As in the case of his career as commander-in-chief, Washington’s most important act as president was his giving up the office. The significance of his retirement from the presidency is easily overlooked today, but his contemporaries knew what it meant. Most people assumed that Washington might be president as long as he lived, that he would be a kind of elected monarch like the king of Poland. Hence his retirement from the presidency enhanced his moral authority and set a precedent for future presidents.
Political philosopher, Boston revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1722—1803.
Soldier, politician, New York governor, vice president under Jefferson and Madison; 1739—1812.
Lawyer, orator, Virginia governor; 1736—99.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
Virginia revolutionary, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator; 1732—94.
Politician, author, political philosopher, Anti-Federalist; 1725—92.
Author, revolutionary, political philosopher; 1737—1809.
Playwright, historian, sister of James Otis, Jr, wife of James Warren; 1728—1814.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)