68. Defining Victory in the Revolution

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Pyrrhic Victories

The resilience displayed by the Continental Army was paramount in England’s failure to defeat the American rebellion, especially as that insurrection was supported by weapons and ammunition from France and then subsequently by the armed forces of its monarch, Louis XVI. According to 18th-century military protocol, the side that held the field at the conclusion of battle was regarded as victorious; and, from that perspective, the redcoats won most of the Revolutionary War engagements from 1775 to 1783. They achieved unambiguous success (in chronological order) at Long Island, Kip’s Bay, Fort Washington, Brandywine Creek, Paoli, Germantown, Savannah, Charleston, Camden, and Waxhaws, while suffering clear-cut defeats at Princeton, Saratoga, Stony Point, Cowpens, and Yorktown. But they also “won” in a narrow tactical sense at Breed’s Hill, White Plains, Freeman’s Farm, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk Kill, and Eutaw Springs, by forcing the Americans to retire from the battlefield. However, those technical victories represented a strategic setback for the crown’s forces in that they depleted their precious reserves of military manpower, failed to neutralize enemy armies in the field, and were unable to sway public opinion against the insurrection.

When General Nathanael Greene, who was chosen by Washington to lead the Continental Army in the Southern Theater in 1780, memorably asserted his resolve to rebound from one of those purely tactical reversals, he arguably articulated the overall strategy behind the American war effort. Writing to the Chevalier de La Luzerne, Louis XVI’s minister to the United States, three days after the battle of Hobkirk Hill—near Camden, South Carolina—in April 1781, Greene declared, “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.”

A Case in Point

Hobkirk Hill is an illustrative example of the pyrrhic victories by the king’s troops that proved their undoing. This was a classic eighteenth-century battlefield engagement in which the opposing lines exchanged musket fire, at close range and in the open, until one side pulled back. Greene’s casualties were 270 (including 136 missing), and the British 258. Estimates vary as to the number of killed, wounded, captured, or missing on both sides, but the numerical equivalence between the respective casualty counts obscures a very disparate impact. The losses represented about 29 percent of the British force versus about 17 percent of the American.

The casualties sustained by the redcoats were substantial enough—along with other actions during this period, including the fall of Fort Watson to a rebel contingent led by Lieutenant Colonel Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee (father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee) and General Francis Marion (the legendary “Swamp Fox”) just two days before—that the British commander, Colonel Francis, Lord Rawdon, abandoned his position at Camden and fell back to Monk’s Corner on the Cooper River thirty miles north of Charleston. By doing so, Rawdon yielded the key British post in South Carolina, and significant strategic consequences ensued. This began the unraveling of Britain’s tenuous hold over the interior of the state, for one after another of the posts occupied by its regulars or Loyalist units fell to the rebels—Fort Granby, Fort Motte, Orangeburg, Fort Galpin, and Georgetown in South Carolina, and Augusta in Georgia.

Winning By Not Losing

In the end, the Continental Army and its supporting militia prevailed in a war of attrition against a military superior opponent, That achievement was notwithstanding the various challenges posed by man and nature: battlefield reverses; desertions; expiring enlistments; the specter of mutiny; illness; and ongoing shortages of equipment, food, and supplies—and in spite of the many unforced errors made by American generals.

The insurgent side won the contest by not losing it. A lengthy war of attrition eventually sapped Britain’s will to fight following Lord Cornwallis’s surrender to the Franco-American army at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781. There followed parliament’s vote to abandon the struggle and any claim to sovereignty over the 13 former colonies. What did England have to show for its eight-year-long effort to subdue the rebellion? Losses of 40,000 casualties and 50,000,000 pounds, including at least 20,000 soldiers and sailors whose lives ended in America, the West Indies, or at sea, some from battlefield wounds but more from disease—often in some squalid setting—and typically without the benefit of a stone to mark the final resting place of anyone other than a commissioned officer.

