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The following dissertation is an examination of the life of Henry Knox and his rise from a small bookstore owner in colonial Boston to a major general commanding the entire Continental artillery in the Revolutionary War through his tenure as Secretary of War in President George Washington's cabinet. A symbol of the vast majority of common men throughout America, Knox sought opportunity during the Revolution to rise above his position, fought with stubborn determination to win American independence, and struggled to bring his visions for the new nation and its military into being. He forged bonds of loyalty with George Washington, Nathanael Greene, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, and stepped up to face the challenge of creating a new government. The primary focus of the dissertation is on Knox's performance in the Department of War from 1785 to 1795 and the issues which he confronted, including; the establishment of an active federal army and navy, foreign policy, and Indian affairs. Knox also played key roles in the domestic crises of the "Newburgh Conspiracy," Shays' Rebellion, and the Whiskey Rebellion. He was a staunch Federalist, and his career provides a political context for the origin of the American military. As the only top-level figure to hold the same office during both the Articles of Confederation and Constitutional governments, Knox's life and career represent a continuity in leadership and policy decision-making from the eve of the revolution into the Early Republic of the constitutional era. This study reveals how Henry Knox's often competing personal ambitions and vision for the future combined to shape his critical role in the founding of the nation.