The Revolutionary War is almost at an end, but all is not well within the ranks of the Continental Army. Rumors swirl throughout the camp that Congress may send its soldiers home without pay or pension once the peace treaty is signed.

Facing destitution, many officers are prepared to march on Congress demanding pay. General Washington is forced to decide if he should arrest the conspirators for treason, convince the officers to remain patient, or pressure Congress to act.

Should George Washington support his loyal troops or the fledgling government?

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Painting by Jane Sutherland

The Newburgh Conspiracy was a plan by Continental Army officers to challenge the authority of the Confederation Congress. The officers were frustrated with Congress's long-standing inability to meet its financial obligations to the military. By early 1783, widespread unrest had created an atmosphere ripe for mutiny.

Without the power to tax under the Articles of Confederation, Congress relied on irregular, voluntary payments from the states known as requisitions to raise revenue. The states' slipshod record of compliance forced Congress to struggle to support the army throughout the war. Officers and soldiers alike were not being paid regularly, and the army was often forced to requisition supplies from citizens.

In 1780, Congress passed a resolution providing half-pay for retired soldiers. However, as of 1783 the states had yet to comply with Congress’s request for the needed funds. As the British threat receded following the war’s last major engagement in 1781, the states became even more reluctant to fulfill Congress’s requisitions for the army. By late 1782, many in the northern army encamped at Newburgh feared Congress would never would meet its obligations. Hoping to intimidate Congress into meeting those requirements, the nationalists in Philadelphia attempted to stoke the army's unrest.

The Newburgh Conspiracy

It's Your Turn to Lead

Step into the boots of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and make the very same decisions as General George Washington in this exciting interactive experience.

Be Washington
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