John, an American general, born in Berwick, Me., Feb. 17, 1740, died in Durham, N. II., Jan. 23, 1795. He practised law in Durham. In 1774 he was a member of the first general congress, and in December of that year, with John Langdon, led a force against Fort william and Mary, near Portsmouth, and seized 100 barrels of gunpowder (afterward used at the battle of Bunker Hill), 15 cannon, all the small arms, and other stores.
This was the first act of armed hostility committed in the colonies. In June, 1775, he was appointed by congress a brigadier general, and commanded on Winter hill at the siege of Boston. After its evacuation he was sent to re-enforce the army in Canada, where, after the death of Gen. Thomas, he took command, June 2, 1776, and conducted the retreat from the province. He was commissioned by congress as major general, Aug. 10, acted under Putnam on Long Island, and by a combat of two hours in the woods (Aug. 27) contributed to the preservation of the American army. He was taken prisoner, but was exchanged for Gen. Prescott. After Gen. Lee's capture Sullivan took command of his division, and led the right at Trenton on Christmas night, 1776. On Aug. 22, 1777, he made a bold descent on Staten Island, the entire success of which was prevented by misconstruction of his orders, but he was justified by a court of inquiry and by a vote of congress. He commanded the right wing at the battle of Brandywine. He defeated the British left at Germantown, but mistakes on the American left, occasioned by fog, changed a victory into a repulse.
In August, 1778, he commanded in Rhode. Island, and prepared to attack the British lines at Newport, but was deprived of the cooperation of the French fleet under D'Estaing, and was obliged to raise the siege; but at Butt's hill, on the 29th, he repulsed the enemy, and withdrew from the island with slight loss. On Aug. 29, 1779, he defeated the Indians under Brant and tories under Sir John Johnson, at Newtown, near the present site of Elmira, N. Y. He then resigned his commission on account of ill health. In the autumn of 1780 he again took his seat as a member of congress. In 1782-'6 he was attorney general of New Hampshire, and in 1786-9 president of the state. In the troubles of 1786 he saved the state from anarchy by his intrepidity and good management, and in 1788 secured the ratification of the federal constitution. In 1789 he was appointed federal judge of New Hampshire, which office he held till his death. His life has been written by O. W. B. Peabody, in Sparks's "American Biography," 2d series, vol. iii., and by Thomas C. Amory (1868). - His son George (1774-1838) was an eminent lawyer, and was several times a member of the legislature, of congress 1811 - '13, and attorney general of the state 1805-'7 and 1816-35.
James, governor of Massachusetts, brother of the preceding, born in Berwick, Me., April 22, 1744, died in Boston, Dec. 10, 1808. He was king's attorney for York co., Me., but joined the revolutionary movement. He was a member of the provincial congress of Massachusetts (of which Maine then formed a part) in 1775, and with two others executed a difficult; commission to Ticonderoga. In 1776 ho was appointed a judge of the superior court, and in 1779-'80 was a member of the convention which framed the constitution of the state. In 1783 he was chosen a member of congress; and ho was repeatedly elected a representative of Boston (to which place he had removed) in the legislature. In 1787 he was a member of the executive council and judge of probate for Suffolk co., from 1790 to 1807 was attorney general of the state, and was elected governor in 1807 and 1808. He was one of the commissioners for settling the boundaries between the United States and the British provinces. He published a " History of the District of Maine" (1795), and "History of Land Titles in Massachusetts" (1801).
William, son of the preceding, born in Saco, Me., Nov. 30,1774, died in Boston, Sept. 3, 1839. He graduated at Harvard college in 1792, studied law, and was long president of the association of the Suffolk bar. He was constantly a member of one or the other branch of the state legislature. He published " Familiar Letters on Public Characters and Events from 1783 to 1815 " (12mo, Boston, 1834); "Historical Causes and Effects, from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation in 1517" (8vo, 1838); and " The Public Men of the Revolution," published with a biographical sketch by his son, J. T. S. Sullivan (8vo, Philadelphia, 1847).
John Langdou, an American engineer, brother of the preceding, born in Saco, Me., April 9, 1777, died in Boston, Mass.. Feb. 9, 1865. He travelled in Europe, studying the construction of canals in France and England, and in 1804 was appointed agent and engineer of the Middlesex canal, which was completed in seven years. He invonted the steam towboat, for which he received a patent in 1814, in preference to Robert Fulton, who applied for it at the same time, his priority of discovery being fully sustained. In 1824 he was appointed associate civil engineer of the United States board of internal improvements, which post he resigned the next year, after making a report on the practicability of a canal across the Alleghanies. He then studied medicine, in 1837 commenced practice in New Haven, afterward adopted the homoeopathic system, and in 1847 removed to New York.