December 23rd, 1783

By 1783 a 51 year old General George Washington was a national hero. For 8 years he commanded the Continental Armies, the Commander-in-Chief who lead the Revolutionary forces against the most powerful empire in the world. Under his leadership Lord Cornwallis surrendered following the Siege of Yorktown in just two years prior, ending the land war in North America. Yet, he hadn’t always been the hero, at least not to the Continental Congress who had contemplated removing the man who they put so much trust in following early defeats. Defeats at Germantown and Brandywine, leading to the fall of the capital in Philadelphia did much to undermine their confidence in his leadership as they were forced to flee to Lancaster and then York t that caused the Revolutionary Forces to flee for their lives to Lancaster and then to York. It would be a time marked with betrayal, loss, sorrow, defeat and victory.
By December 23rd, 1783 Washington was tired, years away from his beloved Mount Vernon and his wife Martha took its toll and he was ready to return home. The Treaty of Paris had been signed and his work was done. At the state house in Annapolis, Maryland he resigned, with General Henry Knox, who served as Chief Artillery Officer of the Revolutionary Forces taking command as First Senior Officer of the United States Army. A surveyor by trade, he would spend much of his retirement charting the expanse of the Western Territories, sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time. When he was home he would enjoy food and drink with any who came to his door, the ever pleasant and welcoming host. Yet it wouldn’t last. He would return to public service once more at the Constitutional Convention, as James Madison pleaded with him to attend to give it the legitimacy it needed. He would serve as the Chief Magistrate of the Union, elected as our First President, but, like a modern Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus he would leave office after two terms without coaxing, knowing his time had come and gone, ever mindful that this country needed a leader, not a dictator.


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