George Washington was the U.S. president for two terms or a period of eight years of power. He had to cope with financial difficulties arising from the war of independence and had to assert the position of the new nation in international relations. During his first term (1789-1793), the President worked to make the executive and the federal government stronger. For that, he gathered around him a team of men who he had known during the revolution : Alexander Hamilton attended the Treasury Department, Thomas Jefferson was his secretary of State, Henry Knox Secretary of the War, Edmund Randolph as Justice, and John Adams as his vice president. James Madison was one of his senior advisers.
In the area of home affairs, the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton tried to resolve the budget crisis and reduce the country’s debt. On 25 February 1791, Washington signed the decree establishing a federal bank. It was during this period that he chooses to build the federal capital in the District of Columbia: the president chose a site on the Potomac and entrusted the task of drawing the maps to the French Pierre Charles L’Enfant. During the work, the government moved from New York to Philadelphia in 1790. Washington laid the cornerstone of the Capitol in 1793. But he died before the work began.
The Indian wars continued after independence: the U.S. military faced the Miamis in the early 1790s and the Indians of the Northwest Territories. The British and Spanish hampered American expansion to the West. Madison and Jefferson challenged the policy pursued by Hamilton. Given these difficulties, Washington first wanted to go out of business policies. However, under pressure from his Cabinet and Thomas Jefferson came to convince him to Mount Vernon, he eventually agreed to stand for a second term (1793-1797).
When war broke out between revolutionary France and Great Britain (1793), the president decided to remain neutral (neutrality proclamation, 22 April 1793) pending the strengthening of the country. According to him, the United States in the conflict would have been a disaster for trade and finance. The future of the country based on economic growth and westward expansion. The principle of neutrality would mark the U.S. foreign policy for many decades. George Washington will not see that Thomas Jefferson was a Francophile or Alexander Hamilton was pro-British.
In 1794, the president was faced with the Whiskey Rebellion of among whiskey producers in the west, disgruntled over taxes on spirits the tax was lifted. Washington himself led the militia army that stopped the rebellion. There were no violent clashes and the executive emerged stronger from this crisis.
With the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, eleven nations abandoned their rights in Ohio and Indiana. The same year, commercial navigation on the Mississippi was finally opened to the Americans.
In 1794, George Washington sent John Jay, president of the Supreme Court to Britain to resolve the remaining disputes arising from the war of independence. The Treaty of London ratified in 1795, to ease tensions with the old city and to lay the foundations for new relations between both countries. The treaty, however, Republicans like Jefferson and parts of the U.S. population were unhappy with the treaty. The press criticized John Jay and the president after the signing of the Agreement. This prompting from critics led him not to seek a third term.
In September 1796, with the help of Alexander Hamilton, Washington wrote his end of mandate addressed to the American nation in which he warned of the dangers of partisan divisions. Published in a newspaper in Philadelphia, the document called for the neutrality and unity of the country and announced the Monroe Doctrine. At the institutional level, it called for strict respect for the Constitution. Washington left the presidency in March 1797 and was replaced by John Adams. He established the custom of a maximum of two terms that became a constitutional rule by the 22nd amendment passed in 1947.
Buchanan, John. The Road to Valley Forge: How Washington Built the Army That Won the Revolution (2004).
Cunliffe, Marcus. George Washington: Man and Monument (1958)
Grizzard, Frank E., Jr. George! A Guide to All Things Washington. Buena Vista and Charlottesville, VA: Mariner Publishing. 2005
Hirschfeld, Fritz. George Washington and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal. University of Missouri Press, 1997.
Higginbotham, Don. George Washington: Uniting a Nation. Rowman & Littlefield, (2002)
McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of George Washington. 1988.