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Tax Lawyer Raises Profile of Revolutionary War General

Posted Oct 23, 2012 6:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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For the past 16 years on the Fourth of July, New York tax lawyer James Kaplan has been leading a 2 a.m. walking tour of Lower Manhattan that emphasizes the achievements of a little known Revolutionary War general, Horatio Gates.

During his walking tours, Kaplan would note Gates’ unmarked grave, according to a 2009 article he wrote for Last Exit magazine. The situation changed on Sunday, when about 150 people gathered to celebrate the installation of a marker honoring Gates at a Wall Street district cemetery where he is buried, the New York Times City Room blog reports. “This is a great day in my point of view in the history of the history of the city of New York,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan views Gates' win at Saratoga as a crucial turning point in the war. Gates’ strategy—he waited for a British counteroffensive after an initial loss—proved correct. Kaplan describes Gates as an underdog who believed that Americans should advance by merit, not wealth, the Times says. Gates was trained in the British Army, but moved to America after he failed to win a promotion.

Some credited Benedict Arnold, still fighting for the Americans, as the field commander who won the Saratoga battle. Kaplan says that’s “bunk,” according to the Times and an advance story by the Associated Press on the dedication. "Gates was the commanding officer, he designed the whole battle," Kaplan told AP.

Story updated on Oct. 26 to change quote to read, "This is a great day in my point of view in the history of the history of the city of New York."

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