GEORGE WASHINGTON resumed the life of a gentleman farmer at his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia following his resignation as commander in chief of the Army, December 1783; made an exploratory trip to the western frontier, 1784; served as president of the Constitutional Convention, 1787; served as the first president of the United States, 1789-1797; returned to private life at Mount Vernon, 1797; was appointed by President John Adams to be lieutenant general and commander in chief of all armies raised or to be raised for service in a prospective war with France, 1798; was the senior officer of the United States Army, 13 July 1798-14 December 1799; participated in the planning for a Provisional Army to meet any emergency that might arise, but did not take the field; died at his Mount Vernon home on 14 December 1799; was appointed posthumously to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States by congressional joint resolution of 19 January 1976, approved by President Gerald R. Ford on 11 October 1976, and formalized in Department of the Army Order Number 31-3 of 13 March 1978 with an effective appointment date of 4 July 1776. (For details of General Washington's early life, see page 48.)

The Artist

James Peale (1749-1831) was born in Chestertown, Maryland, and learned the techniques of painting from his brother, Charles Willson Peale. After Revolutionary War service with Maryland units he moved to Philadelphia. He became adept at painting miniatures on ivory, and George and Martha Washington were among his prominent subjects. Peale painted landscape detail as a background in many of his portraits. In executing this half-length figure with sword, he copied Washington's head from his brother Charles' life portrait of the general. His portrait of Commanding General George Washington is reproduced from the Independence National Historical Park Collection in Philadelphia.


Painting:  George Washington.  By James Peale.
George Washington
By James Peale after Charles Willson Peale
Oil on canvas, 361/2" x 273/4", ca. 1787-1790


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Last updated 24 February 2006