Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not exactly - 22 Dec: This Day in History 1775: Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy

Actually, not exactly...on 2 September 1775, Commander in Chief Washington commissioned the first Continental Navy ship "Hannah" (named for the wife of Colonel John Glover who owned the ship), and six others later, named by his very politically astute staff for leaders of the Revolution (Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Lee, Lynch, Warren, and Washington).

The Navy ship Lee may have been named not for a famous Virginian, but for Col. Jeremiah Lee who "was one of the most successful and affluent men in America before the Revolution. A leading merchant in Marblehead, Massachusetts, he owned one of the largest fleets of vessels in Britain’s North American colonies. A 1771 tax listing indicates that he was the wealthiest man in Massachusetts." Jeremiah Lee died in 1775 as a secret organizer with Samuel Adams and John Hancock in equipping the Continental Forces. "His death at age 54 -- shortly after the conflict began -- was a direct result of his involvement in clandestine events in Lexington, in April, 1775." per...

The Navy itself counts 13 October as its birthday because on that day the Maritime Committee of the Continental Congress which had been debating whether or not to create an American Navy and risk the wrath of the British, received a letter from Commander in Chief Washington dated 5 October asking what the Congress advised he should do with a captured British ship.

That capture of a British ship by one of the "Washington Cruisers" made moot the debate of whether or not to create a Navy for fear of risking the wrath of the British, so Congress ordered more ships to be commissioned, thereby affirming the prior birth of the Navy by Commander in Chief of all Continental Forces, George Washington. Washington recognized that he could not complete a siege of the British Army in the port town of Boston without at least a small Navy.

Esek Hopkins, named this 22nd day of December as first Commodore of the Continental Navy, was previously an Artillery General in the Rhode Island Militia, a ship owner, and brother of Stephen Hopkins who was a member of the Maritime Committee of the Continental Congress. A couple of months before, General Hopkins, or the Rhode Island Governor, had declined to provide some artillery cannon to Washington's agent for the outfitting of the first ships of the Continental Navy commissioned by Washington.

There is some indication that Washington did not have the highest regard for Commodore Hopkins, and as the article indicates, Hopkins was later relieved of his command by the Continental Congress.

There is a letter at University of Virginia George Washington Papers project from Commander-in-Chief Washington to Commodore Hopkins asking him to return the 200 soldiers that Washington lent to Hopkins to man the ships under his command. Very likely many of the men were soldiers from Colonel John Glover's "Marblehead Men", the 14th Continental Regiment of sailors from Marblehead, Massachusetts who enlisted in the Continental Army. Those Marblehead Men, sailors become soldiers, were the men who manned the boats for the "miracle" evacuation of the American Army at Brooklyn Heights on 29-30 August a.d. 1776, and handled the boats crossing the Delaware on the Christmas night Raid on Trenton also in a.d. 1776 that kept the Light of Liberty alive! -- and the true first Navy flag was the evergreen Tree of Liberty that flew on ships that sailed from ports near the homes of these Marblehead Men!


Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy

On Friday, December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy, naming Esek Hopkins, Esq., as commander in chief of the fleet.

Congress also named four captains to the new service: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burrows Hopkins. Their respective vessels, the Alfred, Columbus, Andrew Doria and Cabot, became the first ships of the Navy's fleet. Five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants, and three third lieutenants also received their commissions.

The new Admiral Hopkins, as he was dubbed by George Washington, was a Rhode Islander of some standing. His brother was Stephen Hopkins, the state's governor. Esek Hopkins had married well and used his wife's fortune to buy a ship. It proved a wise investment. He added to his wealth working as a privateer during the Seven Years' War. In his new position, Congress promised to pay him "125 dollars per calendar month"; they also informed that he could look forward to some "share of the prizes allotted to the captors." Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina designed Hopkins' personal standard, which flew from the first navy fleet. The yellow flag bore the image of a coiled snake and the Patriot motto, "Don't Tread on Me."

