Not in Letters of Delegates, ed. Smith
The Congressional appointment that made a nation: "We have unanimously chosen George Washington Esq. to be General of the American forces."
Paine opens his letter by chiding his brother-in-law for his poor correspondence: "I omit no opportunity of writing to you, I wish you could return the Compliment." But "great exertions of Body & mind" leave Paine no "time to be very formal," and he breaks the great news from Congress, "We have unanimously chosen George Washington Esq. to be General of the American forces; we have voted & orders are taken for sending in the most speedy manner ten companys of Refle Men to join our Army; affectual measures are taken to support the Army & all Continental Charges.
"By Advices from England the Ministry are determined to push & the people there & in Ireland seem more disposed to favour us; if we can but stand the shock of this Summer we hope to be upon a better footing; before this reaches you, we expect you will have a large reinforcement of Ministerial Troops in Boston. I hope our people will be very wary of suprises; we have likewise appointed General Ward ... Major General; these Matters above I have license to mention to you tho' as our System is not completed, it is expected that none of these intelligences be put in the News paper."
Washington's appointment, although unanimous, was the result of compromise. Many in New England favored Artemus Ward for commander in chief, but John Adams felt it vital that New England show she was willing to relinquish this appointment to another region of the united colonies. Charles Lee was supported by a number of delegates, but others opposed him because he was not American-born. In hindsight, Washington's appointment seems inevitable; in a letter to his wife, the General himself claimed that "it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this Service" (Papers, Revolutionary War Series 1:4).
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