George Washington is best known as the “Father of our Country.” He cared for this country much like a parent would care for a child. During his presidency, he solved many noteworthy problems. His achievements led to a democratic, wonderful country we like to call The United States of America. Although he’s not thought of as glamorous, George Washington is looked upon with the utmost respect and awe by all countries of the world.
George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia on February 22, 1732.
He was the oldest son of a Virginia farmer. Washington received most of his education at home. When he was 17 he was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia. In 1752 Washington inherited Mount Vernon, in Fairfax County. The same year he was appointed adjutant of the southern district of Virginia, a full-time salaried appointment, carrying the rank of major. He wanted to eventually secure a commission in the regular British army. In 1753, Virginia was alarmed when a French expedition from Canada established posts on the headwaters of the Ohio River.
Conflict over this area eventually erupted into the French and Indian War, in which Washington played a major military role that established his reputation as a commander. In the fall of 1758 the French were defeated. In 1759 he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy young widow. Washington matured into a solid member of Virginia society. From 1759 to 1774 he served in the House of Burgesses.
By 1774 Washington had become a key supporter of the colonial cause. That same year he was elected to the First Continental Congress. In 1775 the Second Continental Congress elected Washington commander in chief of its army. In July Washington arrived in Massachusetts, where the battles at Lexington and Concord had been fought. The British pulled back most of their troops to winter in New York City, leaving scattered garrisons of German mercenaries in New Jersey. On December 25 Washington led his small army across the ice-clogged Delaware, successfully attacked a garrison at Trenton, and re-crossed the Delaware without interference. In January 1777 near Princeton, he defeated three British regiments marching to reinforce General Charles Cornwallis. The British eventually surrendered. After the victory, Washington rejected a plan, which had support in the army, of establishing a monarchy with himself as king.
In 1789, members of the first Electoral College unanimously voted George Washington as President of the United States. Washington walked unsteadily on the uncharted ground of the presidency and was unsure of himself as he began the new responsibilities of his office. He had the help of only a few officials. Also, he and the Vice-President were the only heads of the executive branch. Washington believed that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches should have a large gap between them. He also believed that the president should not influence Congress in the passing of laws. However, if he does not agree with a certain bill, he has the power of vetoing it. He viewed the responsibilities of the president largely as administering the laws of Congress and supervising relations with other countries.
Washington had set an important precedent when he attained the power to appoint and dismiss his own department heads. Without this example, Congress could sneak behind the President’s authority and allow unwanted department heads to stay in office against the President’s wishes. Washington was ecstatic about forming his cabinet, and he and his advisers acted with exceptional energy. Washington was well equipped for the work of building a structure of administration. He had a talent for fusing together his plans and actions to get adequate results. First, he acquired the necessary facts, which he weighed carefully. Once he had reached a decision, he carried it out with vitality and tenacity. He was never lazy in making decisions for his country. He always acted promptly and decisively. Thorough, systematic, accurate, and, being attentive to detail also described his personality. He expected the same enthusiasm from every one in his administration.
On September 24, 1789, Washington passed The Judiciary Act, which set up a federal court system. Its basic features were provided for by the Constitution. Since the president is considered the chief enforcer of federal laws, it is his duty to prosecute cases before the federal courts. In this work his agent is the attorney general. The Judiciary Act of 1789 planned so well, that most of its essential features have survived until today.
Washington believed strongly in the constitutional demand that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government should be kept as separate as possible. Washington did not use his charisma or office to influence legislative debates. He thought that the President should not try to control the kinds of laws that Congress passed. However, he believed that if he disapproved of a bill, he had the right to veto it. Washington believed that the president’s duties were to administer the laws of Congress and supervise relations with other countries.
George Washington was the first true pioneer of the newly born United States of America. He helped shape this country to its Democratic perfection today. During his double termed presidency, he ran the country with poise and dignity. It is no wonder that Henry Lee uttered that famous epitaph: “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
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