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George Washington, Diplomat and Statesmen

On 15 March 1783, Gen. Washington swayed rebellious soldiers back to the cause.

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Although the Revolutionary War had been all but over for 2 years, soldiers of the Continental Army were angry and frustrated at the lack of pay and settlement of their accounts. Washington had been warned about the possibility of an attack on his authority (in which Gen. Horatio Gates was involved). In early March, an anonymous letter was circulated around the camp at Newburgh, NY, calling for a meeting to discuss abandoning the army. When a copy of this letter reached Washington, he issued general orders denouncing the irregularity and called for a meeting on 15 March of representatives of all regiments to discuss the situation and how to resolve it.

As Washington prepared to read to the group the letter he had prepared outlining the financial problems of Congress, he seemed to have trouble reading the lines. Pausing, he took out his glasses, and commented, "Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind."

Suddenly the men realized that Washington himself had sacrificed as much, if not more, than they had and had done it without complaining. The meeting ended with the officers expressing their confidence in Congress and their love for Washington increased.

The attached images are of the anonymous letter, and the first page of the letter read by George Washington on 15 Mar 1783.

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