Henry Knox

HENRY KNOX was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 25 July 1750; upon his father’s death left school at twelve to work in a bookstore; joined a local military company at eighteen, was present at the Boston Massacre, 1770, joined the Boston Grenadier Corps in 1772; married Lucy Flucker in 1774; joined the patriot cause and offered his services to General Washington in 1775; was commissioned colonel of the Continental Regiment of Artillery; led the expedition to transfer captured British guns from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston in 1776, a move that forced the British to evacuate the city; led the Delaware River crossing and participated in the Battle of Trenton in 1776; was promoted to brigadier general and Chief of Artillery of the Continental Army, December 1776; participated in the battles of Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown in 1777 and Monmouth in 1778; sat on the court-martial of Major John Andre in 1780; placed the American artillery at the Yorktown siege in 1781; commanded the West Point post, 1782–1783; organized the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783; was commander in chief of the Army, 23 December 1783–20 June 1784; served under the Confederation as Secretary at War, 8 March 1785–11 September 1789; served under the Constitution as first Secretary of War, 12 September 1789–31 December 1794; prepared a plan for a national militia, advocated and presided over initial moves to establish a regular Navy, urged and initiated the establishment of a chain of coastal fortifications, and supervised Indian policy; retired to Thomaston, Maine, 1796; engaged in lumbering, shipbuilding, stock raising, and brick manufacturing; died in Thomaston on 25 October 1806.

The Artist
James Harvey Young (1830–1918) was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and studied architecture before opening a studio in Boston. Examples of his work are in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society and the Essex Institute; the latter organization owns a self-portrait. Young used Gilbert Stuart’s painting of Knox, hanging in Faneuil Hall in Boston, to produce a faithful likeness of the Revolutionary War hero, omitting only the cannon Stuart had included as a rest for Knox’s left hand, which had been crippled in a hunting accident. Young also painted Benjamin Lincoln for the Army’s secretarial portrait gallery.


Portrait, Henry Knox

Washington Administration

By James Harvey Young after Gilbert Stuart
Oil on Canvas, 35˝" x 28˝", 1873

page created 1 March 2001

Return to Front Matter