Continental General George Washington
||Born: February 22, 1732; Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died: December 14, 1799; Mount Vernon, Virginia
Battles: Trenton, Yorktown
Revolutionary War: 1781-1783
On October 19, Cornwallis could hold out no longer, since the French fleet had successfully occupied Chesapeake Bay in mid-September. On October 20, The surrender ceremony took place with General Washington presiding. General Cornwallis remained in the fort, claiming illness. His second-in-command Brig. General Charles O'Hara first attempted to surrender to Comte de Rochambeau, who deferred to Washington, who then deferred to his second-in-command Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln.
Following Yorktown, the war with England was all but over, but the Continental Army was not disbanded until the Treaty of Paris of 1783 was signed and hostilities were officially over to prevent the British from taking advantage of America if it had no standing army. Though he longed to go home to Mount Vernon, General Washington remained in command until the treaty was signed. In March 1783, Washington defused a potential mutiny at Newburgh where he had located his headquarters in 1783.
Men and low ranking officers were angry over backpay and threatening to rise up against Congress and the new government, but in an impassioned speech, Washington convinced the men that he would ensure that they would be paid. As with the Conway Cabal, Washington again showed some political skill in dealing with non-military issues and in negotiating. He also difused a movement to have him declared king. On December 4, he attended a farewell celebration give by his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. On December 23, 1783, Washington resigned his commission in the Continental Army.
After the Revolutionary War: 1783-1789
Following his resignation, George Washington returned home to Mount Vernon, which had again declined in his absence. Though he became the President General of the Society of Cincinnati, which was an organization of former Revolutionary War officers, he stayed out of Virginia politics. Concentrating on restoring Mount Vernon, he added a greenhouse, a mill, an icehouse, and new land to the estate. He also bred hunting dogs, looked into improving navigation on the Potomac River and other commercial ventures. He also traveled west and received a steady stream of guests.
In 1787, George Washington was back in public life and in politics. He was involved in the creation of the Ordinance of 1787. Virginia and Maryland commissioners met at Mount Vernon to iron out a code for joint use of the Potomac River. This meeting led to the Annapolis Convention and then the Federal Convention whose goal was to revise the Articles of Confederation, but led to the writing of the United States Constitution. Washington, who was the Virginia delegate, was elected the presiding officer. Once the Constitution was ratified, Washington was unanimously elected the first President of the United States in 1789 and was sworn in on April 30, 1789.
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