In a Broader Sense

All this begs the question of whether Britain could have ever “won” in terms of indefinitely suppressing the American quest for independence or whether that independence was inevitable. If as John Adams insisted, the revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people (the Whig faction, to be sure), would a purely military victory by the crown have made that population any more amenable to subjugation? Could the mother country have possibly borne the cost of deploying a permanent army of occupation in the colonies large enough to effectively impose British rule over a largely hostile people spread across an expanse of territory that dwarfed Great Britain in size? For how long? What reason is there to assume that her North American colonies would not at some point have attained their sovereignty given what happened with Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, and New Zealand? Surely it’s a question of when and not whether that would have occurred. In this context, I’m reminded of remarks by the great parliamentary orator Edmund Burke in March 1775, arguing for a policy of conciliation towards America, that included this: “Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom, and a great empire and little minds go ill together.”

Much of the preceding is adapted from my upcoming book, Winning the Ten Crucial Days. For those interested, the manuscript is now in the hands of the publisher, Brookline Books (an imprint of Casemate Publishers), and an image of the preliminary front-cover cover design can be viewed here.

If you’d like to read more about the battle of Hobkirk Hill, check out my article in the Journal of the American Revolution—Hobkirk Hill: A Major Minor Battle (June 27, 2023).

From One Blog to Another, by George

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I recently wrote an article for the Friends of Washington Crossing Park newsletter, entitled A Few Thoughts About George Washington, which was just posted on their blog. It’s essentially a reiteration of an earlier blog post of mine (number 59 on May 5 of this year), with a few very minor tweaks, but I’m posting a link to it here in case anyone didn’t get a chance to see it before or wants to revisit the piece for whatever reason—or is just looking for an excuse to peruse the park’s website.

Last night, I had the pleasure (and I do mean pleasure) of talking to the National Society of the Washington Family Descendants at their 69th annual reunion, held at the Philadelphia Marriott Old City. There were about eighty attendees, people from across the country who trace their lineage to Martha Washington or various Founding Fathers/Mothers. (Notwithstanding the moniker “Father of Our Country,” George was not functional in that respect, probably owing to his mild bout with smallpox as a youth.)  The group’s total membership exceeds five hundred, and they plan to hold their 70th such event next year in Savannah, GA. More power to them!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the above image—Washington at the Battle of Trenton—is an 1870 engraving by Illman Brothers based on a painting by Edward L. Henry.

62. A Fourthful Quote

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Hi All –

The approach of the 247th anniversary of American independence calls to mind the following excerpt from President Lincoln’s Message to Congress in Special Session on July 4, 1861, in the incipient stages of the Civil War. I think it must rank among the most vital ever articulated in connection with the jubilee, and it’s obviously no coincidence that he chose that date to convey his missive  .  .  .

This is essentially a People’s contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men—to lift artificial weights from all shoulders—to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all—to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life. Yielding to partial, and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend….

Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled—the successful establishing, and the successful administering of it. One still remains—its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion—that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by a war—teaching all, the folly of being the beginners of a war.


58. Could We Have Lost the Revolution?

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The answer to the question posed above is “no.” At least according to historian Page Smith, writing in his magisterial work, A New Age Now Begins: A People’s History of the American Revolution (McGraw-Hill 1976). Smith’s analysis, in the final chapter of his second and concluding volume, echoes the thought expressed by John Adams many years after American independence was achieved: “But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War? The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.” (Letter to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818)

Here then is Mr. Smith (pp. 1823-1826):

Historians are great ‘if-ers,’ and the revolution offers them a field day…. One consequence of the work of the ‘if-ers’ is that the Revolution has commonly been treated as a ‘war’ rather than as a ‘revolution.’ This of course was the British mistake as well. In a war, especially in the eighteenth-century variety, when one side has absorbed a sufficient number of defeats, lost a sufficient number of soldiers, and surrendered a sufficient number of towns and cities, it adds up the profits and losses, finds that the debit column far outweighs the gains, and petitions for peace, or, more abjectly, surrenders. But a revolution is a different matter. A revolution is for keeps. A true revolution is not reversible; it cannot be ‘defeated’ in any conventional sense. The people can be decimated, starved, virtually destroyed, and in the right circumstances, by means of utter ruthlessness, the revolution can be suppressed. But ‘suppressed’ is different from ‘defeated.’

