The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

Time Line: The American Revolution
The Colonial Period | The American Revolution | The Early Republic

1774 | 1775 | 1776 | 1777 | 1778 | 1779 | 1780 | 1781 | 1782 | 1783


March 13, Washington addresses mutinous Continental officers at Newburgh, New York. Their pay long in arrears, the officers fear that their pensions will also be unpaid. In December 1782, representative officers from each state's Continental line had sent a petition to Congress insisting on immediate payment and suggesting the substitution of lump sums for pensions. The officers, most of whom are at the army's headquarters at Newburgh, learn that Congress has rejected the petition. Washington calls a meeting of representative officers and staff and delivers a speech and reads an extract from Congress. Referring to the glasses he must wear to read the extract, he says, "Gentleman, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind." Washington's gesture defuses the crisis. After he retires from the scene the officers adopt resolutions affirming their loyalty to Congress. March 18, Washington writes Congress an account of the proceedings of the previous days and argues on behalf of the officers' grievances. George Washington to Congress, March 18, 1783

April 18, Washington's General Orders to the officers and troops of the Continental Army announce the "Cessation of Hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain." He congratulates the Army, noting that those who have performed the "meanest office" have participated in a great drama "on the stage of human affairs." "Nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty Scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying, consistency of character through the very last act; to close the Drama with applause; and to retire from the Military Theatre with the same approbation of Angells and men which have crowned all their former vertuous Actions." George Washington, General Orders, April 18, 1783

April 23, Washington sends Sir Guy Carleton a copy of the proclamation on the cessation of hostilities. He describes the proclamation as having been received by him from the "Sovereign Power of the United States." Carleton has been appointed by the British government to negotiate the cessation of hostilities and the exchange and liberation of prisoners. George Washington to Guy Carleton, April 21, 1783

November 2, in Washington's Farewell Orders to the Continental Army, he writes that the "disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken can never be forgotten." George Washington, Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States, November 2, 1783

December 4, Washington formally parts from officers at Fraunces Tavern, New York City. December 23, at Annapolis where Congress is located, Washington submits his resignation of his military commission as commander in chief. His willing resignation of his military powers and his return to private life are considered striking since democratic republics are thought to be especially vulnerable to military dictatorship. Washington becomes as famous for his willingness to relinquish command as for his successful conduct of it in the War.

December 24, Washington arrives at Mount Vernon. Something of a "celebrity" after the war, Washington receives letters of approbation from England and Europe as well as from people within the newly formed United States. His acknowledgments of these letters and thoughts on his recently acquired fame can be found in Series 2, Letterbook 11. In this letter to Henry Knox, Washington writes about the heavy burden of correspondence this attention has generated. George Washington to Henry Knox, January 5, 1785

1774 | 1775 | 1776 | 1777 | 1778 | 1779 | 1780 | 1781 | 1782 | 1783
The Colonial Period | The Early Republic | George Washington Papers Home Page