Wednesday, December 12, 2007

22 February a.d. 2006 - Maryland Governor Announces Plan to Acquire General Washington's Resignation Speech

Annapolis MD, February 22, 2006 ---

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. 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. Governor Ehrlich said that private funding has been promised to match the $600,000 in public funds that he included in his FY07 budget for the State 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.

Governor Ehrlich said of the pending acquisition of the two documents: “George Washington’s resignation speech and the letter describing the occasion are important pieces of Maryland’s history. 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.”

Maryland State Archivist Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse said of the documents: "We are very grateful to Governor Ehrlich and 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.”

The Friends of the Maryland State Archives is a non-profit organization formed in 2005 to help the Archives with its educational and outreach initiatives. For more information, please contact Mimi Calver on 410-260-6444 or or David Troy on 410-647-5812 or

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