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One of a Kind – Washington’s Retreat & Crossings Map

Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript “Just imagine this.  At the start of all this on the 12th of June 1775 when John Adams nominates Washington to be commander in chief, the story that’s been recounted many times but probably not still that well known.  When George Washington was sent by the State of Virginia or the Colony of Virginia to attend the Continental Congress, his dress attire for every day that he went and sat in the Continental Congress, prior to his being nominated and then confirmed as commander in chief and sent off to go run the war, he attended Congress every day in his military uniform, which would have been similar to the uniform that he would have worn when he was in the service of Great Britain, back during the French and Indian War, which he had infamously served in.”  Check out today’s transcript & Clip of The Day for the rest….

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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  On December 23, 1783, George Washington traveled to Annapolis.  This is where the Continental Congress or the Confederation Congress was then meeting.  Washington traveled to Annapolis to turn in his sword, his battle sword.  He resigned his commission as general and commander in chief and informed the Congress of his wish to go home, back to his plantation in northern Virginia at Mount Vernon and spend the remainder of his life in secluded, agrarian bliss.  That’s what he told Congress he was going to do.  His remarks, which were rather difficult to track down, but I was finally able to find them — his remarks and what he told Congress as he was resigning his commission are worthy of being read and re-read over and over and over again, I think.

His resignation of his commission came after he had met his officers at Fraunces Tavern, which is located [private |FP-Monthly|FP-Yearly|FP-Yearly-WLK|FP-Yearly-So76|FP-Founding Brother|FP-Founding Father|FP-Lifetime] not far from what we would call Wall Street today.  It was called Wall Street then, too, about three or four blocks from Trinity Church where Hamilton is buried.  Right around the corner is this old tavern called Fraunces Tavern.  I’ve actually been there.  My friends Pete and Arthur took me there when my daughter Maddy and I were in New York City last February.  We had dinner at Fraunces Tavern.  You can go into the room in the lower portion of the tavern where Washington is said to have given his speech.  He gathered his officers there and told them that he was going to resign his commission, how much he loved all of them, thanked them for their service, and they had a little bit of a party.  They drank some ale, had some meat, Washington boarded a boat right there at the northern end of Manhattan Island, and began his journey downriver.  He ultimately would wind up at Annapolis to deliver the following speech:


Mr. President: The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the oppertunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The Successful termination of the War has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen, encreases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire form the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.

George Washington, 23 December 1783

[end reading]

Mike:  There’s a painting of this in the capitol building in Mordor on the Potomac.  It’s a Trumbull painting.  If you have listened to Times That Try Men’s Souls: Washington’s Crossing, you might know that James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, and Jonathan Trumbull were some of the more famous members of the revolutionary brotherhood, if you will, that had traveled with Washington across the Delaware River and then back across on Christmas Day 1776.  Trumbull was in that number, which is surprising that Trumbull never came up with the idea to paint the crossing.  It had to be left to a German, Emanuel Leutze.  In any event, Trumbull was commissioned later in life to paint those huge paintings you see in the rotunda.  The signing of the Declaration of Independence, he painted that one.  He did Washington surrendering his sword.  I believe that the third one he did was the, I want to say it was the signing of the Constitution or the presentation of the Constitution.  In any event, you can look this painting up and see that Washington was dressed in full regalia.  Congress had been notified he was coming.  It was a big hoop-de-doo event.

Just imagine this.  At the start of all this on the 12th of June 1775 when John Adams nominates Washington to be commander in chief, the story that’s been recounted many times but probably not still that well known.  When George Washington was sent by the State of Virginia or the Colony of Virginia to attend the Continental Congress, his dress attire for every day that he went and sat in the Continental Congress, prior to his being nominated and then confirmed as commander in chief and sent off to go run the war, he attended Congress every day in his military uniform, which would have been similar to the uniform that he would have worn when he was in the service of Great Britain, back during the French and Indian War, which he had infamously served in.  He would go to Congress every day dressed as if to say: There’s only one guy in here that’s a really topnotch war veteran.  If you’re looking for somebody to be commander in chief or receive a heady appointment, that might be me.  Although, he would deny these things.  When he was nominated, he would say: No, no, no, where’d you guys get that idea that I could be commander in chief?  I’m not up to this duty.

My point in bringing this up is, even though he presented himself as ready to be called into service, nonetheless it was with great humility that he accepted these appointments.  At every state, he always acknowledged a hierarchy.  Even when he thought Congress was wrong, he acknowledged the hierarchy.  To do so and to place one’s self in such a humble position, this is one of the things that leads to the early American tradition of humility, or pursuing peace and tranquility in our foreign affairs, dealings with other nations, and whether or not we’re always going to be in a state of war like we are today.  We talked a little bit about this last week.

