*** Revolutionary War Washington resigns his commnd 1783

American Revolutionary War: Washington Resigns His Command (1783)

Washington resigns his commission
Figure 1.--This John Trumbull paunting shows Gen. George Washington resigning his commission. : depicts George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief of the Army to the Congress, which was then meeting at the Maryland State House in Annapolis (December 23, 1783). Washington's decision was critical in establishing the princviple of civilian control of the military and a democratically cointrolled repunlic. Washington is at the center of the painting with two aides-de-camp. He is addressing the president of the Congress, Thomas Mifflin, and others, such as Elbridge Gerry, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison. Mrs. Washington and her three grandchildren are shown in the gallery, in the upper right even though they were not actully present, but at home in Mount Vernon. We are not sure who the girls are on th floor of th Assemblky. The painting is now deservingly displayed in the United States Capitol rotunda.

Gen. George Washington with the war won and the peace treaty with Britain signed, voluntarily resigned his military commission to Congress. A central aspect of constitutional republican government was military subservience to civilian government. This was endangered by the Newburgh cabal which Washington quashed with an emotive speech (March 15, 1783). His resigning his commission to Congress firmly set this precept in place for the infant republic. The great events of the Revolution are often seen at Concord Bridge, Bunker Hill, Crossing the Delaware, Cornwallis surrendering at Yorktown--all critical points. We would point to an event often seen as a mere footnote to the Revolution--Washington voluntarily resigning his command of the Continental Army (December 23). It occured at the State House in Annapolis, Maryland where congress was sitting at the time. He desired to return to private life at his Virginia plantation. In his remarks to Congress, he described how, "... the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war," especially, " those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress." It was an almost unheard of act. There is no doubt that Washington was the one indispensable founding father. The Continental Army was held together despite humiliating disasters largely by Washington's indomitable will. And his prestige t this point was such that he could have been, king, emperor, or Cromwellian lord protector, but he chose to return to his plantation. There are many revolutions in history and most go badly after they succeed when a commander assumes dictatorial Power: Caesar, Cromwell, Napoleon, Lenin/Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Castro. Congress did not ask Washington to resign, he resigned voluntarily. Historians like James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn bring up the sane historical precedent that echo the classical republican ideals that motivated so many of the founding fathers: "The Virginian, like the victorious Roman soldier Cincinnatus, went home to plow." America would not be ruled by a dictator commanding an army. Washington probably would have been elected president without this magnanimous ct. With it, he became the only possible choice. The delegated in Philadelphia who crafted the constitution, basically created the presidency with Washington in mind.


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Created: 6:13 PM 7/5/2022
Last updated: 6:14 PM 7/5/2022