Saturday august 18, 1787 - History

Saturday august 18, 1787 - History

In Convention, -- Mr. MADISON submitted, in order to be referred to the Committee on Detail, the following powers, as proper to be added to those of the General Legislature:

" To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United States.

"To institute temporary governments for new States arising therein.

" To regulate affairs with the Indians, as well within as without the limits of the United States.

" To exercise exclusively legislative authority at the seat of the General Government, and over a district around the same not exceeding-- square miles; the consent of the Legislature of the State or States, comprising the same, being first obtained.

" To grant charters of corporations in cases where the public good may require them, and the authority of a single State may be incompetent.

" To secure to literary authors their copy-rights for a limited time.

" To establish a university.

" To encourage by premiums and provisions the advancementtofuseful knowledge and discoveries.

" To authorize the Executive to procure, and hold for the use of the United States, landed property for the erection of forts, magazines, and other necessary buildings."

These propositions were referred to the Committee of Detail which had prepared the Report; and at the same time the following, which were moved by Mr. PINCKNEY— in both cases unanimously:

"To fix and permanently establish the seat of government of the United States, in which they shall possess the exclusive right of soil and jurisdiction.

" To establish seminaries for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences.

" To grant charters of incorporation.

" To grant patents for useful inventions.

" To secure to authors exclusive rights for a certain time.

"To estahlish public institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, trades, and manufactures.

" That funds which shall be appropriated for the payment of public creditors, shall not during the time of such appropriation, be diverted or applied to any other purpose, and that the Committee prepare a clause or clauses for restraining the Legislature of the United States from establishing a perpetual revenue.

" To secure the payment of the public debt.

"To secure al1 creditors under the new Constitution from a violation of the public faith when pledged by the authority of the Legislature.

" To grant letters of marque and reprisal." The assomption would be just, as the State debts were oontracted in the common defence. It was necessary, as the taxes on imports, the only sure source of revenue, were to be given up, to the Union. It was politic, as by disburthening the people of the State debts, it would conciliate them to the plan.

Mr. KING and Mr. PINCKNEY seconded the motion.

Col. MASON interposed a motion, that the Committee prepare a clause for restraining perpetual revenue, which was agreed to, nem. con.

MB, SHERMAN thought it would be better to authorize the Legislature to assume the State debts, than to say positively it should be done. He considered the measure as just, and that it would have a good effect to say something about the matter.

Mr. ELLSWORTH differed from Mr. SHERMAN. As far as the State debts ought in equity to be assumed, he conceived that they might and would be so.

Mr. PINCKNEY observed that a great part of the State debts were of such a nature that, although in point of policy and true equity they ought to be, yet would they not be, viewed in the light of Federal expenditures.

Mr. KING thought the matter of more consequence than Mr. ELLSWOBTH seemed to do; and that it was well worthy of commitment. Besides the considerations of justice and policy which had been mentioned, it might be remarked, that the State creditors, an active and formidable party, would otherwise be opposed to a plan which transferred to the Union the best resources of the States, without transferring the State debts at the same time. The State creditors bad generally been the strongest foes to the impost plan. The State debts probably were of greater amount, than the Federal. He would not say that it was practicable to consolidate the debts, but he thought it would be prudent to have the subject considered by a Committee.

On Mr. RUTLEDGE'S motion, that a committee be appointed to consider of the assumption, &o., it was agreed to, —Massachusetts, Connectiout, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—6; New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, no—4; Pennsylvania, divided.

Mr. GERRY'S mbtion to provide for public securities, for stages on post roads, and for letters of marque and reprisal, was committed, nem. con.

Mr. KING suggested that all unlocated lands of particular States ought to be given up if State debts were to be assumed. Mr. WILLIAMSON concurred in the idea.

A Grand Committee was appointed consisting of Mr. LANODON, Mr. KING, Mr. SHERMAN, Mr. LIVINGSTON, Mr. CLYMER, Mr. DICKINSON, Mr. McHENRY, Mr, MASON, Mr. WIlLIAMSON, Mr. C. PINCKNEY, and Mr. BALDWIN.

Mr. RUTLEDGE remarked on the length of the session, the probable impatience of the public, and the extreme anxiety of many members of the Convention to bring the business to an end; concluding with a motion that the Convention meet henceforward, precisely at ten o'clock, A. M. ; and that, precisely at four o'clock, P. M., the President adjourn the House without motion for the purpose; and that no motion to adjourn sooner be allowed.

On this question—New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—9; Pennsylvania, Maryland, no—2.

Mr. ELLSWORTH observed that a Counci1 had not yet been provided for the President. He conceived there ought to be one. His proposition was, that it should be ¢omposed of the President of the Senate, the Chief Justice, and the Ministers i as they might be established for the departments of foreign and domestic affairs, war, finance and marine; who should advise but not conclude the President.

