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David Head, PhD
Spring Hill College (Mobile, AL 36608-1791)
"Wavering on a Tremendous Precipice": George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the Continental Army

A book-length study of George Washington's Continental Army and the Newburgh Conspiracy of 1783 as a significant event in the formation of the new nation.

My project investigates the challenge of reintegrating the military into civilian life as seen in the Newburgh Conspiracy, a still mysterious affair at the end of the American Revolution when angry officers apparently collaborated with nationalist-minded politicians to pressure Congress to approve new taxes that would be used to pay the army, satisfy the nation’s creditors, and strengthen the central government. The book will be the first full study of the episode and its significance for the new nation. Works on the revolution often move from the victory at Yorktown to the origins of the Constitution, and when Newburgh is discussed, it is to praise Washington's leadership, condemn the scheming founders, or evaluate whether it was a true conspiracy. I approach the episode broadly, using it to see how the U.S. transitioned to peace; that is, how soldiers are reestablished in civilian life, how a nation does justice to its soldiers, and how civilians adjust to the return of peace.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Military History; Political History; U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 8/31/2016