Portrait of General Glover by John Trumbull, drawn while he was living at his farmhouse, 1794. (Yale University Art Gallery)
Painting of the John Glover's schooner the Hannah, first ship in the Continental Navy (by John F. Leavitt. Navy Art Gallery)
Washington Crossing the Delaware, transported by Glover's troops. Painting by Emanuel Leutze, 1851, (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Annual commemoration of General Glover's death at his tomb by Glover's Regiment
(Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, MA)
General John Glover
Born in Salem, Massachusetts on November 5, 1732, John Glover was the son of a house carpenter. He was baptized at the First Church in Salem, and his family lived in a house built by his father overlooking Prison Lane(St. Peter Street) in Salem. After his father died, his mother, Tabitha (Bacon) moved him and his three brothers to the neighboring town of Marblehead.
As a young man, Glover became a cordwainer and rum trader and eventually a ship owner and international merchant. He would marry Hannah Gale in October 1754.
Following the Boston Massacre in 1770, Committees of Correspondence were formed. Marblehead elected Glover along with future revolutionists Elbridge Gerry and Azor Orne to committee posts. After the First Continental Congress passed the non-importation agreements sanctioning trade with the British, Glover was elected to enforce the embargo as a member of the Committee of Inspection.
In 1773, there was a deadly smallpox outbreak in the town of Marblehead. John Glover along with Azor Orne and Elbridge Gerry petitioned the town of Marblehead for a hospital to be built on Cat Island (Children's Island). After the town voted against it out of suspicions, they took it upon themselves to privately build the hospital on the island after receiving permission from Salem. Known as the Essex Hospital, it was successful in treating the majority of the patients. However, many of Marblehead's citizens were still uneasy about it, forcing it to close, with a few locals eventually burning it down.
In late May 1775, Revolutionary War hero General John Glover assumed command of the Marblehead Regiment following the unexpected death of his townsman, Jeremiah Lee. A month before, after meeting with John Hancock and Samuel Adams in a Lexington, Massachusetts tavern, Colonel Lee and his companions retired for the night. Awakened by the news that British soldiers were marching towards Lexington, the three fled the tavern and hid in a nearby cornfield to avoid being arrested. The next day, April 19, the American Revolution began. Tragically for Lee, his exposure to the cold proved fatal and he died of pneumonia on May 10. The Provincial Congress granted Glover, a 43-year-old merchant and ship owner, a colonel's commission to replace Lee as leader.
When Marblehead's fishing fleet returned from the Grand Banks, Glover stirred up patriotic sentiment to win enlistments from their ranks. Over 500 men enrolled, and the Continental Congress commissioned Glover's Twenty-First regiment. Some of these seamen were Spanish, Native Americans, Jewish, and African American, forming one of the first integrated units in the service.
Glover would subsequently outfit seven of his own ships to become privateers to harass British shipping, forerunners of today's Navy. Glover's amphibious regiment saved George Washington's troops at least three times. On Christmas 1776, during a raging snowstorm, Glover's men ferried 2,400 soldiers, artillery, and horses across the ice-choked Delaware River in 30-foot boats to help win the Battle of Trenton. In 1777, Washington promoted Glover to Brigadier General, a role in which he continued to excel despite devastating personal losses, such as the death of his wife and his failing health.
In 1781, Glover was rewarded for his service with an authorization to purchase the confiscated farm of Salem Loyalist William Browne. The large farmhouse on 180 acres was Glover's home in the postwar years. He married again, in 1781, to widow Frances Fosdick. John Glover moved to the Glover Farm in 1782, on the current day border of Marblehead and Swampscott. He had purchased it the year before in 1781 from the state, who had confiscated the property from a British loyalist William Browne. In 1784, the Marquis de Lafayette would come to visit his friend Glover who fought with him in the American Revolution.
John Glover served in local offices including six terms as a town selectman, delegate to the state convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution (1788), and two-term member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1788-1789). During his 1789 tour of the United States, President George Washington made a special detour along with the Marquis de Lafayette to see his old reliable army friend John Glover and thank the town of Marblehead for their service during the war.
Glover died at his home on January 30, 1797 and was buried at Old Burial Hill in Marblehead. His death is marked annually by Glover’s Marblehead Regiment. His legacy is commemorated by various memorials through the region. This includes a statue on Commonwealth Ave in Boston, Glover School, Glover's Rock in Bronx, NY, the town of Glover, Vermont, Glover Pioneer Camp, and the U.S. Naval frigate USS Glover (FF-1098), which was christened by his descendants.
Books & Literature
General John Glover and his Marblehead Mariners
by George Billias