Be Washington: The Newburgh Conspiracy

This page provides resources accompanying the Be Washington: The Newburgh Conspiracy scenario. It contains primary and secondary sources on the The Newburgh Conspiracy, as well as helpful teaching materials. Use these resources to aid the Be Washington gameplay, learn more about the end of the Revolutionary War, and find useful learning materials!

The Newburgh Conspiracy

The Newburgh Conspiracy

The Newburgh Conspiracy threatened the authority of George Washington and the Confederation Congress. Washington needed to decide if he was going to arrest the conspirators or persuade them to back down.

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Newburgh Conspiracy

1780
1783
Congress Passes a Resolution to Pay Soldiers
Congress Fails to Pay Soldiers
An Anonymous Letter is Published
Washington Initially Addresses the Letter
The Officers Meet
Congress Votes to Pay
The Treaty of Paris is signed
Washington Resigns

1780

Congress Passes a Resolution to Pay Soldiers

Congress passes a resolution providing half-pay for retired soldiers. They struggle to actually enact this resolution for three years, since states do not comply with Congress’s request for funds.

Congress Fails to Pay Soldiers

Congress fails to provide backpay and pensions for officers who served during the American Revolution.

An Anonymous Letter is Published

An anonymous letter goes out, calling for officers to meet to discuss Congress’s failures and to commit mutiny if demands are not soon met. This sparks the Newburgh Conspiracy.

Washington Initially Addresses the Letter

Washington learns of the letter and decides to address it. Washington’s general orders call for the meeting to be moved to March 15. The officers agree to the date change.

The Officers Meet

The officers meet and Washington interrupts the meeting, convincing the men to be patient. Some men are moved to tears. Later that night, the officers vote to abandon the plan for mutiny.

Congress Votes to Pay

Congress votes to fully pay the soldiers for five years of service.

The Treaty of Paris is signed

France, England, and the United States agree to the Treaty of Paris, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.

Washington Resigns

Washington resigns his military commission and returns to Mount Vernon, hoping to live a peaceful life as a private citizen.

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