Friday, September 21, 2012

Commander-in-Chief Washington

George Washington

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First Commander-in-Chief
United Colonies of North America
under the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms
June 15, 1775 – July 1, 1776

First Commander-in-Chief
United States of America
under US Continental Congress Resolutions
July 2, 1776 – February 28, 1781

First Commander-in-Chief
United States of America
under the Articles of Confederation
March 1, 1781 – December 23, 1783

First President of the United States
and Commander-in-Chief
under the US Constitution of 1787
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797

Presidential Alert: After 102 years, the Federal Government finally agrees that Samuel Huntington and not John Hanson was the first USCA President to serve under the Articles of Confederation.  -- Click Here
George Washington was the first Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America during the American Revolution and later became the first president of the United States serving from 1789 until 1797. He symbolized qualities of discipline, aristocratic duty, military orthodoxy and persistence in adversity that his contemporaries valued as marked of mature political leadership.

Copyright © Stan Klos,
Photos of the George Washington's Teeth from "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - photo1photo2, and photo3 by: KD Klos, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Born the eldest son of Augustine Washington and his second wife Mary Ball Washington, in Westmoreland County, Va., on Feb. 22, 1732, George spent his early years on the family estate on Pope's Creek along the Potomac River. Although Washington had little or no formal schooling, his early notebooks indicate that he read in geography, military history, agriculture, deportment and composition. He showed an aptitude for surveying and simple mathematics. An early ambition to go to sea had been discouraged by George's mother. 

Arguably the most famous (or infamous) of the exaggerated or invented anecdotes about George Washington's youth can be found in Mason's Weems' Life of Washington: With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honourable to Himself, and Exemplary to His Young Countrymen.  Weems' attributes his Cherry Tree Story to " aged lady, who was a distant relative, and, when a girl, spent much of her time in the family...," who referred to young George as "cousin."  The lady, according to Weems notes, "The following anecdote is a case in point. It is too valuable to be lost, and too true to be doubted: for it was communicated to me be the same excellent lady to whom I am indebted for the last." 

When George, said she, was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet! Of which, like most little boys, he was immoderately fond, and was constantly going about chopping everything that came in his way. One day, in the garden, where he often amused himself hacking his mother's pea-sticks, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it. The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house; and with much warmth asked for the mischievous author, declaring at the same time, that he would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. "George," said his father, "do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? " This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." "Run to my arms, you dearest boy," cried his father in transports, "run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."
Interestingly, the Life of Washington's Cherry Tree Myth does not appear  until the 5th edition of Weems' work.

Washington spent much of his boyhood at Ferry Farm in Stafford County near Fredericksburg. Six of George's siblings reached adulthood, including two older half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, from his father's first marriage to Jane Butler Washington, along with his four full siblings, Samuel, Elizabeth (Betty), John Augustine and Charles. His full sister Mildred died when she was about one, his half-brother Butler died while an infant,  and his half-sister Jane died at the age of 12, when George was about two. 

In 1743, George's father died when he was 11 years old, after which George's half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father's death. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the Potomac River which he named Mount Vernon, in honor of his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon.   William Fairfax, Lawrence's father-in-law and cousin of Virginia's largest landowner, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, was also a formative influence.  

Talk of securing an appointment in the Royal Navy for George at 15 was dropped when his widowed mother objected. Thanks to Lawrence's Fairfax wife, at the age of 17, Washington was appointed official surveyor for Culpeper County in 1749. This was a well-paid profession that enabled him to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley, the first of his  western Virginia land acquisitions. Thanks also to Lawrence's involvement in the Ohio Company, a land investment company funded by Virginia investors, and Lawrence's position as commander of the Virginia militia, Washington, at 6' 3" was noticed by the new lieutenant governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie.  This association would eventually lead to Washington sparking the outbreak of the French and Indian War. 

