The gallery where the House of Congress was sitting, in Annapolis, was full to overflowing on December 23, 1783, on the occasion of General George Washington’s resignation as Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army.
George Washington on that day was doing something unusual in human history – refusing power! He wanted to make it abundantly clear that he had no intention of setting up a military government with himself as the head. The hero of the Revolutionary war, in noble, yet choking emotion, briefly addressed Congress saying,
“The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place, I have now the honor…to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country…I here offer my commission, and take leave of all the employments of public life.”
The General refused payment for his services; he only asked that the new Republic, when convenient, would reimburse him for his expenses. The General had spent over $60,000.00 out of his own pocket paying and feeding his brothers in arms. Imagine how much money that was in those days.
The President of the Congress gave a suitable reply. Two days later Washington, through hard riding, made it home to celebrate Christmas with his family. The Cincinnatus of the West was “resting amid the rural scenes of his Mr. Vernon home” on the Potomac.