French and Indian War
Life at Mount Vernon
Early Political Activity
The American Revolution
Washington Takes Command
Washington Takes Command
The Military Campaigns
Political Leadership During the War
The Confederation Years
The Executive Departments
The Federalist Program
The Judiciary System
The Western Frontier
The British and French
Washington Steps Down
George Washington (1732-1799), first PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. When Washington retired from public life in 1797, his homeland was vastly different from what it had been when he entered public service in 1749. To each of the principal changes he had made an outstanding contribution. Largely because of his leadership the Thirteen Colonies had become the United States, a sovereign, independent nation.
As commander in chief during the American Revolution, he built a large army, held it together, kept it in a maneuverable condition, and prevented it from being destroyed by a crushing defeat. By keeping the army close to the main force of the British, he prevented them from sending raiding parties into the interior. The British did not risk such forays because of their belief that their remaining forces might be overwhelmed. The British evacuation of Boston in 1776, under Washington's siege, gave security to nearly all New England.
Drawing from his knowledge of the American people and of the way they lived and fought, Washington took advantage of British methods of fighting that were not suited to a semiprimitive environment. He alternated between daring surprise attacks and the patient performance of routine duties. Washington's operations on land alone could not have overcome the British, for their superior navy enabled them to move troops almost at will. A timely use of the French fleet contributed to his crowning victory at Yorktown in 1781.
After the war Washington took a leading part in the making of the CONSTITUTION and the campaign for its ratification. Its success was assured by 1797, at the end of the second term of his presidency. In 1799 the country included nearly all its present-day territory between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River.
President Washington acted with CONGRESS to establish the first great executive departments and to lay the foundations of the modern federal judiciary. He directed the creation of a diplomatic service. Three presidential and five congressional elections carried the new government, under the Constitution, through its initial trials.
A national army and navy came into being, and Washington acted with vigor to provide land titles, security, and trade outlets for pioneers of the trans-Allegheny West. His policy procured adequate revenue for the national government and supplied the country with a sound currency, a well-supported public credit, and an efficient network of national banks. Manufacturing and shipping received aid for continuing growth.
In the conduct of public affairs, Washington originated many practices that have survived. He withheld confidential diplomatic documents from the House of Representatives, and made treaties without discussing them in the Senate chamber. Above all, he conferred on the presidency a prestige so great that political leaders afterward esteemed it the highest distinction to occupy the chair he had honored.
Most of the work that engaged Washington had to be achieved through people. He found that success depended on their cooperation and that they would do best if they had faith in causes and leaders. To gain and hold their approval were among his foremost objectives. He thought of people, in the main, as right-minded and dependable, and he believed that a leader should make the best of their good qualities.
As a Virginian, Washington belonged to, attended, and served as warden of the established (Anglican) church. But he did not participate in communion, nor did he adhere to a sectarian creed. He frequently expressed a faith in Divine Providence and a belief that religion is needed to sustain morality in society. As a national leader he upheld the right of every sect to freedom of worship and equality before the law, condemning all forms of bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, and persecution.
Throughout his public life, Washington contended with obstacles and difficulties. His courage and resolution steadied him in danger, and defeat steeled his will. His devotion to his country and his faith in its cause sustained him. Averse to harsh measures, he was generous in victory. "His integrity," wrote Thomas JEFFERSON, "was the most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man."
Реферат опубликован: 15/08/2008