On May 22, 1782, the Newburgh letter was sent to George Washington who was camped at Newburgh, New York; written for the army officers by Colonel Lewis Nicola, it proposed that Washington should become the King of the United States. Washington reacted very strongly against the suggestion, and was greatly troubled by it.
The letter could in many ways have been a turning point in American history. Nicola's proposal, while never fully formed, would not be suggesting tyranny, he rejected how others equated monarchy and tyranny, but instead a constitutional monarchy. The letter can be considered part of the Newburgh conspiracy, and indeed the first grievance Nicola highlights is the lack of adequate payment for troops.
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- Image of Nicola's letter (American Memory, Library of Congress)
- Text and audio of Washington's response
- Essay by Robert F. Haggard on the affair
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