Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wanted: More Washingtons in Washington

Tuesday, December 23, 1783.

Possibly the most important date in American history that is mostly unknown. On that day at 12 o'clock, General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army offered his commission in resignation to the the Congress.

In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, many citizens, high and low class alike, clamored for Washington to be crowned King of America, King George. Washington wanted none of it and resigned from public service rather than become a king, after all, freedom from the capriciousness of royalty was why the late war was fought. It was, however, expected of the victorious commander of the conquering army to take the crown. That is what nearly all victorious generals of the past had done. By refusing the crown, George Washington acted committed the single most important act by an individual citizen in this nation's history and left its fate in the hands of a civilian government.

Speaking to the President of the Senate, Members of Congress, and various other officials and guests, Gen'l Washington quietly intoned,

Mr. President:

The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The Successful termination of the War has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre 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.
From a simple desire to return home for Christmas dinner and having had enough of public service, George Washington handed in his resignation and within hours was on his horse headed for hearth and home. We need more Washingtons in Washington today.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Gayle said...

We certainly do need more Washingtons in Washington, and now more than ever, Indigo!

You know, I went to school (public schools) a long time ago, and even then they didn't teach about him refusing to be king. I was grown up when I learned about it by reading history books on my own.

I came over to wish you a Merry Christmas though, so MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope that yours is joyously blessed! :)

City Troll said...

Great Post

Merry Christmas

The Troll

Indigo Red said...

As the years have past, Gayle, I have realized what a remarkable teacher my 8th grade US History teacher was. He taught us so much that wasn't in the book. Washington's resignation was one of those stories. Merry Christmas to you, too.

Thank you, Troll. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Alas there doesn't seem to be any more Washingtons. Don

Indigo Red said...

Perhaps not, Don. Or they've taken George's advice and didn't get involved in the fist place, all those foreign entanglements and all.