Thursday, March 9, 2000

George Washington

Hands down, I would nominate George Washington for the “Presidential Hall of Fame”. Quoting from George Washington's eulogy, the famous cavalry General Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee describes George Washington as “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. Washington was a man who had a selfless devotion to his country; he believed in liberty and freedom for all; he had integrity with a total sense of moral responsibility, and above all played a key role in our nation's history. I believe he indeed walked “ untrodden ground” in his presidency and became a “precedent” or landmark for all the presidents who followed him. In the following paragraphs, I will present my case why the attributes mentioned above, along with others, I believe, have given this first President of the United States of America the position as the “Father of Our Country” and the 'Presidential Hall of Frame'. (, 2010) (, 2010)
I do not believe George Washington, himself, probably realized when he was a young man that he was destined to become our first President. His innate tenaciousness for learning did not only stop with his limited time in school, but through his need to experience the world around him from human contact and through the opportunities and challenges he encountered on his way. In many ways, I believe his bountiful past experiences impacted his character, courage, and sense of who he was about to become, President to the United States. His older step-brother Lawrence, prior to his death, had a great effect on George Washington life after their father died when George was at age 11. Lawrence Washington, educated in England, was commissioned under Admiral Vernon to fight a Britain's squabble with Spain and after arriving home he joined the Virginia militia as a ranking officer. He influenced George Washington in the direction of the military, and cultivated George with ethics, mathematics, music, books and the theater. In 1749, at age 17, George Washington was appointed official surveyor for the Shenandoah Valley. His comfort with the outdoors and participation in surveying jobs for Lord Fairfax exposed George to the wilderness's rough terrain and Native Americans, which also became attributes to his military career. (, 2010)

In 1752, the surveying experience gave George Washington credential to joined the Virginia militia where he was commissioned the rank of major. This was just a stepping stone to the eventual commander in chief. The beginnings of the encroachment from the French on the English territory, led George Washington's military career in fighting in the French and Indian War 1954. I can only surmise that Washington's initial weakness may have been due to the lack of any 'military' experience especially fighting the Native Indians;(prehistorylleyforge) however, his innate ingenuity, good judgment eventually overcame his weakness and became his strength. After his first brief engagement with the French, George Washington writes to his brother Jack describing the moment, “ I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.”(37) With in the coming days, months, and years another story would exhibit what it was like to be defeated by the enemy. One of Washington's first taste of defeat was when he volunteered to be an aid-De-camp to the British Major General Braddock in retaking Fort Duquesne from the French in 1755. That Battle of the Monongahela was fought against the French and their allied Native Americans. The battled ended with a bloody defeat for the British, a dying General Braddock, along with the lost of most of their total advanced force ; however it was the brave Colonel George Washington who maneuvered the wounded General and the rest of the men still standing out of harm's way.( It was the same battle where George Washington experienced “two horses shot out from under him and miraculously was unharmed as a bullet rushed through his hat [while] three more passed through his coat”. ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 37, 2010) (, 2010),

Washington maintains his existence came “by the miraculous care of Providence”. This defeat did not stop Washington from performing his duty as a Colonel. Due to the war was extending into years, he learned from past mistakes and adapted away from the British tactical maneuvers with his own maneuvers which gave his men a fighting chance to succeed and to survive. Washington also made his soldiers change their uniforms into “Indian hunting garb” for durability and flexibility. (, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 47, 2010)
The war had weakened Washington's health with bouts of dysentery. In December 1758 he resigned from the military and return to beloved Mount Vernon. After hearing of Washington resignation, his regiment responded to Washington in writing their regrets in loosing “such a great commander, ...sincere friend, and so affable a companion.” In 1770, after the French and Indian War, fifteen years after Braddock's defeat, George Washington meets an old Native American Chief of the northwestern tribe who fought along with the French during that very battle with Braddock. The old Chief shares his prophecy with George Washington along with other men that have accompanied Washington that time.. The Chief states: “Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, [directing it to George Washington] and guides his destinies – he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire!” This expressive acknowledgment was never passed on by Washington himself; although his friend Dr. James Craik, who also witness this event, eventually shared the Native American Chief's prophecy with the soldiers in the Revolutionary War. (, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 59-60, 61, 2010)

Between wars, George Washington married a wealthy, widow Martha Custis, assumes his duties in the House of Burgesses and eventually restores Mount Vernon, along with farming. In 1763, a treaty is finally signed between the England and France, ending the French and Indian War, consequently, the Motherland decides that the colonies should help with the burden of debt created by French and Indian war. In 1975, the parliament passes the Stamp Act, which were taxes on newspapers and other legal documents. This did not sit well with the colonist for a couple of reasons. The Parliament could not pass taxes on the colonists because they did not have direct representation in the Parliament. Secondly, the colonists believed they do their own taxation through their own assemblies.(98) Essentially is this not the beginnings of the domino effect for independence from the British? George Washington could not have said it better when addressing a correspondent to the Parliament, “the Parliament of Great Britain have no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours for money.” Distrust among the colonist and Great Britain begin to develop to a new level, by 1968 British troops arrive in Boston to enforce custom laws. June 16 1775 George Washington becomes commander in chief of the Continental Army. War is surfacing on the horizon. Commander George Washington writes his opinion about the war to his friend George W. Fairfax who now lives in England, “Unhappy as it is … to reflect that a brother's sword has been sheathed in a brother's breast, and that once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhibited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his place?” (767) (US, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 98, 767, 2010)

Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776. Relationship with England has become null and void because of Great Britain's breach of contract with the colonies, the War of Independence advancing. The closing of the Revolution War came in 1783; however our valiant commander- in- chief stopped a military “armed” revolt against their country. The officer and solders having not been paid for eight years that they have sacrificed for their country. They blamed congress and most of all they were criticizing their commander in chief for his failure to see that it being done. George Washington showed up to one of their meetings and addressed his “honorable” men about their plight for justice. His first commentary did not change the officers' nor soldiers ' opinion about their cause; however his second speech did. General Washington stands in front of his men and pulls out a letter from his pocket that has been written by a Virginia congressmen in support of the military plight. He fumbles to put on his reading glasses that no one in the audience has seen before and states, “ Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.” The moment and modest gesture created by Washington emotionally moved his fellow officers and soldiers. They decided to patiently wait for congress for their reimbursement, which it did come. Washington indeed prevented a military dictatorship. .(wsu.ed, 2010) (, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 385, 2010)

Although the colonies where now rejoicing their independence from Great Britain, they had no real central government to guide them in their endeavors to prosper. George Washington felt this restlessness among the 13 colonies and he saw the necessity having a central government to bring unification among the colonies. Washington describes the colonies' position as “ Like a young heir come prematurity to a large inheritance, we shall wanton and run riot until we have brought our reputation to the brink of ruin;” (455) Thus the answer to his fear of what may happen to this independent nation was the birth of a new constitution September 17, 1787. ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 455, 489, 2010) (, 2010) (, 2010)

Up to now, I hope I have imprinted facts why this great man George Washington was so exceptional to be our first president. It was almost like the “providence”, whom Washington frequently referred to often, was paving the way. The Question I need to review now, is why I nominated George Washington for the 'Presidential Hall of Fame'. Perhaps the first conclusion I may have submitted to myself is that the survival of our country might not have been made possible if not for George Washington's influence. Fittingly, he was an inspirational leader for our military, had exemplary character and through his calm nature and deeds , he held the most esteem presence among those around him. No wonder in January,1789 the union selected their electors, in February, they cast their votes, but it was not until April did they count the ballot. Weather prevented to this sooner. April 6, the electors voted unanimously s for George Washington for president. John Adams was named Vice president. Once it was established Washington was going to be President, there was no doubt how to address him, Mr. President. April 30,1789 the inauguration took place on a crowded Federal Hall portico, in New York City [temporary used as the United States capital] It is interesting to note that when finished repeating the last word of the oath “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President...” he added the words “So help me, God,” followed by bowing and kissing the Bible.( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A, pg 520, 2010)
George Washington's uniqueness was he did not want to be President. He presided over the convention forming the constitution and at that time felt his work was done. He just wanted to retire from public life. He writes to his good friend Lafayette about his personal dilemma, “The presidency has no enticing charms and no fascinating allurements for me. My only wish is to live and die an honest man on my own farm.” However, with Hamilton encouragement, George Washington conceded that if he accepts the position of president it “would be the greatest sacrifice of my personal feelings and wishes that ever I have been called upon to make.” (, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 508-509, 2010)

“As the first of everything, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent,” Washington wrote James Madison, “it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.” New independent nation with a new constitution along with a new government, could be overwhelming to for anyone, except President George Washington. He looked at the challenge with “I walk on untraded ground” with seriousness and believed “The Constitution of the United States, and the laws made under it, must mark the line of my official conduct. President Washington had an criteria in choosing his cabinet of “four” which are the following: (1) The candidate must be fit to fill an office. (2) The person must have served well in other positions in the past. (3) As much as possible, all states must be equally represented in the appointive positions. Washington proceeded to choose Thomas Jefferson to be the Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton to be Secretary of Treasury, Edmund Randolph to be Attorney General, and Henry Knox as Secretary of War. During the inauguration, the oath was given by the Chancellor of New York, and not by the justice department, because they did not have a supreme court at that time. Washington nominated John Jay as the first Chief Justice of the new Supreme Court. One of many points I admire about Washington is he made decisions when he had all the information . He also did this with his cabinet members. He would visit each separately, get their opinion and when he heard everyone's voiced opinion he would make a conclusion. (, 2010) ( A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A., pg 524, 2010)

To conclude this paper, when George Washington became President, he realized the his own countrymen and the Powers of Europe would be watching every move he made. I like to share some of his precedents not already mention. In the constitution, the executive branch was to receive advice and consent from the Senate in regards of treaties. Washington initially went to the Senate to discuss a treaty with the Creek Indians. It did not go well and Washington became frustrated with them . Because of this experience he refused to go directly to the Senate again and neither has any president after him. The Whiskey Rebellion was another occasion when he wanted to make a precedent stance. Congress passed in1790, an excise tax on whiskey. States rebel and sometimes violence occur because of it. Washington wanted the people to know that the government had the power and the will to enforce laws created. He dressed up in his military uniform and led his troops against them and the people making trouble dispersed, ending the rebellion. Again, Federal troops have been used to enforce Federal law by presidents after Washington. Lastly President Washington established a precedent for only a two term for the presidency. (, 2010)

Anonymous. (2010). George Washington
Retrieved September 05, 2010, from Biography website
Anonymous. (2010). A History of US. Webisode 2: Revolution. Segment 7
Retrieved September 05, 2010, from PBS website
Anonymous. (2010). George Washington
Retrieved September 05, 2010, from US Army website

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "The Thick of Battle"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg 37) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "The Thick of Battle"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg 47) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Defending the Frontier"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pp. 59-60) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Defending the Frontier"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pp. 61) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Seeds of Rebellion"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pp. 98) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Timeless Treasures from George Washington"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg. 767) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "A Half Starved Limping Government"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg. 455) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.
A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Forming the New Constitution"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg. 489) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

A.M. Allison, Perry, J.A. (Ed.). (2010). "Best Fitted for the Presidency"
The Real George Washington, Eighth Edition. (pg. 508-509) USA:
National Center for Constitutional Studies.

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