Richard Cary Escorts Mrs. Washington to New York
Richard Cary is perhaps the most underappreciated Founder I have yet to come across in my 14 months of writing about the Revolution.
Cary is one of just 32 men to serve as an aide-de-camp to George Washington, yet he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page!
Fortunately, after pouring over what letters I could find, I was able to piece together this biography.
Richard Cary was born in Massachusetts to a wealthy family. Due to his father’s merchant business, Richard was able to attend Harvard.
After graduation, Cary traveled throughout the thirteen colonies to grow the family empire. During his one trip to the South it seems that he first met George Washington.
Upon his return to Boston, tensions were high. Although he expected war to erupt, Richard stayed in town longer than most Patriots. It seems that he wanted to continue his work until retreat was absolutely necessary.
When hostilities did break out, family friend John Adams convinced the Continental Congress to appoint Cary as a Major.
Richard served in this position throughout the Siege of Boston, distinguishing himself during several skirmishes. Due to these efforts, he was appointed as an aide-de-camp to General Washington in June 1776.
This promotion slid Cary into a select group of just thirty-two men who can be considered a member of Washington’s ‘Family.’ Their duties were extraordinary and included righting letters from morning till night on George’s behalf as well as riding through the battlefield to inform other Generals of Washington’s orders.
Cary only served on Washington’s staff for seven months, leaving in December 1776 to get married.
This time included the New York Campaign where, as stated earlier, he dodged bullets while communicating Washington’s orders to the Generals in the field.
The most interestingly unique detail of Richard’s life I was able to find was the trip he took from Boston to New York. While the Commander-in-Chief traveled with the Main Army, Cary teamed up with fellow aide-de-camp Richard Hanson Harrison to escort Martha Washington and her son Richard Parke Custis across New England on a different route.
Running the Gauntlet
After leaving the service, Richard Cary traveled to St. Croix in the Caribbean and set up a new merchant firm. This business smuggled goods past the Royal Navy’s barricade of the Eastern Seaboard.
This business was dangerous yet profitable. More importantly, it gave ordinary American citizens access to goods they could not produce at home.
After the Revolutionary War concluded, Cary relocated to Upstate New York where land speculation was running rampant. Instead of falling victim to this speculation, as many other wealthy Founders did, Richard took a seemingly more secure route and set up a mill.
Unfortunately, this endeavor was more expensive and laborious than Cary seemed to be ready for. Eventually, he was forced to declare bankruptcy and lived out the rest of his days modestly in Cooperstown, not far from where the National Baseball Hall of Fame currently sits.
Follow this site to read about another Founder tomorrow!
Until then, check out one of these articles on other members of ‘Washington’s Family.’
Want to read a great book about the men who made up ‘Washington’s Family’?
‘Indispensable Men’ is an amazing book about those who served Washington directly during the Revolutionary War. It is also the only book I know of that attempts a biography of Richard Cary.
Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) but be warned, it is very rare and therefore expensive.
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