Mr. PINCKNEY wished the proposition to lie over, - as notice had been given for a like purpose by Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS, who was not then on the floor. His own ides was, that the President should be authorized to call for advice, or not, as he might choose. Give him an able Council, and it will thwart him; a weak one, and he will shelter himself under their sanction

Mr. GERRY was against letting the heads of the Departments, particularly of finance, have any thing to do in business connected with legislation. He mentioned the Chief Justice also, as particularly exceptionable. These men will also be so taken up with other matters, as to neglecet their own proper duties.

Mr. DICKINSON urged that the great appointments should be made by the Legislature, in which case they might properly be consulted by the Executive, but not if made by the Executive himself.

This subject by general consent lay over; and the Eouse proceeded to the clause, " to raise. armies."

Mr. GORHAM moved to add, " and support," after " raise." Agreed to, nem. con. ; and then the clause was agreed to, nem. con., as amended.

Mr. GERRY took notice that there was no check here against standing armies in time of peace. The existing Congress is so constructed that it cannot of itself maintain an army. This would not be the case under the new system. The people were jealous on this head, and great opposition to the plan would spring from such an omission. He suspected that preparations of force were now making against it. [He seemed to allude to the activity of the Governor of New York at this crisis in disciplining the militia of that State. ] He thought an army dangerous in time of peace, and could never consent to a power to keep up an indefinite number. He proposed that there should not be kept up in time of peace more than thousand troops. His idea was, that the blank should be filled with two or three thousand.

Instead of " to build and equip fleets," " to provide and maintain a Navy," was agreed to, nem. con., as a more convenient definition of the power.

A clause, " to make rules for the governmeut and regulation of the land and naval forces," was added from the existing Articles of C1onfederation.

Mr. L. MARTIN and Mr. GERRY now regularly moved, " provided that in time of peace the army shall not consist of more than thousand men."

General PINCKNEY asked, whether no troops were ever to be raised until an attack should be made on us ?

Mr. GERRY. If there be no restriction, a few States may establish a military government.

Mr. WILLIAMSON reminded him of Mr. MASON'S motion for limiting the appropriation of revenue as the best guard in this case.

Mr. LANGDON saw no room for Mr. GERRY'S distrust of the representatives of the people.

Mr. DAYTON. Preparations for war are generally made in time of peace; and a standing force of some sort may, for ought we know, become unavoidable. He should object to no restrictions consistent with these ideas.

The motion of Mr. GERRY was disagreed to, nem. MASON moved, as an additional power, "to make laws for the regulation and discipline of the militia of the several States, reserving to the States the appointment of the officers." He considered uniformity as necessary in the regulation of the militia, throughout the Union.

General PINCKNEY mentioned a case, during the war, in which a dissimilarity in the militia of different States had produced the most serious mischiefs. Uniformity was essential. The States would never keep up a proper discipline of the militia.

Mr. ELLSWORTH was for going as far, in submitting the militia to the General Government, as might be necessary; but thought the motion of Mr. MASON went too far. He moved, "that the militia should have the same arms and exercise, and be under rules established by the General Goverment when in actual service of the United States; and when States neglect to provide regulations for militia, it should be regulated and established by the Legislature of the United States." The whole authority over the militir ought by no means to be taken away from the States, whose consequence would pine away to nothing after such a sacrifice of power. He thought the general authority could not sufficiently pervade the Union for such a purpose, nor could it accommodate itself to the local genius of the people. It must be vain to ask the States to give the militia out of their hands.

Mr. SHERMAN seconds the motion.

Mr. DICKINSON. We are come now to a most important matter—that of the sword. His opinion was, that the States never would, nor ought to, give up all authority over the militia. He proposed to restrain the general power to one-fourth part at a time, which by rotation would discipline the whole militia.

Mr. BUTLER urged the necessity of submitting the whole militia to the general authority, which had the care of the general defence.

Mr. MASON had suggested the idea of a select militia. He was led to think that would be, in fact, as much as the General Government could advantageously be charged with. He was afraid of creating insuperable objections to the plan. He withdrew his original motion, nnd moved a power to make laws for regulating and disciplining the militia, not exceeding one-tenth part in any one year, and reserving the appointment of officers to the States.

General PINCKNEY renewed Mr. MASON'S original motion. For a part to be under the General and a part under the State Governments, would be an incurable evil. He saw no room for such distrust of the General Government.

Mr. LANGDON seconds General PINCKNEY'S renewal. He saw no more reason to be afraid of the General Government, than of the State Governments. He was more apprehensive of the confusion of the different authorities on this subject, than of either.

Mr. MADISON thought the regulation of the militia naturally appertaining to the authority charged with the public defence. It did not seem, in its nature, to be divisible between two distinct authorities. If the States would trust the General Government with a power over the public treasury, they would, from the same consideration of neces- sity, grant it the direction of the public force. Those who had a full view of the public situation, would, from a sense of the danger, guard against it. The States would not be separately impressed with the general situation, nor have the due confidence in the concurrent exertions of each other.