There must have been some reason why America was the graveyard of British military reputations; why no British general emerged with his laurels untarnished. After all, these were the same men, or at the very least the same type of men, who had administered a decisive drubbing to the French and Spanish during the Seven Years’ War. They made up the best military and naval force in the world. As we have seen, it never occurred to any but a handful of congenital optimists that they could be defeated by a ragtag citizen army of untrained levies. And properly speaking they weren’t. They ‘won’ almost every major engagement. From the ‘battle’ of Lexington and Concord, which wasn’t, properly speaking, a battle at all, to Yorktown, the British claimed an almost unbroken series of victories….

The American Revolution was, in modern parlance, the first ‘people’s liberation movement.’ In order to make any sense out of the question of whether Great Britain could have ‘won the war,’ we have to rephrase the question in a different form: Could Great Britain, after, let us say, the battle of Bunker Hill, and after, certainly the Declaration of Independence, have reduced the colonies to a ‘proper state of subordination’? Could they, in short, have turned off the revolution? Could they have restored the status quo ante bellum, as the military and diplomatic historians put it? And the answer, of course, is an emphatic no. It is quite literally impossible to imagine [Governor] Thomas Hutchinson returning to Massachusetts to guide its affairs and squabble with his council once again; or William Tryon back in North Carolina or New York [where he had served successively as royal governor], or, indeed, any other governor directing the affairs of this or that colony. In 1779, with the Carlisle Commission, Great Britain went as far as it could have possibly gone short of granting complete independence in meeting the American grievances that had brought on the ‘war’; and while Washington and Congress ‘feared it like the devil,’ it caused hardly a stir among the rank and file of patriots. No peace movement developed in the states to barter for a return to the parental fold, which had once appeared such a haven of security. It was indeed as Washington had said of the people crowding around him on the march from New York to Virginia [en route to Yorktown in 1781]: ‘We may be beaten by the English…but here is an army they will never conquer.’

American independence was not a precarious issue, hanging always in the balance, resting on a victory here or there, on this alliance or that, on the preservation of Robert Howe’s army of the Southern Department, or Benjamin Lincoln’s army of the Southern Department, or Horatio Gates’s army of the Southern Department—each of which were successively obliterated—or even on the survival of Nathanael Greene’s army, or the Continental Army of George Washington himself. The Revolution was, quite simply, the first and one of the most powerful expressions of the determination of a people to be free.

Well, there you have it. For those wishing to take issue with any of the above, have at it. As they say, history is an argument without end.

What Now?

Dear Reader,

This feels like a good time for me to hit the “pause” button on creating new posts. After spending more than two and a half years in the blogosphere, I’ve reached a point where it feels more like a chore than an opportunity—and that suggests that, at least for the near future, I need to take a blatant blog break. (Try saying that three times fast.) This pivot won’t necessarily entail a total or permanent abstention from blogging, as I foresee wanting to share information or thoughts on a particular topic at various times or posting a link to something that I hope will be of interest to you (especially if it’s something to which yours truly has been or will be connected). I’ll always enjoy writing, so you can expect me to seek outlets for that impulse, that is, beyond compiling a really long and diversified grocery list.

To anyone who may be disappointed by this news, I offer my regrets and a reminder of the sage advice commonly attributed to P.T. Barnum: “Always leave them wanting more.” And to those who feel otherwise, I’m pleased to do you this favor.

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. We’ll see where it goes from here. As Yogi Berra allegedly opined, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Best wishes,


56. After the Shouting (or Shooting) – Part II

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This post is intended to complement the recent one that outlined the fate of various Continental Army officers after the War of Independence ended. The focus here is on several key British and German (Hessian) army officers who played roles of varying importance in the conflict. As was the case in Part I, this list is quite arbitrary with regard to the selection of specific individuals.

