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George Washington's Expense Account

The book, George Washington's Expense Account, first published in 1970, contains a faithful copy of General George Washington’s hand-written expenses from June 1775 to June 1783 as published by the Treasury Department in 1833.

At the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, General Washington, with great nobility, refused the Congressional offer of a $500 monthly salary and patriotically assured Congress that he would serve his country for free... long as his expenses were paid.

And at the end of his service, he presented them with a bill for $449,261.51–quite a bit more than the $48,000 salary he declined (calculated to 1970 dollar).

This book also contains a wonderfully humorous tongue-in-cheek look at how expenses were presented to Congress by the man the author Marvin Kitman calls not only The Father of Our Country, but also The Father of the Modern Expense Account.

According to Kitman, General Washington only used 42 of the 43 principles of modern expense account writing. For example, low cost items should include details, but expensive items should be vague:

    Describe in some depth the purchase of a ball of twine, but casually throw in the line, ‘Dinner for one army.’"

Washington’s purchases included the finest personal carriages and the costs of entertaining friends. He also charged for enemy reconnaissance and his own army’s retreat.

He loved the best gourmet green tea, and continued to buy the highest quality tea throughout the war and during the blockade of English ships carrying tea (Dutch ships carrying tea and supplies were allowed in).

George Washington's Expense Account is a great gift which will delight lovers of Americana, CEOs, and bankers everywhere, but should also be required reading for every American.

(Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, and purchased this book with my own money. I have given away at least six copies to people interested in American Revolutionary History who have also enjoyed it. Here's information about the advertising on this page.

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This page was last updated by Sharon Jones.

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