Born to a prominent family in Trenton, New Jersey, John Cadwalader grew up in Philadelphia and became a dedicated Patriot. An educated businessman, Cadwalader was drawn to the patriotic cause and Philadelphia politics due to business limitations that the British brought forth. He was a well-connected man; his father-in-law was the connection that introduced him to George Washington prior to the revolution. An influential force in Philadelphia, Cadwalader became heavily involved in the military. By October of 1774, he had organized 84 volunteers into the “Silk Stocking Company”, training them at his very home. Upon hearing the results from the Battle of Lexington, Cadwalader stepped up as colonel of the Third Battalion of the Philadelphia Association of Volunteers. On July 8th, 1776, he stood at the head of his battalion at the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in the State House yard. He led his men in the fight for independence, participating in the crossing of the Delaware in 1776. However, his men were not able to deliver their artillery to the fight due to icy conditions. Regardless, Cadwalader and General Washington kept in communication on the results of Trenton and plans to continue onward at Princeton. He supplied Washington with vital intel in the form of a detailed map of the British’s set-up at Princeton. Cadwalader was also in command at Princeton, leading a division of Pennsylvania militia. Following the victory, Cadwalader was offered promotions but denied them and retired to his estate in Maryland, where he continued to advise General Washington on military strategy. He even defended Washington in the face of Thomas Conway’s plot to overthrow Washington’s leadership; Cadwalader dueled Conway due to his dishonorable plan. Cadwalader was insistent in his beliefs, distancing himself from what he viewed as the disheartening political scene of Pennsylvania and moving his allegiances to Maryland. He served 3 terms in Maryland’s House of Delegates. His life was cut short at only 44 years of age when he caught an unfortunate case of pneumonia.
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