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Main article: "Battle of Rhode Island
A 1778 French military map showing the positions of generals Lafayette and Sullivan around Newport Bay on August 30 during the Rhode Island campaign.

In early 1778 he was transferred to the post of "Rhode Island where he led Continental troops and militia. It was intended he work together with a "French Navy fleet to assault or besiege British-held "Newport which was regarded as extremely vulnerable since France's "entry into the war. The attempt was called off when the French fleet of "Admiral d'Estaing was scattered and damaged by a storm. Owing to the damage to his ships, and discouraged by the arrival of a British fleet under "Lord Howe, D'Estaing withdrew to "Boston. The British garrison of Newport then sortied, forcing Sullivan into retreat after fighting the inconclusive "Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778.

The failure to defeat what appeared to be a very vulnerable garrison, and the manner in which the campaign collapsed, provoked a major rift in Franco-American relations. Sullivan wrote a letter to D'Estaing protesting what he saw as treachery and cowardice and describing it as "derogatory to the honor of France".[42] The failed campaign sparked an "international incident between the two allies, and was followed a year later by another unsuccessful attack on a British garrison at the "Siege of Savannah. The debacle did not badly affect Sullivan's career, and he was considered as a potential commander for a possible invasion of Canada.

Expedition against Iroquois[edit]

Sullivan Expedition
James Clinton and John Sullivan

In the summer of 1779, Sullivan led the "Sullivan Expedition, a massive campaign against the Iroquois in western "New York. During this campaign, troops destroyed a very large "Cayuga settlement, called Coreorgonel, on what is now the southwest side of "Ithaca, New York. To reach the enemy homeland, Sullivan's army took a southernly route to western New York through northeast Pennsylvania, which required creating a new road through lightly inhabited areas of the "Pocono Mountains, which still exists and is known as Sullivan's Trail.

He pushed his troops so hard that their horses became unusable, and killed them on this campaign, creating the namesake for "Horseheads, New York. The lukewarm response of the Congress was more than he could accept. Broken, tired and again opposed by Congress, he retired from the army in 1779 and returned to "New Hampshire. Around this time, Sullivan was approached by British agents who tried to persuade him to switch sides. This was part of a concerted effort of approaches to other Generals such as "Moses Hazen, "Ethan Allen and "Benedict Arnold who it was believed were unhappy with their treatment by Congress and had lost their faith in the goal of American independence. It was a strategy with mixed results—but which produced the notable defection of Arnold.[43]


At home Sullivan was a hero. The New Hampshire legislature selected him as a delegate to the Continental Congress for one year to start in November 1780, against his wishes.[44] Although most of the delegates to Congress were new,[45] Sullivan still had opponents there. Nonetheless, he accepted the position in order that New Hampshire be represented in the controversy concerning claims to Vermont under the "New Hampshire Grants.[46] In the absence of other delegates from New Hampshire except the soon to depart "Nathaniel Folsom, Sullivan was seated early, on September 11, 1780.[47] Immediately, Sullivan and Folsom had to deal with the question of whether Vermont would be part of New York or New Hampshire or would be independent.[48] Ultimately, since possible negotiation of Vermont with the British to become a part of Canada was threatened, on August 3, 1781, Sullivan seconded appointment of a committee to negotiate with Vermont on becoming a separate state.[49]

Congress also had to deal with a financial crisis since the treasury was empty and the Confederation's credit was poor.[45] Sullivan served on a committee to deal with this problem.[50][51]

In late 1780 or early 1781, Sullivan, who often claimed to be in financial straits, borrowed money from the French minister to Congress, probably with no intent or expectation of repayment.[52] Sullivan already supported positions favorable to the French in Congress, but historian Charles Whittemore described Sullivan's conduct as "ethically obtuse" and as tarnishing his reputation.[53] Yet, Sullivan worked to help the country and government on several matters such as seeking French financial support for the United States.[52] Later in the year, Sullivan worked to get people appointed as peace negotiators, especially "Benjamin Franklin, who were favored by the French because they might not insist on western land claims and thereby help shorten the war by eliminating that issue.[54] Of course, Sullivan alone could not have attained results on such matters without majority support.[55] One of Sullivan's last acts was to vote for "Robert Livingston for appointment to the position of "United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs.[56]

Having been seated early, and having dealt with the matters he believed he was required to deal with, Sullivan resigned from the Congress and departed from Philadelphia on August 11, 1781, a month before the expiration of a one-year term from the date he was seated.[56]

Later life[edit]

Returning home to New Hampshire, he was named the state's attorney general in 1782 and served until 1786. During this same time he was elected to the state assembly, and served as speaker of the house. He led the drive in New Hampshire that led to ratification of the "United States Constitution on June 21, 1788. He was elected President of New Hampshire (now Governor) in 1786, 1787 and 1789. During his first term as governor, he put down the "Exeter Rebellion.

