Washington and His Generals - Vol. 1

By Joel Tyler Headley | Go to book overview

MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN SULLIVAN.

JOHN SULLIVAN was born in Berwick, in the province of Maine, on the 17th of February, 1740. His father emigrated from Ireland in 1723, and died at the great age of one hundred and four years, after seeing his sons, the subject of this sketch and. Governor James Sullivan of Massachusetts, occupy the most elevated positions in a new empire which they had helped to rear up about him. He was a farmer in moderate circumstances, and his sons laboured with him in the field during the greater portion of their minority. The schools of the period afforded few advantages for high or various cultivation, but he was well versed in the ancient languages, in history, and in other branches, and attended himself to their education.

Mr. Sullivan studied the law, was admitted to the bar, and established himself at Durham, in New Hampshire, where he acquired an extensive practice. His attention was soon, however, diverted from his profession to the gathering storm of the Revolution, and the stand he took in defence of popular rights in 1772, led to his being commissioned as a major of the militia. From this time he was actively engaged in the public service. In September, 1774, he took his seat in the Continental Congress, and in December, of the same year, he was engaged with John Langdon in the first act of forcible opposition to the royal authority. General Gage, anticipating the approach of hostilities, began in every direction to seize upon such military stores as were not in the safe possession of the king's troops, fulfilling thus the fears of the timid and the hopes of those who saw no possibility of a reconciliation. Fort William and Mary, near Portsmouth, contained a con

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