementation of the Militia Act of 1792. This included his evaluation of the arms and readiness of the militia finding that only 20% of the 450,000 members of the militia were capable of arming themselves at their own expense for militia service as required by the act. To resolve this arms shortage, Knox recommended to Congress that the federal government increase the purchase of imported weapons, ban the export of domestically produced weapons and establish domestic government-run weapons manufacturing (arsenals) and armories, including the Springfield Armory and the Harpers Ferry Armory.[4]

Secretary of War Knox was responsible for managing the U.S.'s relations with the Native Americans in the U.S. Indian tribes within its borders, following a 1789 act of U.S. Congress. For the previous three years he had had similar responsibilities under the Congress of the Confederation, although the previous position had little actual authority.[5] Knox used his new position to argue that the U.S. honor the Native Americans' rights. Usual U.S. government policy involved signing treaties with Native American nations that were not intended to be kept, with the goal of seizing as much Indian land as possible. Knox publicly opposed this policy, the first U.S. government official to do so.[5] He believed that the practice violated the republican principles embodied in the American Revolution.[5] Furthermore, Knox feared that a policy of constant provocation would lead to costly frontier wars that would hurt the nation.[6]

To this end, Knox argued that the U.S. should treat Native American tribes as sovereign, foreign nations. He envisioned a humane policy of treaties that would not be broken, resulting in a series of Indian enclaves in the West where the United States would forbid its citizens to settle.[7] He urged Pres. Washington to make a priority of reforming the U.S.'s Indian policy.

Henry Knox. Published 1881 in Young Persons' Cyclopedia of Persons and Places.

In 1789 Washington had Knox send a bill to Congress to purchase native lands for $25,394. This was a far cheaper price to pay than to once again battle the natives. The bill made it possible for only the federal government to control native lands, rather than the states administering territories. The natives were now considered foreigners, and forced to cooperate or leave.[2]

The first test of the new policy came from the negotiations between Knox, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Alexander McGillivray, leader of the Creek Nation. The resulting Treaty of New York guaranteed the Creeks a vast stretch of territory, which the U.S. pledged to protect from the encroachments of its citizens. Settlers continued to pour into Creek territory, and the federal troops that Knox sent could not secure the border. McGillivray abandoned the alliance with the U.S. in 1791, turning to Spanish protection in the Treaty of New Orleans. The failure of the Treaty of New York marked the end of Knox's attempt to enact a new Indian policy.[8]

On January 2, 1795, Knox left the government and returned to his home at Thomaston, Maine, to devote himself to caring for his growing family. He was succeeded by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering.

Later life

Knox settled at Montpelier, the estate he built in Thomaston, Maine. He spent the rest of his life engaged in cattle farming, ship building, brick making and real estate speculation. He had assembled a vast 1,000,000-acre (4,000 km2) real estate empire in Maine through graft and corruption; which triggered an armed insurrection by local settlers who, at one point, threatened to burn Montpelier to the ground.[9] Although Knox represented his Thomaston in the Massachusetts General Court (Maine then being part of Massachusetts), he eventually became so unpopular that he lost the seat to a local blacksmith.

He also was industrious in lumbering, ship building, stock raising and brick manufacturing, although all of these businesses failed, building up staggering debts that would ultimately bankrupt his heirs.[2][10] In 1806 while visiting a friend in Union, Maine, he swallowed a chicken bone which punctured his intestine. He died of an infection (peritonitis) three days later on October 25, 1806, and was buried in Thomaston. His house was later torn down to make way for the Brunswick-Rockland railroad line. The only surviving structure is an outbuilding that currently houses the Thomaston Historical Society. (The current Montpelier Museum is a mid-20th century cinderblock reconstruction at a different location.)

Many incidents in Knox's career attest to his character, both good and bad. As one example, when he and Lucy were forced to leave Boston in 1775, his home was used to house British officers who looted his bookstore. In spite of personal financial hardships, he managed to make the last payment of 1,000 pounds to Longman Printers in London to cover the price of a shipment of books that he never received. In Maine, however, he would be remembered as a grasping tyrant and was forever immortalized in Nathanial Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, for which he served as the model for Col. Pynchon.[11]

Two separate American forts, Fort Knox (Kentucky), and Fort Knox (Maine) were named after him. Knox Hall [1] at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, home of the Field Artillery Center and Field Artillery School, is also named after him. Knoxville, Tennessee, is named in his honor. There are counties named for Knox in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

