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On July 4, 1776, George Washington Bought A Broom
Old 07-02-2012, 02:23 PM   #1
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On July 4, 1776, George Washington Bought A Broom

Gen. Washington did a bit of shopping on this now-famous date. He did not submit it for reimbursement until 7 years later.

Written docs are so cool to view.



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When Washington became Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, he said he wouldn't accept a salary for the position. But he did say he would accept reimbursement for his expenses.

So he documented everything, from payments to spies to his daily meals. (Apparently, he was a big fan of mutton.) And he was extremely meticulous.
Enlarge Library of Congress George Washington's expense report from July 4th, 1776.


Library of Congress George Washington's expense report from July 4th, 1776.



Washington's expenses for July 4, 1776, included a broom (which cost 6 pence) as well as mutton, veal, beef, cabbage, beets, beans, potatoes, and lobster. He also paid for the mending of his "Chariot" — a type of carriage.
In 1783, Washington submitted his expense report. He had spent $160,074. It's hard to adjust for inflation since then, but that number today would certainly be in the millions of dollars
On July 4, 1776, George Washington Bought A Broom : Planet Money : NPR
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:38 PM   #2
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Great link!

Here is an account with analysis a friend gave me many years ago. The commentary is funny, but at the same time very perceptive. A must read for anyone who either approves expense accounts or lives by them...

Amazon.com: George Washington's Expense Account (9780802137739): George Washington, Marvin Kitman: Books

When Washington was elected President he offered once again to take no salary and just accept to be reimbursed for his expenses. Congress refused...
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Old 07-02-2012, 04:00 PM   #3
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I believe he could afford it.

"The net worth of the presidents varies widely. George Washington was worth more than half a billion in today’s dollars."

Net Worth of U.S. Presidents: George Washington Still Tops | Britannica Blog

It may just prove that you can achieve great things when you don't have to worry about money...
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:29 PM   #4
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This is just barely related to the thread topic, but anyone who is interested in what 1776 was like for George Washington might want to have a look at David McCullough's book 1776.

Also, the same author's book John Adams described how Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826.

Both are good reads.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyman View Post
This is just barely related to the thread topic, but anyone who is interested in what 1776 was like for George Washington might want to have a look at David McCullough's book 1776.

Also, the same author's book John Adams described how Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826.

Both are good reads.
+1 on both books.
I got the audiobook for 1776, and it sent shivers down my spine (the author reading his own work). I actually felt I was there.

The Adams book is nearly as good, and a great read. McCullough is one of my top favorite historians.

As to GW's expenses, I think we got our money's worth. I doubt if there was anyone else so well qualified for the job, both in terms of experience and (more importantly) temperament. Eisenhower was very similar to Washington. Neither was a particularly brilliant general, but both knew exactly how to run a war.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:54 PM   #6
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Gen. Washington did a bit of shopping on this now-famous date. He did not submit it for reimbursement until 7 years later.
I bet he submitted the receipt on 5 July-- and some revolutionary bureaucrat told him to resubmit after they'd invented a federal government, a civil service, and a form to claim reimbursement for cleaning supplies. And, oh yeah, a national currency to pay it.

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This is just barely related to the thread topic, but anyone who is interested in what 1776 was like for George Washington might want to have a look at David McCullough's book 1776.
Both are good reads.
IIRC that's the book where Robert Morris had to keep whipping out his checkbook to fund the war while the "Congress" debated its affordability?
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:32 PM   #7
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IIRC that's the book where Robert Morris had to keep whipping out his checkbook to fund the war while the "Congress" debated its affordability?
I can't recall, honestly. It's been at least five years since I read it. But if you don't have a country, barely have an army, and are trying to engage in a revolution, well someone's got to fund it. Maybe Washington bought a broom to sweep out troops' tents.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:41 AM   #8
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Pickets charge happened today 149 years ago. 3rd day of the battle of Gettysburg. General Armistead was one of the few who breached the Northern line at the Angle and that's where he died.
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:32 AM   #9
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Pickets charge happened today 148 years ago. 3rd day of the battle of Gettysburg. General Armistead was one of the few who breached the Northern line at the Angle and that's where he died.
That little skirmish in Vicksburg also ended at the same time, as I recall.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:31 PM   #10
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That little skirmish in Vicksburg also ended at the same time, as I recall.
The Siege of Vicksburg was horrible.

General Grant forced the surrender ceremony to occur on July 4th. For many many decades after the war, the 4th of July was not celebrated here. IIRC, the first post-war celebration was triggered by a US President visiting the city.

I have lived here 30 years and most years the city will not sponsor (pay for) a fireworks display. Since the casinos came back , the casino companies have usually sponsored a fireworks display.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:27 PM   #11
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That little skirmish in Vicksburg also ended at the same time, as I recall.
Yup, that was a siege that lasted for a long time. Lots of suffering by everyone including the towns folk and it did end about the same time. I think it was Pemberton against Grant on that one.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:58 PM   #12
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Pickets charge happened today 149 years ago. 3rd day of the battle of Gettysburg. General Armistead was one of the few who breached the Northern line at the Angle and that's where he died.
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Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
That little skirmish in Vicksburg also ended at the same time, as I recall.
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Originally Posted by gsparks2 View Post
The Siege of Vicksburg was horrible.
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Originally Posted by 73ss454 View Post
Yup, that was a siege that lasted for a long time. Lots of suffering by everyone including the towns folk and it did end about the same time. I think it was Pemberton against Grant on that one.
On a "cheerier" and less divisive note, last month marked the 70th anniversary of the Navy's victory at the WWII Battle of Midway.

It was also the 200th 199th anniversary of Perry kicking major British butt on Lake Erie during the War of 1812... including avenging Lawrence's misguided "Don't Give Up The Ship" adventure on the Chesapeake. IIRC to this day the U.S. and Canadian governments are still required to notify each other if a warship will be operating on the Great Lakes.
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