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    Revolutionary War soldier's discharge

    [Revolutionary War]. George Washington Military Discharge Signed "Go: Washington" as General and Commander in Chief of the Forces of the United States of America." One and a half partially-printed pages, 7.75" x 13", "Head-Quarters [Newburgh, New York]," June 8, 1783. In full: "THESE are to CERTIFY that the Bearer hereof William Tolbert, Corporal in the First New York Regiment, having faithfully served the United States six years and being inlisted [sic] for the War only, is hereby DISCHARGED from the American Army." The discharge further certifies that Tolbert has "been honored with the Badge of Merit [the forerunner of today's Purple Heart] for six Years faithful Service." Countersigned by Jonathan Trumbull Jr., one of Washington's aides-de-camp who would go on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and as governor of Connecticut. Additional information on the verso states that the "CERTIFICATE shall not avail the Bearer as a Discharge, until the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of Peace; previous to which Time, and until Proclamation thereof shall be made, He is to be considered as being on Furlough." The Treaty of Paris, which was signed on September 3, 1783, was ratified on January 17, 1784.

    On April 19, 1783, less than two months before signing this discharge, General Washington, from his headquarters at Newburgh, issued an order for the cessation of hostilities which served as a formal end to the fighting (though there had been virtually no military action in the colonies since the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown eighteen months earlier). Newburgh served as the headquarters of the Continental Army from March 1782 until its disbandment in late 1783 and would be the sight of many important actions by Washington that would shape the newly founded republic including: his refusal to become king; his diffusion of the Newburgh Conspiracy, whereby a group of disenchanted officers planned to overthrow the government; the creation of the Badge of Military Merit; and the site where the general penned a letter to the governors of the separate states that would have an influence over the writing of the Constitution.

    Condition: The entirety of the verso has been silked, repairing weakness in the folds. Two small spots of paper loss have also been repaired on the verso with minimal loss of text. The lower left corner is cut at a slight angle. Washington's signature, which is wholly legible, shows light fading near the center. Scattered spots of foxing, toning along the edges, and ink bleed-through from the verso.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
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