George Washington – Continental Congressman – Virginia

 

George Washington ({OldStyleDateDY|February 22,|1732|February 11, 1731} – December 14, 1799) was the first President of the United States (1789–1797), the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution, which replaced the Articles of Confederation and which remains the supreme law of the land.

Washington was elected President as the unanimous choice of the electors in 1788, and he served two terms in office. He oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the wars raging in Europe, suppressed rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types. His leadership style established many forms and rituals of government that have been used since, such as using a cabinet system and delivering an inaugural address. Further, the peaceful transition from his presidency to that of John Adams established a tradition that continues into the 21st century. Washington was hailed as “father of his country” even during his lifetime.

Washington was born into the provincial gentry of Colonial Virginia; his wealthy planter family owned tobacco plantations and slaves. After both his father and older brother died when he was young, Washington became personally and professionally attached to the powerful William Fairfax, who promoted his career as a surveyor and soldier. Washington quickly became a senior officer in the colonial forces during the first stages of the French and Indian War. Chosen by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 to be commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, Washington managed to force the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and almost captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the dead of winter, he defeated the British in two battles, retook New Jersey and restored momentum to the Patriot cause.

Because of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Historians laud Washington for his selection and supervision of his generals, encouragement of morale and ability to hold together the army, coordination with the state governors and state militia units, relations with Congress and attention to supplies, logistics, and training. In battle, however, Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies. After victory had been finalized in 1783, Washington resigned as Commander-in-chief rather than seize power, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to American republicanism.

Dissatisfied with the weaknesses of the Continental Congress, in 1787 Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that devised a new Federal government of the United States. Elected unanimously as the first President of the United States in 1789, he attempted to bring rival factions together to unify the nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton’s programs to pay off all state and national debt, to implement an effective tax system and to create a national bank (despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson).

Washington proclaimed the United States neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Great Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although he never officially joined the Federalist Party, he supported its programs. Washington’s Farewell Address was an influential primer on republican virtue and a warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars. He retired from the presidency in 1797 and returned to his home, Mount Vernon, and his domestic life where he managed a variety of enterprises. He freed all his slaves by his final will.

Washington had a vision of a great and powerful nation that would be built on republican lines using federal power. He sought to use the national government to preserve liberty, improve infrastructure, open the western lands, promote commerce, found a permanent capital, reduce regional tensions and promote a spirit of American nationalism. At his death, Washington was eulogized as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” by Henry Lee.

The Federalists made him the symbol of their party but for many years, the Jeffersonians continued to distrust his influence and delayed building the Washington Monument. As the leader of the first successful revolution against a colonial empire in world history, Washington became an international icon for liberation and nationalism, especially in France and Latin America. He is consistently ranked among the top three presidents of the United States, according to polls of both scholars and the general public.

==Early life (1732–1753)==

The first child of Augustine Washington (1694–1743) and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708–1789), George Washington was born on their Pope’s Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. According to the Julian calendar and Annunciation Style of enumerating years, then in use in the British Empire, Washington was born on February 11, 1731; when the Gregorian calendar was implemented in the British Empire in 1752, in accordance with the provisions of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, his birth date became February 22, 1732.

Washington’s ancestors were from Sulgrave, England; his great-grandfather, John Washington, had emigrated to Virginia in 1657. George’s father Augustine was a slave-owning tobacco planter who later tried his hand in iron-mining ventures. In George’s youth, the Washingtons were moderately prosperous members of the Virginia gentry, of “middling rank” rather than one of the leading planter families. At this time, Virginia and other southern colonies had become a slave society, in which slaveholders formed the ruling class and the economy was based on slave labor.

Six of George’s siblings reached maturity, including two older half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, from his father’s first marriage to Jane Butler Washington, and four full siblings, Samuel, Elizabeth (Betty), John Augustine and Charles. Three siblings died before becoming adults: his full sister Mildred died when she was about one, his half-brother Butler died while an infant, and his half-sister Jane died at the age of 12, when George was about 2. George’s father died when George was 11 years old, after which George’s half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model. William Fairfax, Lawrence’s father-in-law and cousin of Virginia’s largest landowner, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, was also a formative influence.