Mr. ELLSWORTH considered the idea of a select militia as impracticable; and if it were not, it would be followed by ruinous declension of the great body of the militia. The States would never submit to the same militia laws. Three or four shillings as a penalty will enforce obedience better in New England, than forty lashes in some other places.

Mr. PINCKNEY thought the power such an one as could not be abused, and that the States would see the necessity of surrendering it. He had, however, but a scanty faith in militia. There must be also a real military force. This alone can effectually answer the purpose. The United States had been making an experiment without it, and we see the consequence in their rapid approaches toward anarchy.

Mr. SHERMAN took notice that the States might want their militia for defence against invasions and insurrections, and for enforcing obedience to their laws. They will not give up this point. In giving up that of taxation, they retain a concurrent power of raising money for their own use.

Mr. GERRY thought this the last point remaining to be surrendered. If it be agreed to by the Convention, the plan will have as black a mark as was set on Cain. He had no such confidence in the General Government as some gentlemen possessed, and believed it would be found that the States have not.

Col. MASON thought there was great weight in the remarks of Mr. SHERMAN, and moved an exception to his motion, " of such part of the militia as might be required by the States for their own use."

Mr. READ doubted the propriety of leaving the appointment of the militia officers to the States. In some States, they are elected by the Legislatures; in others, by the people themselves. He thought at least an appointment by the State Executives ought to be insisted on.

On the question for committing to the Grand Committee last appointed, the latter motion of Col. MASON, and the original one revived by General PINCKNEY, —

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—8; Connecticut, New Jersey, no—2; Maryland, divided.

Adjourned.


Saturday august 18, 1787 - History

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Two versions of the Preamble to the Constitution, 1787

On May 25, 1787, the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention began meeting in a room, no bigger than a large schoolroom, in Philadelphia’s State House. They posted sentries at the doors and windows to keep their “secrets from flying out.” They barred the press and public, and took a vow not to reveal to anyone the words spoken there. There were speeches of two, three, and four hours. The convention, which lasted four months, took only a single eleven-day break.

First draft of the United States Constitution, with notes by Pierce Butler, August 6, 1787

This copy of the draft of the Constitution was printed secretly for the delegates in August 1787. In order to make it easier for them to take notes it was printed with wide margins. Delegate Pierce Butler, one of the wealthiest slaveholders from South Carolina, owned and marked up this copy.

A full transcript of Butler's copy of the first draft is available.

First printing of the official United States Constitution, for members of the Constitutional Convention, inscribed by Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, September 17, 1787

The first official printed version of the Constitution was distributed to the delegates, among whom Benjamin Franklin, aged 81, was the senior member.

The preamble of the working draft and the final version differ significantly. In the August 6 preamble, delegates described themselves as representatives of “the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island,” etc. The final version, beginning “We the People of the United States,” shows that in the six weeks between the writing of the draft and of the final version, the idea of a united nation had been born. A single nation with a unified government had replaced an earlier vision of a confederation of states.


Saint Evan of Ayreshire

+ Evan (who is also known as Inan) was born in the 9 th century in Scotland. Few details of his life have come down to us.

+ Evan lived as a hermit near Beith, Scotland.

+ According to local traditions, Evan would preach to the people from a cleft in the rocks near Lochlands Hills, which is still known as “Saint Inan’s pulpit.”

+ Several wells and churches are named for him, including one, now dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, that is believed to have been build on the site of his hermit’s cell.

+ After traveling as a pilgrim to Rome and Jerusalem, Saint Evan settled in Irvine, Scotland, where he died. Modern scholars think that Evan/Inan could be the same person as the famed Scottish saint Ninian.

“ Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”—Matthew 16:24

O God, who in your Saints have given an example and brought us protection in our weakness to help us tread the path of salvation, mercifully grant that we, who honor the heavenly birthday of blessed Evan, may, through his example, make our way to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For One Saint)


Tv Lectures in History Constitutional Convention of 1787 CSPAN August 30, 2020 12:00am-1:01am EDT

Professor Jack Rakove talked about some of the issues debated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, such as the number of representatives for each state and the method of presidential elections. He described the arguments put forth by James Madison and how delegates tried to reach compromises despite competing state interests. This class was from a course called "The Constitution: A Brief History."

Sponsor: Stanford University | History Department

TOPIC FREQUENCY Washington 9, Us 6, Philadelphia 6, Maryland 5, Hamilton 5, Rakove 5, New York 4, Pennsylvania 4, Virginia 4, Sherman 4, Martha Griffiths 4, Continental 3, Jefferson 3, Patterson 3, Marbury 3, Massachusetts 3, Mcculloch 3, Wyoming 3, Michigan 3, Idaho 3


Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Mr. GERRY. This is the critical question. He had rather agree to it than have no accommodation. A Government short of a proper national plan, if generally acceptable, would be preferable to a proper one which, if it could be carried at all, would operate on discontented States. He thought it would be best to suspend this question till the Committee appointed yesterday should make report.

