George Washington's Commission as Commander in Chief
The Continental Congress commissioned George
Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army
on June 19, 1775. Washington was selected over other candidates
such as John Hancock based on his previous military experience
and the hope that a leader from Virginia could help unite
the colonies. Washington left for Massachusetts within days
of receiving his commission and assumed command of the Continental
Army in Cambridge on July 3, 1775. After eight years of war,
Washington resigned his commission as Commander in Chief on
December 23, 1783.
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
of the Continental Congress contains the following references to Washington's commission as Commander in Chief.
15, 1775 - George Washington
was unanimously selected as Commander in Chief of the
16, 1775 - In a speech given to the Continental Congress, Washington accepted the commission and requested
that he not receive a salary for his service, only that
his expenses be paid at the conclusion of the war.
17, 1775 - The Continental Congress drafted Washington’s
commission as Commander in Chief.
of Delegates to Congress contains the following references to Washington's commission as Commander in Chief.
- John Adams sent to Abigail Adams, 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 before Boston."
Washington to Martha Washington, June 18,
1775, "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. You may believe me my dear Patsy, 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."
this collection to find additional information on
the George Washington and the Continental Army.
Washington Papers at the Library of Congress
The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents.
- Continental Congress to George Washington, June 19, 1775, Commission as Commander in Chief.
War Expense Account - In his acceptance speech to the Continental Congress
on June 16, 1775, Washington declined to receive a salary
for his service as Commander in Chief. Instead, he asked
only that his expenses be reimbursed at the end of the
war. On July 1, 1783, Washington provided the Continental
Board of Treasury with his Revolutionary
War Expense Account.
- George Washington to Continental Army, November 2, 1783, Farewell Orders.
- George Washington, December 23, 1783, Resignation Address - Washington
resigned his commission as Commander in Chief of the
Continental Army and returned to private life at Mount
Washington's Papers to find additional material related
to Washington's tenure as Commander in Chief during the
Back in Time: Commander in Chief George Washington Resigned,
December 23, 1783.
Treasures at the Library of Congress - Washington's Commission
George Washington, a leader of the revolutionary movement
in Virginia, a former commander of Virginia's frontier
forces, and a British colonial army officer, was commissioned
"commander-in-chief of the army of the United Colonies
of all the forces raised and to be raised by them"
on June 19, 1775, by the Continental Congress.
Memory Timeline: The American Revolution - Creating a Continental
Contains an essay on the creation of the Continental
Army and links to related documents.
George Washington resigned his commission as Commander
in Chief of the Continental Army in the senate chamber
of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, where the Continental
Congress was meeting on December 23, 1783.
George Washington's Resignation, Maryland State Archives
Mount Vernon Ladies Association
The Papers of George Washington, Founders Online
The Papers of George
Washington, University of Virginia
George Washington, PBS
of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources,
1745-1799, Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick (1931-44),
University of Virginia
Buchanan, John. The Road to Valley
Forge: How Washington Built the Army that Won the Revolution.
Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. [Catalog
Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George
Washington. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. [Catalog
Flexner, James Thomas. Washington:
The Indispensable Man. Boston: Little, Brown and
Co., 1974. [Catalog
Freeman, Douglas Southall. George
Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York: Scribner,
McCullough, David G. 1776.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. [Catalog
Patterson, Benton Rain. Washington
and Cornwallis: The Battle for America, 1775-1783.
Lanham, Md.: Taylor Trade Pub., 2004. [Catalog
McGowen, Tom. The Revolutionary War
and George Washington's Army in American History.
Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2004. [Catalog
Marrin, Albert. George Washington
& the Founding of a Nation. New York: Dutton
Children's Books, 2001. [Catalog
Osborne, Mary Pope. George Washington:
Leader of a New Nation. New York: Dial Books for
Young Readers, 1991. [Catalog