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Plotting against General Washington with Mark Edward Lender

In late 1777, George Washington’s disappointing performance as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army was a source of growing concern among some army officers and members of Congress. While he had won important victories at Princeton and Trenton months earlier, he had lost New York City, and Philadelphia, and suffered defeats at Brandywine and Germantown. Patriots intended to win the war, not lose it. And to win it, some came to believe that Washington ought to be removed from power, or at least his authority weakened. 

On today’s episode, Dr. Mark Edward Lender joins Jim Ambuske to discuss what some have called a cabal or a conspiracy to replace Washington as head of American forces. The reality is much more complicated, and surprising. Lender is the author of the new book, Cabal! The Plot Against General Washington!

Lender is a military historian who has written extensively about the Revolutionary War era. This episode begins with a conversation about one of Lender's first books, “A Respectable Army”: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763-1789, co-authored with James Kirby Martin. Lender and Martin published the book at a time when historians started to rethink how to write military history from the bottom up. After chatting about "A Respectable Army," Lender and Ambuske discuss the plot against George Washington.

About Our Guest: 

Mark Edward Lender has a Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University. He is Professor Emeritus of History at Kean University, from which he retired as Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2011. He is the author or co-author of eleven books and many articles and reviews, and his writings have won awards for history, writing, and research. He was a finalist for The George Washington Prize, from Mount Vernon and Washington College, with Garry Wheeler Stone, for Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle, 2017.

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is the co-author with Randall Flaherty of "Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson," in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson's University ed. by John A. Rogasta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019). Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.