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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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DANFS - USS General Washington
(Ship: length 130'9"; beam 32'8"; armament 24 9-pounders)

General Washington

George Washington was born 22 February 1732 in Westmoreland County, Va. He was commissioned in the Virginia Militia in 1753, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel the next year, and fought brilliantly in the French and Indian War. Entering the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1759, Washington was a strong champion of colonial rights. In 1775 he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and demonstrated a profound appreciation of sea power as well as great military genius. After years of hardship and arduous struggle, he finally gained the decisive victory of Yorktown. This was one of the great strategic operations of our history in which Washington brilliantly employed the French Navy to cut off Lord Cornwallis from help by sea.

The Treaty of Paris recognized American independence 20 January 1783. After attending the Annapolis Convention of 1786 and presiding over the Continental Convention of 1787, Washington was unanimously elected first president under the new Constitution, and was inaugurated 30 April 1789. His two terms in office laid the foundations for strong government under the Constitution. Returning to his home at Mount Vernon in 1797, Washington was recalled briefly to command the American army when war with France threatened in 1798. He died at Mount Vernon 14 December 1799.

General Washington, a swift sailing ship, was commissioned as a privateer by the state of Rhode Island in 1780, Captain Silas Talbot in command. She was captured later in that year by a British squadron and taken into the Royal Navy as General Monk. While in British service, she assisted in the capture of over 60 American vessels. Because of her successes, the merchants of Philadelphia purchased Hyder Ally, in March 1782, armed her, and placed her under the command of Lt. Joshua Barney of the Continental Navy. Barney encountered General Monk 8 April 1782 at the entrance to Delaware Bay; and, after a furious engagement of nearly half an hour, captured her. Restored to her original name, General Washington was taken into the service of the state of Pennsylvania with Barney in command. She sailed 18 May 1782 for Havana and brought back $600,000 in much-needed specie for the Continental Congress.

Robert Morris, then Agent of Marine, purchased General Washington for the Continental Navy in August 1782 for use as a packet between the United States and France. She made three voyages to France, under the command of Lt. Barney. Sailing October 1782 with important dispatches for the peace negotiations, she returned to Philadelphia 12 March 1783 with a preliminary copy of the treaty. General Washington again sailed for France in June and returned to Philadelphia 20 September. On her third voyage, she carried John Paul Jones to Europe to seek payment for prizes he had captured in European waters, leaving 10 November 1783 and returning in March 1784.

General Washington was sold in the summer of 1784.

29 December 2001