first american republic This website is designed to be an introduction to, supplement to, and companion to the book 'THE FIRST AMERICAN REPUBLIC: 1774-1789
(The First Fourteen American Presidents Before Washington)'


Chapter 10: President THOMAS MIFFLIN of Pennsylvania 

Breaking with History

first american republic The most dramatic moment of the American Revolution took place over two years after the British surrendered at Yorktown.

The State House in Annapolis, which still serves today as Maryland's Capitol, was then the temporary seat of the new nation. It was there at noon on Tuesday, December 23, 1783 (exactly a decade after the Boston Tea Party) that Gen. George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, surrendered his military commission to President Thomas Mifflin. It was the precise moment that separated the American Revolution from most of recorded history. Unlike Caesar, Cromwell or Napoleon, the conquering American commander freely submitted to civilian authority and retired to private life. It was Washington's greatest moment and America's most triumphant victory.

The fact that George Washington relinquished his commission to Thomas Mifflin added even greater poignancy to this historic event. These two outstanding patriots, who originally met as delegates at the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774, had had an intense and complex relationship throughout the war. When Washington rode out of Philadelphia on June 23, 1775, to take command of his new army, at his side was Major Thomas Mifflin. One year later Thomas was promoted to the critical position of Quartermaster General. In time, however, Thomas grew uncertain of Washington's leadership and speculated about a replacement in what became known as the Conway Cabal. But, by late 1783, they had set aside their mutual distrust and had largely repaired their professional relationship. Four years later, they would join together again to write their nation's new Constitution.