By Law No U.S. Military Officer Can Outrank Which Historical Figure?
Answer: George Washington
When it comes to military rank, there’s impressively decorated and then there’s George Washington. During his lifetime, the highest rank he held was Lieutenant General (three stars) and he retired with that rank. During the American Revolution, he had the same authority as the future rank of General of the Armies of the United States (as the entire US military was under his command and he did not answer to the Continental Congress or its President), but he was never officially designated or ranked as such because the rank didn’t even exist until 1799.
In 1976, as part of the United States bi-centennial celebrations, however, Washington was given a posthumous promotion by an act of Congress to General of the Armies of the United States. The same act also declared that no other officer shall ever outrank Washington, thereby permanently cementing the rank of the first President, founding father, and commander of the Continental Army as the highest ranking officer there and forever more.