Mr. SHERMAN supposed that it was the wish of every one that some General Government should be established. An equal vote in the second branch would, he thought, be most likely to give it the necessary vigor. The small States have more vigor in their Governments than the large ones the more influence therefore the large ones have, the weaker will be the Government. In the large States it will be most difficult to collect the real and fair sense of the people. Fallacy and undue influence will be practised with the most success and improper men will most easily get into office. If they vote by States in the second branch, and each State has an equal vote, there must be always a majority of States, as well as a majority of the people, on the side of public measures, and the Government will have decision and efficacy. If this be not the case in the second branch, there may be a majority of States against public measures and the difficulty of compelling them to abide by the public determination will render the Government feebler than it has ever yet been.

Mr. WILSON was not deficient in a conciliating temper, but firmness was sometimes a duty of higher obligation. Conciliation was also misapplied in this instance. It was pursued here rather among the representatives, than among the constituents and it would be of little consequence if not established among the latter and there could be little hope of its being established among them, if the foundation should not be laid in justice and right.

On the question, Shall the words stand as part of the Report? — Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, aye — 6 Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, no — 3 Massachusetts, Georgia, divided. 1

Mr. GERRY thought it would be proper to proceed to enumerate and define the powers to be vested in the General Government, before a question on the Report should be taken as to the rule of representation in the second branch.

Mr. MADISON observed, that it would be impossible to say what powers could be safely and properly vested in the Government, before it was known in what manner the States were to be represented in it. He was apprehensive that if a just representation were not the basis of the Government it would happen, as it did when the Articles of Confederation were depending, that every effectual prerogative would be withdrawn or withheld, and the new Government would be rendered as impotent and as short-lived as the old.

Mr. PATTERSON would not decide whether the privilege concerning money bills were a valuable consideration or not but he considered the mode and rule of representation in the first branch as fully so and that after the establishment of that point, the small States would never be able to defend themselves without an equality of votes in the second branch. There was no other ground of accommodation. His resolution was fixed. He would meet the large States on that ground, and no other. For himself, he should vote against the Report, because it yielded too much.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. He had no resolution unalterably fixed except to do what should finally appear to him right. He was against the Report because it maintained the improper constitution of the second branch. It made it another Congress, a mere whisp of straw. It had been said (by Mr. GERRY), that the new Government would be partly national, partly federal that it ought in the first quality to protect individuals in the second, the States. But in what quality was it to protect the aggregate interest of the whole? Among the many provisions which had been urged, he had seen none for supporting the dignity and splendor of the American Empire. It had been one of our greatest misfortunes that the great objects of the nation had been sacrificed constantly to local views in like manner as the general interest of States had been sacrificed to those of the counties. What is to be the check in the Senate? None unless it be to keep the majority of the people from injuring particular States. But particular States ought to be injured for the sake of a majority of the people, in case their conduct should deserve it. Suppose they should insist on claims evidently unjust, and pursue them in a manner detrimental to the whole body: suppose they should give themselves up to foreign influence: Ought they to be protected in such cases? They were originally nothing more than colonial corporations. On the Declaration of Independence, a Government was to be formed. The small States aware of the necessity of preventing anarchy, and taking advantage of the moment, extorted from the large ones an equality of votes. Standing now on that ground, they demand, under the new system, greater rights, as men, than their fellow-citizens of the large States. The proper answer to them is, that the same necessity of which they formerly took advantage does not now exist and that the large States are at liberty now to consider what is right, rather than what may be expedient. We must have an efficient Government, and if there be an efficiency in the local Governments, the former is impossible. Germany alone proves it. Notwithstanding their common Diet, notwithstanding the great prerogatives of the Emperor, as head of the Empire, and his vast resources, as sovereign of his particular dominions, no union is maintained foreign influence disturbs every internal operation, and there is no energy whatever in the general government. Whence does this proceed? From the energy of the local authorities from its being considered of more consequence to support the Prince of Hesse, than the happiness of the people of Germany. Do gentlemen wish this to be the case here? Good God, Sir, is it possible they can so delude themselves? What — if all the Charters and Constitutions of the States were thrown into the fire, and all their demagogues into the ocean — what would it be to the happiness of America? And will not this be the case here, if we pursue the train in which the business lies? We shall establish an Aulic Council without an Emperor to execute its decrees. The same circumstances which unite the people here, unite them in Germany. They have there a common language, a common law, common usages and manners, and a common interest in being united yet their local jurisdictions destroy every tie. The case was the same in the Grecian states. The United Netherlands are at this time torn in factions. With these examples before our eyes, shall we form establishments which must necessarily produce the same effects? It is of no consequence from what districts the second branch shall be drawn, if it be so constituted as to yield an asylum against these evils. As it is now constituted, he must be against its being drawn from the States in equal portions but shall be ready to join in devising such an amendment of the plan, as will be most likely to secure our liberty and happiness.

