General George Washington at Trenton by John Trumbull, Yale University Art Gallery.

As unheralded days that defined America go, none might have been as important as June 14 through June 18, 1775.

Why? Because on June 14 of that year, the Continental Congress created the Continental Army.

A day later, on June 15, the Congress voted unanimously to appoint George Washington to lead the Army.

On June 16, Washington addressed Congress to accept the commission, refusing the $500-a-month including expenses. Instead, he asked for reimbursement for his expenses when the impending Revolutionary War ended.

On June 17, the Continental Congress dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s of the contract.

On June 18, he wrote this in a letter to wife, Martha Washington:

George and Martha Washington
at Mount Vernon.

“It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defense of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it. You may believe me my dear Patsy, when I assure you in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it.”

Of course, Washington did go to Boston, taking command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775. A year later, the signing of the Declaration of Independence created the United States of America. Washington led the Continental Army to defeat the British in 1783.

At the war’s end, he submitted a handwritten and detailed list of expenses that included among other things the costs of paying blacksmiths, housekeepers, and spies, totaling $160,074 – a tad more than the $49,000 he would have received had he accepted Congress’ initial pay offer.

A look at the log, 1776.

His expenses for Independence Day – July 4, 1776 – alone? A broom, food (including lobster), and the repair of the carriage he called the “Chariot.”

The U.S. Treasury reviewed his ledger, approving every penny of it and then some: they discovered he had shorted himself by nearly a dollar.

Six years later, Washington became the first President of the United States, receiving all 69 Electoral votes – the only President in U.S. history elected with such a mandate. To view his interesting expense report, click here.

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