June 15, 1775: The Most Important Decision In American History Is Made
On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution to create an Army that would represent all the colonies of North America. The following day, Congress made the most important decision in American history by naming George Washington as Commander-in-chief of this new army. Part of the commission to Washington reads, “We reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be General and Commander in chief, of the Army of the United Colonies.”
Skip to 7:45 on my video to hear about George Washington and his efforts to build the United States Army during the Revolutionary War.
The decision to entrust Washington with this command was unanimous among the Second Continental Congress. They believed that his reputation and experience from the French and Indian War was a testament to his military acumen. Most importantly, Congress believed that Washington had the leadership qualities to unite the colonies in the fight for Independence.
A portrait of how George Washington appeared during the French and Indian War. (Photo: mountvernon.org)
George Washington was never a man who took his duties lightly. Upon accepting this position, he said these words, “I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal in the command I am honored with.” Those words speak to the nature of who Washington was as a man. From his youthful days until the day that he died, George Washington lived a life of service. He declined to be paid for his services as Commander-in-chief of the army. Financial gain was not his motivation. Washington was utterly devoted to the cause and he showed that from the moment he received his command.
George Washington as Commander-in-chief of the American Army. (Photo: 1000museums.com)
On July 3, 1775, Washington officially took control over the Army. The youth of this fighting force had little or no experience with military life. In the beginning there was no flag and no official uniform. Washington quickly surmised that there was only enough powder for nine rounds per man. Congress had a hard time consistently paying soldiers and officers alike. When fighting began in August, the defeats for Washington and the army were not far behind. Every indication suggested that this raw and underequipped fighting force had no chance, but Washington always persisted. Most men would have quit had they been put in Washington’s shoes, but the General wasn’t like most men. He gave life to the American spirit and guided the army through every challenge that came its way.
Washington taking command of the Army on July 3, 1775. (Photo: mountvernon.org)
George Washington once declared, “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” In the earliest days of our nation’s history, Washington understood that the army was the key to our freedom. Nearly 242 years later, that fact has remained.
Soldiers from the United States Army over the years. (Photo: history.army.mil)
They might not have known it at the time, but on June 15, 1775, the Second Continental Congress made the most important decision in American history. On that day, George Washington was offered and accepted command of the army. This set in motion a chain of events that would not end until independence was achieved in 1783. I dare say that no other man could have accomplished what Washington did. Whenever we are asked who we are as a nation and how we got to be where we are today, the answer will always be General George Washington.