Of the many treasures to be found at Fordham Libraries in its Archives and Special Collections, perhaps none is more surprising than the simple diary entry made by then-General George Washington on July 4, 1776.

There, the general discusses finances and directs the commanding officers of the regiment to “make out pay abstract for the month of May.”

Not until July 9 does the general mention that the members of the Continental Congress “have been pleased to dissolve the connection which subsisted between this country and Great Britain and to declare the united colonies of North America free and independent states.”

Washington's July 9 entry
Detail from Washington’s July 9 entry

The entries, some in the general’s own straightforward script and some in his secretary’s more florid style, are among many documents and manuscripts by the nation’s Founding Fathers that have been donated to Fordham Libraries over the years.

The diaries are from the Charles Allen Munn Collection, which also includes manuscripts from Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette, Paul Revere, John Quincy Adams, and General Nathaniel Green, as well as 18th-century painters Charles Wilson Peale and John Trumbull.

The collection has an international reputation. In 2016, two of the letters were on exhibit at the Palace of Versailles in France: one written to George Washington from artist John Trumbull, the second written to Marquis de Lafayette from George Washington. The letters will be on view the month of July in the atrium of the Walsh Library at the Rose Hill campus.

The general's entry on July 4, 1776.


Tom Stoelker is senior staff writer and visual media coordinator for Fordham News. After fifteen years as a freelance designer, Tom shifted his focus to writing and photography. He graduated from Lehman College, CUNY where he majored in English literature and photography and he received his master's in journalism from Columbia University. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, and The Architect's Newspaper, where he was associate editor.