The Return of George Washington - 1783-1789
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- United States
More informationAfter commanding the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, General Washington stunned the world: He retired. Four years later, as he rode from Mount Vernon to lead the Constitutional Convention, he was the one American who could united the rapidly disintegrating country. This is the little-known story of the return of George Washington.
In this groundbreaking new look at our first citizen, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson masterfully chronicles how George Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement four years after the War of Independence to lead a country on the brink of dissolution and secure its future. Though the period between the Revolution and the Presidency has previously been neglected in studies of Washington's life, Larson's striking reassessment shows that Washington's greatness in fact rests on these years-1783 to 1789-and rightfully elevates our foremost Founding Father's "forgotten years" to a central place in the American story.
In December 1783, Washington, the most powerful and popular man in America, stepped down as commander in chief and returned to private life as a farmer and landowner. Yet as Washington found happiness in successfully growing his Virginia estate, the fledgling American experiment foundered under the Articles of Confederation. Sectional bickering paralyzed government; debts went unpaid; the economy stagnated; national security was neglected; the union of states was in peril.
When a Constitutional Convention was called to forge a new government, its chances of success were slim. Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and other leaders realized only one American-the retired hero George Washington-could unite the fractious states. After months of anguish, Washington answered the call and left his beloved Mount Vernon in the spring of 1787 to preside over the convention in Philadelphia. Although Washington is overlooked in most accounts, Larson brilliantly uncovers Washington's vital role in shaping the Consti