The actual resignation of his command, having made peace between the civil and military powers of the new country -- and, in an emotional ceremony, bidden farewell to his officers on December 4, 1783 -- took place in Annapolis, Maryland, on December 23, when he formally handed back to Congress his commission as commander in chief, which they had given him in June 1775. He said he would never again hold public office. He had his horse waiting at the door, and he took the road to Mount Vernon the next day.This is from Paul Johnson's book about George Washington, which I was listening to today in audiobook form as I walked throught lower Manhattan. That last line made me break down and cry as I crossed Lafayette Street.
No one who knew Washington was surprised. Everyone else, in varying degrees, was astonished at this singular failure of the corruption of power to work. And, indeed, it was a rare moment in history. In London, George III qustioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. "Oh," said West, "they say he will return to his farm." "If he does that," said the king, "he will be the greatest man in the world."
August 26, 2007
Said King George III about George Washington: