Presidency of George Washington

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The presidency of George Washington, began on April 30, 1789, when Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1797. Washington took office after the 1788–89 presidential election, the nation's first quadrennial presidential election, in which he was elected unanimously. Washington was re-elected unanimously in the 1792 presidential election, and chose to retire after two terms. He was succeeded by his vice president, John Adams of the Federalist Party.

Washington had established his preeminence among the new nation's Founding Fathers through his service as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and as president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Once the Constitution was approved, it was widely expected that Washington would become the first President of the United States; he, however, hoped to retire again to private life.

Washington, who in his first inaugural address expressed both his reluctance to accept the presidency and his inexperience with the duties of civil administration, proved an able leader nonetheless. He presided over the establishment of the new federal government – appointing all of the high-ranking officials in the executive, and judicial branches, and shaping its political practices. He supported Alexander Hamilton's programs to satisfy all debts, federal and state, established a permanent seat of government, implemented an effective tax system, and created a national bank. Washington also personally led federal soldiers in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion, which arose in opposition to the administration's taxation policies, and directed the Northwest Indian War, which saw the United States establish control over Native American tribes in the Northwest Territory. In foreign affairs, he insisted on his power to act independent of Congress. Washington assurred domestic tranquility and maintained peace with the European powers despite the raging French Revolutionary Wars, issuing a Proclamation of Neutrality (1793) on his own authority, securing the Jay Treaty (1795) with Great Britain, and the Pinckney Treaty (1795) with Spain.

Greatly concerned about the growing partisanship within the government and the detrimental impact political parties could have on the fragile unity holding the nation together, Washington struggled throughout his eight-year presidency to hold rival factions together. He was, and remains, the only U.S. president never to be affiliated with a political party.[1] In spite of his efforts, the ideological division between Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson deepened, leading to the rise of the Democratic-Republican Party (around Jefferson) and the Federalist Party (around Hamilton). While criticized for furthering the partisanship he sought to avoid by identifying himself with Hamilton, Washington is nonetheless considered by scholars and political historians as one of the greatest presidents in American history, usually ranking in the top three with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[2]

Election of 1788–89[edit]

Following the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, a fatigued Washington returned to Mount Vernon. He seemed intent on resuming his retirement and letting others govern the nation with its new frame of government.[3] The American public at large, however, wanted no one but Washington to be the nation's first president.[4][5] The first U.S. presidential campaign was in essence what today would be called a grassroots effort to convince Washington to accept the office.[4] Letters poured into Mount Vernon informing him of public sentiment and imploring him to accept; from former comrades in arms, and from across the Atlantic. Gouverneur Morris urged Washington to accept, writing "[Among the] thirteen horses now about to be coupled together, there are some of every race and character. They will listen to your voice and submit to your control. You therefore must, I say must mount this seat." Alexander Hamilton was one of the most dedicated in his efforts to get Washington to accept the presidency, as he foresaw himself receiving a powerful position in the administration.[6] The comte de Rochambeau urged Washington to accept, as did the Marquis de Lafayette, who exhorted Washington to "not to deny your acceptance of the office of President for the first years." Washington replied "Let those follow the pursuits of ambition and fame, who have a keener relish for them, or who may have more years, in store, for the enjoyment."[5] In an August 1788 letter, Washington further expounded on his feelings regarding the election, stating,

I should unfeignedly rejoice, in case the Electors, by giving their votes to another person would save me from the dreaded dilemma of being forced to accept or refuse... If that may not be–I am, in the next place, earnestly desirous of searching out the truth, and knowing whether there does not exist a probability that the government would be just as happily and effectually carried into execution without my aid."[7]

Less certain was the choice for the vice presidency, which contained little definitive job description in the constitution. The only official role of the vice president was as the president of the Senate, a duty unrelated to the executive branch. The Constitution stipulated that the position would be awarded to the runner-up in the presidential election, or the person with the second highest amount of electoral votes. Because Washington was from Virginia, many, including Washington himself (who remained neutral on the candidates) assumed that a vice president would be chosen from one of the northern states to ease sectional tensions.[8] In an August 1788 letter, Jefferson wrote that he considered John Adams and John Hancock, both prominent citizens from Massachusetts, to be the top contenders. He suggested John Jay, James Madison, and John Rutledge as other possible candidates.[9] In January of 1789, upon hearing that Adams would probably win the vice presidency, Washington wrote to Henry Knox, saying "[I am] entirely satisfied with the arrangement for filling the second office."[8]

Prior to ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, the Constitution provided for the selection of the president by a vote of presidential electors chosen by the various state. Each state's electors would gather in that state's capital on February 4, 1789 to cast their votes. Each elector would cast two votes for the presidency (they could not cast both votes for the same person however); the individual who won the most electoral votes would become president while the individual with the second-most electoral votes would become vice president. Each state's votes were sealed and delivered to Congress to be counted.[10][a]

By the time the votes were cast, Washington had declared his willingness to serve, and was preparing to leave Mount Vernon for New York City, the nation's capital.[5] On April 6, 1789, the House and Senate, meeting in joint session, counted the electoral votes and certified that Washington had been elected President of the United States, with 69 votes, and Adams, elected as Vice President, 34 electoral votes.[10][11] The other 35 electoral votes were divided among: John Jay (9), Robert H. Harrison (6), John Rutledge (6), John Hancock (4), George Clinton (3), Samuel Huntington (2), John Milton (2), James Armstrong (1), Benjamin Lincoln (1), and Edward Telfair (1).[13] Informed of his election on April 14,[10] Washington wrote in a letter to Edward Rutledge that in accepting the presidency, he had given up "all expectations of private happiness in this world."[14]

Start of first presidential and vice presidential terms[edit]

Washington's first inauguration, April 30, 1789

The first presidential term and the first vice presidential term both officially started on March 4, 1789, the date set by the Congress of the Confederation for the beginning of operations of the federal government under the new U.S. Constitution.[15] However, due to the formidable difficulties of long-distance travel in 18th century America, they did not commence until several weeks later.[16] Although the House of Representatives and the Senate convened on the prescribed date, both soon adjourned due to lack of a quorum.[17] As a result, the Presidential Electoral Votes could not be counted or certified. On April 1, the House convened with a quorum present for the first time, and the representatives began their work. The Senate first achieved a quorum on April 6. That is the date upon which the electoral votes were counted.[18][19]

Adams arrived in New York a few days before Washington, and first presided over the Senate on April 21.[20] Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York, then the nation's capitol. The presidential oath of office was administered by Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of the State of New York.[18] Washington took the oath on the building's second floor balcony, in view of throngs of people gathered on the streets.[18] The Bible used in the ceremony was from St. John's Lodge No. 1, A.Y.M.,[21] and was opened at random to Genesis 49:13 ("Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon").[22] Afterward, Livingston shouted "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!"[14] Historian John R. Alden indicates that Washington added the words "so help me God" to the oath.[23]

