Letter: Washington History

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Letter to the Editor

The article in the book “The Return of George Washington” by Edward J. Larson from  The Malibu Times , May 28, 2015, brought to mind George Washington’s role in 1783, in the formation of an organization known as The Society of the Cincinnati, of which I am a member.

The Continental Congress was meeting in 1783 in Philadelphia, trying to organize the new American government. The officers who served under Washington (who went without pay throughout much of the War) met in Newburgh, New York to plan their strategy to get paid by the new government (which was nearly bankrupt). Afraid of being attacked by the angry officers, the Continental Congress removed to Princeton and then to Annapolis.

George Washington met with the conspirators in Newburgh, and said to the effect, “boys, let me handle it.” My ancestor, Lt. Pelatiah Everett, was there. Washington proceeded to become head of the newly formed Society of the Cincinnati, made up of the officers who served under him in the war, whose charter was, among other things, to lobby the Congress for just compensation. The problem was resolved when the Congress scraped up some money for the officers, and ultimately gave each 100 acres of land in New York, Pennsylvania or Ohio (formerly British territories) to do with what they wanted.

Pelatiah Everett and a fellow officer sold their land and bought a hotel and tavern in Westminster, Massachusetts, which still stands. Another enterprising officer bought a number of parcels and formed a city along the Ohio River, which he named Cincinnati after the Society. 

Ted Vaill