Drafting George

George Washington And His Family Art Print by Edward Savage

Good morning, it’s June 15, 2019. On this date in 1775, the Continental Congress unanimously tapped George Washington to command the yet-to-be-created armed forces of the restive 13 colonies. Washington accepted the commission to lead the Continental Army the following day. In subsequent letters to their wives, both GW and John Adams revealed how fully they comprehended the historic import of the choice.

Whether or not he was truly reluctant to be named the commander-in-chief of a revolutionary army, when he wrote to his wife, Martha, from Philadelphia on June 18, 1775, George Washington made sure to sound that way.

“My Dearest, I am now set down to write you on a subject which fills me with inexpressible concern — and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you,” his letter home began.

“It has been determined in Congress that the whole Army raised for the defense of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it,” Washington added. “You may believe me my dear Patcy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it … but, as it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking of it is designed to answer some good purpose.”

GW’s expressions of modesty notwithstanding, there was little doubt in Philadelphia that the rebel statesmen launching a new country had picked the right man to lead their armed forces.

As John Adams wrote to his wife one day earlier, on June 17, 1775, “I can now inform you that the Congress have made choice of the modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington Esqr., to be the General of the American Army, and that he is to repair as soon as possible to the camp [near] Boston.”

In this letter to Abigail, Adams foresaw the “good purpose” of this decision that Washington himself hoped for. “This appointment will have a great effect,” John Adams predicted, “in cementing and securing the union of these colonies.”

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics

%d bloggers like this: