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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Great Moments in Historic Speeches - George Washington

After an eight-year struggle with the British, the Continental Army (led by Commander-in-chief George Washington) finally achieved its ultimate goal in 1783 – to be an independent nation. Washington decided to resign from Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, thereby taking leave of “all the employments of public life” (Washington).

He delivered his resignation speech on December 23, 1783. The speech itself is not astounding; the astounding part is that, despite his service in the war and his inclination to retire, the public demanded that he become president in 1789. To this day, Washington remains the only president to have received 100% of the electoral votes.

The importance of this speech is not within its content, rather within its symbolism. George Washington was such a powerful figure within his culture that, even though he had already retired from public life, the public commanded him to become the president.

Certainly such a tale brings to mind the Philosopher King of Plato’s Republic. The Philosopher King does not want to rule, the public chooses him to rule. To this day, George Washington remains the only person unanimously elected to the Presidency.