George Washington’s Christmas Eve Homecoming

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

On December 23, 1783, George Washington, the victorious commander of the Continental Army, resigned his commission and gave up his power. The only historic precedent to this action was in the days of ancient Rome when the Roman hero Cincinnatus who turned his sword into a plowshare and became a farmer. Washington was quickly hailed as the American Cincinnatus and esteemed as the greatest man of his age by his contemporaries. John Marshall, the future Supreme Court Justice, wrote from Richmond, Virginia that “at length the military career of the greatest man on earth is closed.”

The ceremony for his resignation occurred at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, where the Continental Congress was then meeting. Following his resignation at noon on the 23rd, Washington, now a private citizen, was eager to get to his home, Mount Vernon, less than 50 miles away.

Throughout the war, Washington had longed to…

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