Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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January 7th
Israel Putnam
Connecticut Patriot Israel Putnam, born January 7, 1718, was a successful farmer and tavern keeper at the outset of the Revolutionary War. He had already seen more than his share of fighting. During the French and Indian War, he had been captured by Indians and would have been burned alive if a French officer had not intervened at the last minute. He took part in campaigns against Fort Ticonderoga and Montreal, and in 1762 survived a shipwreck off Cuba during a mission against Havana.

On April 20, 1775, Putnam and his son Daniel were plowing in a field in Brooklyn, Connecticut, when a messenger galloped into the village with news that the British had fired on the American militia at Lexington, Massachusetts. At once Putnam mounted a horse to spread the alarm in neighboring towns and consult with local leaders. Then came news of fighting at Concord, and a call for “every man who is fit and willing” to come to their countrymen’s aid.

Without stopping to rest or even change the checkered farmer’s frock he’d been wearing when he left his plow, Putnam rode through the night to Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston, to join colonial soldiers there. By the time he reached his destination, he’d ridden 100 miles in 18 hours.

Two months later, Putnam commanded troops at Bunker’s Hill (Breed’s Hill), where he reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” Like the ancient Roman Cincinnatus, who also left his plow standing in a field when called to duty, Putnam never hesitated when his country needed him.

A monument to Israel Putnam at Brooklyn, Connecticut, reads: “Patriot, remember the heritages received from your forefathers and predecessors. Protect and perpetuate them for future generations of your countrymen.”

American History Parade
1718
Israel Putnam, American patriot, is born in Salem Village, Massachusetts.

1782
The Bank of North America, the first U.S. commercial bank, opens in Philadelphia.

1789
The first presidential election is held as Americans vote for electors who, a month later, choose George Washington as the nation’s first president.

1800
Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth U.S. president, is born in Locke, New York.

1927
Commercial transatlantic telephone service between New York and London is inaugurated.

1999
President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice (he is later acquitted).
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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