Andrea is currently a social studies middle school and high school world teacher in Ohio. She has been a part of the teaching community for 9 years. She has a BA in history from Wright State University, as well as a MEd in education from the University of Dayton. In the education field, Andrea has taught workshops including OGT Success and Writing for Life. Andrea has also been a middle school debate team coach for several years. In the history field, Andrea is currently working towards a Public History Certification in Archival Studies at Wright State University.
President George Washington
Imagine being the first person ever appointed to a job. There would be no one to train you, no one to tell you what to do. That might be kind of scary, right?
George Washington was the first official president of the constitutional United States of America. The colonies of the United States had just gained their independence from Great Britain and created a new, democratic government under the Constitution. At the meeting where the United States constitution was written, George Washington was elected as president by all who attended. George Washington had to face the hard job of setting the precedents, or traditions, for many presidents to follow.
Road to the Presidency
George Washington was born in 1732 in Virginia to a wealthy family originally from Britain. Washington worked as a surveyor early in life and, in the 1750s, fought on the side of the British in the French and Indian War. Gaining some military experience and fame, Washington then led the rebel American militias in the Revolutionary War against the British in the late 1770s. After winning independence, the new country had a deep respect for Washington. They elected him president, and Washington faced the challenge of running the new country.
In 1789 George Washington became the first president of the United States of America. He started his presidency by setting several precedents. To begin with, Washington chose to be called 'Mr. President' instead of other, more king-like names. Also, Washington took the oath of office in the city of New York to begin his presidency because Washington D.C. was not yet the capital of the country.
Next, Washington selected a group of advisers to help him in his decision-making process. The selection of a cabinet, another name for these advisers, became a norm for other new presidents. Also, at the end of his second term, Washington was asked to serve a third term, but he declined. No president after him ever served a third term, and it eventually become law that no president can serve more than two terms.
Policies and Political Parties
Once settled, Washington had to go about starting the country off properly. His first task was taking care of the debt acquired during the Revolutionary War. Washington had appointed Alexander Hamilton as the Secretary of Treasury in his cabinet. To earn money for the government, Hamilton put a tax on whiskey that upset many Americans. Also, Hamilton proposed a National Bank based off the British model of banking.
Thomas Jefferson, Washington's Secretary of State, greatly opposed this bank, claiming the system would only benefit the wealthy. Arguing broke out between the two and their supporters. These two arguing groups would set the stage for the first two political parties. Washington, however, did not support the conflict and when he left office at the end of his two terms, he advised the country against this political divide.
The Judicial Branch
Another part of the government that Washington had to attend to was the judicial branch. Under the constitution, the executive and legislative branches were given rules and limitations, but the judicial was not fully developed. In the Judiciary Act of 1789, George Washington created the Supreme Court, which only had six members back then, as well as the position of Attorney General. Though the court systems have changed over time, the structure created by Washington's administration still stands.
As the first president of the United States of America, George Washington had to set the precedents, or traditions, for presidents to come. Some of these traditions included the creation of his cabinet, the idea of being sworn in, and the idea of a president only lasting two terms. Washington set up the judicial branch and accidentally paved the way for political parties, even though he did not agree with the divide.
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