President George Washington: After the Presidency

About the life of George Washington after he complete his terms as President of the United States.


In 1797, at age 65, Washington attended the inauguration of his successor, John Adams, and then at long last retired to Mount Vernon. His peace lasted for only a year, however. In the summer of 1798, as war with France threatened, President Adams asked General Washington to take over once more as commander-in-chief of the American armies. Washington accepted, but fortunately the war was averted and he never had to assume active duty. At Mount Vernon, Washington genuinely enjoyed the routine of plantation life. Like many of the Virginia founding fathers, he deplored slavery even while he owned hundreds of slaves, but unlike many of the others, Washington did something to limit his hypocrisy. He made it a policy never to sell one of his slaves to another master, and so always had on hand far more blacks than were needed to do the work at Mount Vernon. In his will, Washington provided that all of his 300 slaves--not just special favorites--should be permanently freed. In 1799, the aging Washington jokingly assured his friends that he would not die until he had ushered in the new century. On December 14 he passed away, just 18 days too early to keep his promise.

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