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.
Soldier, politician, New York governor, vice president under Jefferson and Madison; 1739—1812.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Lawyer, orator, Virginia governor; 1736—99.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, CT governor; 1731—96.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
”Light Horse Harry”; Continental Army officer, Virginia governor; 1756—1818.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)