Here we have another example of Washington resigning his commission when some of his officers, when they met him at Fraunces Tavern, told him: Don’t resign.  Go in there and tell Congress that you want to be king.  The army will support you and the Congress will probably acquiesce.  You should probably just go appoint yourself or anoint yourself as King George I.  This is serious talk.  Washington would have none of it.  Of course, since I just read you the letter, you know what happened afterwards.

There’s another fascinating story about this, by the bye.  After he does go off into retirement, the nationalists who ultimately get misnamed as federalists, the nationalists start working on him, knowing: Look, if we can recruit Washington into our scheme to nationalize the confederation and to make it so that it turns and all its affairs are managed by one central authority, of course run by the smartest people in the world, namely us, nationalists.  We’ll call ourselves federalists, though.  As soon as he got to Mount Vernon, Madison started working on him.  As a matter of fact, Washington hadn’t been there three months before Madison started working on him for what became known as the Mount Vernon Convention.

Letters were sent to all twelve colonies asking for emissaries or ambassadors to meet at Mount Vernon, Washington’s home, to discuss matters of trade that some, Madison chief among them, didn’t think matters of commerce were being executed properly and with great efficiency.  Only three states showed up.  In any event, they started working on Washington from the get-go.  I like to remind people of the humility that the first commander in chief shown.  Oh, to have a man like George Washington today.

[mocking] “Mike, why are you spending so much time on Washington?”  Well, it is Armistice Day.  Washington actually did get a chance to celebrate an armistice.  I think it’s fitting to actually talk about someone that maybe actually lived in a time where people in the United States weren’t so drunk with their own supremacy and drunk with the fevers and fires of war, actually desired to celebrate armistice, actually desired to celebrate the words of the preamble to the Constitution, to provide for the domestic defense, promote the general welfare, and insure domestic tranquility.

James Tilton wrote a letter to Gunning Bedford from Annapolis on Christmas Day describing Washington’s appearance:


The General came to town last Friday, and announced his arrival, by a letter to congress, requesting to know, in what manner they chused he should resign his authority; [Mike: Again, humility, acknowledging a hierarchy.] whether by private letter or public audience? The latter was preferred without hesitation. Some etiquette being settled on Saturday, a public dinner was ordered on Monday and the audience to be on Tuesday. The feast on Monday was the most extraordinary I ever attended. Between 2 and 3 hundred Gentn: dined together in the ball-room. The number of cheerful voices, with the clangor of knives and forks made a din of a very extraordinary nature and most delightful influence. Every man seemed to be in heaven or so absored in the pleasures of imagination, as to neglect the more sordid appetites, for not a soul got drunk, though there was wine in plenty and the usual number of 13 toasts drank, [Mike: Thirteen toasts and nobody got drunk? Wow, these guys are pros.] besides one given afterwards by the General which you ought to be acquainted with: it is as follows. “Competent powers to congress for general purposes.”[/private]

Declaration of independence didn't create a blob
The COMPLETE story of George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Day, 1776-narrated by Mike Church. OWN IT on 2 CD set today

In the evening of the same day, the Governor gave a ball at the State House. To light the rooms every window was illuminated. Here the company was equally numerous, and more brilliant, consisting of ladies and Gentn: Such was my villanous awkwardness, that I could not venture to dance on this occasion, you must therefore annex to it a cleverer Idea, than is to be expected from such a mortified whelp as I am. The General danced every set, that all the ladies might have the pleasure of dancing with him, or as it has since been handsomely expressed, get a touch of him.

Tuesday morning, Congress met, and took their seats in order, all covered. At twelve o’clock the General was introduced by the Secretary, and seated opposite to the president, until the throng, that filled all the avenues, were so disposed of so as to behold the solemnity. The ladies occupied the gallery as full as it would hold, the Gentn: crouded below stairs. Silence ordered, by the Secretary, the Genl. rose and bowed to congress, who uncovered, but did not bow. He then delivered his speech, and at the close of it drew his commission from his bosem and handed it to the president. The president replied in a set speech, the General bowed again to Congress, they uncovered and the General retired. After a little pause until the company withdrew, Congress adjourned. The General then steped into the room again, bid every member farewell and rode off from the door, intent upon eating his christmas dinner at home. Many of the spectators, particularly the fair ones shed tears, on this solemn and affecting occasion. Sir Robert Eden and Mr. William Harford attended very respectfully. They were also at the public dinner and the dance.

James Tilton to Gunning Bedford, Annapolis, 25 December 1783

[end reading]

Mike:  Here on Armistice Day, used to be called Armistice Day, but today is called Veteran’s Day.

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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Wil Shrader Jr.

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