Mr. SHERMAN and Mr. ELLSWORTH moved to postpone the question on the Report from the Committee of a member from each State, in order to wait for the Report from the Committee of five last appointed, — Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, aye — 6 New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no — 5.

1 Several votes were given here in the affirmative, or were divided, because another final question was to be taken on the whole Report. Return to text


Letters Home

James Madison
Catherine A. Drinker, after Gilbert Stuart, 1875

Independence National Historical Park

" It is not possible yet to determine the period to which the Session will be spun out. It must be some weeks from this date at least and possibly may be computed by months. Eleven States are on the ground, and have generally been so, since the second or third week of the Session. Rhode Island is one of the absent States. She has never yet appointed deputies. N.H. till of late was the other. That State is now represented. But just before the arrival of her deputies, those of N. York left us. We have till within a few days had very cool weather. It is now pleasant, after a fine rain."

- James Madison to his father

The Convention was enjoying its customary Sunday recess.

In the week since its twelve day recess, the Convention had received, studied and worked on the draft constitution prepared by the Committee of Detail and had blocked an effort to refer the draft to a Committee of the Whole.

Agreement had been reached upon the preamble, and on a government of supreme legislative, executive and judicial power.

The delegates had also gone almost all the way through the Articles pertaining to the composition, election, and privileges of the legislature.

While much remained to be done, the more optimistic members were planning on a mid-September end.


Contents

Swiftsure was ordered from the yards of John & William Wells, Deptford on 19 June 1782, as an Elizabeth class ship of the line. She was laid down in May 1784 and launched on 4 April 1787. [2] She was initially commissioned on 22 May 1787 at Deptford, and recommissioned at Woolwich on 21 August 1787. [3] She had cost £31,241.3.5 to build, with a further £10,643 spent on fitting her out. She was coppered at Woolwich for a further £1,635. [3]

She was commissioned for service under her first captain, Sir James Wallace in June 1790. [3] She sailed to Plymouth where in August she underwent another refit, for £6,456, to prepare her for service in the English Channel. After her initial period of service she was paid off in September 1791, and underwent a more significant refit for the sum of £11,413, followed by further work being carried out the next year. [3] She returned to service and was recommissioned under Captain Charles Boyles in July 1793. Swiftsure served as the flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Kingsmill, and operated on the Irish Station during 1794. [3]

At the action of 7 May 1794 Swiftsure captured the 36-gun French frigate Atalante, after a chase of 39 hours. Atalante was armed with 38 guns and had a crew of 274 men under the command of M. Charles Linois. In the action, Atalante had 10 killed and 32 wounded British casualties were one man killed by a random shot. [4] Swiftsure then returned to Plymouth to carry out repairs. The Royal Navy took Atalante into service as HMS Espion.

Swiftsure left Britain for Jamaica on 14 May 1795. [3] In December 1795 Swiftsure passed under the command of Captain Robert Parker, under whom she returned to Britain. She was refitted at Portsmouth the following year, before commissioning in October 1796 under Captain Arthur Phillips. [3] He was succeeded in September 1797 by Captain John Irwin, but the following month Captain Benjamin Hallowell took command. [3]

Battle of the Nile Edit

Hallowell was still in command of Swiftsure in 1798, when he was ordered to join Horatio Nelson's squadron, watching the French fleet at Toulon. After the French escaped and captured Malta in June, and invaded Egypt in July, Nelson and his fleet pursued them, eventually locating them anchored in Aboukir Bay on 1 August. [5] Swiftsure was not initially with the fleet, having been ordered by Nelson to reconnoitre Alexandria, before the French had been discovered. He arrived on the scene after dark and moved into the bay to attack. [5] The darkness and the smoke made it difficult to tell which ship was British and which was French, so Hallowell decided to hold fire until he had anchored and prepared his ship. As he moved closer, a darkened ship was spotted standing out of the action. Hallowell determined her to be French, but decided to hold to his original plan and passed her by. The ship was in fact HMS Bellerophon, which had gone up against the much larger 110-gun French first rate Orient earlier in the battle, until being dismasted and forced to drift out of the action. [5]

Hallowell took Swiftsure in, eventually anchoring across the stern of Franklin and the bow of Orient, and proceeded to open fire on them. [5] After an hour of exchanging shots, a fire was observed in the cabin of Orient. Hallowell ordered his men to concentrate their fire on this area, while HMS Alexander came along the opposite side and did the same. [5] The French began to abandon ship as the fire spread, and a number were brought aboard the British ships, Swiftsure taking on Orient′s first lieutenant and ten men. [5] Seeing that the fire was now out of control, Swiftsure and the other British ships moved away from the area, but when Orient exploded at 10pm, Swiftsure was still near enough to be struck by debris. [5]

