Delegates at the Constitutional Convention privately questioned whether George Washington’s attendance would make a difference… his comrades from the Revolutionary War knew it would; that his renowned resolve would provide legitimacy to their undertaking in Philadelphia. Some doubted Washington’s imposing presence could really move men.
Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s adjutant during much of the War… challenged a Pennsylvania delegate, the jovial Gouverneur Morris, to greet the General by grasping him by the shoulder. The bet was a feast for 12. Morris boasted to Hamilton that no man could intimidate him, even Washington.
At a formal dinner a few nights later… Morris approached Washington and greeted him with a firm grasp of the General’s shoulder,
“My Dear General, I am very happy to see you look so well.”
Washington removed Morris’s hand and took a step back… fixing on Morris what was described as an “angry frown” and “steely glance” that “withered” Morris and forced his retreat. He later confessed to Hamilton,
“I have won the bet but paid dearly for it, and nothing could induce me to repeat it.”