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.
Son of John and Abigail Adams, diplomat, senator, sixth President, congressman; 1767—1848.
Financier, Continental congressman, U.S. senator; 1741/42—1804.
Virginia revolutionary, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator; 1732—94.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator for Delaware; 1733—98.
Continental Army general, senator for New York; 1733—1804.
Lawyer and politician from Connecticut; signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1721—93.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)