The crisis in civil‐military relations came in early March 1783 when an anonymous address circulated at army headquarters at Newburgh, eight miles north of West Point, threatening that the army would not disband at the end of the war if its financial demands were not met or that it would refuse to fight if the war continued. The address called for a meeting of officers on 11 March; Washington, who knew the officers' concerns were legitimate but who also understood the need to maintain order and discipline, issued his own call for a meeting for 15 March, transforming an irregular proceeding into an official airing of grievances.
At that meeting, Washington entreated his officers not to “lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained” and produced a letter from a Virginia congressman that attempted to explain Congress's problems in meeting the army's financial demands. Beginning to read, he stumbled over the tightly written words, and drawing out his eyeglasses, reportedly “begged the indulgence of his audience,” observing that “he had grown gray in their service, and now found himself growing blind.” No other words could have reminded the officers so effectively that, if anyone had a right to be frustrated with Congress, it was Washington. If he was willing to trust Congress's goodwill, so should they. The so‐called conspiracy collapsed immediately.
There is reason to doubt the seriousness of the officers' threat to civilian control of the military. While they had cause to complain about a dilatory and pusillanimous Congress, they were members of the same society, with no real prospects but a return to their homes and former employments when the war ended. There is, however, no reason to doubt the power of Washington's leadership. At Newburgh, he reasserted the principle that Congress controls the army, the cornerstone of the American military tradition.
[See also Civil‐Military Relations: Civilian Control of the Military; Continental Army; Revolutionary War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]
Richard H. Kohn , The Inside History of the Newburgh Conspiracy, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., vol. 27 (April 1970), pp. 187–220.
Paul D. Nelson , Horatio Gates at Newburgh, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., vol. 29 (January 1972), pp. 143–58.
Harold E. Selesky
"Newburgh “conspiracy”." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/newburgh-conspiracy
"Newburgh “conspiracy”." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved April 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/newburgh-conspiracy
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.