Henry Clinton: Generally regarded as the most cerebral of His Majesty’s generals during her war against the American Rebellion (as the colonies’ quest for independence was known in England), Clinton, as the successor army commander-in-chief to William Howe from 1778 until relieved in 1782, was blamed for the loss of the American colonies. After the Revolution, he published a narrative account of the conflict in an effort to clear his name. Clinton become a full general in 1793 and was named Governor of Gibraltar the following year. However, he died in London at age 65 in 1795, before he could assume the post as governor.

Charles Cornwallis: The most aristocratic and aggressive of Great Britain’s generals serving in North America was unsuccessful in his efforts to destroy Washington’s army at Assunpink Creek in 1777 and to do the same to Nathanael Greene’s southern army in 1781. He recovered from his signal defeat against the combined American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 to become governor-general of India in 1786. Cornwallis was created a marquess (a rank of nobility above an earl and below a duke) for his services and later served as viceroy of Ireland. He was reappointed governor-general of India in 1805 and died in Ghazipur, India, at age 66 in 1805.

Carl von Donop: The Hessian colonel of aristocratic lineage had overall command of the German troops stationed in the Trenton-Bordentown-Burlington area of New Jersey in December 1776, prior to the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign. He was mortally wounded during an attack on Fort Mercer on the Delaware River below Philadelphia, known as the Battle of Red Bank, in October 1777. At the time of his death, he was age 45.

William Erskine: The British quartermaster general to General Cornwallis, who unsuccessfully urged the latter to attack Washington’s army at Assunpink Creek without delay on the night of January 2, 1777, had been knighted for his military exploits prior to the American Rebellion. Known as “Woolly” by his fellow officers, he was promoted to brigadier general and then major general during the course of the war and saw action in the Philadelphia campaign in 1777 and at the Battle of Monmouth the following year. Erskine returned to England in 1779 and later commanded troops in Britain’s war against revolutionary France. He died at age 67 in 1795.

Johann Ewald: The Hessian captain, who came to America in 1776 and served under Colonel Carl von Donop during the “Ten Crucial Days,” participated in many of the war’s significant battles and was with Cornwallis’s army when it surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. He kept a diary that contained a comprehensive account of his experiences throughout the war and created numerous maps of the areas in which he fought, which included the placement of troops and fortifications. Ewald later served in the Danish army, rising to the rank of lieutenant general. He died in Kiel, in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, at age 69 in 1813.

James Grant: The Scottish-born major general served as the British commander in New Jersey during the “Ten Crucial Days” until General Cornwallis assumed command in the wake of the American victory at Trenton on December 26, 1776. Grant was probably the most contemptuous of all British generals in his attitude toward the rebels. He saw action in the Philadelphia campaign in 1777 and later commanded a small British force in the West Indies. A member of the British House of Commons before the war, Grant re-entered politics in England afterward but remained in the army until 1805. He died a year later at age 86.

William Howe: The British army’s commander in North America from 1775 to 1777 returned to England in 1778. In response to criticism of his military leadership, he demanded a parliamentary committee of inquiry in order to vindicate his conduct in America, but the committee of inquiry adjourned without reaching a conclusion. Howe assumed a significant role in supervising the defenses of England against Napoleon Bonaparte’s France and served in various governmental positions, including as a member of the Privy Council and as governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed and then Plymouth. He died in Plymouth, England, at age 85 in 1814.

Alexander Leslie: The brigadier general who commanded the British brigade that occupied Princeton when the “Ten Crucial Days” campaign began was stationed in Maidenhead with a reserve force on January 2, 1777, while the main body of Cornwallis’s army advanced on Trenton. His nephew, Captain William Leslie, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Princeton the next day. Leslie was promoted to major general in 1782 and continued to serve in the military after the war. He died in Edinburgh, Scotland, at age 63 in 1794.

