"Conspiracy" is perhaps too strong a term to use in describing varied actions by disaffected officers and some Congressional delegates. Most of those involved shared the view only that Washington should be replaced, and very few activities were coordinated. While Gates was used as a stalking horse to replace Washington, and certainly had been politically lobbying for command, he was not responsible for the strong response within the Congress.
The proponents of removal believed they had a timely chance to succeed. Washington was having limited success in New Jersey and had not been able to drive the British Army from Philadelphia. Gates was the supposed hero of Saratoga, though he took credit for much of what Benedict Arnold had accomplished. Besides his command of the Northern Department of the Continental Army, Gates was head of the Board of War, which directly exercised Congress' control of the Army. Conway had been appointed as Inspector General of the Army, and Gates' adjutant James Wilkinson had been made brevet Brigadier General and was serving as secretary to the board.