Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
George Washington’s Resignation
Annapolis Charter 300 1708-2008
— Commemorating the 1708 Royal Charter under Queen Anne to the City of Annapolis —
“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action.”
After the 1781 victory at Yorktown, some Americans thought the triumphant General George Washington should be crowned the new nation's first king. But Washington didn’t want a royal title and power, and his actions in Annapolis helped ensure that the United States would be a democratic republic instead of a monarchy.
Congress met in the Maryland State House from late 1783 to the summer of 1784, making Annapolis the national capital for a few months. On December 23, 1783, after attending several days of gala events held in his honor, General Washington addressed Congress. Impressive in his dress uniform and his hands shaking with emotion, Washington read a short retirement speech and handed his officer’s commission to the president of Congress. He quickly left the State House and rode away from Annapolis, eager to return home in time for Christmas dinner.
By stepping down as commander in chief at the end of the Revolutionary War, Washington demonstrated that American military power answers to the
—Glenn Campbell, Historic Annapolis Foundation
“George Washington,” Rembrandt Peale, C. 1800.
Visitors can explore the Hammond Harwood House at 19 Maryland Avenue. This home was one of Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s favorite in Annapolis.
“Washington Resigning His Commission,” 1858, Edwin White, Collection of the Maryland State Archives, MSA.SC 1545-1112
Catering to the Commander in Chief. Tavern keeper George Mann handled the arrangements for a dinner, hosted by Governor William Paca, an “illuminated” ball held on the eve of the resignation ceremony. Mann’s bill included charges for “musick,” 12 packs of cards, 8 pounds of candles, 98 bottles of wine, and punch ingredients: 2½ gallons of spirits, 9 pounds of sugar, and 25 limes. Food and drink alone billed at $664.75. One congressman wrote that “not a soul got drunk, though there was wine in plenty and the usual number of 13 toasts,” and that Washington “danced every set, that all the ladies might have the pleasure of dancing with him.” Many ladies wore 13 curls at the neck “à L’Independence.”
“Washington Reviewing His Troops at Valley Forge”
You can read George Washington’s draft of his resignation speech, written here in Annapolis, at the Maryland State Archives at 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis.
Collection of the Maryland State Archives, MSA SA 5666
Toasts Proposed to George Washington and the New Nation, December 23, 1783
1. The United States
2. The Army
3. His Most Christian Majesty
4. The United Netherlands
5. The King of Sweden
6. Our Commissioners abroad
7. The Minister of France
8. The Minister of the United Netherlands
9. Harmony and a flourishing commerce throughout the nation
10. May virtue and wisdom influence the councils of the United States, and may their conduct merit the blessings of Peace and Independence
11. The virtuous daughters of America
12. The Governor and State of Maryland
13. Long health and happiness of our illustrious General.
George Washington’s Response: “Competent Powers to Congress for general Purposes”
Erected 2008 by the City of Annapolis. With appreciation for their assistance: Historic Annapolis Foundation, Maryland State Archives, and the Office of the Mayor.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington series list. A significant historical date for this entry is December 23, 1783.
Location. 38° 58.65′ N, 76° 29.94′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker is on West Street (Maryland Route 450) west of Munroe Court. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 162 West Street, Annapolis MD 21401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Annapolis & The Maryland Signers (a few steps from this marker); Art in Annapolis (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); On this site on November 25, 1960 (about 400 feet away); Light House Bistro (about 600 feet away); "Preservation Was A Fight!" (about 600 feet away); Asbury United Methodist Church (about 700 feet away); The Old Fourth Ward (about 700 feet away); Lincoln in Annapolis (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Annapolis.
Also see . . . Wikipedia entry. Excerpt:
Later, in describing his painting, “General George Washington Resigning His Commission,” Trumbull considered Washington’s resignation “one of the highest moral lessons ever given to the world.” The historian Thomas Fleming described the significance of(Submitted on December 18, 2021.)This was – is – the most important moment in American history. The man who could have dispersed a feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his officers riches worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power to become a private citizen. He was putting himself at the mercy of politicians over whom he had no control and in whom he had little confidence.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 2, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 605 times since then and 72 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week December 19, 2021. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 2, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3, 4. submitted on December 18, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.