"To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness," Washington wrote in tribute to the men who suffered with him at Valley Forge, "without blankets to lay on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions as with; marching through frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day's march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them till they could be built, and submitting to it without a murmur, is a mark of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled." Of course, some did grumble- and loudly. "No pay! no clothes! no provisions! no rum!" some chanted. But remarkably there was no mass desertion, no mutiny. Patriotism, to be sure, sustained many, but no more so than did confidence in Washington's ability to see them through safely. With the snow-clogged roads impassable to supply wagons, the men stayed alive on such fare as pepper pot soup, a thin tripe broth flavored with a handful of peppercorns. Many died there that winter. Those that survived drew fresh hope with the greening of spring and the news, announced to them by General Washington in May 1778, that France had recognized the independence of America. Also encouraging was the arrival of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who, at Washington's direction, drilled the debilitated Valley Forge survivors into crack troops. Washington's men broke camp in June 1778, a revitalized army that, with aid from France, took the war to the British and in October 1781 boxed in General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, thus forcing the surrender of British forces.
General Washington imposed strict, but not punitive, surrender terms: All weapons and military supplies must be given up; all booty must be returned, but the enemy soldiers could keep their personal effects and the officers could retain their sidearms. British doctors were allowed to tend to their own sick and wounded. Cornwallis accepted, but instead of personally leading his troops to the mutually agreed-upon point of surrender on October 19, 1781, he sent his deputy Brigadier Charles O'Hara. As he made his way along the road flanked by American and French forces, O'Hara came face to face with Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau, the latter decked out in lavish military regalia. O'Hara mistook Rochambeau for the senior commander, but the French officer quickly pointed to Washington, and O'Hara, probably somewhat embarrassed, turned to the American. Unwilling to deal with a man of lesser rank, Washington directed O'Hara to submit the sword of capitulation to his aide General Benjamin Lincoln. In his victory dispatch to Congress, Washington wrote with obvious pride, "Sir, I have the Honor to inform Congress, that a Reduction of the British Army under the Command of Lord Cornwallis, is most happily effected. The unremitting Ardor which actuated every Officer and Soldier in the combined Army in this Occasion, has principally led to this Important Event, at an earlier period than my most sanguine Hope had induced me to expect". In November 1783, two months after the formal peace treaty was signed, Washington resigned his commission and returned home to the neglected fields of Mount Vernon.
President of Constitutional Convention, 1787. Washington, a Virginia del-egate, was unanimously elected president of the convention. He was among those favoring a strong federal government. After the convention he promoted ratification of the Constitution in Virginia. According to the notes of Abraham Baldwin, a Georgia delegate, which were discovered only recently and made public in 1987, Washington said privately that he did not expect the Constitution to last more than 20 years.
ELECTION AS PRESIDENT, FIRST TERM, 1789: Washington, a Federalist, was the obvious choice for the first president of the United States. A proven leader whose popularity transcended the conflict between Federalists and those opposed to a strong central government, the man most responsible for winning independence, a modest country squire with a winsome aversion to the limelight, he so dominated the political landscape that not 1 of the 69 electors voted against him. Thus, he carried all 10 states-Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia. (Neither North Carolina nor Rhode Island had ratified the Constitution yet. New York was unable to decide in time which electors to send.) Washington was the only president elected by a unanimous electoral vote. John Adams of Massachusetts, having received the second-largest number of votes, 34, was elected vice president.
ELECTION AS PRESIDENT, SECOND TERM, 1792: Despite the growing strength of Democratic-Republicans, Washington continued to enjoy virtually universal support. Again he won the vote of every elector, 132, and thus carried all 15 states-Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. John Adams of Massachusetts received the second-highest number of votes, 77, and thus again became vice president.
INAUGURAL ADDRESS (FIRST): New York City, April 30, 1789. ". . . When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require. ..."
INAUGURAL ADDRESS (SECOND): Philadelphia, March 4, 1793. (This was the shortest inaugural address, just 135 words.) "Fellow Citizens: I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.
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