NPS Logo

Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading

Colonials and Patriots
Survey of
Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS (Hasbrouck House)
New York

Location: Liberty and Washington Streets, Newburgh, Orange County.

Ownership and Administration (1961). Education Department, State of New York.

Significance. None of Washington's military headquarters during the War for Independence is of greater historical significance than the Hasbrouck House at Newburgh. Arriving at Newburgh on April 1, 1782, the Commander in Chief remained at the Hasbrouck House, save for occasional brief absences, until August 19, 1783. This was a longer period than Washington spent at any other headquarters. More importantly, Washington drafted three memorable documents at his Newburgh headquarters. In these he reaffirmed the fundamental principle of subordination of the Military Establishment to civilian control and helped lay the foundation for the Nation's orderly transition from war to peace. The first document was Washington's vehement rejection of the suggestion that the new Nation become a monarchy, with Washington at its head. The second was his address in the "Temple" at the nearby New Windsor army encampment (see p. 215) on March 15, 1783. Here he effectively quelled an incipient movement provoked by the so-called Newburgh Addresses, looking toward the coercion of Congress by the Army to secure settlement of officers' claims against the Government prior to demobilization. Washington's third notable act at Newburgh was drafting an oft-quoted circular letter to the Governors of the States, in which he outlined his views on the future development of the Nation. These views were elaborated around four cardinal points: "An indissoluble Union of the States under one Federal Head," "A sacred regard to public justice," "The adoption of a proper peace establishment," and a "pacific and friendly disposition among the peoples of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community."

In addition to these statements at Newburgh, an act of some interest was the establishment of the military award, the "Order of the Purple Heart," proposed by Washington and noted in the General Orders of the Day, August 7, 1782. Aside from its intimate association with Washington, the Hasbrouck House has the distinction of being the first historic house preserved by a State. The State obtained the property in 1850, and the building was dedicated on July 4 of that year.

Hasbrouck House
The Hasbrouck House, Newburgh, N.Y., was Washington's headquarters from April 1782 to mid-August 1783, pending the conclusion of peace with Great Britain. (National Park Service)

Present Appearance (1961). The widow of Joseph Hasbrouck bought the property overlooking the Hudson River on which the headquarters building now stands, in 1749, and next year her son, Jonathan, erected the northeast portion of the building. The southeast section was added sometime before 1770, and in that year an addition extending the length of the west wall of both earlier sections was constructed. An initialed date-stone confirms the date of this last addition. The walls of all three sections are of fieldstone. The house includes a large seven doored chamber used as a dining room and living room, two bedrooms, parlor and kitchen on the ground floor, another bedroom on the second floor, and a spacious attic where can be seen the maze of hand-hewn timbers that support the roof. The large chamber on the first floor served Washington as a reception and living room. Period furnishings give the house great charm. The building is the original, except the kitchen and dining room floors. Adjacent to the headquarters building is a museum offering exhibits of local historical interest as well as material relating to General and Mrs. Washington and the role of the Newburgh headquarters in the Revolution. Maintenance of both the house and museum is excellent. [49]

Previous Next
Last Updated: 09-Jan-2005