We all assume, given the choice, that we would happily take on the patriot cause. Of course!
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Are you really sure? On Saturday, October 7th, the troops will join many other Revolutionary-era reenactment groups to celebrate the Battle of Germantown as part of the Revolutionary Germantown Festival. We hope you will take this opportunity to enjoy the reenactment of the battle, as well as join us at Grumblethorpe for both the morning muster and march to the battlefield and later in the afternoon at our Battle Bash party.
Everyone is welcome! Grumblethorpe has an interesting occupation story… which has to do with the death of British General Agnew and a bloodstained parlor floor still remaining years later! During the weekend of October , the Powel House will be a featured site during the Occupied Philadelphia event at Museum of the American Revolution. Like Grumblethorpe, the Powel House was also occupied by the British, but for only a brief time in the spring of Along with their family and neighbors, Samuel and Elizabeth Powel would have done some serious soul-searching in September as the British forces were drawing near to Philadelphia.
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If the British took the city, should one stay or go? For those who had conspicuously sided with the patriots, the question answered itself: they had no choice but to leave town. How they may have gone about measuring such a risk, and whether they obtained any assurance in advance, is something we cannot know for certain. Early on, Thomas Willing sought to broker a negotiated peace by entering into conversations with the British commanding officer, General Howe.
When the proposed terms were relayed to General Washington Commander of the Continental troops , Washington flatly rejected them.
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For as much as we can know about this time period, there is much we do not know. Those who remained in Philadelphia were exceedingly careful about what they put in writing since meddlesome authorities on both sides often opened personal letters for inspection. The only opportunity he had to demonstrate his patriotism as mayor was during his first term which abruptly ended with the Declaration of Independence. Prior to the Revolution, Samuel benefitted from a sizeable inheritance and thorough education, which included a seven-year European grand tour.
He solidified his social standing through his marriage to the well-connected Elizabeth Willing in Between the connections of her father Charles a wealthy merchant and her mother Anne Shippen Willing, Elizabeth brought many prominent relations to the marriage.
After substantial rococo upgrades to their Third Street home, Samuel and Elizabeth were ready to provide hospitality to the Colonial elite. Their burgeoning relationship with General and Martha Washington would further establish their society bona fides. During the British occupation, the Powels appear to keep a deliberately low profile.
This did not mean they felt any sense of privation beyond the social. Yet this period of British occupation was one in which loyalties would be repeatedly tested. One just has to look at the Powels' nearest neighbors to get a sense of how difficult a balancing act this all was. As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, he declined to vote for independence, on the alleged ground that the legislature had not authorized him to do so.
During the British occupation, he elected to stay with his family in Philadelphia. As far as ardent patriots were concerned, he fell in a suspect category, especially given his aforementioned dubious peace agreement activities. Benjamin Chew had earned a reputation as an outstanding lawyer who represented the Penn family interests before the Revolution. Patriots regarded Chew with sufficient suspicion that they required him to leave Philadelphia for what amounted to extended house arrest in New Jersey for most of the British occupation.
On the corner of Third and Pine Streets, diagonally across from St.
During this time, he was the rector of the united churches of Christ Church and St. While he was initially named chaplain to the First Continental Congress, he withdrew from the position after independence was declared and then sent a highly imprudent letter to George Washington, urging him in effect to throw in the towel. These actions did not save him, as the British, upon their taking Philadelphia, arrested him as a notorious patriot.
They placed him on parole, ordering him not to give any assistance or intelligence to the enemy. He and his family stayed in Philadelphia during the British occupation, where they appeared to be on familiar terms with British General Howe and his staff officers. So what should we make of this tightly-connected little neighborhood? Situations could become ever-more complicated when we think about the many outside networks that connected these households.
One example was a tradesman-poet named Joseph Stansbury with whom the Powels maintained a running account over several years for chinaware. The question remains Stay tuned for part 2 to discover what happened to the Powels and their neighbors after the British left town! A Woman Rediscovered: A false-bottomed trunk and a love of citron cake and we are just getting started! October 2, The Powel House.
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Elizabeth Willing Powel. British Occupation of Philadelphia. Hidden Histories. American Revolution. Museum of the American Revoution. Revolutionary History. Women's history.
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