Our Cincinnatus: Omnia relinquit servare Republicam
Lucius (Titus) Quinctius Cincinnatus(b. c.519 BC)
In 458 BCE (according to tradition), Cincinnatus, who had been consul in 460 BCE, was plowing his fields when messengers arrived to tell him he had been named dictator to defend the city against the Aequi and the Volscians. He took up the supreme command, defeated Rome's enemies, freed the beseiged consul Minucius, and returned to his farm, all within 16 days. Further, he refused the honors that came with his military victories. Legend says he was named dictator a second time in 439 BCE, but there is no foundation for this story.
George Washington was sometimes called an American Cincinnatus because he too held his command only until the defeat of the British and, at a time when he could have chosen to exercise great political power, instead returned as soon as he could to cultivating his lands. After the end of the Revolutionary War, a group of former officers in the (now) American army formed The Society of the Cincinnati, taking the name from the Roman general. The city of Cincinnati was named after this organization, and a statue of Cincinnatus stands there today.
[The symbol of the] Order of Cincinnatus [is] in the shape of an eagle with the image of Cincinnatus on its breast. The motto of the Order reads: Omnia relinquit servare Republicam (He gave up everything to preserve the Republic.)
Contrast Washington to Bonaparte:
Bonaparte robs a nation of its independence: deposed as emperor, he is sent into exile, where the world’s anxiety still does not think him safely enough imprisoned, guarded by the Ocean. He dies: the news proclaimed on the door of the palace in front of which the conqueror had announced so many funerals, neither detains nor astonishes the passer-by: what have the citizens to mourn?
Washington's Republic lives on; Bonaparte’s empire is destroyed. Washington and Bonaparte emerged from the womb of democracy: both of them born to liberty, the former remained faithful to her, the latter betrayed her.
- François-René de Chateaubriand, in Mémoires d'outre-tombe (1848 – 1850), Book VI, Ch. 8 : Comparison of Washington and Bonaparte
February 22, 1862
On this the birthday of the man most identified with the establishment of American independence, and beneath the monument erected to commemorate his heroic virtues and those of his compatriots, we have assembled to usher into existence the Permanent Government of the Confederate States. Through this instrumentality, under the favor of Divine Providence, we hope to perpetuate the principles of our revolutionary fathers. The day, the memory, and the purpose fitly associated...
Jefferson Davis, beginning of 2nd Inaugural address