Letter from Revolutionary War General George Washington to Congress (1783)


On December 20, 1783, at the end of the Revolutionary War, General George Washington arrived in Annapolis, Maryland. He wrote the letter below to the Continental Congress asking them how they would like him to officially resign his position as General, in person or in writing. 

Three days later he would announce his resignation in person before the Continental Congress. Washington's resignation set a precedent for peaceful transfer of power as some had feared the powerful commander could have become another king or dictator. Washington instead chose to peacefully transfer power back to the Congress. 

Transcript:

Sir

I take the earliest opportunity to inform Congress of my arrival in this City, with the intention of asking leave to resign the Commission I have the honor of holding in their Service.

It is essential for me to know their pleasure, and in what manner it will be most proper to offer my resignation, whether in writing or at an Audience; I shall therefore request to be honored with the necessary information, that being apprized of the sentiments of Congress I may regulate my Conduct accordingly. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your Excellency’s Most Obedient humble Servant

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