A General of the Revolution: John Sullivan of New Hampshire

By Charles P. Whittemore | Go to book overview

XII: NEW HAMPSHIRE LAWYER
SEPTEMBER, 1781-JANUARY, 1784

Sullivan, who was just a few months past his forty-first birthday, had accomplished far more than many men would in a lifetime. Behind him stood his military and congressional experiences. Looming ahead were new challenges, and the next nine years found him active in the political affairs of New Hampshire. He had the abilities and the techniques of a politician: persuasive talents, the knack of leadership, popularity, and the courage to face a crisis unflinchingly. His abilities suited New Hampshire, for not only was he the military hero returning home but also the solon looking for respite after months in Congress, although he had led Luzerne to believe he might return to Philadelphia by the end of the year. 1 Sullivan may have told Luzerne to expect his return so that the Frenchman would not press for repayment of the "loan"; perhaps he genuinely wished to return, but that seems unlikely. Although he was leaving the national scene, he had no intention of quitting public life and told Luzerne that he expected to work at getting a permanent form of government for New Hampshire and at settling the turmoil in the western part of the state.

To establish a permanent government was a pressing problem, for the temporary plan, adopted in 1776, obviously needed revision, and an attempt had failed in 1779. During the fall of 1781 Sullivan served on a town committee in Durham which studied the Constitution offered by the Convention that had come into session the previous June. The Convention did not look upon this plan as final; instead the members expected the

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