NewsUSAWho was and what did George Washington do as US President?

Who was and what did George Washington do as US President?

(CNN Spanish) — To this day, George Washington boasts a singular achievement in American politics: he was not only the first president, but also the only one voted unanimously by the electoral college.

Washington was born on February 22, 1732 into a well-to-do planter family in Virginia.

He took up arms early, in the Franco-Indigenous War or Seven Years’ War that began in 1754, in which he was named colonel, as explained by the White House in his biography. He eventually became commander of all the forces in Virginia, charged with defending the western frontier, until he resigned to take charge of his land. In the year 1759 he married Martha Dandridge Custis.

George Washington’s leadership in the American Revolution

“Until the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses (…). He led a busy and happy life. But, like his peers planters, Washington felt exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. As the dispute with the mother country became more acute, it expressed moderately but firmly its resistance to the restrictions, “reports the White House. And so he became actively involved in the independence movement.

In this 1789 artist’s rendering, George Washington, right, refuses to agree to terms after the siege of Yorktown by British General Charles Cornwallis. The British Army had been so affected by malaria that at one point in the summer, half its forces had been immobilized.

In the year 1775 they chose him as commander of the Continental Army. He was a key leader in the colonies’ war for independence, in which he argued that the best strategy was to harass the British, without taking unnecessary risks. With the help of French allies, he achieved the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781.

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He then returned to Mount Vernon, but years later he would once again occupy a key position for the destiny of the country: he was president of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787. ratified, the voters appointed him first president.

Representation of the inauguration of George Washington as the first president. Present at the scene are (from left to right) Alexander Hamilton, Robert R. Livingston, Roger Sherman, Mr. Otis, Vice President John Adams, Baron Von Steuben, and General Henry Knox. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

The political balance of the first government

The electors voted unanimously for Washington, and on April 30, 1789, he was sworn in as the first president of the United States in New York, then the nation’s capital. He would later be elected to a second term that ended in 1797.

Washington formed a cabinet that sought to balance the different positions, always starting from the need for a strong central government. In his second term, says the Encyclopedia Britannica, he followed a “middle line” between the political positions that would eventually become the Federalist Party and the Democratic Party.

His cabinet originally had four members: Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State; Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury; Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and Edmund Randolph, Secretary of Justice.

Illustration of George Washington receiving the news of his election as the first American president. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

The decisions that shaped the US

The Washington-led administration was replete with key laws that shaped early America. Among them, for example, the Judiciary Law that established the creation of a six-member Supreme Court, as well as the Naturalization Law that established the rules for the granting of citizenship, as recalled by the non-profit organization Mount Vernon.

Also during his tenure, it was defined that the federal capital would be established along the Potomac River near Georgetown, which would become the city of Washington in the future.

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In the economic field, he defined the creation of the first bank in the United States with a law of 1791 and a year later he created the mint and the dollar was defined as the official currency.

Another notable law from his presidency was copyright law, from as early as 1790.

He also took important definitions about military resources, such as the creation of the Navy and the creation of a more regulated militia than what existed up to now.

the whiskey rebellion

The Government proposed in 1791 a tax on “distilled spirits” which became law. Many citizens who relied on these spirits for income violently objected, and three years later the so-called “whiskey riot” broke out, challenging federal authority.

So George Washington organized a militia of almost 13,000 people that he himself led and led it to western Pennsylvania. “When the militia arrived in Pittsburgh, the rebels had dispersed and could not be found. The militia arrested about 150 men and tried them for treason,” recalls the Mount Vernon organization.

George Washington’s foreign policy

Foreign policy was of particular importance to Washington. When the French Revolution led to war between France and England, the then president “insisted on maintaining a neutral position until the United States could strengthen itself,” the White House explains. In this way, he opposed the advice of Jefferson, then Secretary of State in favor of France, and Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury and with a favorable vision towards England.

In 1797, despite calls for him to run for a third term, Washington decided to retire to Mount Vernon, where he died less than two years later from a throat infection.

In his farewell address, Washington called against excessive party spirit and geographically based distinctions. He also returned to foreign policy, warning against long-term alliances.

position on slaves

One of the issues that constantly arises when addressing the figure of Washington is his position regarding slavery: the former president inherited the property of 10 slaves when his father died in 1743 and nearly 20 years later there were 49 slaves on his property. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that, by the year of his death in 1799, his number had grown to over 300, which included 123 of his own and his wife’s.

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In his will, Washington ordered his slaves to be freed upon the death of his wife.

There is a myth surrounding his attitude towards slaves that is still valid today, historian Alexis Coe, author of the book “You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington,” explained to CNN. “Washington has always been portrayed to me as some kind of reluctant slaveholder who changed his mind during the Revolution and, when he died, did an incredible thing: emancipate all his slaves. That’s the most charitable interpretation of the situation.” said.

However, “Washington did not view slaves as equal to whites. He did not change his mind during the Revolution. He was exposed to people who thought very differently about slavery than those he respected and loved, such as the Marquis de Lafayette, who then spent decades imploring Washington to emancipate his slaves and sent him various proposals on how to do it,” he explained. You can read his full statement here.

During his government, at least two laws related to slaves were approved: one, from 1793, made it a federal crime to help an escaping slave and established a system to return those who escaped to their owners. Another, the following year, restricted the participation of United States ships in the slave trade in the Atlantic Ocean.

Neither wooden teeth nor cherry tree: the myths about the hero of independence

This illustration depicts the story of young George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, a popular tale that stresses the importance of honesty.

The most famous story that circulates about George Washington, as proof of his moral rectitude, tells that as a child he was given an ax and he damaged a cherry tree belonging to his father. When the parent found out and questioned him, he admitted his fault and said “I can’t lie.”

Ironically, that story is a lie invented by a bookseller named Mason Locke Weems to extol the personality of the first president.

Another of the widely circulated stories is that he used wooden false teeth. However, the reality is much harsher. Washington wore false teeth taken from slaves or forged from carved pieces of ivory from elephants, hippos, and walruses, according to Coe’s account.


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