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Brigadier General John Armstrong Jr. Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: November 25, 1758 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Died: April 1, 1843 in Red Hook, New York
Biography | show moreshow less
John Armstrong, Jr. (1758-1843) fought with distinction in the Revolutionary War, primarily as an aide to General Horatio Gates. Armstrong is considered a principal figure in the "Newburgh Conspiracy" of 1783, called - scurrilous by George Washington - which discussed strong measures against Congress if promised military salaries were not forthcoming. Notwithstanding this challenge to civilian authority, Armstrong, along with his father, represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress (1787-1788) and he served New York in the US Senate (1801-1804). He was US Minister to France (1803-1810). When a new war with Britain broke out in 1812, Armstrong was commissioned a Brigadier General and charged with the defense of New York City. Later that year, President Madison dismissed William Eustis and named John Armstrong his successor as Secretary of War. Armstrong is credited with measures which improved discipline and morale in the American army, but his tendency to issue orders to subordinate commanders without regard to the chain of command angered both President Madison and many generals. (He earned a Presidential reprimand for appointing Andrew Jackson to a command.) When British forces seized and burned Washington, D.C. in 1814, Armstrong was blamed for this debacle, as he had waited until the last minute to mobilize local militia for the city's defense. He was dismissed from office and replaced by one of his chief critics, future President James Monroe. La Bergerie was Armstrong's estate, built between 18111 and 1815 for himself and his wife Alida (Livingston) Armstrong, of the wealthy and powerful Livingston family. The nature of the undertaking discussed in this letter is unknown, but Armstrong had a reputation for intrigue.

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