Washington longed to rest "under my own Vine & my own Fig tree," repeatedly quoting the passage from the Book of Micah throughout his time in the Continental Army. Finally back at Mount Vernon, Washington writes one of his most iconic pronouncements on his hopes for retirement on his estate and describes his dramatic return of his commission, an act that would cause George III to call him “the greatest man of the age.”

George Washington to Chastellux, 1 February 1784. Washington Library at Mount Vernon. Courtesy of Ann and Hugh Scott III.Mount Vernon 1st Feby 1784.

My Dear Chevr

I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 23rd of August from L'Orient. I hope this Letter will find you in the circle of you friends at Paris, well recovered from the fatigues of your long inspection of the Frontiers of the Kingdom.

I am at length become a private Citizen of America on the banks of the Potomac; where under my own Vine and my own Fig tree—free from the bustle of a Camp and the Intrigues of a Court, I shall view the busy world, with calm indifference & with that serenity of mind which the Soldier, in pursuit of glory, and the Statesman of a name, have not time to enjoy. I am not only retired from all public employments; but  am retiring within myself & shall tread the private walks of life with heartfelt satisfaction.

After seeing New York evacuated by the British forces on the 25th of Novembr, & Civil Government established in the City; I repaired to Congress & surrendered all my powers, with my Commission into their hands on the 23d of December and arrived at this Cottage the day before Christmas, where I have been close locked in Frost & Snow ever since. -- Mrs Washington thanks you for your kind remembrance of her, & prays you to accept her best wishes.

With sentiments of pure and

unabated friendship,

I am - My Dr Chevr

Yr. Most Affect &

Obed. Serv.

G: Washington

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