1776

Joseph Reed is the personal secretary to George Washington. As a result, he sees a side of Washington’s personality that few people ever do. When Washington is frightened or uncertain about the future of the Revolutionary War, he confides in Reed, whom he thinks of as a close friend and confidant. Throughout 1776, Reed’s opinion of Washington is an important barometer of the overall success of the American war effort. At first, Reed idolizes Washington, describing him as superhuman and almost impossibly charismatic. But as the year wears on, Reed begins to question Washington’s military leadership, and in a letter to General Charles Lee, he admits that he’s begun to doubt Washington’s aptitude as a commander. Reed continues to serve as Washington’s secretary and friend for many years to come, but this act of betrayal tarnishes his relationship with Washington.

Joseph Reed Quotes in 1776

The 1776 quotes below are all either spoken by Joseph Reed or refer to Joseph Reed. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Military Strategy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of 1776 published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Washington was a man of exceptional, almost excessive self-command, rarely permitting himself any show of discouragement or despair, but in the privacy of his correspondence with Joseph Reed, he began now to reveal how very low and bitter he felt, if the truth were known.

Related Characters: George Washington, Joseph Reed
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

Possibly, Washington was more hurt than angry. Later he would tell Reed, "I was hurt not because I thought my judgment wronged by the expressions contained in it [the letter], but because the same sentiments were not communicated immediately to myself." Possibly the charge of "fatal indecision of mind" also hurt deeply, because Washington knew it to be true.

Related Characters: George Washington (speaker), Joseph Reed, General Charles Lee
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
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Joseph Reed Character Timeline in 1776

The timeline below shows where the character Joseph Reed appears in 1776. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Rabble in Arms
Leadership Theme Icon
...impressive gentleman. He’s famous for inspiring his troops and employees to greatness. His secretary, Joseph Reed, often says that he feels “bound by every tie of duty and honor” to obey... (full context)
Military Strategy Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...attack and burn the city of Falmouth. Washington receives another blow when his secretary, Joseph Reed, announces that he needs to leave Washington and tend to his family. (full context)
Chapter 3: Dorchester Heights
Leadership Theme Icon
...are running low on supplies. On January 14, George Washington writes a letter to Joseph Reed, explaining that his army is near collapse. He lists various problems: no gunpowder or money,... (full context)
Chapter 7: Darkest Hour
Military Strategy Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Unbeknownst to Washington, Joseph Reed sends a secret letter to Charles Lee. In this letter, Reed implores Lee to join... (full context)
Military Strategy Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
British Society Theme Icon
...to keep their armies at home, rather than sending them out to Washington. Washington sends Reed to New Jersey to entreat the governor to provide Washington with reinforcements. Washington also sends... (full context)
Military Strategy Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Colonial Society Theme Icon
On November 24, a messenger arrives with a letter for Joseph Reed from General Charles Lee. Thinking the letter might have important information, Washington opens it. In... (full context)
Military Strategy Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Practicality Theme Icon
Colonial Society Theme Icon
...to lose at this point. On December 22, he receives an unsolicited letter from Joseph Reed, who advises him to strike at the British as soon as possible. Washington begins to... (full context)