In his inaugural address (Full text Wikisource has information on "George Washington's First Inaugural Address" ), delivered in the Senate chamber after taking the oath,[24] Washington again touched upon his reluctance to accept the presidency,

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives: Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month.[22]

He also addressed the subject of amending the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights; it was the only legislative recommendation in the speech. He urged Congress decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.[22]



The Washington Cabinet
Office Name Term
President George Washington 1789–1797
Vice President John Adams 1789–1797
Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay 1789
Secretary of State John Jay 1789–1790
Thomas Jefferson 1790–1793
Edmund Randolph 1794–1795
Timothy Pickering 1795–1797
Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton 1789–1795
Oliver Wolcott, Jr. 1795–1797
Secretary of War Henry Knox 1789–1794
Timothy Pickering 1794–1796
James McHenry 1796–1797
Attorney General Edmund Randolph 1789–1794
William Bradford 1794–1795
Charles Lee 1795–1797
BEP engraved portrait of Washington as President
BEP engraved portrait of Washington as President

Three departments had existed under the Articles of Confederation: the Department of War, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Finance Office. The latter two departments became the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury, respectively. The leaders of these three departments constituted the initial positions in Washington's cabinet. In September 1789, Congress established the position of Attorney General to serve as the chief legal adviser to the president. Though the Attorney General did not oversee a department (the United States Department of Justice would be established in 1870), he nonetheless became a part of the cabinet. Edmund Randolph became the first Attorney General, while Henry Knox retained his position as head of the Department of War and Thomas Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State. For the key post of Secretary of the Treasury, which would oversee economic policy, Washington chose Alexander Hamilton, after his first choice, Robert Morris declined, and recommended Hamilton instead, writing "But, my dear general, you will be no loser by my declining the secrataryship of the Treasury, for I can recommend a far cleverer fellow than I am for your minister of finance in the person of your aide-de-camp, Colonel Hamilton."[25] While Washington kept a close eye on the departments of war and state, he would delegate much of his administration's economic policy to Hamilton. Washington's initial cabinet consisted of one individual from New England (Knox), one individual from the mid-Atlantic (Hamilton), and two Southerners (Jefferson and Randolph).[26]

Jefferson left the Cabinet at the end of 1793. His reasons for resigning are unclear, however, it has been speculated that he was frustrated by Washington's willingness to support Hamilton's economic policies. It has also been speculated that Jefferson disproved of Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality, and was seeking to perhaps to bolster his political influence from outside the administration.[27][28][29] He was replaced by Randolph, while William Bradford took over as Attorney General. With the exit of Jefferson, Hamilton came to dominate the cabinet.[30] Knox left the cabinet in 1794, replaced by Timothy Pickering. In 1795, after the signing of the Jay Treaty and the conclusion of the Whiskey Rebellion, Hamilton retired from the cabinet, confident that federal policy would continue to follow the course he had laid.[31] He was replaced by Oliver Wolcott, an ally of Hamilton's, while Pickering succeeded Randolph as Secretary of State in 1795 after the latter opposed the Jay Treaty. James McHenry replaced Pickering as Secretary of War, while Charles Lee became Attorney General after the departure of Bradford.[32]

Judicial appointments[edit]

Through the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress established a six-member Supreme Court. The court was composed of one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. It was given exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil actions between states, or between a state and the United States, as well as over all suits and proceedings brought against ambassadors and other diplomatic personnel; and original, but not exclusive, jurisdiction over all other cases in which a state was a party and any cases brought by an ambassador. The Court was given appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the federal circuit courts as well as decisions by state courts holding invalid any statute or treaty of the United States; or holding valid any state law or practice that was challenged as being inconsistent with the federal constitution, treaties, or laws; or rejecting any claim made by a party under a provision of the federal constitution, treaties, or laws.[33]

As the first President, Washington was responsible for appointing the entire Supreme Court. Due to this, he filled more vacancies on the Court than any other president in American history. He nominated the following persons to serve on the Court:

  • John Jay – Chief Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789[34]
  • John Rutledge – Associate Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789[34]
  • William Cushing – Associate Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789[34]
  • Robert Harrison – Associate Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789 but then declined appointment[34]
  • James Wilson – Associate Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789[34]
  • John Blair – Associate Justice; nominated September 24, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate September 26, 1789[34]
  • James Iredell – Associate Justice (to replace Robert H. Harrison); nominated February 8, 1790 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate February 10, 1790[34]
  • Thomas Johnson – Associate Justice (to to replace John Rutledge); received a recess appointment August 5, 1791, then nominated to the same position October 31, 1791 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate November 7, 1791.[35]
  • William Paterson – Associate Justice (to to replace Thomas Johnson); nominated March 4, 1793 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate March 4, 1793[34]
  • John Rutledge – Chief Justice (to to replace John Jay); received a recess appointment July 1, 1795, then nominated to the same position December 10, 1795 but resigned December 28, 1795, after nomination was rejected by the Senate (vote: 10-14)[36][b]
  • William Cushing – Chief Justice (to to replace John Rutledge); nominated January 26, 1796 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate January 27, 1796 but then declined appointment[34][c]
  • Samuel Chase – Associate Justice (to to replace John Blair); nominated January 26, 1796 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate January 27, 1796[34]
  • Oliver Ellsworth – Chief Justice (to to replace John Rutledge); nominated March 3, 1796 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate March 4, 1796[34]

The Judiciary Act also created 13 judicial districts[37] within the 11 states that had then ratified the Constitution; with Massachusetts and Virginia each being divided into two districts.[38] Both North Carolina and Rhode Island were added as judicial districts in 1790 after they ratified the Constitution, as were the subsequent states that Congress admitted to the Union. Aditionally, the act established circuit courts and district courts within these districts. The circuit courts, which were composed of a district judge and (initially) two Supreme Court justices "riding circuit," had jurisdiction over more serious crimes and civil cases and appellate jurisdiction over the district courts, while the single-judge district courts had jurisdiction primarily over admiralty cases, along with petty crimes and lawsuits involving smaller claims. The circuit courts were grouped into three geographic circuits to which justices were assigned on a rotating basis.[38] Washington appointed 28 judges to the federal district courts during his two terms in office.[39]

First presidential veto[edit]

Washington exercised his presidential veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792 to stop an apportionment act from becoming law. The legislation introduced a new plan for distributed seats in the House of Representatives among the various states in a way that the president deemed unconstitutional.[40][41] After attempting but failing to override the veto, Congress swiftly crafted new legislation, the Apportionment Act of 1792, which Washington signed into law on April 14.[42]


