Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning by Teaching: The Newburgh Conspiracy

Teaching has taught me more about history and economics than college ever did. Here's an example of something my US History class just covered:
The Newburgh Conspiracy was unrest in 1783 among officers of the American Continental Army resulting from the fact that many of the officers and men of the Continental Army had not received pay for many years. Commander-in-Chief George Washington stopped any serious talk by appealing successfully to his officers to support the supremacy of Congress.
Instead of taking on the kingship offered him he made a speech:
Washington then gave a short but impassioned speech, the Newburgh Address, counseling patience. His message was that they should oppose anyone "who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood.". He then took a letter from his pocket from a member of Congress to read to the officers. He gazed upon it and fumbled with it without speaking. He then took a pair of reading glasses from his pocket, which were new and few of the men had seen him wear them. He then said: "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." This caused the men to realize that Washington had sacrificed a great deal for the Revolution, just as much as any of them. These, of course, were his fellow officers, most having worked closely with him for several years. Many of those present were moved to tears, and with this act, the conspiracy collapsed as he read the letter.
I hope the Egyptian military is reading my blog.

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