Today, the George Washington Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar Coin remembers the people’s request 219 years ago that he return to service as head of the armies.
George Washington spent much of his life serving his country from the French and Indian War to the American Revolution to the Presidency.
After he left the presidency and wanted to spend his waning years at his beloved Mt. Vernon, people still wanted his experience, this time as head of the armies.
McHenry’s letter to Washington found at the Library of Congress explained the people’s request.
Philadelphia, 3d July 1798.
The crisis, and almost universal wish of the people, to see you at the head of the armies of the United States, has been too strong to be resisted, the President has yielded to causes so powerful and nominated you accordingly, which has been unanimously confirmed to-day by the Senate.
Thus you are again called upon by all voices, to fill a station which all think you alone qualified for at this moment. I know what must be your feelings, and how many motives you must have for preferring the privacy you are in the enjoyment of, to the troubles and perplexities of a commander of an army. This however is the crowning sacrifice, which I pray to God you may agree to make for the sake of your country, and to give the last finish to a fame, that nothing short of such a call, and the present occasion, could have been capable of increasing.
I think it probable that the President will request me to be the bearer of his letter to you. I shall, in that case have an opportunity to converse with you at large on several subjects relative to the army, and agree with you upon such arrangements, as may leave you as long as possible at Mount Vernon. Perhaps I shall set out on Friday, or at farthest Monday next.
Present me to Mrs. Washington & Miss Custis and accept of my sincere attachment & unchangeable affection,
The George Washington Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar Coin shows with an image of the first page of McHenry’s handwritten letter.