Edmund Burke

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1774

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
12 January 1729 in Dublin, Ireland
  DIED:
9 July 1797 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

AUTHOR OF
  • A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757
  • Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.

 

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.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)