After the destruction of the Orient, Swiftsure, in company with HMS Defence, continued to exchange fire with the Franklin, until she surrendered. [5] Swiftsure then moved on to engage the Tonnant, eventually helping to drive her ashore. Swiftsure had seven killed and 22 wounded during the battle. [5] Hallowell received a Gold Medal for his role in the battle, and Swiftsure′s first lieutenant, Thomas Cowan, was promoted to commander. [5] After the battle Hallowell and Swiftsure took over Aboukir island on 8 August, destroying several enemy guns, and carrying the rest away. Two days later, on 10 August, Swiftsure came across and captured the 16-gun corvette Fortune. [5]

Egyptian and Italian coasts Edit

Swiftsure initially remained off Egypt as part of Samuel Hood's squadron, before departing on 14 February 1799 to join Nelson, then at Palermo. She then joined Thomas Troubridge's squadron and sailed for Naples on 31 March. [5] They arrived on 2 April, and Hallowell landed at Procida to restore monarchist rule. The squadron then cruised off the Italian coast, and supported land based operations, helping to reduce several fortresses. On 7 August Swiftsure was dispatched to Civitavecchia to carry Hallowell to negotiate the surrender of the French garrison. [5] Before the negotiations were complete the Swiftsure was ordered to Gibraltar, and from there to Lisbon, arriving there on 30 November. She cruised off the area with the British squadron, capturing two merchant vessels on 6 December. [5]

Whilst at sea in February 1800, Swiftsure was caught in a gale and badly damaged, having to return to Gibraltar for repairs. [5] On returning to service with the squadron, an enemy fleet was seen on 7 April, having sailed from Cadiz bound for Lima. Two frigates and a number of merchantmen were subsequently captured. Swiftsure followed up this success on 12 April by capturing a Spanish schooner. She then became Sir Richard Bickerton's flagship during the blockade of Cadiz, before being assigned to the fleet under Lord Keith. [5] Keith's fleet covered the landings at Aboukir on 8 March 1801, where Swiftsure′s naval brigade helped to repulse French counter-attacks. Because several of her men were wounded and others sick, Keith removed 80 of Swiftsure ' s best men and then sent her to Malta as a convoy escort. [5]

On 8 January 1801 Penelope captured the French bombard St. Roche, which was carrying wine, liqueurs, ironware, Delfth cloth, and various other merchandise, from Marseilles to Alexandria. Swiftsure, Tigre, Minotaur, Northumberland, Florentina, and the schooner Malta, were in sight and shared in the proceeds of the capture. [6]

Swiftsure's service in the Royal Navy's Egyptian campaign (8 March to 2 September 1801), qualified her officers and crew for the clasp "Egypt" to the Naval General Service Medal that the Admiralty authorized in 1850 to all surviving claimants. [Note 1]

Capture Edit

On 10 June 1801 Hallowell encountered Pigmy and from her learned that a French squadron under Admiral Ganteaume had put to sea. [8] Hallowell decided to return to reinforce Sir John Warren's squadron, but on 24 June Swiftsure encountered Ganteaume. The faster French squadron, consisting of four ships of the line and a frigate, overtook the already damaged and slow, as well as undermanned, Swiftsure. Indivisible and Dix-Août succeeded in shooting away Swiftsure ' s yards and masts, crippling her and so forcing Hallowell to surrender. [8] Swiftsure had two men killed, two men mortally wounded, and another six wounded the French lost 33 killed and wounded. [8]

On his repatriation, Hallowell received the court-martial that was automatic for a Royal Navy captain who had lost his ship, but was honourably acquitted. [5] Meanwhile, the French Navy took Swiftsure into service under her own name. [9]

In November 1802, after General de Rochambeau replaced Charles Leclerc as governor of Saint-Domingue, Rochambeau started executing blacks by drowning he had the entire garrison of Fort Dauphin transferred to Swiftsure and thrown overboard by her crew. [10] Rochambeau then ordered all French ships to carry out similar executions. Only Willaumez, who was in command of the naval forces, refused, stating that "The officers of the French Navy are not executioners. I will not obey." [10] [11] [Note 2]

Battle of Trafalgar Edit

She only spent four years with the French, before forming part of Vice-Admiral Villeneuve's fleet at Cadiz, under her captain, Charles-Eusebe l'Hôpitalier-Villemadrin. On 21 October 1805 she sailed out with the combined Franco-Spanish fleets to engage in the Battle of Trafalgar. During the battle she formed part of the rear of the line, astern of Aigle and ahead of Argonaute. [12] She was fired upon by HMS Colossus, and after an exchange of fire, lost her main topmast and had her guns silenced. She began to drift away, while Colossus opened fire on Bahama. [13] Swiftsure ' s crew regained control, and returned to fire on Colossus, but at that moment Edward Codrington's HMS Orion came through the smoke, slipped under Swiftsure′s stern and discharged several devastating broadsides. [14] Swiftsure had her mainmast, taffrail and wheel shot away, and most of the guns on the main gun-deck were dismounted. [14] Villemadrin attempted to fight on, but eventually struck, having suffered 68 dead and 123 wounded during the battle.

