Daniel Roberdeau's Lead Mine Fort
Although I have included a story about Daniel Roberdeau in an earlier article about William Clingan, his name came up during some research into the radicalization of Pennsylvania.
Roberdeau played a hand in both the politics and military of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. His signing of the Articles of Confederation is an afterthought when discussing his life, while for many other Founders, affixing their name to that important document is the pinnacle of their career.
When his father died, Daniel Roberdeau moved his mother and siblings from the West Indies to Philadelphia.
It was here that Daniel began working as a timber merchant, growing his business until he became an important member of that city’s elite.
In addition to investing in several local businesses, Roberdeau was a founding member of one of the first Freemason lodges in Pennsylvania. Through this, he became friendly with several future Patriots, most notably Benjamin Franklin.
Meeting of the Radicals
As tensions grew between the colonies and Great Britain, Roberdeau became one of the most outspoken radicals as well as an early spokesman for independence.
Daniel joined the Associators, as the Pennsylvania militia was called, and was elected as a Colonel.
By May 1776, Roberdeau was chosen as a moderator for a meeting of Philadelphia radicals. A stage was hastily set up on the lawn of the State House and on a rainy day Roberdeau and the other speakers (Thomas McKean, John Cadwalader, and Timothy Matlack) called for Pennsylvania to remove the limitation of its Continental Congress Delegates which stated they could not vote for independence. Additionally, they wanted these Delegates replaced by more radical members.
Within a month, the State Assembly had removed this limitation. Although they felt short of telling the Delegates they should vote for independence, they now could vote for independence.
The Lead Mine Fort
As we all know, less than a month later, independence was had.
The same day the Declaration of Independence was published, Daniel Roberdeau was chosen as a Brigadier General of the Associators. He marched his men out to join Hugh Mercer’s Flying Camp but resigned the following year when he was chosen as Representative to the Continental Congress.
Seeing the need for the Continental Army to manufacture its own supplies, Daniel took a hiatus to build a lead mine in Central Pennsylvania.
To protect it from Native Americans and Loyalists, Roberdeau built fortifications around the mine. Known as Fort Roberdeau (and, alternatively, the Lead Mine Fort), was paid for entirely by Robert out of his own fortune.
Signing the Articles
Returning to Congress, Daniel signed the first Government of the United States: The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
As soon as peace was established, Daniel journeyed to England to reestablish his business connections. He was accompanied by his son, Isaac, who would become a Founder in his own right assisting Pierre L’Enfant in the laying out of Washington D.C.
Many of other Generals from Pennsylvania have interesting stories of their own.
Check them out here:
The Lead Mine Fort has been rebuilt and is now an educational facility.
If you’d like to visit, their website can be found here.
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Pennsylvania’s internal politics during the Revolution are really quite extraordinary.
‘Pennsylvania’s Revolution’ dives deep into the divides the colony had while on the brink of Statehood.
If you’d like a copy for your own you can through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).