George Washington bid farewell to his soldiers at the end of the Revolutionary War on this historic day, December 4, 1783.
Washington, then the commanding general of the Continental Army, rallied his military officers at the Fraunces Tavern in New York, according to History.com.
He then informed his troops that he would be leaving office to return to civilian life.
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The future first president of the United States led his army through six years of war against the British before the triumphant Battle of Yorktown in 1781, where British General Lord Charles Cornwallis formally surrendered.
This victory became known as the end of the Revolutionary War.
Most of the Continental Army was disbanded in 1783 after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, according to the Fraunces Tavern Museum.
Once Washington was informed that the last British troops had left Long Island and Staten Island, it was time for the war leader to bid his soldiers farewell.
Although Washington privately described his troops as undisciplined and in poor health, his gratitude on the day he left was sincere, History.com reports.
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Observers described Washington as “in tears” during the scene at the iconic Lower Manhattan tavern.
A full account of the event comes from Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, recorded on the Fraunces Tavern Museum website.
Tallmadge’s account reads: “We had only been assembled for a few moments when His Excellency entered the room. After having taken a light refreshment in almost breathless silence, the general filled his glass of wine and, turning towards the officers, said: “With a full heart, “With love and gratitude, I leave you now. I sincerely hope that your may your last days be as prosperous and happy as your preceding ones have been glorious and honorable.”
The story continues: “After the officers had a glass of wine, General Washington said, ‘I cannot come to each of you, but I will feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ General Knox, the officer closest to Washington, approached the general and the two hugged and kissed each other, tears streaming down their faces. »
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“In the same affectionate manner, all the officers present in the hall approached and parted with the general-in-chief. I had never seen such a scene of grief and crying before and I sincerely hope never to be again called to be a witness.”
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Washington kissed about 30 of his soldiers one by one, then left for Annapolis, Maryland.
After nearly eight years of war and conflict, this would be the last time many of these men would see each other again, according to the museum.
The general officially resigned his commission on December 23 before the Continental Congress, in an emotional speech.
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He remarked that “having now completed the work entrusted to me, I retire from the great theater of action and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I offer here my commission and I take my leave. of all jobs in public life.
Washington then returned to Mount Vernon, Virginia, hoping to retire as a gentleman farmer.
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But in 1789, Washington was persuaded to return to politics and was elected the first commander in chief of the United States.
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He remained president until 1797.
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