Monday, August 9, 2010

Who is Dr Benjamin Church Jr and why is this blog devoted to him ?

   It has become common place and accepted practice to identify Dr Benjamin Church Jr, first Surgeon General of the Continental Army, principal political satirist and spokesman for the Boston Whigs and, often forgotten, perhaps colonial America's best poet, as the first American traitor supplanting Benedict Arnold for that dubious distinction. Dr Church has all but been forgotten by most Americans and even those who have an interest in and are knowledgeable about the origins of the political struggle in Boston that culminated in Lexington and Concord know little of him and, quite understandably, have been influenced by the quite scant original research that has gone into Church's life and actions. It has long been forgotten that Dr Church was one of the three most prominent Whigs in pre-1775 Boston. He, along with Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren, kept the agitation alive and these three could be characterized as the heart and soul of that effort. There were others involved but these three were the most prominent and active. John Hancock wavered in his ardor and although recent historians have tried to portray Paul Revere as a giant of the revolution; at best, he was a faithful and well serving NCO, if at times a not very competent one.
    But, indeed, does Dr Church merit the distinction as America's first traitor and what is the evidence for his treachery?
    I first became fascinated with Dr Church as an undergraduate pursuing a degree in American History at Columbia. I later served twenty years in the US Air Force as a counterintelligence officer and gained considerable expertise in that world. At the time of my retirement I was the executive officer for the Directorate of Counterintelligence of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Counterintelligence Advisor to the Director of SDI  (Star Wars).
   After my retirement I have been able to spend considerable effort, admittedly in spurts, pursuing original research into Dr Church's life and activities. All of Church's papers were burned by a Boston mob so there is no central repository one can consult. One has to research various collections of papers located at disparate locations around the country and one must look for and review references to Church in diaries, correspondence, etc. to obtain a true account of his life and activities. And, often these references to Church were written after his arrest for "treason" and are colored by the author's reluctance to be associated with a man whom once they thought of as ally and friend.
   Dr Church's tale is a fascinatingly complex one in which a researcher has to piece together snippets of information in an attempt to obtain an accurate rendering of his life and activities. I hope to use this blog to share some of my original research and thoughts into Dr Church's life and begin a reassessment of his place in American history.

3 comments:

  1. Finally! The beginnings of what projects as a well researched look into the varied aspects of one of the American Revolution's key charactors. Dr Church's interesting background has been largely ignored, probably due to the difficulty of available historical papers. One can only hope that there is someone who can provide further information about Dr Church.

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  2. I am so very thankful of your caring interest of him. I have just started to seek out the journey of where my family comes from.As of now I have discovered back 32 generations and counting. I have found beyond many Successful Honorable Church'es. Dr. Benjamin Church was my 10th Great Uncle I am very honored to know how Great he truly was. I eventually would like to publish a movie of where and how are family became to provide for my family's future generation to come our family line all in one movie. I with honor will go through all efforts to bring him to a honorable remembrance. Thank you for having such get records of him as i it was help me in discovering more of him
    Melissa K Church -Michigan

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    1. Are you a descendant of his younger brother Edward? I would be very interested in knowing just what the connection is. You can email me at luciusjulius@comcast.net

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