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Where was George on July Fourth?

By Joan Milligan

On July 4, 1776 while members of Congress were signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, George Washington was in New York writing a letter to Artemas Ward, the first Major General of the Revolutionary Army. Washington’s 10,000 troops were preparing for an attack from about 30,000 British troops, with more than 100 vessels assembling in New York Bay. “The Distress we are in for want of Arms induces me again to urge your sending on all such as can possibly be spared with the greatest expedition,” he wrote.

The facsimile of Washington’s letter appears in a copy of an auction catalog in our rare books collection. In 1967 Park-Bernet Galleries in New York auctioned a private collection of letters and documents of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and their General. The catalog is full of facsimiles of 71 documents written by John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and about 50 others.

- Joan Milligan, Special Collections Cataloger

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