Photo of the George Washington's Survey from "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Zachary, Baker Elementary School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

He was chosen by Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to deliver an ultimatum calling on French forces to cease their encroachment in the Ohio River valley. Washington's diary account of the dangers and difficulties of his journey published on his return helped win him his ensuing promotion to lieutenant colonel. Although only 22 years of age and lacking experience, he was ordered to lead a militia force for the protection of workers who were building a fort at the Forks of the Ohio River.

Photos of Fort Necessity outside plaques and the re-constructed Fort by: Christopher Klos, Fort Couch Middle School, Upper St. Clair,  Pennsylvania.

Picture  of the Battle of Fort Necessity.
Picture of uncovered Fort Necessity's log foundation.
Picture of re-constructed Fort Necessity on original foundation Circa 1954
Picture of George Washington surrendering Fort Necessity to the French.
Picture of George Washington's signature on surrender document.

"On the stormy night of May 27th, 1754, Washington and about 40 men began an all night march to confront the French and learn their intentions. They traveled through woods so dark the men sometimes spent nearly half and hour just trying to find the trail.About dawn, Washington met with a friendly Seneca chief, Half King, and made plans to contact the French Camp. As the French commander had not posted sentries, Washington and his men easily surrounded the unsuspecting French.

Copyright © Stan Klos,

A shot was fired, no one really knows by whom, and soon the peaceful glen was filled with the crash of musketry and the sulphurous smell of powder. The skirmish lasted about 15 minutes. When it was over, 10 Frenchmen were dead and 21 captured. One escaped and made his way back to Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio. Washington's casualties were one man killed and two or three wounded.
Washington now knew he was discovered. He sent his prisoners to Williamsburg while he returned to the Great Meadows. There he started construction of a small fortification to protect from probable attack. About five weeks later the attack came. A larger force of French and Indians attacked Washington's force of 400 at his 'Fort of Necessity.' " - - National Park Service.
A successful French assault obliged him to accept articles of surrender and he departed with the remnants of his company.

Discouraged by defeat, Washington resigned his commission in 1754. In May, 1755, he began service as a volunteer and aide-de-camp to British General Edward Braddock. Braddock was mortally wounded and Washington narrowly escaped death. He escaped injury although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him Braddock's troops were ambushed by a band of French soldiers and their Indian allies on the Monongahela River. At age of 23, he was promoted to colonel and appointed commander in chief of the Virginia militia. His responsibility was to defend the frontier.

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America's Four United Republics

Washington left the army in 1758, assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack. He returned to Mount Vernon, to restore his neglected estate. With the support of an ever-growing circle of influential friends, he entered politics, serving (1759-74) in Virginia's House of Burgesses. In January 1759 he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy and attractive young widow with two small children.

Alarmed by the repressive measures of the British crown and Parliament, Washington became a leader in Virginia's opposition to Great Britain's colonial policies. At first he hoped for reconciliation with Britain. In July, 1774 he presided over a meeting in Alexandria that adopted the Fairfax Resolves, calling for the establishment and enforcement of a stringent boycott on British imports prior to similar action by the First Continental Congress. As a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress 1774 and 1775 Washington did not participate actively in the deliberations, however, his presence was undoubtedly a stabilizing influence. 

On June 14, debate opened in Congress on the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of Continental forces. John Hancock made it known to all the delegates that he wanted the high office and as President he expected to be nominated. He was astounded when his fellow Massachusetts delegate, John Adams, moved to appoint George Washington:

