À tous mes amis français lors de la fête nationale de France. Avec l’aide de la France, l’Amérique n’aurait jamais gagné son indépendance.

Yes, that’s right, without the help of France, America would never have won its independence. For this and the fact that my 4th and 5th great-grandfathers fought together with French officers in the American Revolution, I salute France and thank her for her support in our time of need.

Ironically, the French officers that fought with the Continental Army happened to be from the French Aristocracy and became persona non grata during the French Revolution. As a result, many returned to America and settled in the Ohio Territory.

Those officers who fought in the American Revolution established the Society of the Cincinnati after which Cincinnati Ohio was named. I am honored to be a member of the Society of the Cincinnati as both my 4th and 5th great-grandfathers were officers in the Continental Army. Through membership in The Society, I have been privileged to meet a number of members of the French Society and share in our common bond.

The Society of the Cincinnati was founded by officers at the Continental Army encampment at Newburgh, New York, in May 1783. The organization took its name from the ancient Roman hero Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, an embodiment of civic virtue. Its founding document, the Institution, outlined the aims of the new organization: to perpetuate the memory of the War for Independence, maintain the fraternal bonds between the officers, promote the ideals of the Revolution, support members and their families in need, distinguish its members as men of honor, and advocate for the compensation promised to the officers by Congress. Constituent societies were organized in each of the original thirteen states and in France.

L’objet de la Société est de perpétuer le souvenir des circonstances qui ont abouti à l’indépendance des Etats-Unis et de la fraternité d’armes qui unit officiers américains et français au cours des combats qu’ils menèrent ensemble.

En donnant le nom de Cincinnati à leur société, les fondateurs ont voulu s’inspirer de l’exemple de Cincinnatus, vertueux citoyen romain qui quitta sa charrue pour servir sa patrie et, après avoir conduit à la victoire les armées de la République, refusant toute récompense, retourna cultiver sa terre. Les Cincinnati veulent promouvoir les valeurs de liberté, d’initiative, de dévouement au bien commun et de responsabilité qui ont fait la réussite des Etats-Unis. Ils s’attachent également à maintenir les liens privilégiés établis entre les deux pays à l’occasion de la guerre d’Amérique et prolongés durant les deux guerres mondiales.

4TH OF JULY 2017

He is gone the veteran is no more

Come drop a grateful tear

The love of God to call his (home?)

While he resided here

In that blessed faith through life he (persevered?)

And died without a fear.

On the Fourth of July 2017, I reflect on my 3rd great-grandfather, Lt. John Cotton, who was the son of Colonel Theophilus Cotton. Lt. John Cotton was a veteran of the American Revolution and the first of his line to move west.

After the Northwest Territory was ceded to the United States at the Treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, the Ohio Company purchased one million acres of land along the Ohio River and a number of families from New England migrated to Ohio in 1787.  One of the first families to settle Ohio was Nathaniel Little, his wife Keziah Atwood/Adams, his daughter Lucy and Lucy’s husband Lieutenant John Cotton, who served with Nathaniel Little in the War of Revolution.

The marriage of John Cotton and Lucy Little linked two of the oldest and most distinguished families of Old Plymouth Colony.  Lucy Little is descended from Richard Warren, Mayflower passenger and signer of the Mayflower Compact.  And, Lieutenant John Cotton is descended from Rev. John Cotton, who fled England in 1633 to escape trial by Charles I for being puritan.

John Cotton’s father, Colonel Theophilus Cotton, was head of the Plymouth Militia and the Plymouth Sons of Liberty. Together with his father, John helped the cause of the American Revolution well over a year before the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. In April 1775, he was appointed Quarter Master under his father, Col. Theophilus Cotton and served for about 8 months, assisting George Washington to organize the Continental Army. In January 1776, he was reassigned to Ensign Elija Crother’s Company under Col. John Barbey. Then in December 1776, he was reassigned to Col. Baily’s Regiment and, in January 1777, was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to Col. Rufus Putnam’s Regiment. Finally, in 1778, his commission transferred to Gen. John Nixen, under whom he served as Quartermaster.

Lt. John Cotton retired his commission in 1780 and recorded his intentions to marry Lucy Little, the daughter of Captain Nathaniel Little, whom he served with under Colonel Rufus Putnam. The two were married in Plymouth, MA on August 28, 1780, and moved west to Ohio with Lucy’s parents and siblings in 1787. They settled first in Belpre, Ohio and later moved to Youngstown, Ohio, he died on February 1st, 1831 at the ripe old age of 85. He and his wife, Lucy are buried next to each other in “The Cotton Cemetery” in Youngstown, Ohio.