Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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R0BERDEAU, Daniel, soldier, born in the island of St. Christopher, Wisconsin, in 11727" died in Winchester, Virginia, 5 January, 1795. He was the son of Isaac Roberdeau, a French Huguenot, and Mary Cunyngham, a descendant of the Earl of Glencairn, in Scotland. He came to Philadelphia with his mother's family in his youth, became a merchant, and was a manager of the Pennsylvania hospital in 1756-'8 and 1766-'76. He was an early Mason in Philadelphia, associated in 1752-'4 with Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and others. Roberdeau was elected to the Pennsylvania assembly in 1756 and served till 1760, when he declined further election. He was an elder in the Presbyterian church in 1765, and a friend of George Whitefield, who baptized his eldest son. When the Revolution approached he jollied the Pennsylvania associators, was elected colonel of the 2d battalion in 1775, and made president of the board of officers that governed the as-sociators, he presided at a public meeting at the state-house on 20 May, 1776, which had great influence in favor of the Declaration of Independence. While in command of his battalion he fitted out, in partnership with his friend, Colonel John Bayard, two ships as privateers, one of which captured a valuable prize, with $22,000 in silver, which he placed at the disposal of congress. He was chosen a member of the council of safety, and on 4 July, 1776, was elected 1st brigadier-general of the Pennsylvania troops, James Ewing being made 2d brigadier-general. All the associators were now called out to the aid of Washington, who was in a critical position in New Jersey. In February, 1777, Gem Roberdeau was elected a member of the Continental congress, tie was active in supporting the Articles of Confederation and affixed his name to that document on the part of Pennsylvania. He was three times elected to congress, and served till 1779. In April, 1778, there being a scarcity of lead in the army, General Roberdeau received leave of absence from congress in order to work a lead-mine in Bedford county, where he was obliged to erect a stockade fort as a protection against the Indians. Most if not all of the expense of this fort the paid out of his private purse. Samuel Hazard's "Register of Pennsylvania" and Peter Force's "American Archives" contain much information about this fort and lead-mine" the former was styled Fort Roberdeau. On 24 and 25 May, 1779, General Roberdeau presided at a public meeting in Philadelphia that had reference to monopolizers and the depreciation of the currency. In 1783-'4 he spent a year in England It is related of Roberdeau that, while travelling in his carriage across Blackheath, near London, he was attacked by highwaymen, who surrounded the carriage, He seized the leader, threw him down in the bottom of the carriage, and called to the coachman to drive on and fire right and left. He drove into London in this manner with the robber's feet hanging out of the carriage, and delivered him up to justice. After the war General Roberdeau removed from Philadelphia to Alexandria, Virginia, where he often entertained General Washington. A short time before his death he removed to Winchester, Virginia--His eldest son, Isaac, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 11 September, 1763; died in Georgetown, D. C., 15 January, 1829, was educated in this country and in England Ills first public services were at the instance of Gen Washington as assistant engineer in laying out the city of Washing-ton in 1791. In 1792 he was engaged as engineering building canals in Pennsylvania. He resided for some time in New Jersey, and, as major of brigade, delivered an oration on the death of General Washington, 22 February, 1800 Only a few copies of this are known to exist," one of them is in the library of congress On 29 April, 1813, he was appointed major and topographical engineer in the regular army, this corps being then just constituted by the appointment of four majors and four captains. At the close of the war with Great Britain he was ordered to survey the boundary between the United States and Canada, under the treaty of Ghent. The treaty of 1783 had fixed the boundary in the middle of the lakes and rivers, and the treaty of Ghent provided for a survey to determine the location of that line. Colonel Roberdeau was the engineer in charge of the survey, which was nearly 900 miles in length, through St. Lawrence river and the great lakes. In 1818 Colonel Roberdeau was ordered to organize the bureau of topographical engineers in the war department, and was made its chief, which post he held until his death, He was a friend of President John Quincy Adams, and of John C. Calhoun, then secretary of war, and usually travelled with him on his official visits to military posts. He entertained Lafayette during the latter's visit to this country in 1825. See "Genealogy of the Roberdeau Family," by Roberdeau Buchanan (Washington, 1876).
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