I have loved history my whole life.
I love the story of history – that’s what connects us to it because the story is how we relate to people in the past. I’ve learned valuable life lessons through history. I’ve been amazed, saddened, shocked, and inspired. And I’ve learned that not even my heroes were perfect; they were human. It gives me hope that we can come together and make it through anything.
No matter how you came to your interest in history, whether it was as a young child or later in life, I’m sure you’ve shared some of those same emotions and enjoyed the thrill of discovery.
Here’s a moment in history that I find inspiring.
Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris in the fall of 1783, General George Washington gave a farewell address to the army. He took a moment to reflect on what the army had accomplished against all odds and to marvel that they did in fact prevail. Then he thanked his officers and soldiers and took his leave.
Washington made his way back to his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, having promised Martha he would be there in time to have Christmas dinner with her. But first, he stopped in Annapolis, Maryland to officially tender his resignation to Congress on December 23, 1783.
“The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.
“Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.”
What made this moment remarkable was that Washington simply handed over his power and walked away. The world watched and marveled. Washington had a vision for what he wanted his country to become and felt he had played his major role.
Our Shared History
Our shared history is rich, complex, and multidimensional. There’s not one simple story to be told; there are many thousands of stories and many viewpoints to be shared and that’s what makes this country the rich tapestry that it is.
However, history really is only shared when people have learned it. There’s always more to learn and I urge people to dig in, search, and discover. As we explore and learn together, we will become a stronger community.
If you, too, believe that history binds us together, join us as we work to reach people broadly. No other organization is dedicated to bringing together adults from all walks of life to engage with history, to learn from each other and to share what they’ve learned.
When we reached out last year, we were delighted to see so many people coming forward as founding members. If you were one of them, thank you. Please renew your membership and consider the Contributor, Supporter, Sustainer, or Ambassador now and support the work that’s underway.
If you’re new, welcome! Please join us and support our efforts to engage more people with history and historic sites across the nation.
I love being part of a community of history nerds who are committed to pursuing history together. I bet you do too!
Yours in the pursuit of history,
Founder and Executive Director
The Pursuit of History
P.S. A membership to The Pursuit of History is a great gift! Purchase a gift membership, or renew yours, here.
P. P. S. You can read Washington’s Farewell to the Army in the Washington Papers at Founders Online.
You can read his full address to Congress here. It’s short and well worth reading.