On September 24, 1789,[43] Congress voted to pay the president an salary of $25,000 a year, and the vice president an annual salary of $5,000.[44] Washington's salary was equal to two percent of the total federal budget in 1789.[45]

Presidential tours[edit]

Washington made three major tours around the country. The first was to New England (1789), the second to Rhode Island and New York City (1790), and the third to the Southern states (1791).[46]

Washington's first trip was to New England. His main goals were to educate himself about "the principal character and internal circumstances" of the different regions of the country, as well as meet "well informed persons, who might give him useful information and advice on political subjects." In addition, he scouted out locations for canals and other internal improvements, as well as learning the popular opinion on multiple issues. His first stop along the trip was to New Haven, Connecticut. From New Haven, he traveled through Massachusetts on the way to Boston. In Boston, a large fanfare greeted him. From Boston, Washington traveled north, stopping in Marblehead and Salem, Massachusetts. About a week after being in Boston, he traveled north to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and circled back to New York, stopping in Waltham and Lexington. The trip was a success, serving to consolidate his popularity and improve his health.[47]

After Rhode Island ratified the Constitution, Washington promptly took another tour to visit it. Along with Jefferson and New York governor George Clinton, he first stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, then traveled to Providence, Rhode Island. On August 22, 1790, Washington returned to New York City.[48]

In 1791, Washington left on his third trip, to the South, largely to promote national unity amid uproar over Hamilton's economic plan, as well as slavery. The trip began on March 20, 1791, when they began sailing down the Severn River. After sailing through a large storm, they arrived in Annapolis. From Annapolis he traveled to Mount Vernon, and from there to Colchester, Virginia, to Richmond, Virginia. After leaving Richmond, he went to Petersburg, than Emporia, Virginia. He left Virginia and went to Craven County, North Carolina, then New Bern. Washington's last stop in North Carolina was Wilmington, which upon leaving he promptly arrived in Georgetown, South Carolina, subsequently travelling to Charleston. After South Carolina, Washington arrived in Georgia, going to (among others) Augusta. In late May, Washington turned around, stopping at many sites he had battled in during the American Revolution. On July 11, 1791, they arrived back at Mount Vernon.[49][50]

Executive mansions and the District of Columbia[edit]

Washington occupied two executive mansions during the 16 months he lived and worked in New York City: 3 Cherry Street and 39–41 Broadway.[51][52] He chose the location of the permanent national capital in the District of Columbia.[53]

From April 23, 1789 to February 23, 1790, Washington lived at 3 Cherry Street, which was leased by Congress. The house was three stories, with "a high stoop, balusters along the roof, and seven fireplaces inside. The house was very crowded, as it had to house 30 people,[54] and when Elénor-François-Elie, Comte de Moustier returned to France, Washington moved into the substantially larger house he vacated.[55]

When the government moved to Philadelphia, as decided by the Residence act of 1790, the President's House at 524–30 Market Street became Washington's residence. The three-and-a-half-story brick mansion proved too small for Washington's entourage, and substantial expansions were made.[56] The house was called "the best single house in the city" by Washington.[57]

In accordance with the Residence Act of 1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania served as temporary national capital for 10 years while the Federal City was under construction.[58] Beginning in November 1790, Washington and John Adams spent the lion's share of their presidencies in Philadelphia, but resisted efforts to make the city the permanent national capital.[59][60][61] In an emergency, the federal government convened in Germantown, Pennsylvania in from November 16–30, 1793, when a yellow fever epidemic swept the city.[62] Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Act made the state inhospitable to slaveholders, and Washington circumvented the state law by rotating the nine Mount Vernon slaves in his presidential household in and out of Pennsylvania.[63]

Efforts to attract the capital of the United States were made across the country. New York City and Philadelphia built houses for the president.[64] New York state offered to cede Kingston, Maryland offered to cede Annapolis.[60] There were people supporting efforts in the North, a faction that supported location of the capital in Pennsylvania, and a faction that supported a location in the South.[65]. By 1790, nearly twenty five sites on or near the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, the Susquehanna, the Chesapeake, and the Potomac had been proposed. [66][d] In 1790, the Senate was still deadlocked on where to place the capital. Motions to have it located in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and "The eastern bank of the Potomac" had all failed.[67]

Alexander Hamilton backed a temporary capital in New York, and a permanent one in Trenton, New Jersey. George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson all supported a permanent capital on the Potomac, with Madison and Henry Lee III speculating on land in the area. At the same time, Hamilton's Debt Assumption plan was failing to garner enough support to pass. In a last-ditch attempt, he met with Robert Morris, who was leading the effort to locate Philadelphia as the capital, and attempted to strike a deal. However, the deal failed. In order to get his assumption bill passed, over a dinner with Jefferson and Madison, Hamilton agreed to support the Residence Act in exchange for Southern support of his assumption bill. After the dinner, on July 10, 1790, Congress passed the Residency Act of 1790. On July 26, the Assumption bill was passed.[68]

The Residence Act of 1790 authorized the President to select the specific location of the permanent seat of the government, which would be located along the Potomac River. The Act authorized the President to appoint three commissioners to survey and acquire property for this seat. Washington personally oversaw this effort throughout his term in office. In 1791, the commissioners named the permanent seat of government "The City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia" to honor him. After Washington's retirement, the Territory of Columbia became the District of Columbia when the federal government moved to the site in accordance with the provisions of the Residence Act;[69][70] John Adams, Washington's successor as president, would move into the White House in November 1800.[71]

The Northwest Indian War[edit]

Little Turtle.jpg Anthony Wayne, uniform.jpg
Chief Little Turtle (mihšihkinaahkwa)
Major General Anthony Wayne

Following adoption of the Land Ordinance of 1785, American settlers began freely moving west across the Allegheny Mountains and into the Indian-occupied lands beyond – land Great Britain had ceded to U.S. "control" at the end of the Revolutionary War (the Northwest Territory). As they did, they encountered unyielding and often violent resistance. Shortly after taking office, Washington directed the United States Army to enforce U.S. sovereignty over the region. Secretary of War Henry Knox ordered Brigadier General Josiah Harmar to launch a major western offensive into the Shawnee and Miami Indian country. In October 1790, his force of 1,453 men was assembled near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. Harmar committed only 400 of his men under Colonel John Hardin to attack an Indian force of some 1,100 warriors, who easily defeated them. At least 129 soldiers were killed.[72]

Determined to avenge the defeat, the president ordered Major General Arthur St. Clair, who was serving as the governor of the Northwest Territory, to mount a more vigorous effort by the third quarter of 1791. After considerable trouble finding men and supplies, St. Clair was finally ready. At dawn on November 4, 1791, his poorly trained force, accompanied by about 200 camp followers, was camped near the present-day location of Fort Recovery, Ohio, with poor defenses set up around their camp. An Indian force consisting of around 2,000 warriors led by Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, and Tecumseh, struck with swift and overwhelming displays of force, and, paralyzing the Americans with fear, soon overran their poorly prepared perimeter. St. Clair’s army was almost annihilated during the three-hour encounter. The American casualty rate included 632 of 920 soldiers and officers killed (69%) and 264 wounded. Nearly all of the 200 camp followers were slaughtered, for a total of about 832.[73]

The Treaty of Greenville ended the Northwest Indian War, with victory for the United States.

