ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY
March 15, 1783
George Washington Gives an Impassioned Speech
in an Attempt to Squash the Newburgh Conspiracy
On this day in 1783, Commander-in-Chief George Washington made an impassioned speech to his officers who had
organized to protest the lack of pay by the Continental Congress. Congress had promised them a pension but was
unable to follow through since the states had not provided the money they had promised which was the Federal
Government's only source of funds.
The Revolutionary War was coming to a close but a peace treaty was yet to be signed and Washington was concerned
that the unrest might embolden the British to resume hostilities. Before Washington began his speech from the notes
in his hand, he reached for his reading glasses and began by saying "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my
spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.". With that statement,
the officers realized how much Washington himself had sacrificed.
When the "Newburgh Address" was finished and Washington left the room, the officers reaffirmed their loyalty.
Congress eventually paid the men with government bonds which were of dubious value at the time but eventually
redeemed in full.