Richard Galant, CNN –
On March 2, 1797, President George Washington wrote a letter comparing himself to a “wearied traveler who sees a resting place, and is bending his body to lean thereon.” The idea of retiring after his controversy-filled second term was “most grateful to my soul,” Washington confided to his former secretary of war, Henry Knox.
“Tomorrow, at dinner, I shall as a servant of the public, take my leave of the President Elect,” John Adams, “…And the day following, with pleasure, I shall witness the inauguration of my Successor.”
The first president was also the first person to hand over the power of his office peacefully, setting the template for more than two centuries of such transfers. That tradition was put at risk for the first time on January 6, when a mob invaded the US Capitol seeking to stop the final certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.