Hopkins' first assignment was to assess the feasibility of an attack on British naval forces in the Chesapeake Bay. After sailing south with his meager force of eight ships, Hopkins decided that victory in such an encounter was impossible. He sailed to the Bahamas instead, where he attacked the British port of Nassau, a decision for which he was relieved of his command upon returning to the continent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

True Tree, simple shape, (snake still fake!)

Back on 2 September this year, I sent an email to Peter Ansoff, president or past president of NAVA - North American Vexillogical Association - the association of flag experts to "celebrate" the anniversary of the First Navy Flag flying on the "Hannah", the first Navy ship commissioned during the War for Independence.

Expert that he is, Mr. Ansoff suggested that probably the "Hannah" and others of the seven Washington Cruisers (Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Lee, Lynch, Warren, and Washington) did not fly the Tree flag until after the aide to the Commander in Chief of all Continental Forces -- that means the Army AND the Navy -- Colonel Joseph Reed, sent his famous letter of 20 October a.d. 1775 describing the design for the flag to fly on the first Navy ships. Otherwise, why would Colonel Reed have written his letter? Makes good sense.

Washington's aide Colonel Reed wrote: "What do you think of a Flag with a white Ground, a tree in the middle, the motto (Appeal to Heaven.)"

See the Colonel Reed letter to Colonel Glover at the Library of Congress Digital Archives:

That Tree flag suggested by Colonel Reed on 20 October a.d 1775 came shortly after the Loyalists in Boston in mid-August cut down the Liberty Tree where where Sons of Liberty would rally, so this first Navy flag, with its motto "Appeal to Heaven" served as a defiant Liberty Tree flag. With the motto, it is a different flag and before the "Pine Tree Flag" of the Massachusetts Navy the state legislature voted on in a.d. 1776, yet carries on the American tradition of over a century of a tree representing "sturdy manhood".

(See the 19 November entry on this blog for the profound patriotic meaning from a Resolution passed by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts.)

The Cruisers commissioned by Commander in Chief Washington with the blessing of the Continental Congress, and named for many of its leaders, were part of the necessary strategy of encirclement, or seige, with interdiction of supply ships heading for the British in the port town of Boston. Those continuing raids on supply ships, combined with the cannons from Ticonderoga placed atop Dorchester Heights where they could fire on the British positions, and the outbreak of smallpox, combined to force the British to evacuate Boston in March a.d. 1776, a "victory" for the combined Continental forces of Washington's Army and Navy.

[Contrary to current Navy claims, the first Navy Jack was NOT the Urban Legend, Historical Myth, "fake snake" flag showing a snake on its belly about to be trampled crawling upon over the Sons of Liberty flag of red and white stripes, with the plaintive plea (Please...) "Don't Tread on Me!".]

Despite efforts of Naval Historian Admiral George Henry Preble (1816-1885) from 1872 to 1880, and the efforts of Naval Historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976) to discredit the Snake Over Stripes Navy Jack flag as valid, this reporter was told by employees of the Naval Historical Center that in the mid-1970s some Navy staff officers in the Pentagon saw a color picture of the fake snake flag in a Webster's Dictionary, with every good intent saw it as a dynamic and defiant image, and so ordered thousands and thousands from flag manufacturers to serve as the Navy's symbol for Bicentennial celebrations beginning in a.d. 1975. Thereby, this "urban legend" fake snake flag gained new life. While dynamic, the fake snake image is deceptive and so totally wrong to be flying on our Navy ships.

Only AFTER the flags were ordered, did the Navy staff officers in the Pentagon ask the Naval Historical Center historians at the Washington Navy Yard about the history of the flag. Even then the veracity, or truth, of the fake snake Navy flag was in considerable doubt, yet in 2004, the article in the flag journal Raven by flag expert Peter Ansoff raises the doubt level of the fake snake "first Navy Jack" flag to near 100 per cent. In a.d. 1975, or even in a.d. 2001 when use of the fake Snake flag was resumed for the Global War on Terrorism, it might have been reasonable to consider the fake snake flag may have been legitimate, but after a.d. 2004, there is no longer any good scholarship to sustain the continuing error of the United States Navy.

