George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 19 June 1775]

19. Dined at Colo. Rieds. Spent the Evening at Mr. Lynch’s.

Thomas Lynch, Sr. (1727–1776), a South Carolina planter, was a member of the Continental Congress 1774–76. He had served for many years in the South Carolina legislature and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. Silas Deane, a Massachusetts delegate for Congress, wrote that Lynch was “plain, sensible, above ceremony, and carries with him more force in his very appearance than most powdered folks in their conversation” (LMCC description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed. Letters of Members of the Continental Congress. 8 vols. 1921–36. Reprint. Gloucester, Mass., 1963. description ends , 1:18).

On 18 June, perhaps while he was alone in his room during the evening, GW wrote to Mrs. Washington: “My Dearest: I am now set down to write to you on a subject, which fills me with inexpressible concern. . . . Believe me my dear Patsy . . . that I should enjoy more real happiness and felicity in one month with you, at home, that I have the most distant prospect of reaping abroad, if my stay was to be seven times seven years. . . . I shall rely therefore, confidently, on That Providence which has heretofore preserved, and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall” (owned by Armistead Peter 3rd, Washington, D.C.). In the letter GW enclosed his will.

On 19 June, John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, signed GW’s commission as “General and Commander in Chief of the army of the United Colonies” (DLC:GW). Meanwhile, GW was writing more letters home to Virginia, including one to his closest brother, John Augustine, wherein he “bid adieu to you, & to every kind of domestick ease, for a while. I am Imbarked on a wide Ocean, boundless in its prospect & from whence, perhaps, no safe harbour is to be found. I have been called upon by the unanimous Voice of the Colonies to take the Command of the Continental Army. An honour I neither sought after, nor desired, as I am thoroughly convinced, that it requires greater Abilities, and much more experience, than I am Master of” (20 June 1775 DLC:GW).

During this week, while Congress was choosing 13 new generals, drafting GW’s initial instructions, and deciding how to finance the campaign, GW was preparing for his trip to Massachusetts to form the thousands of citizen-soldiers surrounding Boston into an army of the united colonies. He chose Joseph Reed as his secretary and Thomas Mifflin as his first aide-de-camp. He queried the Massachusetts delegates about what arrangements their government had made for supporting the army and whom he would be dealing with (Massachusetts Delegates to GW, 22 June 1775, DLC:GW). And he sent his chariot home.

On 23 June the new commander in chief left Philadelphia, accompanied by Generals Charles Lee and Philip Schuyler and their aides. While he was but “a few Minutes of leaving this City” and “surrounded with Company to take leave of me,” GW wrote again to Mrs. Washington: “My Dearest. . . . I could not think of departing . . . without dropping you a line. . . . I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time or distance can change. . . . I go fully trusting in that providence, which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve, & in full confidence of a happy meeting with you some time in the fall” (ViMtvL). He then rode off to a campaign that would last for more than seven years, during which he saw Mount Vernon only in his 1781 visits during the Yorktown campaign.

For the period between 19 June 1775 and January 1780, no diaries of GW have been found; his opening remarks in his 1781 Yorktown diary indicate that no other war journals were kept.

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