George Washington’s The Revolutionary War Letter on Sale

George Washington's Lost Historical Letter, Written During The Revolutionary War, Goes on Sale in Pennsylvania for $275,000.

Oct 3, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
George Washington's
The October 18, 1777 letter. Photo courtesy of Raab Collection.


George Washington’s lost historical letter hits the Pennsylvania market. Overall, the letter’s estimated value is $275,000. The firm called Raab Collection, specializing in historic pieces, is selling the document. Washington addressed the document to Brigadier General James Potter, on October 18, 1777. At that time, the president of the United States learned of the surrender of British troops commanded by General John Burgoyne.


George Washington’s Letter Invoked the Divine

George Washington's
Photo courtesy of Raab Collection.


Previously mentioned events occurred at Saratoga in New York. The triumph over the British during the conflict was the first for the Revolution. Throughout the match, Potter participated in the Pennsylvania military. He also kept up an array of intelligence services with a connection to Washington. Before the letters came to the Raab collection, his ancestors held the relic for over two centuries.


The triumph probably had an impact on the president. He expressed emotion in the letter to Potter that was out of habit. The president also invoked “Providence” and “Heaven” in the first few sentences. It serves as one of the handful of messages Washington sent regarding the results of Saratoga. Also, he was the only one during the conflict in which he prayed to God.


general george washington surrendering
General George Washington Resigning His Commission, by John Trumbull, c. 1826, via United States Capitol Rotunda


“I congratulate you upon the glorious successes of our Arms in the North an account of which is enclosed”, the letter reads. “This singular favor of Providence is to be received with thankfulness and the happy moment which Heaven has pointed out for the firm establishment of American Liberty ought to be embraced with becoming spirit”. Long regarded as the turning point in the conflict, the Battle of Saratoga.

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The Withdrawing of the British Troops

George Washington's
Photo courtesy of Raab Collection.


A month-long sequence of operations throughout the conflict helped the Revolutionary Force reverse the tide. Following Burgoyne’s surrender, British troops withdrew from Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and Lake Champlain in New York. In February 1778, France formally signed a Treaty of Alliance with the Americans that helped the Patriots win the conflict. Washington acknowledged Saratoga’s importance in the New York theater in his written communication to Potter.


It gave the brigadier general strong support in addition to directions on how to better obstruct British contacts (“For this purpose you should strain every nerve”). “Let me again entreat you and through your means every one of any influence among the Militia, to exert it to the utmost in exciting them to the field whereby seasonable reinforcements the glorious work we have in hand will be completed,” he wrote, before signing off as “Your most h’ble Servt., G. Washington“.


george washington french and indian war
A re-enactor portraying George Washington, French and Indian War officer and later commander-and-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, via George Washington’s Mount Vernon official site


“This letter, in its beauty, draws together many of the threads of the American experience: God, patriotism, victory, destiny”, said Nathan Raab, principal at The Raab Collection. “Its discovery is exciting, and proof that Washington’s words continue to inspire”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.