I've been reading through a lot of material from the Revolutionary War period and I'm puzzled by the capitalization common to the period. I can't identify the particular rules that determined how words were capitalized. I sense that some words were modified into proper nouns, perhaps assigning a degree of relative importance to them, but that's about as close as I can get to a discernible pattern. Punctuation also seems to have been used at the whim of the author rather than by adherence to a set of rules.
For example, here's a sentence quoted from John Ferling's excellent book Almost a Miracle:
If "his Majesty's Troops should not be molested during their Imbarkation or at their Departure," he would not put the torch to Boston.
Why were "Imbarkation" and "Departure" capitalized? Here is another example from the same book:
Yet another advised Washington, "no Friend of America can be an Enemy to you, for by God... there is not nor ever was in the world A man who Acted from more Laudable and disinterested motive than you do."
"Acted?" "Laudable?" "A?"
I have read that no less a writer than Thomas Jefferson (in addition to other notable contemporary writers) praised George Washington's writing for its correctness and readability, despite Washington's "defective education." To me, this suggests that the Founders' words we read today were penned in their correct form for the time, by educated and literate men. Ferling notes that he left the original quotes as they were written, without modernization or correction. Does anyone know about the rules of English usage at the time that would have defined how words were capitalized?