Tuesday, December 3, 2013

GW | Dec. 4–GW Bids Farewell to Officers, NYC

General George Washington says farewell to his officers
at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, December 1783.
On this date in 1783, General George Washington tearfully said goodbye to his officers in the Long Room at Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl Street (at Broad), New York City. The tavern now encompasses a museum.

Washington was described as so overcome with emotion that he was barely able to speak. The context was that the British soldiers left New York City two weeks before.

This was the final victory, more than two years after the redcoats surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia. In the meantime the under-supplied and overworked Continental Army had narrowly survived several mutinies and, the autumn before, a near-coup.

The second Treaty of Paris, between Britain and the newly independent American colonies, was not signed until September 3, 1783 -- 20 years after the first Treaty of Paris, signed between the British and the French, wound up the French and Indian Wars and made the independence of the colonies possible.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris by representatives of the American colonies, General Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home -- Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Washington's return to civilian life was significant. It said to history -- this was not just a war, it was a  revolution. The Continental Congress had given him dictatorial powers. Some wanted Washington to become king. But he did not want this. He wanted a Republic, and land in the western territories for his veteran officers. Washington's farewells to the nation and to his officers were short-lived. Five years later he was elected as the first President of the United States.