By Pat Iacuzzi
On a hot 11 July, 1774, Sir William Johnson stood in the sun speaking with a band of Iroquois who had come to Johnson Hall seeking his advice. Shortly after, he collapsed and died at the age of 59.
By the time of his death, the Revolutionary movement was well underway in the
. Residents had objected to new regulations by the English Parliament increasing taxes and raising prices on sugar, paper, and tea. They opposed the aristocratic establishment that the Johnsons and Mohawk Valley represented in the valley. Butlers
Meetings were held by settlers favoring fewer regulations and more opportunities to participate in political decisions that influenced them. Feelings ran high as families and neighbors, split in their loyalties took opposing sides in the dispute.
Sir William had denounced “the audacious behavior of New-Yorkers” who sought a democratic system and encouraged “that spirit of libertinism and independence daily gaining ground.” His relatives thus sided with the English Crown and became leaders of the Loyalist movement in the area.
In the month following Sir William’s death, more than August temperatures rose in the valley. Tempers were rising too; the
patriots assembled in Stone Arabia to organize a Committee of Safety, an organization in which they could express their fiery and subversive new ideas. Patriots in Tryon County lifted their banners proclaiming liberty and organized a Committee of Correspondence to help keep them informed about those who might be hostile to their beliefs. The dispute between the two factions boiled over in a confrontation at the Johnstown Jail (erected in 1772 under direction of Sir William). Schenectady
|Sir John Johnson|