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The Fall of Fort William and Mary

The first overt act of revolution, in which American colonists took up arms against the British, took place on this date, 240 years ago, in Portsmouth Massachusetts New Hampshire.    If the Revolution had failed this could have been nothing less than treason.

After receiving intelligence from Paul Revere about British plans to consolidate and protect the storage of gunpowder at various garrisons, John Sullivan and a group of patriots decided to take pre-emptive action.

On December 13 Paul Revere, the famous patriot of Boston, who afterwards brought news to Lexington, came to Sullivan with the announcement that the king had prohibited the importation of arms or military stores into the colonies, and that two regiments were about to march from Boston to occupy the fort near Portsmouth Harbor. To Sullivan’s mind, the time had come for action. He quickly assembled a company of men, and on the following night, which happened to be clear and cold, they sailed down the river to Portsmouth, where half a dozen patriots were taken on board, among whom was Captain John Langdon, afterwards the first president of the United States Senate and governor of New Hampshire. 

Thus patriots from Portsmouth and Durham joined together and took Fort William and Mary, carrying off the small arms and light canon.

“The daring character of this assault cannot be overestimated. It was an organized investment of a royal fortress, where the king’s flag was flying, and where the king’s garrison met them with muskets and artillery. It was four months before Lexington, and Lexington was resistance to attack, while this was a deliberate assault. When the king heard of this capture it so embittered him that all hope of concessions was at an end. It made war inevitable.”  Rev. Alonzo H. Quint, D.D.

In England, parliament wasted no time and adopted a declaration of war, which was presented to the king on February 9, 1775.  The king was incensed, and vowed “to uphold its wishes and that his language should open the eyes of the deluded Americans.” 

There would be no turning back, war was practically assured.



1 David { 09.19.18 at 10:02 pm }

Portsmouth is in New Hampshire. It was also in New Hampshire in 1774.


Martin Reply:

Thanks. Corrected the mistake.


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