Outraged by news of the defeat, Washington urged Congress to raise an army capable of conducting a successful offense against the Indian confederacy, which it did in March 1792 – establishing additional Army regiments (the Legion of the United States), adding three-year enlistments, and increasing military pay.[74] The following month the House of Representatives investigative hearings into the debacle. This was the first Special Congressional investigation under the federal Constitution.[75] Then, in May, Congress passed two Militia Acts: the first empowered the president to call out the militias of the several states; the second required that every free able-bodied white male citizen of the various states, between the ages of 18 and 45, enroll in the militia of the state in which they reside.[76]

Next, Washington put General "Mad" Anthony Wayne in command of the Legion of the United States and ordered him to launch a new expedition against Western Confederacy. Wayne spent months training his troops at the army's the first formal basic training facility in Legionville, Pennsylvania, in military skills, forest warfare tactics and discipline, then led them west. In late 1793, the Legion began construction of Fort Recovery at the location of St. Clair's defeat; and, on June 30 – July 1, 1794, successfully defended it from an Indian attack led by Little Turtle.[77] On August 20, 1794, Wayne's legion won a decisive victory over the confederacy's forces led by Blue Jacket in the Battle of Fallen Timbers; major hostilities in the area came to an end afterward, the following year, the Treaty of Greenville brought an end to the Northwest Indian War.

Under terms of the treaty, the tribes to ceded most of what is now Ohio for American settlement, recognized the United States (rather than Great Britain) as the ruling power in the region, and turned ten chiefs over to the U.S. government as hostages until all white prisoners were returned in guarantee. This, along with the recently signed Jay Treaty, which provided for the British withdrawal from pre-Revolutionary War forts in the region it had not yet relinquished, solidified U.S. sovereignty over the Northwest Territory.[78]

Economic policy[edit]

At the start of Washington's presidency, the United States faced severe financial problems. There were both domestic and foreign debts from the war, and the issue of how to raise revenue for government was hotly debated.[79] After taking office as Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton began preparing his economic policy recommendations. In a series of reports, beginning with the First Report on the Public Credit, Hamilton called for the federal assumption of state debt and the mass issuance of federal bonds. Hamilton believed that these measures would restore the ailing economy, ensure a stable and adequate money stock, and make it easier for the federal government to borrow during emergencies such as wars.[80]

In the Compromise of 1790, Jefferson and Congressman James Madison agreed to support the assumption of state debt, while Hamilton agreed to support a permanent federal capital on the Potomac River. The Residence Act established that a federal territory on the Potomac would serve as the nation's capital, while the Funding Act of 1790 enacted Hamilton's recommendations. Later in 1790, Hamilton issued another set of recommendations in his Second Report on Public Credit. The report called for the establishment of a national bank and an excise tax on distilled spirits. Hamilton's proposed national bank would provide credit to fledgling industries, serve as a depository for government funds, and oversee one nationwide currency. In response to Hamilton's proposal, Congress passed the Bank Bill of 1791, establishing the First Bank of the United States.[81] The following year, it passed the Coinage Act of 1792, establishing the United States Mint, and the United States dollar, and regulating coinage of the United States[82]

Also created was the United States Revenue Cutter Service.[83] The Cutter Service's responsibility was to enforce tariffs and all other maritime laws. Later, the Cutter Service would become the United States Coast Guard.[84]

The Whiskey Rebellion[edit]

A source of government revenue was needed to pay the bond holders to whom the national debt was owed. By December 1790, Hamilton believed import duties, which were the government's primary source of revenue, had been raised as high as was feasible.[85] He therefore promoted passage of an excise tax on domestically distilled spirits. This was to be the first tax levied by the national government on a domestic product.[86] Although taxes were politically unpopular, Hamilton believed the whiskey excise was a luxury tax that would be the least objectionable tax the government could levy.[87] The tax also had the support of some social reformers, who hoped a "sin tax" would raise public awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol.[88] The whiskey excise act, sometimes known as the "Whiskey Act", became law in March 1791.[89] Washington defined the revenue districts, appointed the revenue supervisors and inspectors, and set their pay in November 1791.[90]

The tax on whiskey was bitterly and fiercely opposed on the frontier from the day it was passed. Western farmers considered it to be both unfair and discriminatory, since they had traditionally converted their excess grain into liquor. By the third quarter of 1794, tensions reached a fevered pitch all along the western frontier as the settlers' primary marketable commodity was threatened by the federal taxation measures.[91]

Finally the protesters became an armed rebellion. The first shots were fired at the Oliver Miller Homestead in present-day South Park Township, Pennsylvania, about ten miles south of Pittsburgh.[92] As word of the rebellion spread across the frontier, a whole series of loosely organized resistance measures were taken, including robbing the mail, stopping court proceedings, and the threat of an assault on Pittsburgh. One group disguised as women assaulted a tax collector, cropped his hair, coated him with tar and feathers, and stole his horse. Another group bombarded the estate of the tax collector John Neville, a friend of George Washington.[93]

Washington was alarmed by the Whiskey Rebellion, viewing it as a threat to the nation's existence. Washington and Hamilton, remembering Shays' Rebellion from just eight years before, decided to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for federal authority. Washington ordered the federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court. Due to the small size of the federal army and in an extraordinary move designed to demonstrate the federal government's power, on August 7, 1794, Washington invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to summon the militias of Pennsylvania, Virginia and several other states. The Governors sent the troops and Washington took command as Commander-in-Chief, marching into the rebellious districts.[94]

In leading the militia against the Whiskey Rebellion, Washington became one of only two sitting U.S. presidents to exercise battlefield authority.

