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At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Unknown to the Officers of the Army [The Newburgh Conspiracy]

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01994 Author/Creator: Unknown Place Written: s.l. Type: Manuscript letter Date: 10 March 1783 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Written in the hand of Samuel Shaw, this is Henry Knox's copy, and is docketed by Knox. An anonymous address to the officers of the Army, along with a call for a general meeting of officers. This particular copy was sent to the officers at West Point. Gives high-minded praise to the troops, extolling their virtue, bravery, and patriotism -- but then transitions into an emotional-laden section about America's inability to provide for them after the war is over. Says "If this then be your treatment, while the swords you wear are necessary for the defence of America - what have you to expect from peace - when your voice shall sink and your strength dissipate by division?" Makes a reference to "the plain coat of republicanism" (the contemporary use of this word in writing was somewhat rare in the 18th century). Wants them to come together and make a decision about what they are willing to accept and what they are willing to do to get it. Tells them "Let two or three men, who can feel as well as write, be appointed to draw up your last remonstrance." Says that they need to start applying more pressure to Congress and should refuse to disarm until their situation is rectified. Postscript says there is a meeting of general and field officers at 10 a.m. next Tuesday to discuss the report of the committee sent to Philadelphia to air their grievances. Says an officer from each company is expected to attend. Docket in Knox's hand.


Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Keywords/Subjects: Newburgh Conspiracy, Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War General, Military History, Continental Army, Soldier's Pay, Finance, West Point (US Military Academy), Patriotism, Bravery, Petition, Continental Congress, Congress, Government and Civics, Rebellion, Mutiny, Pension

Sub Era: