Award-Winning Finalist in the "History: General" category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards
Fearful that they will never see the back pay they are owed and the postwar pensions they have been promised, George Washington’s officers have gathered on this day, March 15, 1783, in the central hall of the Temple of Virtue in the Hudson Highlands for a meeting. They are “ready to revolt.” They have heard that Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris and civilian creditors of the government will back them, and they have read an incendiary address written by Major John Armstrong that has made them recall the great neglect and suffering they have endured and that proposes they send only one more petition to Congress, one containing an ultimatum: Pay the army what it is owed and provide the officers with pensions or else face the alternative of seeing them refuse to disband if peace arrives or of watching them turn their backs on America and leaving it defenseless against the British if the war continues.
Congress, though, cannot pay the army or provide the officers with pensions; it is broke and does not have the authority to tax the people directly to obtain the funds needed to do those things. If it wants to do those things, it has to go to the states to get funding. However, when it does request funds from the states, it almost always is ignored.
That is something Robert Morris, his assistant Gouverneur Morris, and Alexander Hamilton cannot tolerate. They want the states to grant real taxation authority to the national government. But with state legislatures and many delegates in the capital opposed to putting the power of the purse in the hands of Congress, they know they stand little chance of seeing that happen unless they have a means of forcing the states to grant greater powers to the national government. Consequently, they have set in motion a plot to hang the angry army over their political opponents' heads to terrify them into giving them what they want.
"One of the least known but most important events in the founding of the United States, the Newburgh Conspiracy involved many of the most famous leaders of the age. Its collapse marked a turning point in American military history, the consequences of which affect us still today. We are indebted to Dave Richards; his book should be widely read."
~ Dr. Richard H. Kohn, Professor Emeritus of History and Peace, War, and Defense, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Swords in Their Hands tells the detailed story of the new United States of America on the brink of a military coup during the American Revolution. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the full story of the crisis." ~John Nagy, Author, Rebellion in the Ranks: Mutinies of the American Revolution