After the battle HMS Dreadnought took her in tow. [15] The subsequent storm caused the line to break, and by 23 October she was drifting towards Cadiz. [16] The frigate HMS Phoebe was however able to reattach a tow line and put several of her own carpenters aboard to stop the leaks. [17] The worsening weather again caused her to break free, but the men from Phoebe succeeded in keeping control of Swiftsure, bringing her to anchor on 26 October. [18] HMS Polyphemus took her into tow again and brought her into Gibraltar. [19]

Swiftsure was repaired at Gibraltar and was recommissioned in April 1806 under Captain George Digby. [3] She sailed home, arriving at Chatham on 11 June 1806. By this time, another HMS Swiftsure had already entered service, and had been present at Trafalgar. The captured Swiftsure was renamed HMS Irresistible, and was laid up. [2] [3] She was recommissioned in March 1808 under Captain George Fowke, and was used as a prison ship at Chatham. [3] She served in this role until being broken up there in January 1816. [2] [3]


About the Portrait

T his dramatic painting was created by Alexandre-Auguste Robineau to commemmorate a fencing match between Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier Saint-Georges, and Charles d’ Éon de Beaumont, the Chevalier d’ Éon , which occurred at the Prince of Wales’ Carlton House in London on April 9th, 1787 (RCT). The spar seems to have been staged as a test of skill, as both were respected as highly skilled fencers, and d’ Éon earned money through matches (Brogan 87-88). Fencing was an exhibition sport, hence the crowd, and this particular duel became famous partially due to the exceptional nature of the participants. Not only was Bologne was of mixed race and d’ Éon a woman, but both were favored subjects of gossip for their remarkable lives and abilities.

Alexandre-Auguste Robineau

Alexandre-Auguste Robineau (1747-1828) was a French painter, musician, and fellow fencer. He led dual careers of music (violin and composition, much like Bologne himself) and painting, though not much is known of his artistic work (Zaslaw). From the work we do have, it is clear he painted both in the grand-manner style of portraiture (Fig. 1) and in multi-figure scenes like the fencing match. He may have had a working or friendly relationship with Prince George IV as his patron the Royal Collection Trust speculates that the paintings of Bologne and d’Eon were made for George and kept at Carlton House (RCT). (The Prince is visible in blue and silver in the background.)

Robineau painted several works in London around the events at Carlton in 1787. He was forty, Bologne forty-two, and d’ Éon fifty-nine – meaning that this scene for the most part represents a group of people in the middle of their careers, rather than sprightly young things making a name for themselves in front of the twenty-five-year-old Prince of Wales.

Chevalier de Saint-George

Joseph Bologne de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) (Fig. 2) was born in Guadaloupe (a French Caribbean colony) to a wealthy white gentleman, George Bologne de Saint-Georges, and Anne Nanon, one of the Black women that he enslaved (Banat 5). Bologne was taken to France as a child to be educated and eventually enrolled in a fencing academy led by famed master Nicolas Texier de la Boëssière (Banat 54). He earned renown for his skill at arms even before graduation and was awarded the rank of chevalier (knight) when he was twenty-one.

He was not only a talented fencer, but also a superior musician. He joined Le Concert des Amateurs in the late 1760s as a violinist and within a few years became soloist and then its conductor (Banat 243). His musical talent extended to composition, creating quartets, sonatas, concertoes, symphonies, and eventually operas. This painting, along with the portrait in figure 1, was done while he was in his early forties. Bologne had a strong friendship with the Duc d’Orleans, who instigated the London trip in the hope of introducing Bologne to the Prince of Wales, who had admired his skill. It was also hoped that Bologne could make contact with abolitionists in London in order to support abolition in France (Banat 281).

When the French Revolution began in 1789, Bologne quickly signed up and devoted himself to the cause, which he felt advocated for equality for people of color like himself (Banat 458). He quickly gained notice as a soldier in the first Black regiment, the Légion franche de cavalerie des Américains et du Midi (the Free Legion of the French Caribbean), to the point that it was referred to as the “Légion Saint-Georges” (Banat 371). However, he encountered difficulties, and the regiment was heavily criticized in the 1790s. He was imprisoned and prevented from communicating with the other members of the legion, but still attempted to rejoin the Revolution. In his own (translated) words:

“I have constantly demonstrated my adherence to the Revolution. I have served it since the beginning of the War with a tireless zeal that none of the persecutions could impede.” (Banat 425)

Despite living in an age where racism was sanctified by the Enlightenment, Bologne was in good company in his chosen careers. Black men like Thomas-Alexandre Dumas were trailblazing in the military (Fig. 3), men like Gustaf Badin (Fig. 4) were present in courts throughout Europe, and others like George Bridgetower (Fig. 5) succeeded in musical circles, composing and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beethoven (Panton 54). Other Black gentlemen are known today only by rare portraits, saved because of the prominence of the artist (Fig. 6).