Washington commanded a militia force of 13,000 men, roughly the same size of the Continental Army he previously commanded during the Revolutionary War. Under the personal command of Washington, Hamilton and Revolutionary War hero General Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, the army assembled in Harrisburg and marched into Western Pennsylvania (to what is now Monongahela, Pennsylvania) in October 1794. The insurrection collapsed quickly with little violence, and the resistance movements disbanded.[93] Washington's forceful action proved the new government could protect itself. It also was one of only two times that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field: the other was in 1814. These events marked the first time under the new constitution that the federal government used strong military force to exert authority over the states and citizens.[95] The men arrested for rebellion were imprisoned, where one died, while two were convicted of treason and sentenced to death by hanging. Later, Washington pardoned all the men involved.[96][97]

This was the first time the federal government had been directly opposed. Washington believed that the delicate line between liberty and order needed to be established. By exercising the use of the militia, Washington exemplified that the federal government retained the power to take action when necessary.[98]

Following the incident, Secretary of War Henry Knox resigned in December 1794,[99] and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton resigned a month later.[100]

Foreign affairs[edit]

Taking a global position[edit]

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Washington kept the United States neutral during the conflict.

With the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the French Revolution erupted. Many Americans, remembering the French assistance during the Revolutionary War, supported aiding the French Republicans against the French monarchy. With France in revolution, Great Britain used its Indian allies to continue the Northwest Indian War. American anger in response to these attacks served to reinforce sentiments for aiding France in its conflict with Great Britain. Washington did not desire any such foreign entanglements. He believed that the United States was too weak and unstable to fight another war with a major European power. Thus, America gave no assistance to the French.[101]

In 1791, shortly after the Haitian Revolution broke out, Washington's administration, at French request, agreed to send money, arms, and provisions to the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to assist distressed slave owning colonists.[102] Reports came in of the Haitian slaves having slaughtered their white masters. Washington himself was a slave owner and was willing to help the French government in their suppression of the slave revolt.[103] Many Southerners believed that a successful slave revolt in Haiti would lead to a massive race war in America.[104] This aid formed part of the US repayment of Revolutionary War loans, and eventually amounted to about $400,000 and 1,000 military weapons.[105]

When the French Revolution ended on September 21, 1792, France declared itself a Republic. That same year, Washington was elected to a second term as President. Before Washington began his second term, the French revolutionaries guillotined King Louis XVI in January 1793, which gave a pretext for the British to persist in their war to restore the Ancien Régime, the absolute French monarchy. The King had been decisive in helping America achieve independence; now he was dead and many of the pro-American aristocrats in France were exiled or executed. Many of those executed had been friends of the United States, such as the navy commander Comte D'Estaing. Lafayette had fled France and ended up in captivity in Austria, and Thomas Paine went to prison in France. The Republicans in the United States denounced Hamilton, Adams, and even Washington as friends of Britain, as secret monarchists, and as enemies of the republican values that all true Americans cherished.[106]

France declared war on several European nations, with the Kingdom of Great Britain among them. Once again, Americans were divided on whether to enter the war on the side of France. Jefferson and his faction wanted to aid the French, while Hamilton and his followers supported neutrality in the conflict. Hamilton and the Federalists warned that American Republicans threatened to replicate the horrors of the French Revolution, and successfully mobilized most conservatives and many clergymen. The Republicans, some of whom had been strong Francophiles, responded with support, even through the Reign of Terror, when thousands were guillotined.[107]

In order to avoid war with Great Britain, Washington refused to help the people in the French Revolution. While large portions of the American public were ready to help the Frenchmen and their fight for "liberty, equality, and fraternity," the government was strongly against it.[108] In the days immediately following Washington's second inauguration, the revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called "Citizen Genêt," to America. Genêt's mission was to drum up support for the French cause. Genêt issued letters of marque and reprisal to American ships so they could capture British merchant ships.[109] He attempted to turn popular sentiment towards American involvement in the French war against Britain by creating a network of Democratic-Republican Societies in major cities.[110]

Washington was deeply irritated by this subversive meddling, and when Genêt allowed a French-sponsored warship to sail out of Philadelphia against direct presidential orders, Washington demanded that France recall Genêt. However, by this time the revolution had taken a more violent approach and Genêt would have been executed had he returned to France. He appealed to Washington, and Washington allowed him to remain, making him the first political refugee to seek sanctuary in the United States.[111]

During the Genêt episode, Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality on April 22, 1793. Washington declared the United States neutral in the conflict between Great Britain and France that had begun with the French Revolution. He also threatened legal proceedings against any American providing assistance to any of the warring countries. Washington eventually recognized that supporting either Great Britain or France was a false dichotomy. He would do neither, thereby shielding the fledgling U.S. from, in his view, unnecessary harm.[112]

The public had mixed opinions about Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality. Those who supported Madison and Jefferson were far more likely to be in support of the French Revolution, as they saw it as an opportunity for a nation to achieve liberty from tyrannical rule. However, there were a number of merchants who were extremely happy that the President decided to remain impartial to the revolution. They believed that if the government took a stance on the war, it would ruin their trade relations with the British completely. This economic element was a primary reason for many federalist supporters wanting to avoid increased conflict with the British. [113] Hamilton supported the Proclamation of Neutrality, defending the proclamation under the pseudonym 'Pacificus.'[114] He encouraged Washington to issue the proclamation, lecturing him about the need for a "continuance of the peace, the desire of which may be said to be both universal and ardent."[115]

Peace with Great Britain[edit]

In 1793, Great Britain stated that it would not follow the provisions of the Treaty of Paris and would not leave its posts on the Great Lakes until the United States repaid all debts to Great Britain. It announced that it would seize any ships trading with the French, including those flying the American flag. British vessels had been seizing hundreds of American ships and subjecting American sailors to impressment, claiming them to be deserters of Great Britain, since some of them were of British origin. In protest, widespread civil disorder erupted in several American cities. By the following year, tensions with the British were so high that Washington ordered all American shipments overseas halted. An envoy was sent to England to attempt reconciliation, and Britain had the goal of keeping the US neutral in the wars underway in Europe. Since Thomas Jefferson had resigned as Secretary of State, Washington appointed his former Attorney General Edmund Randolph as his new Secretary of State to oversee the affairs between Britain and France.[116]

As a neutral nation, the United States argued that it had the right to carry goods anywhere it wanted. The British nevertheless seized American ships carrying goods from the French West Indies. Madison and the Jeffersonians called for a trade war against Britain. They realized it might lead to war, but believed Britain was weak and would lose. While they were officially neutral, the Federalists favored Britain. Since a large majority of America's foreign trade was with Britain, they called for a new treaty. One possible alternative was war with Britain, a war that America was ill-prepared to fight.[117]

Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to London to negotiate what became known as the Jay Treaty. Hamilton wrote most of the instructions for Jay. Both sides gained most, but not all, of what they wanted. Most importantly, war was averted.[118] For the British, America remained neutral and economically grew closer to Britain. The Americans also guaranteed favorable treatment to British imports. In return, the British agreed to evacuate the western forts, which they had been supposed to do by 1783. They also agreed to open their West Indies ports to smaller American ships, allow small vessels to trade with the French West Indies, and set up a commission that would adjudicate American claims against Britain for seized ships, and British claims against Americans for debts incurred before 1775. However, the Jay Treaty had no concessions on impressment or established any rights for American sailors. Another commission was established to settle boundary issues.[119]

