David Plunket: A Radical Rebel

As Second Lieutenant of the Fifth Maryland Regiment at the time of the Battle of Brooklyn, David Plunket fought bravely and resolutely amidst heavy cannon and mortar fire to hold off the British Army, while the body of the Continental Army retreated to safety, thus earning himself a place of honor as one of the Maryland 400. From early on Plunket championed American independence and republican ideology. His involvement in radical politics began in 1774, when he joined Mordecai Gist’s Baltimore Independent Cadets, foreshadowing his later involvement in the Whig Club in Baltimore. As a member of the Baltimore Independent Cadets it is likely that Plunket participated in the infamous burning of the Peggy Stewart, in which a ship carrying over 2,000 pounds of smuggled tea was burned in the Annapolis harbor.[1]

Regular readers of Finding the Maryland 400 will be familiar with the Whig Club in Baltimore, the radical para-police organization who, with the silent support of the Committee of Observation, combated toryism in Baltimore. Unsurprisingly, several officers from the First Maryland Regiment were members of the Whig Club including Nathaniel Ramsey and David Plunket of the Fifth Company.[2]

David Plunket joined the Whig Club in June of 1777, shortly after its founding, while he was in the area recruiting for Moylan’s Fourth Continental Dragoons. Following his resignation in 1779, Plunket was involved in a mob attack on William Goddard, which was organized by the Whig Club. Goddard, co-owner and publicist of the Maryland Journal caught the ire of the Whig club when he refused to supply the name of the author referred to as Tom-Tell-Truth.[3] The Whig club believed that this author, and by extension Goddard, was proliferating a subversive Tory agenda. Goddard was dragged from his house by six men “with positive orders to use force if required,” and compelled to stand trial before the club.[4] Goddard was found guilty of crimes against the American cause and sentenced to banishment by the club.

David Plunket was a staunch believer in American independence and later the Federalist Party. Both before and after the Revolution he was involved in radical organizations which supported these causes. His continued unwavering support of American nationalism earned him various minor offices and appointments in the 1780’s and early 1790’s, which he held until his death.

For a deeper look into the life of David Plunket, check out his recently posted bio.


[1] Daniel Blattau, “Mordecia Gist,” Archives of Maryland: Biographical Series, last modified August 13, 2013.

[2] Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Working and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812 (Chicago: University of Illinois, 1984), 67.

[3] William Goddard, “The Prowess of the Whig Club” (Baltimore: printed for the author, 1777), 4-5.

[4] Goddard, 6.


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