The Newburgh Conspiracy of 1782 Essay

The Newburgh Conspiracy of 1782 Essay

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The Newburgh Conspiracy of 1782 was the closest an American army has ever come to a revolt or coup d’état (Kohn, 17). Due to the failed attempt to ratify the Impost of 1781, Alexander Hamilton, one of the most involved conspirators in Congress to partake in the conspiracy, along with other nationalist conspirators in Congress, attempted to use the threat of the conspiracy as a weapon to pressure Congress into accepting an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. This amendment would allow the national government the power to tax imports, which would also result in a stronger national government; the Impost of 1781 would have given the government the ability to lay a 5% duty on imports. Alexander Hamilton tried to encourage General George Washington to help pressure Congress as well, but Washington remained true to his position as general of the American Army.
In December 1782, the officers based at Newburgh, New York, agreed to petition Congress for the pensions that they were not receiving. Just after Christmas, Major General Alexander McDougall, along with two colonels, brought their protest to Philadelphia (Ferling, 249). In early January 1783, amongst rumors of mass resignations, a three-man delegation of officers went to Philadelphia to place before Congress a petition that compiled their repressed grievances (Chernow, 432). The petition stated that many officers had become poor, or missed out on the opportunity to become rich, as a result of years of service. Many officers health was in danger as well(Ferling, 249). Pay and half-pay, however, was the least of the officers concerns in Newburgh. Most officers were anxious about returning to a regular lifestyle. For all, the end of hostilities meant re-entering a society tha...


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The Newburgh Conspiracy by C. Edward Skeen
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