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Henry Knox (1750-1806) was an American Revolutionary War hero and the first Secretary of War under President George Washington. Knox was born and raised in Boston, owning a bookstore. In 1775, he met and befriended George Washington, and quickly rose to the position of chief artillery officer of the Continental Army.
Knox and the Boston Massacre
In 1770, Knox had been a witness to the Boston Massacre, and opened his bookstore the following year, specializing in military books. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, Knox escaped Boston and joined the militia, directing cannon fire at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Under the auspices of John Adams, Knox was made a colonel in the Continental Army and was with Washington through the campaigns in New York and New Jersey, where he was in charge of the logistics involved in the famous crossing of the Delaware River on December 26, 1776 that resulting in the American victory at Trenton.
Henry Knox and the War
During the war, Knox established the first American school for artillery and officer training, and was promoted to major general in 1782. Following the adoption of the Constitution in 1787 and George Washington’s election as the nation’s first president, Knox was appointed the first Secretary of War, a post he held until 1795. Nathaniel Hawthorne used Knox as the basis of the Col. Pynchon character in The House of the Seven Gables. He died in 1806, three days after choking on a chicken bone which led to an infection of his throat. You can visit the Knox Museum to learn more about the famous Colonel.