President Gerald Ford signs an act of Congress promoting Lieutenant General George Washington to General of the Armies, what would be a six star general if the insignia existed.
This act promoted the former President over numerous US Army Generals and US Navy Admirals, which was the point.
In the military and paramilitary services such as police, rank matters. To the extent that if two officers of the same rank are involved in an action, they will be comparing dates of rank to see who is in command.
During the Civil War, when General Ulysses Grant was given command of the Union Armies, he was promoted to Lt. General to ensure he outranked all other commanders.
During WWI and WWII the same actions were taken to ensure American commanders would not be outranked by their Allied contemporaries such as Bernard Montgomery in the British Army.
This resulted in several 5-Star Generals and Admirals. Generals of the Army (singular) or Fleet Admirals.
In WWI Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing had been made a General of the Armies.
At the nation’s bicentennial, it was considered unacceptable that the father of the country should be outranked by any fellow officers, much less so many.
The act not only promoted Gen. Washington above his fellows, it stated nobody can be promoted above him.
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
—Thomas Paine in “The American Crisis”, published on this date in 1776.
The fledgeling war for independence had been going badly, and Gen. Washington had already lost 11,000 of his troops to the comfort of their homes, with many more soon to follow when their enlistments were up. He knew the war could easily be lost to poor morale.
Thomas Paine had the same prescience. His “Common Sense” had helped launch the revolution. Now he took to his pen again to bolster the morale and steadfastness of the American people. The result was that most of Gen. Washington’s troops stayed with him and soon won victories that would further inspire them to fight on.
The Boston Tea Party. After the French and Indian War the British government was struggling financially. To bolster their funds they chose to tax the colonies. The American colonials however, refused to pay taxes when they had no representation in Parliament. The Crown came up with a plan.
They lifted the taxes on other goods, but left the tax on tea in place. At the same time they gave the struggling East India Company a monopoly on sales of tea to the colonies, and gave the Company tax breaks so that they could sell the tea to the colonies at the cheapest price…even after the colonies paid their tax on the tea. The Colonists however refused to buy the tea, realizing the real issue was being taxed without representation and not wanting to set a precedent. Ships loaded with tea were turned away from New York and Philadelphia, and the cargo of tea was even impounded in Charleston. Then on this date in 1773 colonists led by Samuel Adams, dressed as Mohawk Indians, made a midnight raid on three tea ships in Boston Harbor, throwing the cargo overboard. The British responded by limiting Colonists rights even further; the stage was set for revolution.
The first copies of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” are published in Philadelphia.
Pamplets were the editorials, or blogs, if we must, of the day in the 18th century.
Paine had only recently immigrated to America from his homeland of England, yet he quickly took up the cause of independence. Most of the people in America prior to the Revolution saw themselves not as Americans, but as British subjects, and proudly so. Many wanted to remain such, most were uncertain whether independence was a good idea. Most of the colonists were commoners, and it was assumed that only the elite were worthy of governance.
Paine turned this theory on it’s head. He wrote to the commoners in plain language the difference between society and government; that gov’t was necessary, but must be limited; that AMERICA should govern herself.
He started a firestorm….his pamphlet sold 120,000 copies the first month, 500,000 the first year. Percentages taken into account, Common Sense still counts as the best seller of all time.
Paine refused to take any of the profits, donating all of them to Gen. Washington’s Continental Army.
It appears Christmas time is not lucky for Savannah, Georgia in war time. On this date in 1778 British forces over powered the Colonials and took the city; they would hold the city, despite a seige by American and French forces, until the end of the Revolutionary War.
86 years later on Dec. 22, 1864, Union forces under William T. Sherman would take Savannah again, presenting it as a “Christmas gift” to President Lincloln during the American Civil War.
The Boston Tea Party. In an effort to bolster the struggling British East India Company, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, refunding taxes the company paid in England while retaining those paid by American colonists. The debate concerning taxation without representation had been raging for years, and this was, in a way, the last straw. In several cities protests had forced cargo ships to return to England with their holds still full of tea. But in Boston the British Governor of Massachusetts refused to allow 3 ships there to leave. So on this date Sam Adams led a contingent of the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Mohawk Indians aboard the ships and dumped their cargo of tea into Boston Harbor. This enraged Parliament, whose responses would light the fuse on the American Revolution.
General George Washington, veteran of the French and Indian War, leader of his men from Bunker Hill to Valley Forge to Yorktown, with all of the hardships involved, announces to his officers that he is resigning his commission and returning to civilian life at the Fraunces Tavern in New York City.
“With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”
Washington then took a moment with each of his officers alone. There was not a dry eye in the house, including the future President…George Washington….wept.
The Howe Brothers, Admiral Richard and General William, in command of the Engliah Army and Navy in the Americas issue a proclamation that American colonists who will “desist from treasonable acts and doings” would receive a pardon.
Of course, most of the colonists were determined. After the British signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, those “Tories” that had accepted the offer, mostly New Yorkers, were evacuated by the British to Canada.