References

Notes

  1. ^ Stark's antiqve views of ye towne of Boston. 1901.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bell, William Gardner; COMMANDING GENERALS AND CHIEFS OF STAFF: 1775-2005; Portraits & Biographical Sketches of the United States Army's Senior Officer: 1983, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY; UNITED STATES ARMY; WASHINGTON, D.C.:p. 54
    ISBN 0–16–072376–0
  3. ^ Kochan, James (2001). United States Army 1783-1811 (Men-at-Arms Series). Osprey Military. pp. 13–15. ISBN 1-84176-087-0. 
  4. ^ DeConde, Alexander (2003). Gun Violence in America: The Struggle for Control. Northeastern. pp. 40. ISBN 1-55553-592-5. 
  5. ^ a b c Ellis, Joseph J. "The Treaty." American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic. New York: Knopf, 2007, pp. 136-137.
  6. ^ Ellis, p. 138.
  7. ^ Ellis, p. 139.
  8. ^ Ellis, 159-160.
  9. ^ Taylor, Alan, Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier Chapel Hill: UNC Press, pp. 37-59
  10. ^ Taylor, Allen, Ibid.
  11. ^ Griffiths, Thomas, Maine Sources in The House of the Seven Gables (Waterville, Maine, 1945). (Hawthorne visited Thomaston prior to writing the book.)

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
George Washington
Senior Officer of the United States Army
1783-1784
Succeeded by
Joseph Doughty
Political offices
Preceded by
New creation
United States Secretary of War
1785-1794
Succeeded by
Timothy Pickering
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The eyes of all America are upon us, as we play our part in posterity will bless or curse us.

Henry Knox (July 25, 1750October 25, 1806) was an American bookseller from Boston who became the chief artillery officer of the Continental Army and later the nation's first Secretary of War. He was a trusted advisor, and a life-long friend, of George Washington.

Sourced

  • It is not easy to conceive the difficulties we have had.
    • Knox to George Washington on the difficulties of taking Cannon to Boston.-McCullough pg 83
  • I most earnestly beg you to spare no trouble or necessary expense in getting these.
    • Knox to a local officer while taking cannon to Boston.-McCullough pg 83
  • Trusting that...we shall have a fine fall of snow....I hope in sixteen or seventeen days to be able to present to your Excellency a noble train of artillery.
    • Knox to George Washington on when the cannon would arrive.-McCullough pg 83
  • We shall cut no small figure through the country with our cannon.
    • Knox to his wife, on the difficulties of dragging Cannon.-McCullough pg 83
  • The eyes of all America are upon us, as we play our part in posterity will bless or curse us.
    • Knox on the Declaration of Independence.-McCullough pg 83
  • We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged.
    • McCullough, pg 201
  • Were an energetic and judicious system to be proposed with your signature it would be a circumstance highly honorable to your fame . . . and doubly entitle you to the glorious republican epithet, The Father of your Country.
    • Letter to Washington, urging Washington to attend the Philadelphia Convention

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HENRY KNOX (1750-1806), American general, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, of Scottish-Irish parentage, on the 25th of July 1750. He was prominent in the colonial militia and tried to keep the Boston crowd and the British soldiers from the clash known as the Boston massacre (1770). In 1771 he opened the "London Book-Store" in Boston. He had read much of tactics and strategy, joined the American army at the outbreak of the War of Independence, and fought at Bunker Hill, planned the defences of the camps of the army before Boston, and brought from Lake George and border forts much-needed artillery. At Trenton he crossed the river before the main body, and in the attack rendered such good service that he was made brigadiergeneral and chief of artillery in the continental army on the following day. He was present at Princeton; was chiefly responsible for the mistake in attacking the "Chew House" at Germantown; urged New York as the objective of the campaign of 1778; served with efficiencylat Monmouth and at Yorktown; and after the surrender of Cornwallis was promoted major-general, and served as a commissioner on the exchange of prisoners. His services throughout the war were of great value to the American cause; he was one of General Washington's most trusted advisers, and he brought the artillery to a high degree of efficiency. From December 1783 until June 1784 he was the senior officer of the United States army. In April 1783 he had drafted a scheme of a society to be formed by the American officers and the French officers who had served in America during the war, and to be called the "Cincinnati"; of this society he was the first secretarygeneral (1783-1799) and in 1805 became vice-president-general. In 1785-1794 Knox was secretary of war, being the first man to hold this position after the organization of the Federal government in 1789. He urged ineffectually a national militia system,. to enroll all citizens over 18 and under 60 in the "advanced corps," the "main corps" or the "reserve," and for this and his close friendship with Washington was bitterly assailed by the Republicans. In 1793 he had begun to build his house, Montpelier, at Thomaston, Maine, where he speculated unsuccessfully in the holdings of the Eastern Land Association; and he lived there until his death on the 25th of October 1806.

See F. S. Drake, Memoir of General Henry Knox (Boston, 1873); and Noah Brooks, Henry Knox (New York, 1900) in the "American Men of Energy" series.


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