Friday, February 1, 2013

George Washington

Today is our very first Presidential Friday! And who will we start with? None other than the first and some say the best- George Washington. You may recognize him from the monument of Mouth Rushmore and from the U.S. 1 dollar bill. Throughout the year, we will go through the Presidents chronologically. 

What do we know about the first President? He was a native Virginian; he was a humble Revolutionary War hero with an unknown party affiliation who was unanimously elected as first President of the United States. But did you know he was in love with a woman named Sally Fairfax, the wife of a friend who was a loyalist (supporter of Great Britain during the Revolutionary War)? He wrote her letters suggesting his happiest times were when he was with her. And George and his wife? They had one major thing in common- neither was very happy about George becoming President. Martha Washington was so perturbed that she refused to attend his inauguration. George Washington spoke of his presidency as “the greatest personal sacrifice I have ever… been called upon to make.” 

But enough about love lives and a reasonable reluctance on Washington’s part to test out a very new system of government. How was Washington as a President? Are his constantly high ratings on presidential polls deserved? He certainly set many precedents- creating the first presidential cabinet, choosing the new capital city which would bear his name, and choosing the location for the White House, the latter of which he never ended up living in. Washington was not necessarily popular in his time- he took a peaceful approach to many issues, refusing to involve the country in a war between France and Britain and, after ending a rebellion of some citizens who refused to pay taxes and tarred and feathered federal officers, offered amnesty to those same citizens. But this ‘unwillingness to pick a clear side’ caused some to dislike Washington’s leadership. 

On March 3, 1797, Washington left the position and set a future precedent for a two-term limit. His Vice President, John Adams, succeeded him.  

Sources: The American President, Wikipedia, Mount

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