Full Text

Chapter Thirty. George Washington in Retirement

Alexia Jones Helsley

Subject History » Political History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics federalism, French Revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00032.x


On 9 March 1797 George Washington left Philadelphia for Mount Vernon. His years of public service at an end, he looked forward to retirement. He wanted to supervise his farms, recover financially, and give Martha the peaceful life she had always desired. Homecoming was not without its joys, but the years of public service weighed heavily on Washington. His retirement months were also critical for the new nation. On his successor's inaugural day, the imposing figures of Washington and fellow Virginian and now vice-president Thomas Jefferson flanked the diminutive John Adams. This image was a harbinger, perhaps, for Adams' administration: a small man dwarfed by giants - the departing giant Washington and the politically rising giant Jefferson. Although Washington and Adams shared similar political views, relations between them had never been close. When Adams won a narrow victory in the Electoral College, Washington's congratulations were “restrained and official” ( Ellis (2004) 239). He did not mention the inauguration in his diary. The entry for inaugural day, 4 March 1797 reads: “Much such a day as yesterday in all respects” (PGW, Diaries , 6:236). To complicate matters, gallantry and rancor were both part of the presidential transition. Following the 4 March inauguration of Adams and Jefferson, the outgoing president pointedly and graciously exited the chamber after the new ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top