I went to Annapolis yesterday, probably best known as the home of the Naval Academy. More interestingly though (to me anyway), Annapolis is where George Washington addressed the Continental Congress and resigned his commission from the Army in 1783. He did so in this building......that currently sits on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy.
Washington realistically could have become a dictator and there were some who thought he should be the new King. And he probably could have. Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Army at a time when the power of the Federal goverment was weak. The government could not establish an armed forces or levy taxes. Ah, the good old days. Washington's resignation is depicted in this famous painting......that was allegedly painted in Annapolis. I say allegedly because it for sure wasn't painted in Annapolis. James Madison was later added to the portrait (he was not actually at the event) which James Trumbull took two years to complete. If you don't know Trumbull you should look him up. He did lots of the Founding Father portraits.
Historians say that Washington's resignation of power is the moment our Republic was truly born. I had a history professor in college that related the story to us in a very emotional and dramatic way. I wish I could teach like that. This is the only time known that the stoic George Washington cried in public.
Washington did not become President until 1789, after Congress adopted the Constitution, restructuring our government yet again (up until that time the United States operated under the Articles of Confederation). The new form of government was borne out of a struggle between Liberals and Conservatives, between Federalists and Anti-Federaliists, and the polar ideals of the individual and the group. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as assurance to the Anti-Federalists (like Thomas Jefferson) who feared a strong central government. It was not meant to be a laundry list of our rights, as it is referred to today, but rather the bare minimum of our protections from the Federal government.
This is a photo of the British flag flying in Annapolis. It's funny that a flag that once stood for tyranny flies outside the building where the founding father of our nation surrendered the powers coveted by would-be dictators. Only in America.