The Republicans had wanted to pressure Britain to the brink of war, and assumed that America could defeat a weak Britain.[120] They denounced the Jay Treaty as an insult to American prestige, a repudiation of the French alliance of 1778 and a severe shock to Southern planters who owed those old debts but who were never to collect for the lost slaves the British captured. Republicans protested vehemently, but the Federalists won the battle for public opinion, thanks to Washington's prestige, and won ratification of the treaty by exactly the necessary ⅔ vote, 20–10, in 1795. The pendulum of public opinion swung toward the Republicans after the Treaty fight, and in the South, the Federalists lost most of the support they had among planters.[121]

Historian Todd Estes shows that as protests from Jay treaty opponents intensified in 1795, Washington's initial neutral position shifted to a solid pro-treaty stance. It was he who had the greatest impact on public and congressional opinion. With the assistance of Hamilton, Washington made tactical decisions that strengthened the Federalist campaign to mobilize support for the treaty. For example, he effectively delayed the treaty's submission to the House until public support was particularly strong in February 1796, and refocused the debate by dismissing as unconstitutional the request that all documentation relating to Jay's negotiations be placed before Congress. Washington's prestige and political skills applied popular political pressure to Congress and ultimately led to approval of the treaty's funding in April 1796. His role in the debates demonstrated a "hidden-hand" leadership in which he issued public messages, delegated to advisers, and used his personality and the power of office to broaden support.[122]

The Jay Treaty marked the nationalization of electoral politics, as voters across the country chose the Federalist or Republican side depending on their view of the Jay Treaty. The Treaty brought a decade of prosperous trade with Britain, but angered the French.[123] By 1796, France was at war with Britain and the French were harassing American ships and threatening the U.S. with punitive sanctions. Diplomacy did little to solve the problem, and after Washington left office American and French warships would engage in what became known as the Quasi-War.[124]

Barbary pirates[edit]

Pirates from the Barbary region of North Africa were seizing American ships, kidnapping their crew members, and demanding ransom. Previously, the United States had been protected by the Royal Navy and then by the French navy. However, following America's neutrality, America's ships had become vulnerable to pirate attack. By late 1793, a dozen American ships had been captured, goods stripped and everyone enslaved.[125]

Portugal offered some armed patrols, but American merchants needed an armed American presence to sail near Europe. With this as the backdrop, America began thinking about constructing a force to defend her merchant marine. After some serious debate, Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 on March 27, 1794. Thus, the United States Navy was reborn. Congress authorized six frigates to be built by Joshua Humphreys.[126] With his assistant Josiah Fox, they designed frigates for America with superior speed and handiness. These ships would prove to be instrumental in naval actions that ended disputes with Algiers in later administrations and wars. This was a major philosophical shift for the young Republic, many of whose leaders felt that a Navy would be too expensive to raise and maintain, too imperialistic, and would unnecessarily provoke the European powers. In the end, however, it was felt that a navy was necessary to protect American interests at sea.[127]

The new Navy would not see use under Washington's command. In March 1796, as construction of the frigates slowly progressed, Washington brokered a peace accord between the United States and the Dey of Algiers. According to the Treaty of Tripoli, Washington agreed to pay the Pasha of Tripoli a yearly tribute in exchange for the peaceful treatment of United States' shipping in the Mediterranean region.[128]

Relations with Spain[edit]

United States states and territories after Pinckney's Treaty

After he established the national government and instituted Hamilton's economic programs, Washington turned his attention to securing the western territories of the United States. In the decades preceding Washington's presidency, numerous settlers had moved West of the Appalachian Mountains in search of farm land. Spain had, since 1763, controlled the lands beyond the Mississippi River, known as the Colony of Louisiana. New Orleans, a Spanish possession which stood at the mouth of the Mississippi, was the only viable outlet for the goods produced by many American settlers. Spain refused to open its port to these American farmers. Washington feared that Spain or Britain could incite an insurrection against the United States if he failed to open trade on the Mississippi, and he sent envoy Thomas Pinckney to Spain with that goal in mind.[129]

Shortly after the signing of the Jay Treaty, the United States and Spain agreed to the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also known as Pinckney's Treaty. Fearing that the United States and Great Britain might unite to take Spanish territory, Spain had decided to seek accommodation with the United States.[130] Signed on October 27, 1795, the treaty established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain.[131] The United States and Spain agreed not to incite native tribes to warfare. Additionally, the western boundary of the United States was established along the Mississippi River from the northern boundary of the United States to the 31st degree north latitude.[131]

More importantly, Spain conceded unrestricted access of the entire Mississippi River to Americans, opening much of the Ohio River Valley for settlement and trade. Agricultural produce could now flow on flatboats down the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers to the Mississippi River and on to New Orleans and Europe. Spain and the United States also agreed to protect the vessels of the other party anywhere within their jurisdictions and to not detain or embargo the other's citizens or vessels. The treaty also guaranteed navigation of the entire length of the river for both the United States and Spain. The territory ceded by Spain in this treaty was organized by the United States into the Mississippi Territory in 1798.[132]

Rise of political parties[edit]

Despite their part in the Compromise of 1790, Jefferson and Madison stood against most of Hamilton's economic proposals. Neither Jefferson nor Madison liked the idea of a central bank, doubting its constitutionality and believing the bank would be used to dispense corrupt patronage.[133][134][135] Jefferson feared that cities like London and Paris would overpower the industry, and strongly opposed industrialization. He idealized the yeoman farmer who could think independently, as opposed to the city worker who would do what his bosses ordered.[136] Washington, however, largely supported Hamilton's ideas, believing that they would lead to a stronger country and a stronger federal government. While Madison had served as Washington's foremost congressional ally during the first year of the Washington administration, he irrevocably broke with Washington over Hamilton's policies.[137]

After the creation of the national bank, Jefferson and Madison began traveling to former Anti-Federalist strongholds. At this point, their goal was not to form a political party or even generally oppose Washington, who they continued to admire, but rather to foment opposition to Hamilton's policies. Most Congressmen aligned with either the Democratic-Republican or Federalist parties during the 1792 elections, but local concerns dominated most campaigns. Hamilton began attacking Jefferson and his followers in the newspapers, calling Jefferson's followers the "Republican Party." The name implicitly accused Jefferson of engaging in partisan behavior, which was disdained by Americans. During this same period, though, Hamilton began to build his own political party. In the 1792 elections, most Congressmen aligned with the Democratic-Republican or Federalist parties, but the campaign was dominated by local issues.[138] While economic policies were the original motivating factor in the growing partisan split, foreign policy also became a factor. Though most Americans supported the French Revolution prior to the Execution of Louis XVI, some of Hamilton's followers began to fear the radical egalitarianism of the revolution as it became increasingly violent. Washington particularly feared British entrance into the war, as he worried that sympathy for France and hatred for Britain would propel the United States into the French Revolutionary Wars, to the ruin of the American economy.[139]

