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Washington's Commission
as Commander-in-Chief

Washington's Commission as Commander-in-Chief
Commission signed by
John Hancock (1737-1793)
and Charles Thomson (1729-1824)

Holograph on vellum, 1775
Manuscript Division

George Washington, a leader of the revolutionary movement in Virginia, a former commander of Virginia's frontier forces, and a British colonial army officer, was commissioned "commander- in-chief of the army of the United Colonies of all the forces raised and to be raised by them" on June 19, 1775, by the Continental Congress. Although others, including John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, had hoped for this commission, Washington was appointed. He was chosen because of his military experience and congressional recognition of the importance of involving Virginia in the military forces then concentrated around Boston, Massachusetts. General Washington left almost immediately to take command of the American army, after assuring his wife Martha in a letter dated June 18, 1775, that he had reluctantly accepted the post after "I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it."

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