The Staten Island Peace Conference
Determination: The Patriots were committed to succeeding.
The Revolutionary War had begun at the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, with “the shot heard round the world.” The Patriots had early success with the Siege of Boston where the Continental Army had surrounded the British and forced them to flee to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. However, the British were not finished. They strengthened their forces and returned to New York where they defeated the Continental Army at the Battle of Long Island. Following their victory, the British requested a meeting with representatives from the Continental Congress.
September 11, 1776
A delegation, including Founding Fathers John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, met British admiral Lord Howe on Staten Island on September 11, 1776. The representatives of the Continental Congress insisted on recognition of their recently declared independent status, and Lord Howe insisted on the Declaration of Independence being taken back. Due to their unwavering commitment to freedom, the demands of the British were unacceptable to the Patriots. No agreement was reached, and the Revolutionary War continued.
September 12, 1776
The following day, on September 12, Washington decided to abandon New York City to fight another day. His remaining soldiers were scattered across York Island and would surely face another defeat.
September 15, 1776
On September 15, 1776, the British fleet landed on York Island without any opposition. The majority of Washington’s Continental Army had escaped to Harlem Heights. A third of Washington’s army had been given up for loss but narrowly avoided being trapped by the British. They were greeted by cheers when they arrived at Harlem Heights after dark. Even Washington himself was dangerously close to being caught by the British advance.
October 28, 1776
On October 28, 1776, the British attacked again at White Plains, attempting to cut off and capture the Continental Army. Once again, Washington and his men were able to escape.
November 16, 1776
Then, on November 16, 1776, the British attacked Fort Washington, which was the Patriots’ last stronghold on Manhattan Island. Washington had ordered his general at the fort to abandon it, and retreat with the soldiers guarding it, however, the general believed it could be defended. This was a mistake as the British were able to surround the fort by land and sea, forcing the Patriots to surrender. The British captured nearly 3,000 Patriot soldiers and chased the rest of the Continental Army out of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.
Since the King and British Government still technically owned the colonies, their communities were not exactly free.