Bermudian Thomas Tudor Tucker was remembered today in a ceremony in the United States for his role in the 1775 Gunpowder Plot.

The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) dedicated a grave marker honouring Mr Tucker, in a ceremony at the Historic Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

The ceremony included a Revolutionary War colour guard, remarks by representatives of the sponsoring organizations, an historical interpreter portraying Mr Tucker, and a presentation of wreaths at the gravesite by state and local representatives of patriotic organizations.

Cheryl Packwood, Overseas Representative of the Government of Bermuda, and Joseph W. Dooley, national president of the Sons of the American Revolution, were the featured guest speakers during the event.          

Col. Robert D. Pollock, USAF (Ret.), president of the District of Columbia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, served as master of ceremonies.

The Thomas Tudor Tucker grave marking is part of a programme of activities designed to bring attention to the role of these Bermuda-born patriots, commemorate their birthplace in Bermuda, honour their final resting places in the United States, and educate Americans and Bermudians on the long-standing ties between Bermuda and the United States. The programme includes the sale of a limited-edition commemorative pin. Proceeds will be used to "pay Bermuda back" for the stolen gunpowder (by donating a portion of proceeds to Bermuda charities) and to establish a fund for the CAR to use in planning its commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Revolution, which will only be a decade away at the end of the programme.


Who was Thomas Tudor Tucker?

He was born into a prominent family on Bermuda on June 25, 1745. As a young man, he studied medicine in Scotland but settled in Charleston, South Carolina, to practice medicine. As the tensions between the colonies and Great Britain rose, he and his brother, St. George Tucker of Williamsburg, separately informed patriot leaders that the unguarded magazine on Bermuda contained a significant store of gunpowder (which was in short supply in the colonies). With that intelligence, Benjamin Franklin and the Philadelphia committee of safety were able to convince the Tuckers' father, Col. Henry Tucker, to steal the gunpowder and have it loaded onto American sloops waiting offshore in exchange for an exemption for Bermuda from a trade embargo imposed by the Continental Congress. The sloops delivered about 100 barrels of scare gunpowder to rebel forces in America. Some of that gunpowder was used in the defense of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, in 1776, which prevented the early occupation of Charleston, one of America’s most important port cities at that time.

During the Revolution, Thomas Tudor Tucker served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives (1776) and as a surgeon in the Continental Army (1781-83). Following the war, he was a South Carolina delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1787-88) and a Member of the 1st and 2nd Congresses from South Carolina (1789-93). In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Tucker as Treasurer of the United States. Tucker continued in that position in the administrations of Presidents James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. He died on May 2, 1828, while still in office, and he remains the longest-serving Treasurer of the United States. Tucker was buried in Washington's Historic Congressional Cemetery, which had been founded in 1808.

Ms Packwood's speech

I am Cheryl Packwood, Overseas Representative of the Government of Bermuda. Just last week, we celebrated our national holiday Bermuda Day and we held our first official reception overseas of this day and it was not in London, but here in this great nation’s capital the United States. I think that speaks to how strong our relationship is so much so that in choosing to do this celebration for the very first time we chose this country, our best friend of many centuries. Our ties are long, our shared history old and our relationship is deep.

On behalf of the Government of Bermuda and the people of Bermuda I want to thank you, and in particular, Michael Elston, for inviting me here today for this very special occasion, commemorating one of Bermuda’s sons, Thomas Tudor Tucker, and saluting our very interesting involvement in the American Revolutionary War.

I have to tell you that some 25 years ago we produced a film on the famous or infamous Gunpowder Plot which, told from our perspective, demonstrated that, but for the industrious and entrepreneurial spirit of Bermudians, the American Revolutionary War would not have been a successful endeavor for the Continental Army. Of interest, we managed to negotiate the delivery of 100 barrels of gunpowder under the nose of the Governor after negotiations with Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris in Philadelphia. Indeed, we were trying to get ourselves from under the embargo of the Continental Congress placed on the British Colonies loyal to the King. 

