Newburgh Conspiracy, 1783

The Newburgh Conspiracy was born from social unrest and a lack of pay for the soldiers. By 1781-1783 some junior officers, lieutenants, captains and majors, had not been paid for months. In late 1782 the Army camped on a field near Newburgh, New York. They were there to sit out the winter. Supply shortages spread discontent amongst the armed forces. Officers became angry at the conditions they had endured for most of the war and the lack of pay and talk of action against Congress ensued. Continental Army officers began circulating letters criticising the Congress and raised the prospect of a coup. The discontent officers held a meeting at a local church in 1783. At this meeting George Washington addressed the troops and calmed some of the officers with reassurance but the issue of back-pay and pensions continued to fester. The officers drafted a petition titled ‘Petition from Newburgh officers’ sent it to Congress and found some support from nationalists who desired a strong central government. However, problems remained unresolved and in June, 1783 almost 500 soldiers marched on Philadelphia, gathering at Independence Hall where they threatened the Congress. The Congress had to eventually relocate to Princeton, New Jersey.