Washington spent much of his boyhood at Ferry Farm in Stafford County near Fredericksburg. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the Potomac River which he named Mount Vernon, in honor of his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father’s death and eventually acquired Mount Vernon after Lawrence’s death.

The death of his father prevented Washington from crossing the Atlantic to receive the rest of his education at England’s Appleby School, as his older brothers had done. He received the equivalent of an elementary school education from a variety of tutors, and also a school run by an Anglican clergyman in or near Fredericksburg. Talk of securing an appointment in the Royal Navy for him when he was 15 was dropped when his widowed mother objected. Thanks to Lawrence’s connection to the powerful Fairfax family, at age 17 in 1749, Washington was appointed official surveyor for Culpeper County, a well-paid position which enabled him to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley, the first of his many land acquisitions in western Virginia. Thanks also to Lawrence’s involvement in the Ohio Company, a land investment company funded by Virginia investors, and Lawrence’s position as commander of the Virginia militia, Washington came to the notice of the new lieutenant governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie. Washington was hard to miss: At exactly six feet, he towered over most of his contemporaries.

In 1751, Washington travelled to Barbados with Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis, with the hope that the climate would be beneficial to Lawrence’s health. Washington contracted smallpox during the trip, which left his face slightly scarred, but immunized him against future exposures to the dreaded disease. Lawrence’s health did not improve; he returned to Mount Vernon, where he died in 1752. Lawrence’s position as Adjutant General (militia leader) of Virginia was divided into four offices after his death. Washington was appointed by Governor Dinwiddie as one of the four district adjutants in February 1753, with the rank of major in the Virginia militia. Washington also joined the Freemasons fraternal association in Fredericksburg at this time.

==French and Indian War (or ‘Seven Years War’, 1754–1758)==

The Ohio Company was an important vehicle through which British investors planned to expand into the Ohio Valley, opening new settlements and trading posts for the Indian trade In 1753, the French themselves began expanding their military control into the Ohio Country, a territory already claimed by the British colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania. These competing claims led to a war in the colonies called the French and Indian War (1754–62), and contributed to the start of the global Seven Years’ War (1756–63). By chance, Washington became involved in its beginning.

Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of colonial Virginia, was ordered by the British government to guard the British territorial claims including the Ohio River basin. In late 1753 Washington was ordered by Dinwiddie to deliver a letter asking the French to vacate the Ohio Valley; he was eager to prove himself as the new adjutant general of the militia, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor himself only a year before. During his trip Washington met with Tanacharison (also called “Half-King”) and other Iroquois chiefs allied with England at Logstown to secure their support in case of a military conflict with the French; Washington and Tanacharison became friends. Washington delivered the letter to the local French commander Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, who politely refused to leave. Washington kept a diary during his expedition which was printed by William Hunter on Dinwiddie’s order and which made Washington’s name recognizable in Virginia. This increased notoriety helped him to obtain a commission to raise a company of 100 men and start his military career.

Dinwiddie sent Washington back to the Ohio Country to protect an Ohio Company’s crew constructing a fort at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, before he reached the area, a French force drove out colonial traders and began construction of Fort Duquesne. A small detachment of French troops led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, was discovered by Tanacharison and a few warriors east of present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. On May 28, 1754 Washington and some of his militia unit, aided by their Mingo allies, ambushed the French in what has come to be called the Battle of Jumonville Glen. Exactly what happened during and after the battle is a matter of some controversy, but a few primary accounts agree that the battle lasted about 15 minutes, that Jumonville was killed, and that most of his party were either killed or taken prisoner. Whether Jumonville died at the hands of Tanacharison in cold blood or was somehow shot by an onlooker with a musket as he sat with Washington or by another means, is not completely clear.

