"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 solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the Soldier who is ever in pursuit of fame?the Statesman whose watchful days & sleepless Nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own?perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this Globe was insufficient for us all?& the Courtier who is always watching the countenance of his Prince, in hopes of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception."

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 sketched a happy vision of the much longed-for retirement he anticipated at Mount Vernon, when he was free of the cares of a soldier or politician.  He closed this passage with the words:  “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.”  Fortunately for his country, when Washington was drawn back into public life again for the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and two years later as the first American president, he put aside his own wishes and left Mount Vernon once more, putting his country’s wishes before his own.

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

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