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General George Washington Letter: In Honor of Independence Day

Posted on

Friday, June 30, 2017 - 9:23am


Jennifer Ford

Today’s blog post highlights an 18th century Revolutionary War collection from the University of Mississippi Libraries’ Department of Archives & Special Collections, in honor of the upcoming Independence Day holiday. The Skipwith Revolutionary War Collection consists primarily of the papers of Nathanael Greene, Major-General of the Continental Army. The papers were gifted to the University by Mississippian Kate A. Skipwith, a descendant of General Greene.

During the latter years of the war, Greene commanded the Southern Army, which had suffered from weaker commanders. The collection includes correspondence written to Greene from many seminal Revolutionary figures, such as George Washington, John Hancock, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and others. Topics in these letters include reports of Native American involvement in the War, troop morale, battle descriptions, troop movements and more.

Featured below is a page from a January 29, 1783 letter from General George Washington to Major General Greene. In the letter Washington covers several topics, as it was written during a crucial point in the ongoing peace discussions which would culminate on September 3 of that year with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. This Treaty would end hostilities between the two countries, as King George III acknowledged the United States' existence as free sovereign and independent state.  Some of the topics addressed by the war-weary commander include his concern over potential territory loss to the British, his interest in the actions of Parliament and George III, and his reaction to the peace commission allowing British negotiator, Richard Oswald, to “treat with us, as ‘the United States of America’” during the talks. Washington describes the use of this terminology in the negotiations as one which “kindles a brighter ray of hope, than any which has hitherto shone upon us.”

George Washinton Letter to Nathaniel Greene