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Henry Knox Case

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Henry Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 25, 1750. He was the seventh of ten children born to William and Mary Campbell Knox. His father William was a shipmaster, running trade routes to the West Indies. After much financial difficulty raising ten kids and with the stress that goes along with it, William Knox died at the age of fifty. To support his mom, Henry dropped out of school at a young age. Henry had always loved books, and always was a devoted reader. With all the free time from dropping out of school, he became a clerk at a Boston bookstore. Eventually after many years, he decided to open his own bookstore. His main focus later became solely on artillery.

At the age of 21, Knox joined the Boston Grenadier Corps and worked his way to second in command. He had this to say about the British takeover of the thirteen colonies. "Every friend to the liberty of his country is bound to reflect, and step forward to prevent the dreadful consequences which shall result from a government of events."(Henry). As one may tell, Knox was a very passionate person when it came to the British tyranny. He also said this talking about what must be done to rid U.S. soil of the British: "Unless this is done, we shall be liable to be ruled by an arbitrary and capricious armed tyranny, whose word and will must be law."(Henry). He brought this fighting spirit into all of his battles. In June, 1995 he volunteered at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Knox grew in the ranks after proving himself in battle, gaining him a very valuable position and friendship. His new found acquaintance was George Washington, a high ranking military officer at the time. After Washington found out about Knox's deep knowledge and interest in the artillery, he awarded him the position of Colonel of Artillery with a very specific job. This job was to bring cannons from Ticonderoga to Boston to help give the U.S. more support. After months of labor and sweat, Knox managed to use ox sleds to carry fifty cannons to the Boston frontlines.

One of Knox's biggest accomplishments as a military officer was the seizing of Dorchester Heights. At the time, Dorchester Heights was the "key to the city." That city being Boston, Massachusetts. After the town's capture, Knox strategically placed all fifty cannons around the outskirts of the town. With Boston now nearly captured Knox put his focus on defending Rhode Island and Connecticut from another pending British attack. Many battles followed and many American and British lives were lost. With troop morale at an all time low, scarce food, plus the troops not being paid, Washington had to find some sort of financial aid. Luckily, he had a friend who was a banker in Philadelphia. This friend, Robert Morris, gave him $50,000 to help his soldiers. The amount of $50,000 in 1776 is equivalent to about 4 million dollars today.

With his newly rallied troops, Knox and Washington devised a plan to defeat the British at Princeton. The heavily outnumbered American troops managed to push back and defeat the British. After Knox and Washington proved themselves to be valuable assets to the military, they received a commendation for Commander-in-Chief. Washington ultimately won the position becoming the first President in United States history.

One of Knox's most famous battles was the Battle of Valley Forge. He was crucial in organizing the forts to protect from a British attack. He used his immense knowledge of artillery to train the unskilled troops in the ways of artillery. For a brief period of time, Knox had to leave to visit his family in Massachusetts. Upon his return, he gathered his troops and began to march for the start of more battles to follow.

After Knox's carefully placed artillery led to the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, he was promoted to Major-General. A well deserved honor for him. Months later, the Revolution ended giving Knox the opportunity to train soldiers in artillery at the highly recognized military school, West Point. As the war officially came to a close, Washington and Knox still stood side by side. Upon Knox's return back to Boston, he was hailed as a war hero and gained much respect all around the country.

Major-General wouldn't be the only promotion he would receive though. In 1785, he was elected by Congress to be the new Secretary of War and in 1789 Knox became Washington's Secretary of War in his cabinet. As Secretary of War, his main job was to deal with the growing uprising on the western frontier of the little country. Knox had a long life in the war and political spotlight and on December 28, 1974 he sent President George Washington this letter of resignation. "After having served my country nearly twenty years, the greatest portion of which under your immediate auspices, it is with extreme reluctance, that I find myself constrained to withdraw from so honorable a station.



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