George Washington's Presidency

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What were George Washington's key contributions to American society?

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George Washington was an able general during the Revolutionary War who understood that the main goal of the Continental army was survival. He did not allow the British army to destroy it. Washington also left government service after the war to return to his plantation in Virginia, thus setting an example for future American leaders. When his country called upon him to be president, Washington agreed and served only two terms. He stayed above party politics when there was squabbling within his own Cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson. Washington's Farewell Address is among the best known in history; it states that the United States should stay away from foreign entanglements and party politics. Washington desired a unified country that would not be engulfed by one of the major powers of Europe.

Washington also believed in the supremacy of the federal government. Washington broke up the Whiskey Rebellion when it threatened the legitimacy of the new national government. As a leader, Washington was quite dignified and kept the starched wigs and the carriages that denoted high rank. He did not seek to be called "Your Majesty" but rather settled upon the name "Mr. President," a name that has stuck with the nation's chief executive since Washington's time. Washington's greatest legacy was to voluntarily step down after two terms, thus setting a precedent that would last until 1940. Washington embodied the dignity of the office of president as well as the humility to voluntarily leave the position at an appointed time.

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George Washington made many contributions to American society. One of his most important contributions was that he provided steady leadership at a vital time in our country’s history. Any time a new plan of government is put into effect, there will be challenging times. George Washington guided us through those times very well. For example, when farmers in western Pennsylvania rebelled over the Whiskey Tax, George Washington sent in the military to restore order. He made it clear that rebellion by any group of people wouldn’t be tolerated.

Another important contribution was that he was able to stay above the impact of the development of political groups representing a particular group of people or point of view. When he was President, he did what he thought was best for the country. He wasn’t concerned if a political group didn’t like an idea. If the idea was good for the country, George Washington wanted to see that idea put into policy. George Washington cautioned the country against forming political parties when he left office because he felt they would be bad for the country. He felt people would support a political party’s idea, even if that idea wasn’t in the best interest of the country. He was concerned people would do what was in the best interests of the political party instead of what was in the best interests of the country.

Finally, George Washington made it clear to other countries that they couldn’t push us around. When Spain and Great Britain interfered with our trade, George Washington took action. When Great Britain and Spain encouraged Native Americans to attack us, George Washington didn’t stand around and refuse to deal with the issues. While there were Americans who wanted us to go to war over these issues, George Washington refused to do that because he knew we weren’t in any position to fight a war at this time. Thus, he used diplomacy to try to resolve these issues. Jay’s Treaty was negotiated with Great Britain, and Pinckney’s Treaty was negotiated with Spain. While these treaties weren’t perfect solutions to all of the problems we faced, these treaties kept us out of war and sent a message that countries couldn’t bully us. George Washington made it clear he would stand up for our country and its rights.

George Washington was the right leader for our country after the Constitution was ratified. We needed steady leadership, and George Washington was the perfect person to provide it.

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You would be hard pressed to find an individual who had a greater impact on the history of the United States than George Washington. His integrity and mettle earned him the position of the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The task of defeating the British Empire with a group of undisciplined, untrained, and ill-equipped soldiers seemed like an impossible feat. Washington's steady hand and motivational skills allowed the victory to become a reality. Washington was known as a great motivator and allowed the colonial military to achieve a sense of unity and purpose. After the British left the American colonies, Washington would become instrumental in the development of the republic in the United States.

The United States faced a crisis in its infancy. The Articles of Confederation failed to adequately unify the new nation because it did not grant the federal government enough power. Washington was chosen to be the president of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington was elected as the first president. Washington knew the importance of his actions as the first chief executive. He would be the example for future presidents. He appointed the most capable men to work in his cabinet, even if they did not share his political views. Washington took great care to protect the power of the Congress and the courts. One of the great traditions that Washington established was the idea that a president should only serve two terms. While Washington's popularity could have ensured that he could remain president for life, he decided it was in the best interests of the nation to step aside after two terms.

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