According to one source, Alexander Gillon ran into trouble with the local revolutionary committees of correspondence over the issue of importation of British manufactured goods before the actual commencement of fighting at Lexington and Concord, MA in April 1775 (Lewis, Neptune's Militia, page 14). But, again according to this same source, "...Gillon found a niche to occupy in South Carolina history when the American Revolution became an armed revolt" (Lewis, Neptune's Militia, page 14). "In the heady summer days of 1775, when reform and revolution swept one mainland colony after another, the royal government collapsed in Charleston, and the expatriate Dutchman played an active role in politics" (Lewis, Neptune's Militia, page 14).
At some point, Alexander Gillon began to see a dual role for himself, in both politics and commerce. "As early as October, 1775, he had made a contract with Congress by which he and they should each advance ten thousand pounds sterling for the purpose of importing munitions of war. These operations appear to have resulted favorably, for the three vessels employed on this business in the beginning of 1776 all returned safely in the course of that year, two of them to this State (South Carolina), with everything expected of them" (Smith, page 190). This same reference seems to be what is being referred to in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 14, when it states that "...In the fall of 1775 Gillon...secured a contract from the Continental Congress to buy munitions and clothing in Europe for Washington's army. He was one of only three southerners to obtain such an arrangement". Gillon's skills as both a sea captain and a prosperous merchant of Charleston, SC were coming into play together as the early months and years of the war developed. He used his political skills very astutely in securing these types of positions and appointments for himself.
"In 1776 he apparently traveled to Cadiz and elsewhere on business, presumably in furtherance of his contract with the Philadelphia government. In November 1777 he garnered another lucrative arrangement with Congress to return to Europe for more military supplies" (Lewis, Neptune's Militia, page 14). As the text goes on to explain, "....for Gillon and for scores of merchants involved in the Revolution, partisanship never meant forgoing an opportunity to earn money privately while furthering the public weal" (Lewis, Neptune's Militia, page 14).
"On November 8, 1775, Gillon was elected a member of the Provincial Congress of South Carolina, and, on account of his nautical knowledge, on the 28th of the same month he was added to the commission for arming, fitting out, and manning the ship Prosper for the naval service" (Smith, page 190). This was evidently the Second Provincial Congress on South Carolina to which Gillon was elected. He was re-elected the next year, in 1776 (Wikipedia, entry for "Alexander Gillon" accessed 11/21/2014).
Two sources (RootsWeb.Ancestry.com, entry for Alexander Gillon, and Wikipedia, entry for Alexander Gillon) both state that Gillon also served as a member in the the first South Carolina General Assembly in 1776.
In June, 1776, when Sir Henry Clinton attempted to invade South Carolina, Alexander Gillon was in the northern colonies "...and he approached Congress with a proposal to dispatch to the coast of South Carolina what naval force they could gather, which, through his knowledge of the harbors and inlets of the coast, might seriously harass the large fleet of British transports, and especially so after the men-of-war should have crossed the bar. For reasons which do not appear, this suggestion could not be acted on" (Smith, pp. 190-191). At this time, Alexander Gillon was fully occupied politically in aiding in propagating the war against the Mother Country of Great Britain. But, he was coming to see himself as possibly better fitted to assist in a more direct manner - in a military role.
His reputation and his business aptitude must have risen to the point that greater and greater sums of money were being made available to him for his business ventures in favor of the patriot cause. On "...November 28, 1777, the Committee of Commerce reported on certain proposals made by him (Gillon) to the Continental Congress, 'That they have conferred with Mr. Gillon on the subject and are of opinion that a sum of money not exceeding $250,000 should be advanced to the said Alexander Gillon, Esqre., or to his attorneys annually for three years, if the war with Great Britain shall continue so long; the said advances to be made by this committee, or such other as may hereafter be appointed to superintend the Continental Commerce in such sums and at such periods as may be necessary for accomplishing purchases of suitable produce or other articles to be remitted to Europe" (Smith, page 191). Further along in the text the statement is made that "...this report was adopted and the Committee authorized to enter into the contract" (Smith, page 191). On December 13, 1777, the Committee was authorized by Congress to direct an warrant issue for $125,000 to be remitted to Alexander Gillon, Esqre. of South Carolina.
"Under this contract Gillon was to have been allowed certain commissions on purchases and sales, both in Europe and America, which he estimated would have netted him seven thousand pounds sterling annum. He forthwith set out from Philadelphia for Charles Town, where he expected to embark for Europe. On his way he received a letter advisinf him of his appointment to naval command in the service of South Carolina.To this he replied that if His Excellency (John Rutledge), the President of South Carolina, could arrange the matter with Congress, he would relinquish this important and remunerative appointment, and would give his best services to his own State" (Smith, page 192). It was reported in a Charleston newspaper, The Gazette, on February 16, 1778, that "...the Legislative Council and General Assembly by joint ballot have elected Alexander Gillon, Esqre. Commodore, and John Joyner, William Robertson, and John McQueen Esqres. Captains of frigates in the navy of this state" (Smith, page 192). The account ends with "...the General Assembly thus confirmed President Rutledge's choice by a vote of 125 out of a total of 126" (Smith, page 192).
Now Commodore of the Navy of South Carolina Alexander Gillon could confidently step out in his new role, firmly established upon the reputation and regard with which he was held by not only his fellow South Carolinians but, also by many others scattered all across the colonies, some of them in very important positions of power. Alexander Gillon had very carefully played his role in a revolutionary society and that performance had payed off now. He was moving from social activist, wealthy merchant, and militia figure to an active naval warrior, commissioned in the service of the state of South Carolina.