In March of 1783, General George Washington faced a HUGE threat to his authority.
The Revolutionary War was over. But peace negotiations between Great Britain and the US were still in progress.
Washington heard that his Army officers and soldiers were unhappy.
And furious. And desperate. Because Congress was struggling to find funds to pay their wages.
So they began to plot against their commander-in-chief, General Washington.
On March 15, 1783, Newburgh, New York, Army officers met to plan a mutiny. And force Congress to pay them for their service during the American Revolution.
But just as the meeting begins, General Washington makes a surprise appearance.
He asks for permission to speak.
Then he tells his officers that he understands their complaints.
He tells them he would continue to press Congress, but that Congress moved slowly.
The officers weren’t convinced. They had heard all this yada yada before.
So Washington opens a letter from a sympathetic congressman. He thought that reading this letter could help him persuade his officers.
But when he starts reading, something happens.
Washington looked disoriented. Then, pulls from his pocket something that only people close to him had seen him wear: a pair of glasses.
He says, "Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind."
The soldiers wept. This simple statement moved them. And Washington saved the United States from civil war.
This story reminds me of something many people in the Business World have forgotten.
Words matter. And much more than we think.
Because words move people.
Words can inspire.
But they can also clarify or confuse, jeopardize or help. That's why a copywriter’s job isn’t just about writing words. It’s about choosing the right words.
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi
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