The French responded by attacking and capturing Washington at Fort Necessity in July 1754. However, he was allowed to return with his troops to Virginia. Historian Joseph Ellis concludes that the episode demonstrated Washington’s bravery, initiative, inexperience and impetuosity. These events had international consequences; the French accused Washington of assassinating Jumonville, who they claimed was on a diplomatic mission. Both France and Great Britain were ready to fight for control of the region and both sent troops to North America in 1755; war was formally declared in 1756.

===Braddock disaster 1755===

In 1755, Washington was the senior American aide to British General Edward Braddock on the ill-fated Braddock expedition. This was the largest British expedition to the colonies, and was intended to expel the French from the Ohio Country. The French and their Indian allies ambushed Braddock, who was mortally wounded in the Battle of the Monongahela. After suffering devastating casualties, the British retreated in disarray; however, Washington rode back and forth across the battlefield, rallying the remnants of the British and Virginian forces to an organized retreat.

===Commander of Virginia Regiment===

Governor Dinwiddie rewarded Washington in 1755 with a commission as “Colonel of the Virginia Regiment and Commander in Chief of all forces now raised in the defense of His Majesty’s Colony” and gave him the task of defending Virginia’s frontier. The Virginia Regiment was the first full-time American military unit in the colonies (as opposed to part-time militias and the British regular units). Washington was ordered to “act defensively or offensively” as he thought best.

In command of a thousand soldiers, Washington was a disciplinarian who emphasized training. He led his men in brutal campaigns against the Indians in the west; in 10 months units of his regiment fought 20 battles, and lost a third of its men. Washington’s strenuous efforts meant that Virginia’s frontier population suffered less than that of other colonies; Ellis concludes “it was his only unqualified success” in the war.

In 1758, Washington participated in the Forbes Expedition to capture Fort Duquesne. He was embarrassed by a friendly fire episode in which his unit and another British unit thought the other was the French enemy and opened fire, with 14 dead and 26 wounded in the mishap. Washington was not involved in any other major fighting on the expedition, and the British scored a major strategic victory, gaining control of the Ohio Valley, when the French abandoned the fort. Following the expedition, he retired from his Virginia Regiment commission in December 1758. Washington did not return to military life until the outbreak of the revolution in 1775.

===Lessons learned===

Although Washington never gained the commission in the British army he yearned for, in these years the young man gained valuable military, political, and leadership skills. He closely observed British military tactics, gaining a keen insight into their strengths and weaknesses that proved invaluable during the Revolution. He demonstrated his toughness and courage in the most difficult situations, including disasters and retreats. He developed a command presence—given his size, strength, stamina, and bravery in battle, he appeared to soldiers to be a natural leader and they followed him without question.

Washington learned to organize, train, drill, and discipline his companies and regiments. From his observations, readings and conversations with professional officers, he learned the basics of battlefield tactics, as well as a good understanding of problems of organization and logistics. He gained an understanding of overall strategy, especially in locating strategic geographical points.

Historian Ron Chernow is of the opinion that his frustrations in dealing with government officials during this conflict led him to advocate the advantages of a strong national government and a vigorous executive agency that could get results; other historians tend to ascribe Washington’s position on government to his later American Revolutionary War service. He developed a very negative idea of the value of militia, who seemed too unreliable, too undisciplined, and too short-term compared to regulars. On the other hand, his experience was limited to command of at most 1000 men, and came only in remote frontier conditions that were far removed from the urban situations he faced during the Revolution at Boston, New York, Trenton and Philadelphia.

==Between the wars: Mount Vernon (1759–1774)==

On January 6, 1759, Washington married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis, then 28 years old. Surviving letters suggest that he may have been in love at the time with Sally Fairfax, the wife of a friend. Nevertheless, George and Martha made a compatible marriage, because Martha was intelligent, gracious, and experienced in managing a planter’s estate.

Together the two raised her two children from her previous marriage, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis; later the Washingtons raised two of Mrs. Washington’s grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha never had any children together – his earlier bout with smallpox in 1751 may have made him sterile. The newlywed couple moved to Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, where he took up the life of a planter and political figure.

