of the Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annnapolis, Maryland 21401
Calvert Medal c. 1632
as the sun thou shalt enlighten America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: MIMI CALVER (410) 260 6444
MARYLAND TO ACQUIRE ORIGINAL OF WASHINGTON'S RESIGNATION SPEECH
FOR STATE HOUSE
Annapolis MD, February 22, 2006 --- The Maryland State Archives and the Friends of the Maryland State Archives announced today that all private matching funds have been raised for Maryland to acquire George Washington’s personal copy of his speech of resignation as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. These private funds have been promised to match the $600,000 in public funds that were included in the state's FY07 budget for the Archives to acquire one of the most significant documents in American history still in private hands.
The Archives, through its related group called Friends of the Maryland State Archives, has raised $625,000 to complete the acquisition. At the annual special session of the Senate in the Old Senate Chamber Monday night, following Senator Thomas McLain Middleton’s address, a special moment of appreciation was observed for the donors who have pledged their support in bringing this document back to the room in which it was first read to Congress, then meeting in our historic State House.
The Archives will continue to raise funds to provide for the display of the document and accompanying educational materials. The speech will be displayed in the Old Senate Chamber of the State House where Washington resigned his commission to return to private life on December 23, 1783, at the end of the Revolutionary War.
The document is the two-page, handwritten manuscript from which Washington read when he addressed the Continental Congress, then meeting in Annapolis. Immediately upon delivering the speech, Washington left the chamber to ride home to Mt. Vernon in time for Christmas. As he departed, he handed his personal copy to a member of Congress and it has been in the family’s possession ever since. Along with the speech, the state will also acquire a letter by Washington’s former aide, Dr. James McHenry, who was present at the event, describing the emotional ceremony. The owners, who wish to remain anonymous, have themselves gifted a portion of the appraised value of documents.
Maryland State Archivist Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse said of the documents: "We are very grateful to our donors for recognizing the importance of these documents to the history of Maryland and to the nation. They will be the centerpiece of new interpretive exhibits in the State House, as well as many other educational materials aimed at helping students to understand the origins of American government. In this one act, Washington established the principle of the power of the civilian authority over the military which has been a bedrock of our civil government since that day. Our State House will be the perfect home for them to be seen by the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to Annapolis every year. It will enhance their understanding of the important role Maryland played in the formation of our country.””
Friends of the Maryland State Archives is a non-profit organization
2005 to help the Archives with its educational and outreach initiatives.
For more information, please contact Mimi
Calver on 410-260-6444 or
###George Washington's Resignation Speech, December 23, 1783 (pdf format)