Letter from Archibald Kennedy to Cadwallader Colden (retained copy), 2 November 1765, and letter Cadwallader Colden to Archibald Kennedy (copy), 2 November 1765
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[ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]
These letters between Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader Colden and Archibald Kennedy, captain of the HMS Coventry, were written the day after the official start of the Stamp Act. They convey the urgency with which the two men were trying to decide whether the "Stamp'd papers" would be more securely stored on land, within Fort George, or at sea, aboard "one of the Kings Ships".
Safety Comes First
The late night and early morning assault on Fort George and the dramatic destruction of Vaux Hall enlighten Captain Archibald Kennedy and point him toward his own, quite compelling self-interest. Stuck onboard the Coventry in New York Harbor, Kennedy weighs his options. The Lieutenant Governor and the Governor's Council plead for his assistance, but Kennedy also thinks about his elegant, and ever so vulnerable, mansion on Broadway. Meanwhile, Major Thomas James, with little left to keep him tied to the colonies, plots his exit strategy.
To examine additional correspondence on this topic, please see the The Letter from Thomas James to Archibald Kennedy, 4 November 1765, and the Letter from the mayor and corporation of the city of New York to Archibald Kennedy, 4 November 1765.
Questions to Consider
1. Do you think that Kennedy's reply to Lieutenant Governor Cadwallader Colden is sufficient? Honest? Why or why not?
2. What does Major Thomas James propose to do? Who is his letter addressed to? How do you think the recipient will respond?
3. Read more about the history of Fort George in an encyclopedia or on the Internet. When was it built? What were some of its other names? Who has used the fort over time and for what purposes? Where was the fort located? Can you visit the site today? Draw a picture of the site as it might have looked in 1765.