General John Sullivan

February 17, 1740–January 23, 1795

General John Sullivan was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He fought in many key battles during the war, and also served as a member of the Continental Congress as a delegate from New Hampshire.

General John Sullivan, Portrait, Illustration

John Sullivan was an officer in the Continental Army who participated in many key battles during the American Revolutionary War. He also represented New Hampshire in the First Continental Congress and signed the Continental Association. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.


Biography of John Sullivan

John Sullivan was an important General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was from New Hampshire and served in the New Hampshire Provincial Congress. He was also a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, he participated in the Siege of Boston. In 1776, he was sent to Canada to take command of the Northern Army as it retreated after the Battle of Quebec. Later that year, he fought in the Battle of Long Island but was taken prisoner by the British. He returned to the Continental Army as part of a prisoner exchange and led some of the American forces during the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. He fought with Washington at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown, which ended in British victories and allowed them to capture Philadelphia. In 1779, he was chosen, along with James Clinton, to lead an expedition against Native American Indian tribes that were part of the Iroquois Confederacy. The American forces destroyed villages and crops, which forced the Iroquois from their lands. They took take refuge at Fort Niagara where many of them died from disease and starvation. Afterward, Sullivan retired from the army and returned to New Hampshire. He remained active in politics and supported the ratification of the Constitution by New Hampshire.

5 Things to Know About John Sullivan

  1. Sullivan was born on February 17, 1740, in Berwick, Maine, and died in Durham, New Hampshire, on January 23, 1795.
  2. As a delegate to the First Continental Congress, he signed the Continental Association and then resigned the position to join the army.
  3. After he retired from the army, he was re-elected to Congress and helped resolve the dispute over the New Hampshire Grants — present-day Vermont — by helping set up a committee to discuss Vermont statehood.
  4. After the war, he served as the Attorney General of New Hampshire and was elected as the state’s third Governor.
  5. In 1788, he was the Chairman of New Hampshire’s Constitutional Convention and supported ratification.


John Sullivan was important to United States history for his leadership and bravery on the battlefield during several key battles of the American Revolutionary War. He also represented New Hampshire at the First Continental Congress, which produced the Continental Association, which was a significant step toward the unification of the colonies against Britain.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title General John Sullivan
  • Date February 17, 1740–January 23, 1795
  • Author
  • Keywords John Sullivan, American Revolutionary War, Siege of Boston, Canada Campaign, Battle of Trenton, Battle of Princeton, Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Sullivan's Expedition
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 8, 2023
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 12, 2022

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