Armstrong, John, Jr.

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Armstrong, John, Jr.

ARMSTRONG, JOHN, JR. (1758–1843). American officer; prominent postwar politician. Pennsylvania. Armstrong was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on 25 November 1758, the son of John Armstrong and brother of James Armstrong. He was in his second year at Princeton in 1776 when he volunteered for the Continental army. As aide-de-camp to General Hugh Mercer, he was present when that officer was mortally wounded (3 January 1777) at Princeton. He then served Gates in the same capacity until the end of the war. Gates sent Armstrong to recall Benedict Arnold during the Second Battle of Saratoga (7 October 1777).

Major Armstrong composed the Newburgh Addresses (1783) calling upon Congress to issue the back pay owed to the army. The Newburgh Addresses were seen by many as a threat of mutiny, and political enemies used Armstrong's authorship against him throughout the remainder of his life. After the Revolution he had a long political career. He served as adjutant general of the Pennsylvania militia and as a U. S. senator from 1800 to 1804, as well as a minister to France from 1804 to 1810. His career culminated in his becoming secretary of war under President Madison in January 1813. Blamed for the failure of the expedition against Montreal and for the British capture of Washington, he was forced to resign. He married Alida Livingston, the sister of Robert R. Livingston in 1789. He died 1 April 1843.

SEE ALSO Armstrong, John, Sr.; Saratoga, Second Battle of.


Skeen, C. Edward. John Armstrong, Jr., 1758–1843: A Biography. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1981.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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