“Accordingly When congress had assembled I rose in my place and in as short a Speech as the Subject would admit, represented the State of the Colonies, the Uncertainty in the Minds of the People, their great Expectations and Anxiety, the distresses of the Army, the danger of its dissolution, the difficulty of collecting another, and the probability that the British Army would take Advantage of our delays, march out of Boston and spread desolation as far as they could go. I concluded with a Motion in form that Congress would Adopt the Army at Cambridge and appoint a General, that though this was not the proper time to nominate a General, yet as I had reason to believe this was a point of the greatest difficulty, I had no hesitation to declare that I had but one Gentleman in my Mind for that important command, and that was a Gentleman from Virginia who was among Us and very well known to all of Us, a Gentleman whose Skill and Experience as an Officer, whose independent fortune, great Talents and excellent universal Character, would command the Approbation of all America, and unite the cordial Exertions of all the Colonies better than any other Person in the Union. Mr. Washington, who happened to sit near the Door, as soon as he heard me allude to him, from his Usual Modesty darted into the Library Room. Mr. Hancock, who was our President, which gave me an Opportunity to observe his Countenance, while I was speaking.”
On June 17th, 1775 the Continental Congress passed the following resolution appointing George Washington as Commander-In-Chief:
Resolved unanimously upon the question, Whereas, the delegates of all the colonies, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, in Congress assembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington, Esq. to be General and commander in chief, of such forces as are, or shall be, raised for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty; this Congress doth now declare, that they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him, the said George Washington, Esqr., with their lives and fortunes in the same cause. 
John Adams wrote his wife this concerning the appointment:
I can now inform you that the Congress have made Choice of the modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington Esqr., to be the General of the American Army, and that he is to repair as soon as possible to the Camp before Boston.
Colonel George Washington was chosen because he was, a delegate of the wealthiest and most populous colony had extensive combat experience during the French and Indian War. His health and age, 43, were ideal to conduct long campaigns, which Congress knew would be part of the protracted conflict. Washington's fellow Virginians, especially former Continental Congress President Peyton Randolph, lobbied numerous delegates maintaining that his military professionalism and dedication to the patriot cause qualified him, above all others, for the appointment. Washington, who attended Congress in impeccable military dress, was determined to defend colonial rights and had a burning desire to obtain the Commander-in-Chief commission.


The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina; To George Washington, Esq.

We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be General and Commander in chief, of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said Army for the Defense of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof: And you are hereby vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service.

And we do hereby strictly charge and require all Officers and Soldiers, under your command, to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the exercise of their several duties.

And we do also enjoin and require you, to be careful in executing the great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised, and provided with all convenient necessaries.

And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and discipline of war, (as herewith given you,) and punctually to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shall receive from this, or a future Congress of these United Colonies, or committee of Congress.

This commission to continue in force, until revoked by this, or a future Congress.

By order of the Congres
s John Hancock, President

Washington took command of the troops surrounding British-occupied Boston on July 3, devoting the next few months to training the undisciplined 14,000 man army and trying to secure urgently needed powder and other supplies. Early in March 1776, he took command of the makeshift force and moved his army to New York. Defeated there by the combined land and sea forces of General William Howe, he withdrew from Manhattan to establish a new defensive line north of New York City. 

GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON Medal, Boston retaken, -GEORGIO WASHINGTON SVPREMO DVCI EXERCITVVM ADSERTORI LIBERTATIS COMITIA AMERICANA. (The American Congress to George Washington, commander-in-chief of the armies, the assertor of liberty.) Undraped bust of General Washington, facing the right, Duvivier, Paris. Fecit. HOSTIBUS PRIMO FUGATIS. (The enemy put to flight for the first time.) To the left, General Washington on horseback, surrounded by his staff, points toward the British fleet, which is leaving Boston. The American army, in battle array in front of its intrenchments, makes ready to occupy the city. Exergue: BOSTONIUM RECUPERATUM XVII MARTII MDCCLXXVI. (Boston retaken, March 17, 1776.) On a cannon, Duvivier.

