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" At length my Dear Marquis I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig tree, free from the bustle of a camp & the busy scenes of public life...I am not only retired from all public employments, but I am retireing within myself; & shall be able to view the solitary walk, & tread the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction—Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all. & this my dear friend, being the order for my march, I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with my Fathers." "

George Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette | Sunday, February 01, 1784

Editorial Notes

Writing about six weeks after his return to Mount Vernon following 8 ½ years of war, Washington used one of his favorite turns of phrase to sketch a happy vision of a much longed-for retirement free of the cares of a soldier or politician. Fortunately for his country, Washington was drawn back into public life for the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and again two years later as the first American president, putting his country’s wishes before his own.

George Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette | Sunday, February 1, 1784