Only weeks before the Newburgh Controversy, General Washington grants an officer "permission of absence"George Washington Letter Signed. One page, 9" x 11.75" (sight), "Head Quarters," November 11, 1782. Over a year after the British surrendered at Yorktown, Washington was at his headquarters at Newburgh, 448 miles away, waiting for the peace treaty with Great Britain to be signed and ratified by the American Congress. In the meantime, American troops were becoming restive, largely the American government had no money to pay them. In what became a highly charged atmosphere, Washington writes this letter to Lieutenant Colonel Ebenezer Gray of Massachusetts. In full:
In giving permission of absence to Officers for the recovery of their health, I have supposed the experiment of change of air & diet might be made in a few weeks as well as in any Length of time; -- I must therefore consider the indulgence given to you for the purpose, as limited to eight weeks from the date hereof, at the expiration of which time, I shall expect you will return to the Army.
I am sir
Your Most Humble Servant
The situation with the troops and officers worsened over the next few months, climaxing in March 1783, when General Washington met with the disgruntled officers. In dramatic fashion, the general calmed their fears. This letter is included in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscripts Sources, 1745-1799 (John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor [Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1938], 327), where it is dated November 10, rather than November 11. The text has slightly faded, but Washington's signature remains bold. The letter is handsomely matted and framed with an identification plate and an image of Washington to an overall size of 32.5" x 30.5".
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