Flexner, James Thomas. George Washington. Little. 1967
George Washington was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. He
served as commander-in-chief of the Continental army during the Revolutionary War, and later
served as the first president of the United States. His thoughts and ideas helped mold the United
States into the great country that it is today.
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
He was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball Washington. He received no
formal education, but he read geography, military history, agriculture, deportment, and
composition. Washington later developed a powerful and convincing style of speech and writing.
He enjoyed sports and social occasions, and he later became a surveyor for landowners on the
George Washington was elected president of the United States in 1789, and in New York
City on April 30, 1789, he took the oath of office as President of the United States at age 57. He
was extremely influential in the initial operation of the new government. After the ballot he wrote,
"My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feeling not unlike those of a
culprit, who is going to the place of his execution." Washington's task was to organize a
government but also create a role for the highest officer of the new nation. Both tasks earned him
One of Washington's first duties of office was establishing a cabinet. He appointed
Alexander Hamilton secretary of treasury and Thomas Jefferson secretary of state. Washington
allowed Jefferson to pursue a policy of seeking trade with European nations. Hamilton proposed
important ideas such as a funded national debt and the creation of the Bank of the United States.
The first United States census was taken in 1790 which showed the population to be four
million. He created departments within the government, each with different jobs. The government
issued money that was good in all states. President Washington also helped plan a new capital for
the nation that was named "Washington" in his honor. Also, Vermont and Kentucky were added
as states in 1791 and 1792 respectively.
George Washington reluctantly agreed to serve a second term as president, even though he
wanted to go home to Mount Vernon. An outbreak of war in Europe plagued Thomas Jefferson's
foreign policy design. Alexander Hamilton formed a pro-British foreign policy during
Washington's second administration. Jay's Treaty of 1795 settled outstanding American differences
with Great Britain. This treaty was extremely controversial, although the treaty was passed by a
narrow margin in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania against a federal excise tax was his critical
domestic challenge. He himself rode partway to the field at the head of the militia that was raised
to put down the rebellion. Washington reorganized his cabinet in 1795, and Tennessee became a
state in 1796. He was asked to return for another term as President, but he declined. Washington
carefully planned a farewell speech to mark the end of his presidency, and issued his farewell
speech on September 7, 1796. He was succeeded by his vice-president, John Adams the following
March 4. He then retired to Mount Vernon, where he died two years later on December 14, 1799
at the age of 67.
George Washington remains one of the most important figures in the history of the United
States of America. Washington's accomplishments are and will continue to serve as precedents for
future Presidents. I feel that his two terms in office as the President of the United States were the
most important periods in the history our country. He shaped the government that we live under
today, and if not for him, our government might be completely different.
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