Sullivan, John, 1740–95, American Revolutionary general, b. Somersworth, N.H. He was a lawyer and a delegate (1774–75, 1780–81) to the Continental Congress but is better remembered as a military leader. He served at the siege of Boston, and in 1776, while fighting under George Washington at the battle of Long Island, he was captured by the British. He was exchanged in time to fight at Trenton and Princeton and later at Brandywine and Germantown. In 1778 he was sent to cooperate with the French fleet in an attack on Newport. The fleet was forced to withdraw, however, and the attack had to be given up. The next year, with Gen. James Clinton, he conducted a retaliatory campaign against the Iroquois and Loyalists on the New York frontier. The Native Americans and Loyalists were defeated in the battle of Newtown (near Elmira), and much of the Iroquois country was laid waste. Sullivan was later elected chief executive (1786, 1787, 1789) of New Hampshire. He also helped to put down Shays's Rebellion and was influential in getting the Constitution ratified.
See biographies by T. C. Amory (1868, repr. 1968) and C. P. Whittemore (1961).