The War Governors in the American Revolution

The War Governors in the American Revolution

The War Governors in the American Revolution

The War Governors in the American Revolution

Excerpt

American historians, writing about the Revolutionary War, always recognize the services rendered by Washington and the other army leaders. Financiers, diplomats and foreign volunteers have had their share of attention. The virtues and faults of the Continental Congress have been studied. But the part played by the civilian leaders in the states has been less emphasized. This is particularly the case with the first governors. Although many of them were men of vigorous character and outstanding leadership in their own areas, the value of their war work has not been fully appreciated and few good biographies have been written about them.

Nearly all the standard histories describe the constitutional weaknesses of the first state governments, especially in their executive departments. This is ordinarily the only reference to the war governors. Such treatment rather implies that they contributed little to the winning of the Revolution. We have perhaps too quickly assumed that, because legislative supremacy was then a widely accepted tenet of political belief, these first American executives were incapable of playing a vital part in the war.

Their services in reality were an important factor in the success of the American cause. In times of crisis, Washington obtained his most immediate and valuable aid from them. To a certain extent, when they fulfilled the requests of the Continental Congress, the governors acted as a sorely needed national executive. Whenever widespread enemy invasion prevented the regular sessions of legislatures and courts, the governors main-

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