Skip to comments.This Day In History: George Washington’s final farewell to his army
Posted on 12/03/2017 7:51:04 AM PST by iowamark
On this day in 1783, George Washington says his final goodbye to a group of officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York.
washingtons-farewell-to-his-officersNew York had served as the British headquarters throughout the long years of the war. It was the last city to be evacuated when the war was over! On November 25, however, the British finally left, and George Washington entered the city. (See November 25 history post.)
Despite the celebrations and elaborate dinners that ensued over the course of the next week, the British hadnt entirely left the area. Some lingered on boats nearby. Others were still on Staten and Long Islands. They were waiting for the weather to clear sufficiently for a voyage across the Atlantic, and they were waiting for sufficient transports. Even as the celebrations continued, Washington waited for this final departure.
One of his biographers explains: Not an hour would Washington remain in New York, as Commander-in-Chief, beyond the time all danger of a clash of arms had ended!
On December 1, British Sir Guy Carleton wrote to Washington: Wind and weather permitting, I hope that the Embarkation of such of his Majestys Troops as yet remain on Long Island and Staten Island may be completed [by December 4].
Surely Washington was thrilled to receive the letter! He was always aching to return to his beloved Mount Vernon. A farewell to his officers was scheduled for noon on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern.
The meeting was not exceptionally large, with fewer than 30 officers gathered. Importantly, the head of Washingtons secret Culper Spy Ring, Benjamin Tallmadge, was in the room that day. He later wrote of the experience:
We had been assembled but a few moments, when His Excellency entered the room. His emotion, too strong to be concealed, seemed to be reciprocated by every officer present. After partaking of a slight refreshment, in almost breathless silence, the General filled his glass with wine, and turning to the officers, he said: With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable. He concluded, I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.
Historian Thomas Fleming has offered an alternative explanation for the strong emotions that day: There had been a fair amount of dispute regarding soldiers pay in recent months. Was Washington simply upset that hed failed to get more for his men? Was he leaving on a note of regret?
Either way, the tears apparently flowed freely after Washingtons short speech. Henry Knox was the closest to Washington. Tallmadge again reports that Washington suffused in tears, was incapable of utterance, but grasped [Knoxs] hand; when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner, every officer in the room marched up to, kissed, and parted with his General-in-Chief.
After this solemn farewell, Washington went down to the wharf where a barge was waiting for him. He was leaving the city, but he would soon appear before the Continental Congress to resign his commission.
The war was over. Our independence was won.
I ate at the current restaurant, now at this site. Decked with history, they have colonial dishes, decorated with period prints on the walls, etc. When there, the upstairs museum was closed - still want to check that out someday.
George Washington was a VERY special, unique & amazing man. I have no doubt that he was God’s gift to a fledgling America at that crucial time in history.
I read ‘George Washington’s Sacred Fire’ by Peter A. Lillback, Jerry Newcombe some years ago and it changed me - my appreciation & respect for Washington himself, informed me as to what a miracle the founding of this country truly was, and it has further shaped my ideas about politics today. It’s not a short book - 1,100 pages.
What sets ‘George Washington’s Sacred Fire’ apart from all previous works on this man for the ages, is the exhaustive fifteen years of Dr. Peter Lillback’s research, revealing a unique icon driven by the highest of ideals. Only do George Washington’s own writings, journals, letters, manuscripts, and those of his closest family and confidants reveal the truth of this awe-inspiring role model for all generations.
Dr. Lillback paints a picture of a man, who, faced with unprecedented challenges and circumstances, ultimately drew upon his persistent qualities of characterhonesty, justice, equity, perseverence, piety, forgiveness, humility, and servant leadership, to become one of the most revered figures in world history. George Washington set the cornerstone for what would become one of the most prosperous, free nations in the history of civilization.
Through this book, Dr. Lillback, assisted by Jerry Newcombe, will reveal to the reader a newly inspirational image of General and President George Washington.
The building however is not the original, it had been rebuilt many times mostly due to fires. At one time, it was to be torn down for a parking lot. Still, it's the same actual location and that is what makes it so historic.
Amen. George Washington was a blessing on this Nation.
I never tire of telling his story to young people.
Thanks iowamark. Great time for the weekly digest ping. After scolding them a bit, he pulled out a letter from a member of the congress regarding their intent to pay up. He opened it. Said nothing. He reached in for his glasses and...
"Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind."
Here's a Wiki-quickie:
On March 13, 1978, Washington was posthumously promoted to the full grade of General of the Armies of the United States, with effective date from July 4, 1976. The promotion was authorized by a congressional joint resolution on January 19, 1976 which recommended Washington's promotion and further declared that no officer of the United States armed forces should ever outrank George Washington.
The General. First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country.
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Wonderful. The husband and I had the privilege of visiting Fraunces Tavern in March of this year. Had a great meal downstairs and then visited the museum upstairs. Got to peer into the room in which the farewell meal took place. It is set up as it had been for this occasion. Gave me goosebumps.
...still want to check that out someday.
You will be glad you did. It is very well done.
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