Usually it’s about leadership through crisis, or the skills required to manage competing factions, or the virtue of self-restraint. But today’s lesson from Washington is more quotidian, though no less awesome: Always keep good expense reports (and eat more mutton).
When Washington became Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, he said he wouldn’t accept a salary for the position. But he did say he would accept reimbursement for his expenses.
So he documented everything, from payments to spies to his daily meals. (Apparently, he was a big fan of mutton.) And he was extremely meticulous. . . .
Washington’s expenses for July 4, 1776, included a broom (which cost 6 pence) as well as mutton, veal, beef, cabbage, beets, beans, potatoes, and lobster. He also paid for the mending of his “Chariot” — a type of carriage.
In 1783, Washington submitted his expense report. He had spent $160,074. It’s hard to adjust for inflation since then, but that number today would certainly be in the millions of dollars.
Apparently General Washington under-reported, as a Treasury audit revealed the Virginian was owed 89/90 of a dollar more than he requested.
You can see the full expense report by clicking through. The post also notes that on July 4, 1776, Washington purchased, among other things, one broom, at a cost of six pence.