When the new federal government was created, President "George Washington nominated him on September 24, 1789, to be the first federal judge for the "United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, created by 1 Stat. 73. He was confirmed by the "United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission the same day. Although his health prevented his sitting on the bench after 1792, he held the post until he died on January 23, 1795, aged 54, at his home in Durham.[57] He was interred in the family cemetery there.[58][59]

He was first "Grand Master of the "Grand Lodge of New Hampshire and had been a member of "St. John's Lodge, Portsmouth, New Hampshire since 1767.[60]


Counties in "New York, "Pennsylvania, "New Hampshire, "Tennessee, and "Missouri were all named for him, as was "Sullivan Street in "Greenwich Village, "Manhattan.["citation needed] The "General Sullivan Bridge spanning "Little Bay near his home town of "Durham, New Hampshire is named for him, as is "Sullivan Trail, a road through northeast Pennsylvania that in many areas follows the road made by Sullivan's army in 1779. Towns in "Illinois, "New Hampshire, and "New York are named after him. Sullivan's Bridge, a future bicycle and pedestrian bridge crossing the "Schuylkill River at "Valley Forge National Historical Park, is also named in his honor.[61] Part of the march route into "Trenton, New Jersey is named "Sullivan Way.

Bostonians still celebrate the evacuation of British forces each year on "Evacuation Day, which coincides with "Saint Patrick's Day. According to local legend, Sullivan used "Saint Patrick" as the official password the day he led Colonial troops into Boston.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whittemore, p. 1.
  2. ^ Whittemore, p. 2.
  3. ^ a b c d Whittemore, p. 3.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "O'Connor, Thomas H. (1995). The Boston Irish: A Political History. Boston: Northeastern University Press. pp. 12–13. "ISBN "9781555532208. 
  6. ^ a b c Whittemore, p. 6.
  7. ^ Whittemore, p. 4.
  8. ^ Whittemore, p. 5.
  9. ^ Whittemore, p. 7.
  10. ^ Upton, p. 1.
  11. ^ Whittemore, pp. 7–8.
  12. ^ a b Upton, p. 13.
  13. ^ Upton, p. 14.
  14. ^ Upton, p. 17.
  15. ^ Upton, pp. 17–18.
  16. ^ a b Upton, p. 18.
  17. ^ a b c d Upton, p. 19.
  18. ^ a b c Whittemore, p. 8.
  19. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 10.
  20. ^ a b Upton, p. 22.
  21. ^ Whittemore, p. 13.
  22. ^ Whittemore, pp. 13–14.
  23. ^ a b Upton, p. 23.
  24. ^ Whittemore, p. 15.
  25. ^ Upton. pp. 23, 24
  26. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 16.
  27. ^ Whittemore, pp. 16–17.
  28. ^ Whittemore, p. 17.
  29. ^ Whittemore, p. 18.
  30. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 19.
  31. ^ Whittemore, p. 20.
  32. ^ a b Golway, p. 91.
  33. ^ Fischer, p. 99
  34. ^ Gruber, p. 117
  35. ^ Trevelyan, p. 258
  36. ^ Fischer, p. 250.
  37. ^ Golway, p. 111.
  38. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System.  Note: This includes Eleanor M. Webster (June 1970). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Brinton's Mill" (PDF). Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  39. ^ Golway, p. 139.
  40. ^ Golway, p. 146.
  41. ^ Golway, p. 147.
  42. ^ Golway p. 189
  43. ^ Everest p. 81
  44. ^ Whittemore, p. 153.
  45. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 160.
  46. ^ Whittemore, p. 154.
  47. ^ Whittemore, p. 155.
  48. ^ Whittemore, pp. 155–159.
  49. ^ Whittemore, p. 159.
  50. ^ Whittemore, p. 161.
  51. ^ Whittemore states that Sullivan was probably chairman of the five-person committee.
  52. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 166.
  53. ^ Whittemore, pp. 166, 178.
  54. ^ Whittemore, p. 174–176.
  55. ^ Whittemore, p. 177.
  56. ^ a b Whittemore, p. 179.
  57. ^ Whittemore, p. 224.
  58. ^ Whittemore, p. 226.
  59. ^ Gen John Sullivan at "Find a Grave
  60. ^ George Washington's Generals & Freemasonry, Paul Bessel
  61. ^ "Replacement of the Old Betzwood Bridge (Sullivan's Bridge)". GVF Transportation. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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Legal offices
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