There exist several different depictions of Bologne – a rarity for this time that speaks to his fame. These include a full-length portrait by Robineau (Fig. 1) and mezzotints that were made after a now-lost portrait by artist Mather Brown (Fig. 2). Fencing master and friend Henry Angelo claims that Bologne made him a present of the latter portrait (which ever after hung on the wall of his school’s salle, Fig. 7) so either Brown painted it as a gift or it was commissioned by Bologne. Clearly, he enjoyed the painting and must have had choice about the depiction. We know less about the Robineau portrait and painting – who paid for them? Did Bologne have agency over how he was depicted?

Certain aspects of the portrait in figure 1 make us think so, and for complex reasons. Robineau painted his skin in a relatively light color in that portrait – but it is much darker in the fencing scene, a clear contrast to d’Eon’s. Why the difference? It is possible that Robineau chose color more accurately in the fencing scene, and was asked to use a different, lighter color in the formal portrait – one that Bologne thought would represent his status as a gentleman. The mezzotints made from the Mather Brown portrait vary in skin tone, but in general do portray him as darker than the formal Robineau portrait. Were these choices made by the colorists to make him stand out, or do they accurately reflect the Brown portrait? Later reproductions of these paintings all vary in tone according to what the publishers aimed to portray it makes sense that Bologne, Brown, and Robineau were all making deliberate choices about how Bologne should be represented in art as well.

These different portraits may be evidence that Joseph du Bologne was navigating the murky, racist world of being a Black French gentleman during the late eighteenth century, and was in control of at least some of the paintings made of him.

Chevalier d’ Éon de Beaumont

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont (Fig. 8) lived forty-nine years in suits and thirty-three years in gowns their life and sex were and are the subject of much debate (Pollack ix). It is generally accepted that modern identity terminology cannot be reasonably applied to historical figures, and in addition, living as a woman was a requirement set down by the French government if d’ Éon was to return to their home country (Pollack ix). Thus, though it is a distinct possibility, we do not know if d’ Éon truly wished to be known as a woman. To acknowledge these tangled facts, the pronoun set ‘they/them/theirs’ will be used when referring to d’ Éon de Beaumont in this essay.

D’Éon was born to a poor aristocratic family in Burgundy and was educated in law. In their lifetime, d’Éon became a dragoon in the military, a career fencer, and a spy in the king’s secret service, le Secret du roi (Pollack ix). As a skilled fencer, they assisted Domenico Angelo (father to Henry) in his 1763 volume The School of Fencing and made their living off of matches after the Revolution began in 1789 ( Angelo 1904: 41, Brogan 87). D ‘Éon made connections with important figures like Empress Elizabeth of Russia over the course of their work and continued to make a name for themselves even after exile from France.

D’ Éon’s actual identity notwithstanding, they were not alone: gender-nonconforming people had a variety of ways in which to live their lives true to themselves during this era. From the famed, lucky femminiello of Naples (Fig. 9) to the number of “female husbands” (Fig. 10) reported on in England (who may have been transgender men, lesbian women, or another identity entirely), to criminalized people like Mary Jones (Fig. 11) in the United States, the target of derision for the grand trifecta of her gender presentation, skin color, and occupation – they were present, if not widely discussed.

Similarly, while female fencers were rare, depictions of their matches do exist and some were made famous as the subject of much gossip (McMaster). Another match between a Black man and a white noblewoman that took place nearly fifteen years earlier was memorialized in rude caricature by William Austin (Fig. 12) and fraught with many of the same racial and gender tensions that d’ Éon’s & Bologne’s match held in the popular gaze. While d’ Éon and Bologne’s match was sometimes the subject of farcical caricature, it was often depicted respectfully (see “Legacy” section). The match between the Duchess of Queensberry and her previously enslaved man Julius Soubise, on the other hand, was ridiculed and disparaged (McMaster).

While we may never know all of the factors that influenced public opinion in this case, it is likely that both Bologne and d’ Éon enjoyed a security of gender and privilege in the way artists and diarists discussed their match. Bologne was subject to racism as a Black man, but unlike Soubise was born free. D’ Éon , while presenting as a woman and thus subject to sexism, had an impressive legacy of military service, and the possibility that they were actually male constantly hovered in the background.

The ways in which Bologne & d’ Éon navigated French and English society in the late eighteenth century were necessarily complex, but their individual fame and remarkable abilities enabled them to live easier lives than the many other Black, female, and gender-nonconforming individuals in European society.

Fig. 1 - Alexandre-August Robineau (French, 1747-1828). The Chevalier de Saint-George (1745-99), 1787. Oil on canvas 62.0 x 51.2 cm. London: Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 404358. Source: RCT


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