General George Washington: The United States are “Free, Independent and Sovereign States”, and “the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the Third, King of Great-Britain”

This is the actual oath of allegiance of Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who would be selected by Washington to accept Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown, signed by both American generals, perhaps the only to reach the market signed by Washington

Purchase $115,000

He echoes themes of independence and sovereignty from the Declaration of Independence

The form was printed by John Dunlap, who printed the first copies of the Declaration of Independence

Rare if not unique, we can find no other oath of allegiance certifications signed by Washington having ever reached the market

In 1776,...

Read More

Explore & Discover

  1. The oath - We do not recall seeing any other document signed by Washington mentioning King George III by name, nor one in which he was administering an oath of fealty.
  2. General Lincoln - Benjamin Lincoln was present at many of the great battles of the Revolution; he was chosen by Washington to take the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown
  3. A free nation - Washington echoes the themes of the Declaration of Independence, claiming the freedom and sovereignty of America from England
  4. General Washington - This is the only oath of allegiance we could find having ever reached the market signed by Washington. Typically these were signed by others

General George Washington: The United States are “Free, Independent and Sovereign States”, and “the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the Third, King of Great-Britain”

This is the actual oath of allegiance of Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who would be selected by Washington to accept Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown, signed by both American generals, perhaps the only to reach the market signed by Washington

He echoes themes of independence and sovereignty from the Declaration of Independence

The form was printed by John Dunlap, who printed the first copies of the Declaration of Independence

Rare if not unique, we can find no other oath of allegiance certifications signed by Washington having ever reached the market

In 1776, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap secured a contract to become the printer for Congress. After passage of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock ordered Dunlap to print broadside copies of the Declaration. Dunlap printed about 200 broadsides, which were the first published versions of the Declaration. In 1778 he was then commissioned to print the oath of allegiance forms and did so.

The printed oath forms were in hand, but General Washington was faced with a monumental task in complying with Congress’s resolution. The Continental Army was in the midst of the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Morale among officers was low. Pay was either nonexistent or in arrears, and officers’ appointments lacked security as reorganization of the army threatened an officer’s position of authority. Resignations became a common occurrence among officers. Understanding the temper and situation of his officers, Washington choose to deliberately delay the oath of allegiance effort until officers became more receptive to its requirements of loyalty to the United States of America. By early May of 1778, the winter over and the 1778 campaign soon to begin, Washington felt the time was right.

On May 7, Washington issued a General Order from headquarters urging that the oaths be administered promptly to officers of the 3rd and 4th New Jersey regiments. Many of these officers had now overcome their indignation and were ready to sign their allegiance to the new nation. Washington hoped others would follow the New Jersey example and proceeded. The process began on May 12, 1778. To accomplish the work, Washington selected high-ranking generals to administer the oaths to the officer staff, see to it that they were signed, and to certify the signatures. Among those selected were Generals Henry Knox and Lord Stirling, who would administer oaths to many officers of the Continental Army. The signature of Lord Stirling appears on the oath taken by Alexander Hamilton on May 12, and Knox’s appears on the oath administered to Benedict Arnold on May 30.

Benjamin Lincoln was a major general in the Massachusetts state militia in 1776, and he was in charge of overseeing the defense of the coast of the state. He led the force that pushed the Royal Navy ships out of Boston Harbor. In September of 1776, Lincoln was given command of a brigade of militia and sent to join George Washington and the Continental Army in New York. He and his men fought with the army in White Plains, and on February 14, 1777, as a result of Washington’s recommendation, Congress commissioned Lincoln a major general in the Continental Army. After the Battle of Saratoga, Lincoln suggested fortifying the Hudson River to block it off from the British. While his men were working on this project, they encountered a British force, and during the ensuing battle Lincoln was hit in the right ankle with a musket ball and it shattered the bone. He was sent home to recuperate, and was not on hand to take the oath of allegiance in May 1778. By August of that year, however, he was sufficiently recovered to again serve, and he rejoined Washington outside of New York. In September, he would be appointed commander of the Southern Department.

Again with the army, Lincoln was now obliged to sign the oath, and he did so before George Washington himself. “I, Benjamin Lincoln, Major General, do acknowledge the UNITED STATES of AMERICA to be Free, Independent and Sovereign States, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the Third, King of Great-Britain; and I renounce, refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him; and I do swear that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain and defend the said United States against the said King George the Third, his heirs and successors, and his abettors, assistants and adherents, and will serve the said United States in the office of Major General which I now hold, with fidelity, according to the best of my skill and understanding.” It is signed “B. Lincoln”, and certified “sworn before me the 24 day of Aug. 1778. G. Washington.” The form is Dunlaps, and it was filled in by Robert Hanson Harrison, Washington’s longtime aide and secretary. The signatures of Washington and Lincoln are in their own hands.

This oath, in which Washington certifies that the United States are “Free, Independent and Sovereign States”, and affirms “that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the Third, King of Great-Britain”, is one of the very few signed by Washington rather than a delegated general. We have only found a few others in existence, and can find record of none that have ever reached the marketplace before now. This then offers a likely unique opportunity to have Washington certify what he in fact brought into existence: the independence of the United States.

As for Lincoln, in March of 1780 he and his force of 5,000 men were surrounded in Charleston, South Carolina, by the British, and he was forced to surrender the city. Released, he returned to Washington’s main army. He was instrumental in Cornwallis’s defeat at the Battle of Yorktown, and as Washington’s second-in-command, Lincoln was named by Washington to receive Cornwallis’s sword of surrender from the British General’s second-in-command when Washington refused to accept it from anyone but Cornwallis himself.

Purchase Now $115,000

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services