On this day in 1783, George Washington “claims the indulgence of retiring” by resigning as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.
He delivered his Resignation Speech at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. Here are a few excerpts:
“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I accepted with diffidence — a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.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.
“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 superintendance of them, to his holy keeping.”
The next morning, George Washington departed for Mount Vernon, his Virginia home. He became a private citizen on Christmas Eve.
Of course, his retirement “from the great theatre of action” lasted just a few years. In 1788, the people unanimously elect the Father of Our Country to be first President of the United States.