Richard Montgomery

Portrait by Artist to Come

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
2 December 1738 in Swords, Ireland
  DIED:
31 December 1775 in Quebec City, Quebec
Buried at Quebec City; remains moved in 1818 to St. Paul’s Chapel, New York, NY

Richard Montgomery, British soldier in the Seven Years’ War and Continental Army officer during the American Revolution, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1736.

Educated at St Andrew’s and at Trinity College in Dublin, he entered the British army in 1756. He became captain six years later. He saw war service at Louisbourg (a fortress in Nova Scotia, Canada) in 1757 and in the Lake Champlain expedition of 1759. As an adjutant of his regiment (the 17th foot) he shared in the final threefold advance upon Montreal. Later he was present at Martinique and Havana.

In 1772 he left the army, settled in New York, and married a daughter of Robert R. Livingston. Three years later he was a delegate to the first Provincial Congress of New York and became brigadier-general in the Continental Army.

Montgomery was sent with General Philip Schuyler on the disastrous Canadian expedition to take Quebec City. And when Schuyler fell ill, the command became his. Hampered by the inclemency of the season and the gross indiscipline of the troops, he went forward, gaining a few minor successes and capturing the colors of the 7th (Royal) Fusiliers. At Point aux Trembles, he met up with Benedict Arnold’s contingent, and together they pushed on to Quebec. Barely 800 strong they nonetheless made an assault on 31 December 1775.

At almost the first discharge Montgomery was instantly killed.

The body of the American general was honorably interred by the Quebec garrison. Congress approved a memorial to be erected at St Paul’s Chapel in New York. And in 1818 his remains were transferred from Quebec and buried in the churchyard.

ADAPTED FROM:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

C. Vann Woodward has written of Jefferson, It fell to the lot of one Virginian to define America. It was in his private life that Jefferson defined the relationship between blacks and whites in America, acting out in the most specific sense the psychosexual dilemma of the whole nation. Other great men in history have loved unlettered women, among them Rousseau and Goethe, each of whom lived for years with virtually illiterate mistresses and then in the end married them. But Jefferson’s dilemma was peculiarly American. So savage were the penalties of this kind of love in the New World that he could neither admit it nor defend it without fear of social ostracism, and he had to keep up an elaborate pretense that it did not exist. He could not openly, and perhaps even privately admit his paternity to Sally’s children.

Fawn M. Brodie
Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1974)