On January 3, 1762, Samuel and Esther Ransom of Canaan, Connecticut, had a son, and they named him after Samuel's best friend and neighbor, George Palmer. In 1773, the family—both parents and eight children, including 11-year-old George—emigrated as part of a widespread migration of Connecticut settlers to what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, settling near the town of Wilkes-Barre in Wyoming Valley. In September 15, 1776, 14-year-old George enlisted with his father and brother-in-law into the 2nd Westmoreland (Wyoming) Independent Company to fight in the American Revolution. His first position there was to bury the dead.
During the American Revolution, a barber from Carlisle, Pennsylvania named John Hays joined the Patriot forces, becoming an artilleryman in Captain Francis Proctor's company of the Pennsylvania Artillery. His wife, Mary Ludwig Hays, accompanied him on the campaign with George Washington's Revolutionary Army, as did many military wives of the day. Mary, a 22-year-old daughter of German immigrants, soon became known as an illiterate, hard-drinking, tobacco-chewing woman who could curse with the best of the soldiers, and was popularly called Molly by the men. During the winter of 1777-1778, she stayed in the women's camp with Washington's army in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania after British forces had captured Philadelphia earlier that year.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress fell one vote short of a unanimous decision to declare their independence. The motion to split from Great Britain was contingent on winning the vote of the tiny, coastal state Delaware to the south; if it voted in the affirmative, then the Congress would be able to formally adopt the Declaration of Independence and assert itself as an independent nation. Independence was tantamount to treason in the eyes of the British, so any delegate backing the motion placed himself at considerable risk.