In 1793, after Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars, several Democratic-Republican Societies were formed. These societies, centered on the middle class of several eastern cities, opposed Hamilton's economic policies and supported France. Conservatives came to fear these societies as populist movements that sought to re-make the class order. That same year, the British began attacking American ships that were trading with France, fanning the flames of anti-British sentiment. As Washington continued to seek peace with Great Britain, critics finally began to attack the president himself. After crushing the Whiskey Rebellion, Washington publicly blamed the Democratic-Republican Societies for the rebellion, and Jefferson began to view Washington as "the head of a party" rather than "the head of a nation." Hamilton's followers, who coalesced into the Federalist Party, were thrilled by Washington's remarks, and the party sought to closely associate itself with Washington. The passage of the Jay Treaty further inflamed partisan warfare, resulting in a further hardening between the Federalists and Jefferson's party, the Democratic-Republicans.[140]

Other legislation signed[edit]

Constitutional amendments[edit]

  • September 25, 1789: Congress approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution establishing specific constitutional guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people, and submitted them to the state legislatures for ratification.[147]
    • December 15, 1791: The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified by the requisite number of states (then 11) to become part of the Constitution.[148] [e]
  • March 4, 1794: Congress approved an amendment to the United States Constitution clarifying judicial power over foreign nationals, and limiting the ability of citizens to sue states in federal courts and under federal law, and submitted it to the state legislatures for ratification.[151]

States joining the Union[edit]

When the federal government began operations under the new form of government on March 4, 1789, two (of the 13) states were ineligible to participate as they had not yet ratified the Constitution. Both did so while Washington was in office, joining the Union:

Three new states were admitted to the Union (each on an equal footing with the existing states) while Washington was in office:

Election of 1792[edit]

As the presidential election of 1792 approached, Washington, pleased with the progress his administration had made in establishing a strong, stable federal government,[159] was planning to retire rather then seek a second term. He complained of old age, sickness, the in-fighting plaguing his cabinet, and the increasing hostility of the partisan press.[160] However, the members of his cabinet—especially Jefferson and Hamilton—worked diligently through the summer and fall to persuade Washington not to retire.[161] They apprised him of the potential impact the French Revolutionary Wars might have on the country, and insisted that only someone with his popularity and moderation could lead the nation effectively during the volatile times ahead.[4][162] In the end, "Washington never announced his candidacy in the election of 1792," writes historian John Ferling, "he simply never said that he would not consider a second term."[163]

Washington arriving at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, March 4, 1793

The 1792 elections were the first ones in U.S. history to be contested on anything resembling a partisan basis. In most states, the congressional elections were recognized in some sense as a "struggle between the Treasury department and the republican interest," to use the words of Jefferson strategist John Beckley.[164] Because few doubted that Washington would receive the greatest number of electoral votes, the vice presidency became a focus of popular attention. The speculation here also tended to be organized along partisan lines – Hamiltonians supported Adams and Jeffersonians favored New York governor George Clinton. Both however were technically candidates for president competing against Washington, as electoral rules of the time required each presidential elector to cast two votes without distinguishing which was for president and which for vice president. The recipient of the most votes would then become president, and the runner-up vice president.

Washington was unanimously reelected president, receiving 132 electoral votes (one from each elector), and Adams was reelected vice president, receiving 77 votes. The other 55 electoral votes were divided among: George Clinton (50), Thomas Jefferson (4), and Aaron Burr (1).[160]

Washington's second inauguration took place in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the first at this site) on March 4, 1793. The presidential oath of office was administered by Supreme Court associate justice William Cushing. Washington's inaugural address was just 135 words, the shortest to date.[165] This inauguration was brief and simple, a sharp contrast to the extravaganza four years earlier, which, in the eyes of many, had all the trappings of a monarchical coronation.[163]

Although his second term began simultaneously with Washington's, John Adams was sworn into office for that term on December 2, 1793 in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall. The vice presidential oath was administered by the president pro tempore of the Senate John Langdon.[20]

Farewell Address and election of 1796[edit]

Farewell Address[edit]

Washington's Farewell Address

Although it was his for the asking, Washington only reluctantly agreed to serve a second term of office as president and refused to run for a third, establishing the precedent of a maximum of two terms for a president.[166] Over four decades of public service had left him exhausted physically, mentally, and financially. He happily handed the office to his successor, John Adams, then returned to Mount Vernon and resumed farming.[167]

Washington closed his administration with a thoughtful farewell address. Washington's Farewell Address (issued as a public letter in 1796) was one of the most influential statements of American political values.[168] Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with help from Hamilton, it gives advice on the necessity and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the dangers of political parties, and the proper virtues of a republican people. In the address, he called morality "a necessary spring of popular government." He suggests that "reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." Washington thus makes the point that the value of religion is for the benefit of society as a whole.[169]

Washington warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs. He warns against bitter partisanship in domestic politics and called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. Specifically, Washington proclaims his deep distrust in political parties. He believed that they would open doors for unprincipled men to gain power. He called for an America wholly free of foreign attachments, as the United States must concentrate only on American interests. Washington counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but warned against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term alliances. The address quickly set American policy regarding religion and foreign affairs, and his advice was often repeated in political discourse well into the twentieth century. Not until the 1949 formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would the United States again sign a treaty of alliance with a foreign nation. Washington's position about the forming of political parties did not prevent their creation, which continues to the present day.[170]

Election of 1796[edit]