Charles Mawhood: The colonel led a spirited resistance by outnumbered British troops against Washington’s army at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777 and was highly regarded in England afterwards. He served in the Philadelphia campaign of 1777 and subsequently raised a new regiment that fought against the Spanish siege of British-held Gibraltar, where he died at age 50 in 1780 after suffering from a gallstone.

54. After the Shouting (or Shooting) – Part I

Dear Reader:

Happy New Year.

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This post and the next will outline the fate of various officers in the respective armies after the Revolutionary War. We’ll start with an admittedly arbitrary and very select list of Continental Army officers presented alphabetically below. The next post will attempt to do the same for several British officers who played leading roles in the conflict.

William Alexander (Lord Stirling): The brigadier general who commanded a Continental Army brigade during the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign of 1776-1777 was considered one of George Washington’s most loyal officers. He was too ill to participate in the battles at Assunpink Creek and Princeton but was promoted to major general early in 1777 and saw action at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. Known for eating and drinking to excess, he died from gout in Albany, New York, at age 56 in 1783.

John Cadwalader: The colonel of the Philadelphia Associators was appointed brigadier general of the Pennsylvania militia in 1777 but declined Continental Army appointments to brigadier general and to brigadier and commander of the cavalry. In 1778, he left military service and returned to his family’s estate in Shrewsbury, Maryland. That year, he fought a duel with Washington’s nemesis, Thomas Conway, over the latter’s alleged “cabal” among certain army officers against Washington’s leadership, inflicting a nonfatal wound on Conway. After the war, Cadwalader moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland and served in its House of Delegates. He died in Shrewsbury at age 44 in 1786.

John Glover: The colonel commanded the seafaring men of the 14th Massachusetts Continental Regiment from Marblehead, who played an indispensable role in the Delaware River crossing of December 25, 1776. He was left without a regiment after December 31, 1776 because of expired enlistments. Glover went home to attend to family and business matters after his regiment disbanded but returned to the army in 1777 and served for the remainder of the war. He died in Marblehead at age 64 in 1797.

Nathanael Greene: The major general who led one of Washington’s two divisions during the “Ten Crucial Days” subsequently became quartermaster general of the Continental Army. He later earned fame as the successful commander of the southern army against General Charles Earl Cornwallis, in which role he was credited with waging a brilliant military campaign against a superior foe. After the Revolution, Greene was awarded liberal grants of money by South Carolina and Georgia and settled on an estate near Savannah in 1785. He died there at age 43 in 1786.

Alexander Hamilton: The young artillery captain early in the war became an aide-de-camp to Washington with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1777 and proved to be of inestimable value in his services to the commander-in-chief. He attained battlefield glory by leading the assault on British redoubt number 10 at Yorktown in 1781, then returned to New York City where he practiced law and entered politics. Hamilton supervised and co-authored The Federalist Papers with James Madison and John Jay in 1787 in support of the proposed federal constitution. As Washington’s secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795, he played an essential role in shaping young America’s national government and facilitating the development of its capitalist economy, while emerging as the leading spokesperson for the political faction known as the Federalists. He died in New York City in 1804, at the age of 49, from a mortal wound sustained in a duel with his bitter political rival, Aaron Burr.

Edward Hand: The colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, who was promoted to brigadier general in 1777 and became the Continental Army’s last adjutant general, returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at war’s end and later built Rock Ford, a Georgian-style brick mansion on several hundred acres of land. He lived there from 1794 until his death. Hand practiced medicine, served as a member of the Congress of Confederation (1784-1785) and the Pennsylvania Assembly (1785-1786), and later as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention (1790). Tradition has it that he played host to Washington during the latter’s visit to Lancaster as president in 1791. He died in Lancaster at age 57 in 1802.

Henry Knox: The Continental Army’s artillery commander and brigadier general for most of the war was promoted to major general in 1782 and succeeded Washington as the army’s commander-in-chief in 1783, serving briefly in that position. Having been at Washington’s side during every battle, Knox became the nation’s first secretary of war under President Washington and then retired to his estate in Maine in 1795. He died there at age 56 in 1806 as the result of an infection from a chicken bone that lodged in his throat.

