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The Retirement Series (1797–1799) covers the interval between Washington's retirement from the presidency on 4 March 1797 and his death on 14 December 1799. Except for a trip to Philadelphia in 1798, Washington stuck close to home, only occasionally going from Mount Vernon into Alexandria or across the river to Georgetown and the new Federal City. The management and improvement of his farms at Mount Vernon were his major concern, and the pressing need for money forced him to give particularly attention to the disposition of his large landholdings in the West. As "Father of His Country" he found himself not only entertaining a constant stream of visitors but also responding to a steady flow of letters from friends and strangers, foreign and domestic.
From the start, senators, congressmen, Adam's cabinet members, and diplomats kept him informed of political developments. Washington's absence from the public state, never much more than a fiction, came to an end in July 1798 when his growing alarm over French policy and the bitter divisions in the body politic arising out of it led him to accept command of the army, with the promise to take the field in case of a French invasion. And in 1799 Washington for the first time became deeply involved in partisan electoral politics.