THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE [GENERAL WASHINGTON & THE “NEWBURGH MUTINY”] - PHILADELPHIA, JULY 23, 1783

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Item Code: 1179-1835

Numb. 271. 4 pp. Exhibits center fold-mark, and light damp-staining in upper & near upper & lower margins. Else VG plus and entirely legible.

Front page features numerous smalls news item, including notices for two runaway apprentices and five runaway slaves from Maryland, negroes with rewards ranging from Three Pounds to Thirty dollars.

Second page contains a Parliamentary speech of Lord North responding to a motion by Sir William Pitt calling for the reform of representation in that body. [Lord North had long been held responsible by Pitt and Edmund Burke for the unwise and disastrous American War, lost at Yorktown in October 1781, with British surrender negotiations still under way.}

More interesting, the third page contains an extract of a letter from General George Washington of the Continental Army, dated 24 June, 1783, to the President of the Continental congress concerning the earlier near mutiny of Pennsylvania troops at Newburgh, New York. Partial extract.

The altercation arose from increasing discontent of the army, still held intact—unpaid--following the 1781 victory at Yorktown, awaiting results of peace negotiations in London. The Continental Congress, unable to coerce states to ante-up their respective shares of Army pay, bore the brunt of resentment arising among the Pennsylvania Troops of General Horatio Gates in in March 1. A dangerous situation was brewing at the Newburgh encampment which might well have resulted in an attempted military coup against the Continental Congress.

Until George Washington stepped in, that is, later writing to Congress that, “It was not until 3 o’clock this afternoon that I had the first information of the infamous and outrageous of part of the Pennsylvania troops; it was then I received your excellency’s letter of the 21st by express, and agreeable to the request contained in it, I instantly ordered three compleat regiments of infantry, and a detachment of artillery, to be put in motion as soon as all the troops who compose this gallant army, as well those who were furloughed, as those who remain in service, are men of tried fidelity, I could not have occasion to make any choice of corps; and I have only a regret, that there exists a necessity that they should be employed on so disagreeable service. I dare say, however, they will on this and all other occasions perform their duty as brave and faithful soldiers…”

Nor did Washington merely order up troops to confront the mutineers, if necessary. Upon being informed of a meeting of the dissidents—all nominally under command of General Horatio Gates--
Washington walked unexpectedly in to denounce the “outrageous” proceedings.

While attempting to read a letter, Washington, whose sight was failing, pulled out a pair of spectacles, famously saying, “Gentlemen, not only I have grown gray in the service of my country, I now find myself going Blind.” His intercession in the matter, and his eye-glasses remark, scotched the business, quelling the dissidents (bringing many to tears). With these actions he set the American precedent of military subservience to elected Civilian authority.

Superb George Washington/ “Newburgh Mutiny” newspaper memento. In protective sleeve, w/ white card backing.  [jp][ph:L]

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