As you know, in the dark of night the colonists of Bermuda, free and slave, overpowered the one guard of the magazine in St. George’s, rolled the barrels over the hill down to Tobacco Bay. That is my very favorite beach, as a girl who grew up in St. George’s I am a true denizen of this very beach during the summer. The gunpowder was sent onto Bermuda built whalers to be transported to two Continental Ships awaiting the gunpowder off of Tobacco Bay. And with that, you won the war!

However, with all that, sadly, it wasn’t that simple. Bermuda was subject to the embargo despite our heroic efforts and had to turn its sights to trading with the royalists through the rest of the War.

Nevertheless, despite that sad little ending on the Bermuda side, Bermuda has been America’s friend for over four hundred years. Our relations go all the way back to the beginning when Jamestown was just starting out and Bermuda’s value was first discovered as a result of a shipwreck in July 1609. George Washington, the founding father of the United States would say some 170 years later, “True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”

Indeed, the very beginning of Bermuda’s friendship with the United States was formed in a “shock of adversity” as the colonists at Jamestown, Virginia, struggled to survive without food or supplies more than 400 years ago. In that instance, it was two ships called the Deliverance and the Patience that sailed from Bermuda in 1610 following 10 months of flourishing on Bermuda after the shipwreck of the Sea Venture bringing badly needed food and supplies to save the 50 remaining starving colonists of Jamestown averting catastrophe and cementing a bond that exists to this day. Again, I say if it had not been for Bermuda, America would not exist today.

Our friendship has weathered the test of time. We have been there through all the major and not so major wars after the Revolutionary War from the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI and WWII, in some form or another from privateers, pirates, good guys and bad. That’s how you form friendships. In good times and bad times, we have been there for the United States and you have been there for us. Bermuda was home to the US Navel base from the beginning of WWII to 1995. You modernized our airport for us and we hosted your armed forces for more than five decades.

I think back to that fateful day of September 11, 2001, some 13 years ago and I know that was a painful experience for all of us. Bermuda telecommunications companies assured during the after aftermath of 9/11 telecommunications of the Northeast corridor. Our Bermuda based reinsurers met their obligations on the claims resulting out of the massive catastrophes of that fateful day.
It has been said that you find out who your friends are when things get tough. It is no secret that things have been tough in the global economy over the past seven years and yet our relationship has continued to persevere, endure and grow stronger.

We are a real economic partner to the United States as well with more than 300,000 jobs in the United States sustained directly out of Bermudian companies and more than $60 billion dollars in bilateral trade. Our relationship extends to being the second most important export market for U.S. primary insurance while we are the largest foreign provider of insurance and reinsurance products to the US. We are one of the largest export markets for US Financial services and a major supplier of energy shipping services to the US.

While today, we may not be scurrying around in the dark to find solutions to foreign diplomacy issues, our two countries work together to address critical risks today and solve complicated financial and economic problems which ensure that the economies in both our countries will thrive.
In essence, Bermuda and the United States have forged a friendship that is truly in the spirit of George Washington’s words. “A plant of slow growth that has withstood the shocks of adversity and is now entitled to the name friend.”

With that, I would like to end on the Revolutionary War. It is often forgotten that our revolutionary forefathers both in Bermuda and here in the Continental United States were both black and white, free and slave. I had a wonderful discussion with Michael Elston on this very topic several months ago. Most of the manpower which rolled the barrels down the hill and over to Tobacco Bay in the dead of night were slaves. My father, Cyril Outerbridge Packwood, dedicated much of his career to memorializing the history of slavery in Bermuda, both its victories and its defeats. He was one of Bermuda’s 20th century heroes. He researched and wrote the classic historic treatise on slavery in Bermuda, "Chained on the Rock". Last year the second edition of this volume was published after many years of being out of print, together with a previously unpublished manuscript on Edward Fraser, Slave born missionary of the Methodist church. The Bermuda National Museum did the publications. But, there are still a few remaining copies of the original publication and I would like to present them to the representatives of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Son’s of the American Revolution and the Children of the American Revolution for your respective libraries. While perhaps not as posh as the new edition, I thought you would appreciate the historical significance of the original edition.

Thank you for having me.