Confronting the Redcoats: The Battle of New Haven

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John Trumbull’s “The Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776” is among the works on view at the Yale University Art Gallery. It shows Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin presenting the document to John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress.

On July 5, 1779, British troops landed in New Haven Harbor and began their invasion of the city. A militia of Yale students had been prepping for battle, and former Yale president and Yale Divinity School professor Napthtali Daggett rode out to confront the Redcoats. Yale president Ezra Stiles recounted in his diary that while he moved furniture in anticipation of battle, he still couldn’t quite believe the revolution had begun.

These are some of the events Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman shares in her Open Yale course “The American Revolution.” In the section featured below, titled “Citizens and Choices: Experiencing the Revolution in New Haven,” she looks at the conflicted loyalties, deprivations, and atrocities that took place on a local level as illustrations of the wider dilemmas facing all Colonists at that time.


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