Rank and Gravity, The Life of General John Armstrong of Carlisle


At last a biography of one of the most prominent and consequential figures of eighteenth century Pennsylvania. Best known as the "first citizen" of the historic community of Carlisle, and as the "hero of Kittanning," John Armstrong was in fact a giant of the colonial times. He was Scotch-Irish and the chief surveyor for the Proprietary Penns. He blazed the road for Braddock, and, after the raid on Kittanning, he headed up the defense of the Pennsylvania frontier as a builder and the administrator of the "ring of forts," and as commander of the militia. At the same time, he applauded the Penn family policy of purchase and regularly removed "squatters" from the Indian lands. He commanded the Pennsylvania militia for the year-long Forbes Campaign, and led his own expedition to the Great Island on the Susquehanna. One of the very first of the brigadier generals to be commissioned, he served the Continental Army before assuming, as major general, the command of the entire Pennsylvania militia forces for the early years of the Revolution. He commanded troops at Charleston, Brandywine, Germantown, and Whitemarsh. A very close friend and confidant to George Washington for forty years, he assisted him in the acquisition of Pennsylvania land, and helped to persuade him to accomplish the writing of the Constitution, and to accept the presidency. For two terms, General Armstrong represented the Quaker state in the Continental Congress. He proved an energetic force in the growth of the Presbyterian Church of Pennsylvania, and, with Benjamin Rush and John Montgomery, founded Dickinson College, the first college to be created in the United States. Drama attended him everywhere. The life of John Armstrong was a life of service”to his fellow Scotch-Irish, to his Carlisle community, to his Pennsylvania, to the birth of the nation, to his family, and to his Presbyterian God.

William W. Betts, Jr.

2011, 5½x8½, paper, index, 668 pp.

ISBN: 9780788452734