Fort Wilson Riot October 4, 1779

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Fort Wilson Riot 

October 4, 2011 the 232nd Anniversary of the “Fort Wilson Riot”

LINTON & BIRD Chronicles This Day in History

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Terry Louis Linton © 1990

LINTON & BIRD Chronicles, Volume VI, Issue 2, Summer © 2011, ISSN 1941-3521


Some of our relives taking part in the “Fort Wilson Riot” were Jeff August “Gus” BIRD’s (1893-1954)  3rd great-granduncle James WILSON (1742-1798); his 3rd great-grandfather,  Colonel Mark BIRD (1739-1812); his 3rd great-granduncle, Colonel William BIRD (1757-1812);  his 3rd great-granduncle Lieutenant James BIRD (1759-1781); his  3rd cousin one removed Lieutenant Colonel James ROSS (1753-1708)


James WILSON’s home was located at the southwest corner of Third and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia.  “It became a flash point for Philadelphians divided by politics and class. The militia attack on Fort Wilson  occurred in the wake of conflict over the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, rising inflation, and the recent departure of the British Army. Wilson had come to symbolize the complicated politics of Philadelphia during the American Revolution”.


The riot began on October 4, 1779, after the British Army had abandoned the City of Philadelphia. Lawyer, Judge and Congressman  James Wilson (1742-1798) had successfully defended at trial 23 people from property seizure and exile by the radical government of Pennsylvania. On October fourth, "A mob whipped up by liquor and the writings and speeches of Joseph Reed, President of Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council, marched on Congressman Wilson's home at Third and Walnut Streets. Wilson and 35 of his colleagues , barricaded themselves in his home, later nicknamed Fort Wilson. In the fighting that ensued, six died, and 17 to 19 were wounded. The city's soldiers, the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry and Baylor's 3rd Continental Light Dragoons, eventually intervened and rescued Wilson and his colleagues. The rioters were pardoned and released by Joseph REED".



Above photo: Historical marker on James Wilson,s home located at located at the southwest corner of Third and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. photo by Terry l. Linton ........................................Below etching: James WILSON (1742-1798)

Below watercolor: James WILSON (1742-1798) Home, this watercolor painted by Ridgway Evans in 1888. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

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