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When, in 1783, George Washington resigned, at the height of his power, as commander of the Continental Army, a group of officers plotted to march on Congress and install him as a military-backed dictator.

Washington squashed the would-be rebellion, famously producing from his pocket a pair of glasses. "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles," he declared, "for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service to my country."

[Despite his power, Washington insisted upon seeing himself, and being seen, as a public servant. Indeed, as president, he proposed that, in lieu of a salary, he should simply be reimbursed for his actual expenses (as he had been during the Revolution). Though Congress insisted on fixing a salary of $25,000, Washington drew only his expenses over the first four years of his Presidency. (As it happened, these expenses amounted almost exactly to $100,000.)]

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