George Washington Biography

Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death

At the end of two terms serving as president George Washington was exhausted with the demands of public life. He refused to run for a third term. This set in motion the first real presidential campaign in the United States. The two main candidates were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams edged out Jefferson in the election and became the second President of the United States.

Washington gladly handed over power to Adams. To help with the transfer of power, Washington attended Adams' inauguration and walked behind him at the close of the ceremonies.

Farewell Address

A lot can be learned about Washington and his political ideology by examining his farewell address. In his address Washington warned that the United States should stay out of the affairs of foreign countries, especially in Europe. He advocated open communication and trade with other countries, but advised against alliances. He also warned of the dangers of political parties and felt that the factions developing in the government were not good for the future of the republic. The address also highlighted the importance of the Constitution as the highest law of the land and that the union between the states must remain strong.

Retirement at Mount Vernon

After Washington's second term ended in March of 1797, he headed back to Mount Vernon to manage his estates. He spent much of his time over the next two years planting his crops, riding around Mount Vernon, fox hunting, reading newspapers, and relaxing with Martha. In 1798, at John Adams' request, he agreed to become the Commander-in-chief of the U.S. armies in order help raise an army in the case that France invaded. The invasion never happened, and Washington never left Mount Vernon in this capacity.

George Washington's Slaves

Washington inherited slaves at the age of eleven when his father passed away. He also gained a large number of slaves with his marriage to Martha. Although Washington had discussed ending the practice of slavery, there were over 300 slaves working at his estates the time of his death. There are various stories of how Washington treated his slaves; some good, some bad. However, Washington clearly began to have misgivings about the practice near the end of his life. He changed his will such that all of his slaves would be freed after Martha's death. Martha would later emancipate her slaves while still alive.


On the morning of December 12, 1799, sixty-seven year old George Washington rode out on his horse to inspect his estates. The weather turned bad and Washington spent much of the day riding through freezing rain and snow. He returned home and remained in his wet clothes for dinner. That night, Washington became ill. He died a few days later on December 14, 1799 and was buried at Mount Vernon.

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George Washington Biography Contents
  1. Overview and Interesting Facts
  2. Growing Up George Washington
  3. French and Indian War
  4. Fort Duquesne
  5. Married Life and Mount Vernon
  6. The American Revolution Begins
  7. Commander in Chief
  8. Crossing the Delaware
  9. 1777 and Valley Forge
  10. Victory in the American Revolution
  11. End of the War, King Washington, and the Constitutional Convention
  12. First President of the United States
  13. The Presidency
  14. Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death
  15. George Washington Quotes and Bibliography