And yet, sadly, despite the truth now being known in the Navy Pentagon offices, that fake snake false flag still flies on the bows of America's proud Navy ships. So, it is time for We the People to ask our elected servants to direct the Navy serve the Truth, and remove the Fake Snake false "first Navy Jack" flag from our ships, and either replace it with the former blue field of stars canton of the United States "Stars and Stripes" flag, or replace it with the true First Navy Flag, also known as the Washington Cruisers flag, the evergreen Tree of Liberty flag, where Thomas Paine, author of "Common Sense", named Washington "the World's Apostle of Liberty", so how much more fitting would it be on this 208th Anniversary of the Burial of George Washington (18 December) that the Tree of Liberty flag of America's Washington begin to be requested to fly on our ships all around the world?

Yet Washington's Aide Colonel Reed did not describe the shape of the tree.

Below are a few of the shapes of the "tree" by others interpretations that I have found here, hither and yon.

Given that variety, I also asked flag expert Peter Ansoff what did he believe was the shape of the tree described by Colonel Reed's letter. Mr. Ansoff suggested a simple triangle based on the Southhold flag, believed to be the only existing flag of the period with a tree in its design. Mr. Ansoff referred me to the Flag Bulletin #206...

In late October, I called Dr. Whitney Smith of the Flag Research Center in Worchester, Massachusetts, paid to join his worthy flag educational Center, ordered a copy of Flag Bulletin #206 that I received in the mail along with some others a couple of weeks later.
Visit that educational site at:

Even here on the front cover, is yet another shape of the undefined shape of the "Tree" described by Reed.

And the centerfold of The Flag Bulletin has another shape for the evergreen tree...

Yet the black and white photograph in the article of the one existing "tree" flag from the period shows a much more simple shape, a simple triangle to represent the tree.

From that photograph of an original "tree" flag, an artist did a "reconstruction" drawing of the "tree" flag from Southhold, on Long Island, in New York. That is shown below.

Based on the photograph and the reconstructed drawing of the "tree" flag of Southhold, New York, I have become pretty well convinced that all the elaborate many branches tree designs are not realistic.

Consider. You are a flag maker 222 years ago. You have to hand-stitch the "tree" onto the flag. A simple triangle is VERY MUCH MORE easy to stitch on the flag than these other designs of people like me working on a computer screen.

A simple triangle shaped tree would take less time, less thread, and be far more likely to withstand the stress of the flag flapping in the winds.

So my "VOTE" for the final design of:
the First Navy Flag,
the Liberty Tree Flag, or also known as
the Washington Cruisers Flag is the simple triangle tree.

How about you? Please CLICK on the comments word below to VOTE and COMMENT...

And... Merry Christmas!

Reed was the first to identify problems with Benedict Arnold when while recuperating from war wounds Arnold was assigned as the military commandant of Philadelphia, while Reed was both President of Pennsylvania, and a member of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. "With people in Congress eyeing everything he did, he was soon brought up on charges and was court-martialed. He defended himself, furiously as always, but he was found guilty on two charges: using government wagons for his personal use and issuing a pass to a ship he later invested in. Washington, himself pronounced the charges "imprudent and improper" and "peculiarly reprehensible."

This was the beginning of the end of the good days of General Arnold, once a Son of Liberty, now a "Snake in the Grass", akin to the Fake Snake Flag, a Snake crawling over the Sons of Liberty flag. Read more on the Benedict Arnold court-martial in Philadelphia BEFORE the Benedict Arnold treason at West Point:

CLICK to read this ONE PAGE SUMMARY of a 52 page article by Peter Ansoff in Raven, the flag expert journal on why the "Don't Tread On Me" so-called Navy Jack is truly a "Fake Snake" flag.