Charles Lee: The major general who was Washington’s second in command when captured by the British in December 1776 was returned in a prisoner exchange in the spring of 1778. He led the Continental Army’s vanguard against the enemy at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, when he was humiliated in a battlefield confrontation with Washington. A court-martial that Lee requested to clear his name found him guilty of insubordination, and he was dismissed from the army in 1780. He lived as a recluse in retirement, first on his Virginia estate and then in Philadelphia, where he died alone in a tavern at age 51 in 1782.

Thomas Mifflin: The general persuaded the soldiers of a New England regiment to remain with the Continental Army when their enlistments expired on December 31, 1776, by offering each a financial bonus for agreeing to serve another six weeks, and thereby inspired Washington to do the same when appealing to other units. Mifflin had been a Philadelphia merchant and politician who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress before joining the army. He rose through the ranks to become a major general but experienced tensions with Washington over Mifflin’s handling of his duties as the army’s first quartermaster general. After his military service ended, he again served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and subsequently as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He became the first governor of Pennsylvania in 1790 and served for nine years. Mifflin died in Lancaster at age 56 in 1800.

James Monroe: The lieutenant who was wounded at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 saw further military service and after the war returned to his native Virginia. He went on to enjoy an illustrious political career, becoming a United States senator, governor of Virginia, ambassador to France, secretary of state and war, and finally the fifth president of the United States (1817-1825). He is best known for asserting, in his annual message to Congress in 1823, the “Monroe Doctrine” that declared opposition to European intervention in the Western Hemisphere, which became a cornerstone of American foreign policy. He died in New York City at age 73 in 1831.

Joseph Reed: The lawyer and colonel who served as the Continental Army’s adjutant general (chief administrative officer) during the “Ten Crucial Days” was offered both a position as brigadier general and as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1777, but he turned both down because he had been elected to the Continental Congress. In 1778, he was elected president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania (equivalent to the position of governor) and in that position oversaw the enactment of a 1780 law providing for the abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania. Reed died in Philadelphia at age 43 in 1785.

Arthur St. Clair: The Continental Army brigadier general may have been the first officer to suggest to Washington the idea of an overnight march from Trenton to Princeton on January 2-3, 1777. He was promoted to major general in 1777 and later fought in the southern theater. St. Clair left the army in 1783 and became a delegate to the Continental Congress. He served as governor of the Northwest Territory from 1787 to 1802 and, during a brief return to military duty, suffered a severe defeat against Native American tribes at the 1791 Battle of the Wabash. He died in Pennsylvania at age 82 in 1818.

John Sullivan: The major general who led one of Washington’s two divisions during the “Ten Crucial Days” commanded American troops fighting against the Native American tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and their Loyalist allies later in the war. After the Revolution, the New Hampshire-born attorney served as attorney general and governor of his state and as a federal district judge. He died in Durham, New Hampshire, at age 54 in 1795.

George Washington: The Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army resigned his commission when the war ended in 1783 and returned to his estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia, but was later recalled to public service. He presided over the 1787 convention in Philadelphia that adopted the federal constitution and became the first President of the United States in 1789. In that role, he forged the federal government’s executive branch, established a set of enduring precedents that would guide his successors—perhaps most importantly creating a tradition of presidential term limits by refusing to serve for a third term—and spearheaded the effort to convert the promise of constitutional democracy into a living reality. Washington retired from public life in 1797, returning once again to Mount Vernon. In what is known as his farewell address to the American people upon leaving the presidency, he exhorted his fellow countrymen to assume a greater sense of national identity in their capacity as citizens of the United States. Washington died at Mount Vernon at age 67 in 1799.

William Washington: The captain and distant cousin of George Washington was wounded at the first Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 and earned a promotion to major and then colonel. He distinguished himself as a cavalry officer in the southern theater and received a silver medal from Congress, one of only 11 awarded during the war, for his role at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. After the Revolution, Washington settled in South Carolina and served in the state legislature. He died at age 58 in 1810.