The story of George Washington's first crisis of the fledgling republic: In the war’s waning days, the American Revolution neared collapsed when Washington’s senior officers were rumored to be on the edge of mutiny.
On March 15, 1783, General George Washington addressed a group of angry officers in aneffortto rescue the American Revolution from mutinyat thehighest level.
After the British surrender at Yorktown, the American Revolution stillblazed on, and as peace was negotiated in Europe, grave problems surfaced at home. The government was broke, paying its debts with loans from France. Political rivalry among the states paralyzed Congress. The army’s officers, encamped near Newburgh, New York, and restless without an enemy to fight, brooded over a civilian population seemingly indifferent to their sacrifices.
The result was the Newburgh Affair, a mysterious event in which Continental Army officers, disgruntled by a lack of pay and pensions, may have collaborated with nationalist-minded politicians such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Robert Morris to pressure Congress and the states to approve new taxes and strengthen the central government.
Fearing what his men might do with their passions inflamed, Washington averted the crisis, but with the nation’s problems persisting, the officers ultimately left the army disappointed, their low opinion of their civilian countrymen confirmed.
A Crisis of Peaceprovides a fresh look at the end of the American Revolution while speaking to issues that concern us still: the fragility of civil-military relations, how even victorious wars end ambiguously, and what veterans and civilians owe each other.
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About the Author
A history professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, David Head'sresearch has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by George Washington's Mt. Vernon. His prior academic books benefited from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, a Gilder Lehrman Fellowship at the New-York Historical Society, and a Lord Baltimore Fellowship at the Maryland Historical Society. Head's previous work in the academic community has been honored with several awards and prizes, including Mystic Seaport Museum's John Gardner Maritime Research Award and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic's Ralph D. Gray Article Prize.