Washington’s marriage to Martha greatly increased his property holdings and social standing, and made him one of Virginia’s wealthiest men. He acquired one-third of the {convert|18000|acre|km2|0|adj=on} Custis estate upon his marriage, worth approximately $100,000, and managed the remainder on behalf of Martha’s children, for whom he sincerely cared.

In 1754, Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie had promised land bounties to the soldiers and officers who volunteered to serve during the French and Indian War. Governor Norborne Berkeley finally fulfilled Dinwiddie’s promise in 1769–1770, with Washington subsequently receiving title to {convert|23200|acre|km2} near where the Kanawha River flows into the Ohio River, in what is now western West Virginia. He also frequently bought additional land in his own name. By 1775, Washington had doubled the size of Mount Vernon to {convert|6500|acre|km2|0}, and had increased its slave population to over 100. As a respected military hero and large landowner, he held local office and was elected to the Virginia provincial legislature, the House of Burgesses, beginning in 1758.

Washington lived an aristocratic lifestyle—fox hunting was a favorite leisure activity. He also enjoyed going to dances and parties, in addition to the theater, races, and cockfights. Washington also was known to play cards, backgammon, and billiards. Like most Virginia planters, he imported luxuries and other goods from England and paid for them by exporting his tobacco crop.

Washington began to pull himself out of debt in the mid-1760s by diversifying his previously tobacco-centric business interests into other ventures and paying more attention to his affairs. In 1766, he started switching Mount Vernon’s primary cash crop away from tobacco to wheat, a crop that could be processed and then sold in various forms in the colonies, and further diversified operations to include flour milling, fishing, horse breeding, spinning, weaving and (in the 1790s) whiskey production. Patsy Custis’s death in 1773 from epilepsy enabled Washington to pay off his British creditors, since half of her inheritance passed to him.

A successful planter, he was a leader in the social elite in Virginia. From 1768 to 1775, he invited some 2000 guests to his Mount Vernon estate, mostly those he considered “people of rank”. As for people not of high social status, his advice was to “treat them civilly” but “keep them at a proper distance, for they will grow upon familiarity, in proportion as you sink in authority”. In 1769, he became more politically active, presenting the Virginia Assembly with legislation to ban the importation of goods from Great Britain.

==American Revolution (1775–1783)==

Washington opposed the 1765 Stamp Act, the first direct tax on the colonies, and began taking a leading role in the growing colonial resistance when protests against the Townshend Acts (enacted in 1767) became widespread. In May 1769, Washington introduced a proposal, drafted by his friend George Mason, calling for Virginia to boycott English goods until the Acts were repealed. Parliament repealed the Townshend Acts in 1770. However, Washington regarded the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774 as “an Invasion of our Rights and Privileges”.

In July 1774, he chaired the meeting at which the “Fairfax Resolves” were adopted, which called for the convening of a Continental Congress, among other things. In August, Washington attended the First Virginia Convention, where he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.

===Commander in chief===

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord near Boston in April 1775, the colonies went to war. Washington appeared at the Second Continental Congress in a military uniform, signaling that he was prepared for war. Washington had the prestige, military experience, charisma and military bearing of a military leader and was known as a strong patriot. Virginia, the largest colony, deserved recognition, and New England—where the fighting began—realized it needed Southern support. Washington did not explicitly seek the office of commander and said that he was not equal to it, but there was no serious competition. Congress created the Continental Army on June 14, 1775. Nominated by John Adams of Massachusetts, Washington was then appointed General and Commander-in-chief.

Washington had three roles during the war. In 1775–77, and again in 1781 he led his men against the main British forces. Although he lost many of his battles, he never surrendered his army during the war, and he continued to fight the British relentlessly until the war’s end. He plotted the overall strategy of the war, in cooperation with Congress.

Second, he was charged with organizing and training the army. He recruited regulars and assigned Baron and General Friedrich von Steuben, a veteran of the Prussian general staff, to train them. The war effort and getting supplies to the troops were under the purview of Congress, but Washington pressured the Congress to provide the essentials.

In June 1776, Congress’ first attempt at running the war effort was established with the committee known as “Board of War and Ordnance”, succeeded by the Board of War in July 1777, a committee which eventually included members of the military. The command structure of the armed forces was a hodgepodge of Congressional appointees (and Congress sometimes made those appointments without Washington’s input) with state-appointments filling the lower ranks and of all of the militia-officers. The results of his general staff were mixed, as some of his favorites (like John Sullivan) never mastered the art of command.

Eventually, he found capable officers, such as General Nathanael Greene, General Daniel Morgan, “the old wagoner”, with whom he had served in The French and Indian War, Henry Knox, his chief of artillery, and his chief-of-staff Alexander Hamilton. The American officers never equaled their opponents in tactics and maneuver, and consequently they lost most of the pitched battles. The great successes, at Boston (1776), Saratoga (1777) and Yorktown (1781), came from trapping the British far from base with much larger numbers of troops. Daniel Morgan’s annihilation of Banastre Tarleton’s legion of dragoons at Cowpens in February of 1781, came as a result of Morgan’s employment of superior line tactics against his British opponent, resulting in one of the very few double envelopments in military history, another being Hannibal’s defeat of the Romans at Cannae in 216 b.c. The decisive defeat of Col. Patrick Ferguson’s Tory Regiment at King’s Mountain demonstrated the superiority of the riflery of American “over mountain men” over British-trained troops armed with musket and bayonet. These “over-mountain men” were led by a variety of elected officers, including the 6’6″ William Campbell who had become one of Washington’s officers by the time of Yorktown. Similarly, Morgan’s Virginia riflemen proved themselves superior to the British at Saratoga, a post-revolutionary war development being the creation of trained “rifle battalions” in the European armies.

Third, and most important, Washington was the embodiment of armed resistance to the Crown—the representative man of the Revolution. His long-term strategy was to maintain an army in the field at all times, and eventually this strategy worked. His enormous personal and political stature and his political skills kept Congress, the army, the French, the militias, and the states all pointed toward a common goal. Furthermore, by voluntarily resigning his commission and disbanding his army when the war was won (rather than declaring himself monarch!), he permanently established the principle of civilian supremacy in military affairs. Yet his constant reiteration of the point that well-disciplined professional soldiers counted for twice as much as erratic militias (clearly demonstrated in the rout at Camden, where only the Maryland and Delaware Continentals under Baron DeKalb held firm, helped overcome the ideological distrust of a standing army.

===Victory at Boston===

Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in the field at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in July 1775, during the ongoing siege of Boston. Realizing his army’s desperate shortage of gunpowder, Washington asked for new sources. American troops raided British arsenals, including some in the Caribbean, and some manufacturing was attempted. They obtained a barely adequate supply (about 2.5 million pounds) by the end of 1776, mostly from France.

Washington reorganized the army during the long standoff, and forced the British to withdraw by putting artillery on Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. The British evacuated Boston in March 1776 and Washington moved his army to New York City.

Although highly disparaging toward most of the Patriots, British newspapers routinely praised Washington’s personal character and qualities as a military commander. These articles were bold, as Washington was an enemy general who commanded an army in a cause that many Britons believed would ruin the empire.

===Defeat at New York City and Fabian tactics===

In August 1776, British General William Howe launched a massive naval and land campaign designed to seize New York. The Continental Army under Washington engaged the enemy for the first time as an army of the newly independent United States at the Battle of Long Island, the largest battle of the entire war. The Americans were heavily outnumbered, many men deserted, and Washington was badly beaten. Subsequently, Washington was forced to retreat across the East River at night. He did so without loss of life or materiel.

Washington retreated north from the city to avoid encirclement, enabling Howe to take the offensive and capture Fort Washington on November 16 with high Continental casualties. Washington then retreated across New Jersey; the future of the Continental Army was in doubt due to expiring enlistments and the string of losses. On the night of December 25, 1776, Washington staged a comeback with a surprise attack on a Hessian outpost in western New Jersey. He led his army across the Delaware River to capture nearly 1,000 Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington followed up his victory at Trenton with another over British regulars at Princeton in early January. The British retreated back to New York City and its environs, which they held until the peace treaty of 1783. Washington’s victories wrecked the British carrot-and-stick strategy of showing overwhelming force then offering generous terms. The Americans would not negotiate for anything short of independence. These victories alone were not enough to ensure ultimate Patriot victory, however, since many soldiers did not reenlist or deserted during the harsh winter. Washington and Congress reorganized the army with increased rewards for staying and punishment for desertion, which raised troop numbers effectively for subsequent battles.

