Joseph Reed

Joseph Reed

Birth
Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA
Death 5 Mar 1785 (aged 43)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section I, Lot 33
Memorial ID 20308 · View Source
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Revolutionary War Army Officer, Continental Congressman. He was leading lawyer in Trenton, New Jersey in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Initially a proponent of compromise with England when conflict brewed in America, he became a full supporter of Independence, and was elected the President of the 2nd Continental Congress in January 1775. When the war started in April 1775, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania Militia. When George Washington was made commander of the Continental forces by the Congress, Joseph Reed became his military secretary. On June 5, 1775 he was made Adjutant General of the Continental Army (a position he held for much of the war). Served with Washington in the disastrous campaign on Long Island and in New York in the summer of 1776, and was the General's representative when British commander Admiral Howe tried to negotiate the surrender of the Americans. He was critical of the capture of Forts Washington and Lee on the Hudson River by the British, and for the fact that New York City, New York was left standing for the British to occupy. A letter Joseph Reed wrote to Major General Charles Lee detailing these criticism produced a corresponding critical letter from General Lee that fell into George Washington's hands. Reed was much vilified by many in the Army and Government for his critical views, but George Washington continued to fully supported his adjutant, and the criticism died out. Because he was intimately knowledgeable of Trenton, Joseph Reed's participation in the Christmas 1776 surprise attack there was of immense value. He continued to serve with Washington's Army through the Battles of Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. In 1777 he was elected as a delegate from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress. In December 1778 he was chosen as president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania (which at the time was the chief executive of the State), serving to 1781. His administration was highlighted by his abolishing slavery in Pennsylvania, the placing of Revolutionary soldiers on half pay for life, and the prosecution of Benedict Arnold in absentia for his corruption while commander of Philadelphia. In 1778 he became embroiled in a scandal when he was erroneously accused of traitorous correspondence with England. This led to the belief that he had questionably loyalties until historians in the 1880s corrected the fallacy. He was one of the few officers and figures of the Revolution who had the respect and trust of George Washington. He was originally buried in the Arch Street Presbyterian Burial Ground in Philadelphia, but was removed to Laurel Hill when that cemetery was built over in 1867.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 21 Feb 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20308
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Reed (27 Aug 1741–5 Mar 1785), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20308, citing Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .