How did George Washington shape the office of the chief executive?

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As the first president of the United States, George Washington was tasked with essentially defining what role the office would play in the new federal government. The framers of the Constitution were concerned about giving too much authority to one person and were fairly vague in their description of how the president would act. Washington understood the important role that he played in defining the office and how his decisions would affect the success of the new republic. Even though his personal opinion was that a strong executive head was needed, he tread cautiously as president as to not violate the principle of separation of powers that was embodied in the Constitution.

As the first president of the United States, Washington would be afforded the opportunity to establish precedence. Many important traditions that Washington would establish endured. The notion of an executive order was established when Washington created a national bank. He argued the "necessary and proper" clause in defending his action in the Supreme Court, another executive tradition that would endure. Washington established the formation of a cabinet and depended heavily on them. Washington also created and defended the right of the president to choose his own cabinet. At the end of his second term, Washington intentionally declined the opportunity to run again. He felt that the president should not govern in perpetuity. Other presidents would respect this tradition and a Constitutional Amendment was eventually established based off of this principle.

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