1796 electoral vote results

After two terms, Washington was in declining health and eager to retire. He felt that he had accomplished his goal of establishing a strong national government, a stable union, and peace with the European powers.[171] With Washington retiring, the country experienced its first competitive presidential election in 1796. With Hamilton tarred by an affair, Patrick Henry too old, Jay too unpopular due to the Jay Treaty, Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth holding little support in the North, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney largely unknown in the North, the Federalists turned to Vice President Adams as their presidential nominee. A Federalist congressional nominating caucus nominated Adams and Thomas Pinckney as their nominees. Although Hamilton provided only lukewarm support for Adams, Adams's candidacy was largely successful in consolidating Federalist votes. Jefferson was the clear leader of the Democratic-Republicans, but he expressed some reluctance to run for president at first, instead suggesting that Madison should take the nomination. Jefferson at first declined his party's nomination, but he finally agreed to run in October 1796, and he was joined on the ticket by Aaron Burr. Adams won the most electoral votes and became president, while Jefferson finished with the second-most electoral votes and became vice president.[172]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Only ten of the thirteen states cast electoral votes in this election. North Carolina and Rhode Island were ineligible to participate as they had not yet ratified the Constitution. The New York legislature failed to appoint its allotted electors in time, so there were no voting electors from New York.[11][12]
  2. ^ Rutledge was the first rejected Supreme Court nominee and the only "recess appointed" justice not to be subsequently confirmed by the Senate.
  3. ^ Cushing was a sitting associate justice when nominated for chief justice. Such nominations are subject to a separate confirmation process. After declining the appointment as chief justice, he remained on the Court as an associate justice.
  4. ^ The Philadelphia faction supported a temporary capital in Philadelphia, to be permanently located on the Potomac, as they hoped that the Federal government would be unwilling to leave once they moved there Similarly, a Northern faction supported a temporary capital in New York City, and a permanent one on the Susquehanna.[67]
  5. ^ One of the two amendments not ratified in 1791 was later ratified, May 7, 1992, becoming the Twenty-seventh Amendment;[149] the other amendment is technically still pending before the states.[150]
  6. ^ Vermont declared itself an independent republic on January 17, 1777, during the American Revolutionary War; however its territory was claimed by the State of New York. Only when New York was induced to renounce its claim in exchange for financial remuneration (30,000 Dollars; an agreement formally accepted by both jurisdictions as of October 28, 1790) was Statehood possible.[156]
  7. ^ Kentucky is one of 3 states that were set off from already existing states (Maine and West Virginia are the others). The Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation on December 18, 1789 separating its "District of Kentucky" from the rest of the State and approving its statehood.[156]
  8. ^ Tennessee was the first state created from a U.S. territory, the Territory South of the River Ohio; previously, what would become Tennessee had been part of the State of North Carolina.[156]


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Works cited

  • Alden, John R. (1993). George Washington, a Biography. Norwalk: Easton Press. 
  • Chernow, Ron (2004). Alexander Hamilton. Penguin Books. ISBN 1-59420-009-2. 
  • Elkins, Stanley and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995) online version, also online at DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195093810.001.0001 online
  • Ferling, John (2009). The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon. New York: Bloomsbury Press. ISBN 1-59691-465-3. 
  • Hogeland, William. The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty. New York: Scribner, 2006. ISBN 0-7432-5490-2
  • Maier, Pauline (2010). Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787–1788. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-86854-7. 
  • McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of George Washington. 1988.
  • Miller, John C. The Federalist Era, 1789–1801 (1960).
  • Sharp, James. American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis. (1995).
  • Slaughter, Thomas P. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution. Oxford University Press,

Further reading[edit]

  • Bassett, John Spencer. The Federalist System, 1789–1801 (1906), old survey of politics online version,
  • Cronin, Thomas F., ed. Inventing the American Presidency. U. Press of Kansas, 1989. 404 pp.
  • Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. (2004)
  • Ellis, Joseph J. "Inventing the Presidency." American Heritage 2004 55(5): 42–48, 50, 52–53. ISSN 0002-8738
  • Fatovic, Clement. "Constitutionalism and Presidential Prerogative: Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian Perspectives." American Journal of Political Science 2004 48(3): 429–444. ISSN 0092-5853 Fulltext in Swetswise, Ingenta, Jstor, Ebsco
  • Fishman, Ethan M.; William D. Pederson, Mark J. Rozell, eds. George Washington (2001) essays by scholars
  • Freeman, Douglas S. George Washington: A Biography. 7 volumes, 1948–1957; vol 6–7 cover the presidency The standard scholarly biography, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A single-volume abridgment by Richard Harwell appeared in 1968
  • Flaumenhaft; Harvey. The Effective Republic: Administration and Constitution in the Thought of Alexander Hamilton Duke University Press, 1992
  • Grizzard, Frank E., Jr. George Washington: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO, 2002. 436 pp. Comprehensive encyclopedia by leading scholar
  • Gregg II, Gary L. and Matthew Spalding, eds. George Washington and the American Political Tradition. ISI (1999), essays by scholars
  • Higginbotham, Don, ed. George Washington Reconsidered. (2001). 336 pp.
  • Leibiger, Stuart. "Founding Friendship: George Washington, James Madison, and the Creation of the American Republic." U. Press of Virginia, 1999. 284 pp.
  • Miller, John C. Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox (1959), full-length scholarly biography; online edition
  • Nettels, Curtis P. The Emergence of a National Economy, 1775–1815 (1962).
  • Nordham, George W. The Age of Washington: George Washington's Presidency, 1789–1797. (1989).
  • Riccards, Michael P. A Republic, If You Can Keep It: The Foundations of the American Presidency, 1700–1800. (1987)
  • Sheehan, Colleen. "Madison V. Hamilton: The Battle Over Republicanism And The Role Of Public Opinion" American Political Science Review 2004 98(3): 405–424.
  • Smith, Robert W. Keeping the Republic: Ideology and Early American Diplomacy. (2004)
  • Spalding, Matthew. "George Washington's Farewell Address." The Wilson Quarterly v20#4 (Autumn 1996) pp: 65+.
  • White, Leonard D. The Federalists: A Study in Administrative History (1956), thorough analysis of the mechanics of government in the 1790s
  • Wood, Gordon S. "The Greatness of George Washington." Virginia Quarterly Review 1992 68(2): 189–207. ISSN 0042-675X Fulltext: in Ebsco
  • Wright; Robert E. Hamilton Unbound: Finance and the Creation of the American Republic Praeger (2002)

Foreign policy[edit]

  • Bradford Perkins. From Sea to Sea, 1776–1865, (1993)
  • Jerald Combs. The Jay Treaty: Political Battleground of the Founding Fathers (1970),
  • Estes, Todd. "The Art of Presidential Leadership: George Washington and the Jay Treaty" Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 2001 109(2): 127–158. ISSN 0042-6636 Fulltext online at Ebsco.
  • Estes, Todd. The Jay Treaty Debate, Public Opinion, and the Evolution of Early American Political Culture. (2006)
  • Harper, John Lamberton. American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy. (2004)
  • Daniel C. Lang. Foreign Policy in the Early Republic: The Law of Nations and the Balance of Power (1986);
  • Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and the Rights of Man (1960) and Thomas Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty (1962), vol 2–3 of monumental biography
  • Frank T. Reuter. Trials and Triumphs: George Washington's Foreign Policy (1982)
U.S. Presidential Administrations
New office Washington Presidency
Succeeded by
J. Adams