Dear Mr. History:

If England had prevailed in America’s War for Independence, what would have been the likely fate of George Washington? Martha Washington? And his beloved estate – Mt. Vernon ?


A. Murray

? ? ?

In 1803, the Irish republican orator Robert Emmett was hanged for high treason after an abortive fizzle of an attempt at insurrection against Britain. In 1858, the surviving ringleaders of the Indian Mutiny were executed. In 1780, General George Washington, putting principle over his own personal reservations, ordered convicted spy Major John André hanged (denying him his request to be shot like an “officer and gentleman”). While Martha Washington would probably have been spared, and Washington’s defense attorney would probably have used Washington’s by-the-book conduct of war with his Continental Army as a mitigating argument, the fact remains that he was committing a very extensive act of treason against the Crown. Most likely Benjamin Franklin had it right when he warned his contentious colleagues at the Continental Congress, “We must all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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