>Today, I am going to start a series of posts that will chronicle the good, the bad, and the ugly of this nation’s presidents. I have heard many people say how bad this president was or how great that president was. Normally their ideas and critiques are based on their specific political slant. I intend to be as non-partisan as possible during these posts. I want to portray a true picture of how different presidents confronted problems and how they failed in office. Of course this is and will be hard to do, considering how revisionists change history to fit into the box they want to fill. I look forward to writing these articles and look forward to hearing your comments.
George Washington 1789-1797
George Washington is one of those presidents that is hard to find negative things about. He has been so idolized over the course of the past two-hundred years, that there is ne’r a bad word to be found.
- Was raised on his parents plantation in Colonial Beach Virginia.
- Had smallpox
- Initiated as a Freemason (on of the most influential aspects of his life. The Masons were a driving force in his life and influenced all major decisions in his life)
- He worked as a surveyor, and a planter
- Became a major in the Virginia Militia at the age of 20 with no prior experience
- Fought in the French and Indian War.
- Washington Married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow that increased Washington’s wealth by adding one third of 18,000 acres. Some historians have made the claim that Washington was actually in love with another woman by the name of Sally Fairfax. In any case George and Martha made a good marriage and were married for many years
- Washington lived an aristocratic lifestyle. He was very fond of fox hunting. He also (like many other plantation owners) imported very expensive British goods and luxuries.
- He grew mostly tobacco on his plantation which was exported to England, but realized that tobacco was a very volatile crop. He was smart enough to switch to wheat which was easily sold in the Colonies and avoided the sever economic swings that the tobacco crop caused.
- Washington stayed mostly out of politics or military concerns until 1774 when the passage of the “Intolerable Acts”. In August of 1774, Washington attended the First Virginia Convention and was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.
- On the Nomination of John Adams, Washington was appointed Major General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
- The Revolutionary war is perhaps the best known part of Washington’s life. It will not be covered in detail here. If you would like to learn more about the Revolutionary War and Washington’s role in it, click here.
- The only president ever voted unanimously to the office by the electoral college.
- Preferred the title “Mr. President” over more pompous names, like King.
- Initially declined a salary for his position as president but later accepted it so people would not perceive the presidency as an office that can only be held by the rich.
- Enacted the “Militia Act of 1792” which was the first time that the Federal Government used military force over the states.
- Reluctantly served a second term as president but refused to serve anymore. Washington did not want be thought of as someone unwilling to give up the power he yielded.
- At his Farewell Speech, Washington brought up many points including not making long term alliances, not getting involved with European affairs, and avoiding foreign influence in American affairs.
- Very happily retired from public office back to his plantation
- Created one of the biggest distilleries in the United States at the time creating whisky and other alcoholic drinks
- When it seemed possible that America might have to go to war against France, President John Adams named Washington Lieutenant General and Commander in Chief of the armies raised if war was needed. (1798)
- Washington died on December 14, 1799 after developing pneumonia.
- During Washington’s lifetime he had accumulated over 100 slaves to manage his plantation. In his will, he emancipated all of his slaves and gave them their freedom.
In future posts, I plan on making a biographical sketch such as this one. I hope to state the negative aspects of a president’s term as well as the positive. Unlike this post, I will most likely try to concentrate on what a president did during his term or terms in office. I felt it important to give so much time for Washington since he was the first.
I look forward to any opinions that you may have on this post or any future posts. If you feel I have omitted important details please let me know. Also, if you feel I have been biased in any way, please let me know as well.