John Trumbull
General George Washington Resigning His Commission, 1824, installed 1826
Oil on canvas
12 x 18 ft.
Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol

 

At the Maryland State House in Annapolis on December 23, 1783, before the Continental Congress, General Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. This action was significant for establishing civilian authority over the military, a fundamental principle of American democracy. Trumbull depicts Washington in uniform standing before the president of the Continental Congress, Thomas Mifflin, and the delegates, including Thomas Jefferson, as he extends his right hand to return his commission. Behind him are his aides-de-camp and spectators. Martha Washington and her three grandchildren are depicted in the gallery but were not present at the actual event.
John Trumbull (1756–1843), the son of a Connecticut governor, graduated from Harvard College. After serving in the Continental Army, he studied history painting with Benjamin West in London. General George Washington Resigning His Commission was the last of the four paintings that Trumbull created under his 1817 commission from the U.S. Congress.

 

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