Playtest: 1777-1778

The below is a continuation of the playtest write up created by William Outzen, Don Gonce, and Tyler Johnson. This segment covers the Continental Congress from 1777-1778:

Following John Jay’s retirement from the Congress, it came time for them to choose a new President. The nominees were Nathaniel Gorham, Alexander Martin, Daniel Heister, Peyton Randolph, and Edward Telfair. Benedict Arnold surprisingly led his faction to vote for Telfair over Gorham or Martin, leading to large outcries within the party. The election went to a second ballot. The Red Party consolidated around Martin, but Arnold refused to change his faction’s vote. Behind the scenes, the faction leaders got together, and in an attempt to provide unity, decided to vote for Martin. Arnold was incensed, but in the name of unity and in a bid to raise his own standing, held his tongue. The factions now turned their attention to nominating members to open positions. 

Martin first turned to appointing Committee Chairs, an easy way to win loyalty to him and ease tensions with other factions in his party. He chose Henry Middleton, Thomas Scott, Archibald Bulloch, and William Patterson. The Blue Party was once again locked out, though they were permitted to place two members on each committee. Following that, he turned to congress to present nominations for positions. The factions quickly named their own nominations, expecting Martin to choose theirs. He was barraged with choices, but he soon locked in his choices. For Secretary of State he chose Thomas Jefferson, surprising everyone with a member of the Blue Party. To mollify his party, he selected only from them to form his military leadership. He entrusted to Artemis Ward the valued position of Senior General, with Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Lincoln, William Heath, and George Washington filling in the rest. Finally, after much discussion, he chose Benjamin Franklin to serve as ambassador to France. Martin hoped that Franklin would be able to use his connections to quickly convince France to join them in the probable war.

Following his stepping down as faction leader, John Hancock finally succumbed to a long-rumored illness. This gave a massive blow to his faction, as he was a giant. The colonies didn’t have long to mourn however, as a slave rebellion soon occupied their attention. While they were able to put it down, their domestic stability was shaken. Many suspected that England had armed the slaves and encourged the revolt. England, for their part, was focused on ending the war before it officially began. They tried to work truces with each individual colony; Alexander Martin encouraged the colonies to resist and band together, claiming that their strength came from their numbers. 

At the same time, England continued to exert economic pressure, causing an economic crisis. The Red Party took special offense to this. Finally, at long last, open rebellion began in Massachusetts, with Martin calling for the congress to come to their aid. War had begun, he announced, it was now time that they answered the call. The continental congress affirmed his positions, and so put their names to the rebellion.

Three packages were put forward by the congress to a vote. The first contained: create an Ambassador to Spain, create the Department of War, release a Declaration of Causes, release the Declaration of Independence (Patterson had written it, just not released it), Establish a Continental Navy, and Invite Canada to join the Revolution. The second package consisted of two items: creating the Department of the Treasury and establishing the Bank of North America. The third created a framework to punish British Tories. In committee it was decided to move the Declaration of Independence to its own bill, in the hopes of passing it. This move was championed by Martin.

All of the legislation passed, with Congress signing their names to the Declaration and sending it to all 13 colonies. Alexander Martin gained acclaim throughout the 13 colonies, positioning himself as the leader of the nation, at least in name. Sadly, Canada refused the opportunity to join the Revolution, respectfully staying out of it. As for their new navy, General Benedict Arnold conspired with the Chair of the military committee Thomas Scott to arrange his nomination. Scott would nominate Arnold and then follow up with Arthur St. Claire to replace him as General.

While everyone expected the first battle to come by land, it actually took place at sea. The Battle of Valcour Island featured Admiral Samuel Nichols and Senior Admiral Benedict Arnold. It was hard fought battle, but when hope seemed lost, Arnold climbed the rigging and proclaimed, “Gentlemen, I have not yet begun to fight! Who is with me?” This led to a renewed attack by the Americans, driving the British into flight. The day was won and Arnold was hailed as a hero. 

The army did not fare as well, as General William Heath was driven out of Boston, then lost Harlem Heights, Benjamin Lincoln (despite the protests of his subordinates)withdrew from New York, and George Washington lost the battle of The Rice Boats. Reeling, Senior General Artemas Ward stepped in, rallying his troops to victory and halting the British advance at the Battle of Mamaroneck in New York. Following this awful showing by the American leadership, Thomas Scott moved to fire Generals Benjamin Lincoln and William Heath. Congress did not stand in his way.

As a result of their rebellion, the colonies held their first Governor elections, electing 7 Red Party Governors and 6 Blue Party Governors. These governors now had the ability to appoint their own delegates to the Continental Congress, this time leading to a starker and more competitive congress. Notably, Governor Cornelius Harnett of North Carolina had the opportunity to deprive Alexander Martin of his seat, but decided to let him remain a delegate, instead of trying to run off the President of the Continental Congress.

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