Historians debate whether or not Washington preferred a Fabian strategy to harass the British with quick, sharp attacks followed by a retreat so the larger British army could not catch him, or whether he preferred to fight major battles. While his southern commander Greene in 1780–81 did use Fabian tactics, Washington did so only in fall 1776 to spring 1777, after losing New York City and seeing much of his army melt away. Trenton and Princeton were Fabian examples. By summer 1777, however, Washington had rebuilt his strength and his confidence; he stopped using raids and went for large-scale confrontations, as at Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and Yorktown.

===1777 campaigns===

In the late summer of 1777, the British under John Burgoyne sent a major invasion army south from Quebec, with the intention of splitting off rebellious New England. General Howe in New York took his army south to Philadelphia instead of going up the Hudson River to join with Burgoyne near Albany. It was a major strategic mistake for the British, and Washington rushed to Philadelphia to engage Howe, while closely following the action in upstate New York. In pitched battles that were too complex for his relatively inexperienced men, Washington was defeated. At the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Howe outmaneuvered Washington, and marched into the American capital at Philadelphia unopposed on September 26. Washington’s army unsuccessfully attacked the British garrison at Germantown in early October. Meanwhile, Burgoyne, out of reach from help from Howe, was trapped and forced to surrender his entire army at Saratoga, New York. It was a major turning point militarily and diplomatically. France responded to Burgoyne’s defeat by entering the war, openly allying with America and turning the Revolutionary War into a major worldwide war. Washington’s loss of Philadelphia prompted some members of Congress to discuss removing Washington from command. This attempt failed after Washington’s supporters rallied behind him.

===Valley Forge===

Washington’s army of 11,000 went into winter quarters at Valley Forge north of Philadelphia in December 1777. Over the next six months, the deaths in camp numbered in the thousands (the majority being from disease), with historians’ death toll estimates ranging from 2000 to 2500, to over 3000 men. The next spring, however, the army emerged from Valley Forge in good order, thanks in part to a full-scale training program supervised by General von Steuben. The British evacuated Philadelphia to New York in 1778, shadowed by Washington. Washington attacked them at Monmouth, fighting to an effective draw in one of the war’s largest battles. Afterwards, the British continued to head towards New York, and Washington moved his army outside of New York.

===Victory at Yorktown===

In the summer of 1779 at Washington’s direction, General John Sullivan carried out a scorched earth campaign that destroyed at least 40 Iroquois villages in central and upstate New York; the Indians were British allies who had been raiding American settlements on the frontier. In July 1780, 5,000 veteran French troops led by General Comte Donatien de Rochambeau arrived at Newport, Rhode Island to aid in the war effort. The Continental Army having been funded by $20,000 in French gold, Washington delivered the final blow to the British in 1781, after a French naval victory allowed American and French forces to trap a British army in Virginia. The surrender at Yorktown on October 17, 1781, marked the end of major fighting in continental North America.

===Demobilization===

Washington could not know that after Yorktown, the British would not reopen hostilities. They still had 26,000 troops occupying New York City, Charleston and Savannah, together with a powerful fleet. The French army and navy departed, so the Americans were on their own in 1782–83. The treasury was empty, and the unpaid soldiers were growing restive, almost to the point of mutiny or possible coup d’état. Washington dispelled unrest among officers by suppressing the Newburgh Conspiracy in March 1783, and Congress came up with the promise of a five-year bonus.

With the initial peace treaty articles ratified in April, a recently formed Congressional committee under Hamilton, was considering needs and plans for a peacetime army. On May 2, 1783, the Commander in Chief submit

 

Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington

 

 

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