Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life. George Washington, 23 Dec 1783
On 4 Dec, Washington said farewell to his unpaid officers and the troops they commanded–assuring them that compensation promised in money and western bounty lands would be forthcoming.
General Washington had delayed disbanding his army until the last British ship had departed from the victorious colonies–just in case…
He proceeded slowly to Annapolis where the Congress was still sitting. They had been evacuated for safety until the British left. On 22 December, Washington danced every dance at the Great Ball held in his honor. The following day he appeared before some 20 men gathered into a formal Congressional body. He thanked them for their support of his nine long years of public service. And he reminded them of their obligation to the disbanding army.
Late Christmas Eve he finally reached Mt. Vernon and his waiting Martha.
In the days before the 1784 New Year, the retiring Commander in Chief sent letters to Governor Clinton of New York, General Knox and General LaFayette of his senior staff, expressing his struggle to settle into private retirement and domestic pursuits. He was still concerned for his officers and troops who were owed so much by a weary and what seemed to be a politically divided new nation.
He looked forward to the New Year with a firm commitment to be a private citizen again.
But… Did he seriously think, for even a minute, his guiding hand would not be needed to steady a people not yet skilled in cooperative governance? Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS If you are interested to learn more, I suggest you visit your local public library for one or more of these books–
Cunliffe, Marcus. Washington: Man and Monument. Boston: 1950.
Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency George Washington. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.
Flexner, James Thomas. George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783). Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967. Flexner compiled 4 volumes on George Washington and his life, also published by Little, Brown and Company, 1976-1979.
Sayen, William Guthrie. “A Compleat Gentleman”: The Making of George Washington, 1732-1775. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2008. Originally a 646- page doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut, 1998.
PPS I am looking forward to great genealogy accomplishment in 2013–in scholarship, in solved pedigrees, and in technology. Won’t you join me?