This medal was the first one voted by the Continental Congress but it was not struck until after that of the Chevalier de Fleury, which was voted three years later. Its designs, and those of the medals awarded to General Horatio Gates for Saratoga, General Nathaniel Greene for Eutaw Springs, General Daniel Morgan, Lieutenant-Colonels William Augustine Washington and John Eager Howard for the Cowpens, General Anthony Wayne and Major John Stewart for Stony Point, and Captain John Paul Jones for the capture of the Serapis, were composed by commissioners appointed by the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, at the request of Colonel David Humphreys and of Mr. Jefferson. The legend of the reverse of the General Washington medal, as originally proposed, was hostibus or anglis primum fugatis. Several of the medals are treated of at length in the Introduction, to which, to avoid repetition, the reader is referred. Pierre Simon Duvivier was born in Paris, November 5, 1731. He was the son of Jean Duvivier, a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and the grandson of Jean Duvivier, known as Duvivier "le père," the first of this distinguished family of medal engravers, who lived in Liège at the beginning of the 17th century. Pierre Simon Duvivier was engraver-general of the Paris Mint prior to 1793, and executed medals of many eminent persons. America is indebted to him for those of General Washington, Lieutenant-Colonel de Fleury, Lieutenant-Colonel William Augustine Washington, and Lieutenant-Colonel John Eager Howard. He was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, and died June 10, 1819. George Washington was born near Pope's Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia, February 22, 1732. He lost his father when but ten years of age, and in 1752, in consequence of the death of his elder brother, came into possession of the estate of Mount Vernon, on the Potomac River, and other property. The same year he received a commission as major of militia, and in 1755 became colonel and aid-de-camp to General Braddock. On the death of that officer in the disastrous march against Fort Duquesne, Washington conducted the retreat, and was shortly afterward appointed commander of the Virginia troops. In 1774 he was elected member of the first Continental Congress, held in Philadelphia, and in the following year was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, taking command of the forces at Cambridge, July 3, 1775. On March 17, 1776, he compelled the British forces to evacuate Boston, for which Congress gave him a vote of thanks and a gold medal. He was commander-in-chief throughout the War of Independence, and resigned his commission as such, December 23, 1783, when he retired to Mount Vernon. He was delegate from Virginia to the National Convention which met in Philadelphia in May, 1787, to frame the Constitution of the United States, and was chosen its president. He was afterward unanimously elected first President of the United States, and was inaugurated in New York city, April 30, 1789. He was re-elected, and inaugurated a second time, March 4, 1793; refused a third term of office, and issued a farewell address, September 17, 1796. When a war with France was expected, in 1797, he was re-appointed commander-in-chief. General Washington died at Mount Vernon, December 14, 1799.
Resolved, That the thanks of this Congress, in their own name, and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, whom they represent, be presented to His Excellency General Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal of gold be struck in commemoration of this great event, and presented to His Excellency; and that a committee of there be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks and a proper device for the medal.    - Monday, March 25, 1776.

General Washington to John Hancock, President of Congress. 
To: John Hancock, Esq.
President of Congress.
Headquarters, Cambridge,
March 19, 1776.
Sir: It is with the greatest pleasure I inform you that, on Sunday last, the seventeenth instant, about nine o'clock in the forenoon, the ministerial army evacuated the town of Boston, and that the forces of the United Colonies are now in actual possession thereof. I beg leave to congratulate you, Sir, and the honourable Congress, on this happy event, and particularly as it was effected without endangering the lives and property of the remaining unhappy inhabitants. 
I have great reason to imagine their flight was precipitated by the appearance of a work which I had ordered to be thrown up last Saturday night on an eminence at Dorchester, which lay nearest to Boston Neck, called Nook's Hill. 
The town, although it has suffered greatly, is not in so bad a state as I expected to find it; and I have a particular pleasure in being able to inform you, Sir, that your house has received no damage worth mentioning. Your furniture is in tolerable order, and the family pictures are all left entire and untouched. Captain Cazeneau takes charge of the whole until he shall receive further orders from you. 
As soon as the ministerial troops had quitted the town, I ordered a thousand men (who had had the small-pox), under command of General Putnam, to take possession of the heights, which I shall endeavour to fortify in such a manner as to prevent their return, should they attempt it. But as they are still in the harbour, I thought it not prudent to march off with the main body of the army until I should be fully satisfied they had quitted the coast. I have, therefore, only detached five regiments, besides the rifle battalion, to New York, and shall keep the remainder here till all suspicion of their return ceases. 
The situation in which I found their works evidently discovered that their retreat was made with the greatest precipitation. They have left their barracks, and other works of wood at Bunker Hill, &c., all standing, and have destroyed but a small part of their lines. They have also left a number of fine pieces of cannon which they first spiked up, also a very large iron mortar, and, as I am informed, they have thrown another over the end of your wharf. I have employed proper persons to drill the cannon, and doubt not I shall save the most of them. I am not yet able to procure an exact list of all the stores they have left. As soon as it can be done, I shall take care to transmit it to you. From an estimate of what the quartermaster-general has already discovered, the amount will be twenty-five or thirty thousand pounds. 
Part of the powder mentioned in yours of the sixth instant has already arrived. The remainder I have ordered to be stopped on the road, as we shall have no occasion for it here. The letter to General Thomas I immediately sent to him. He desired leave for three or four days to settle some of his private affairs, after which he will set out for his command in Canada. I am happy that my conduct in intercepting Lord Drummond's letter is approved of by Congress. 
I have the honour to be, &c., 
Geo. Washington.

The President of Congress to General Washington. 
To: General Washington.
Philadelphia, April 2, 1776.
Sir: It gives me the most sensible pleasure to convey to you, by order of Congress, the only tribute which a free people will ever consent to pay—the tribute of thanks and gratitude to their friends and benefactors. The disinterested and patriotic principles which led you to the field have also led you to glory; and it affords no little consolation to your countrymen to reflect that, as a peculiar greatness of mind induced you to decline any compensation for serving them, except the pleasure of promoting their happiness, they may, without your permission, bestow upon you the largest share of their affections and esteem. 
Those pages in the annals of America will record your title to a conspicuous place in the temple of fame which shall inform posterity that, under your direction, an undisciplined band of husbandmen, in the course of a few months, became soldiers; and that the desolation meditated against the country by a brave army of veterans, commanded by the most experienced generals, but employed by bad men in the worst of causes, was, by the fortitude of your troops, and the address of their officers, next to the kind interposition of Providence, confined for near a year within such narrow limits as scarcely to admit more room than was necessary for the encampments and fortifications they lately abandoned. Accept, therefore, Sir, the thanks of the United Colonies, unanimously declared by their delegates to be due to you and the brave officers and troops under your command; and be pleased to communicate to them this distinguished mark of the approbation of their country. The Congress have ordered a golden medal, adapted to the occasion, to be struck, and, when finished, to be presented to you. 
I have the honour to be, with every sentiment of esteem, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant, 
John Hancock, President.

John Adams to General Washington. 
To: General Washington. 
Philadelphia, April 2, 1776. 
Sir: I congratulate you, as well as all the friends of mankind, in the reduction of Boston, an event which appeared to me of so great and decisive importance, that, the next morning after the arrival of the news, I did myself the honour to move for the thanks of Congress to Your Excellency, and that a medal of gold should be struck in commemoration of it. Congress have been pleased to appoint me, with two other gentlemen, to prepare a device. I should be very happy to have Your Excellency's sentiments concerning a proper one. 
I have the honour to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient and affectionate servant, 
John Adams

General George Washington from the An Impartial History Of The War In America, Between Great Britain And Her Colonies, From Its Commencement To The End Of The Year 1779, by Edmund Burke
General Washington to John Adams. 
New York, April 15, 1776.
To: John Adams, Esq.,
In Congress. 
Sir: I am impressed with the deepest gratitude for the high honour intended me by Congress. Whatever devices may be determined upon by the respectable committee they have chosen for that purpose will be highly agreeable to me. 
I have the honour to be, most respectfully, Sir, your most obedient and affectionate humble servant, 
Geo. Washington.

Colonel Humphreys to General Washington.
Paris, May, 1785.
To: General Washington. 
My dear General: Upon leaving America Mr. Morris invested me with the power of procuring the several honourary presents which have been voted by Congress to different officers in their service during the late war. The Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, to whom I addressed a letter on the subject, have furnished me with the following device and inscriptions for the gold medal which is to be executed for Your Excellency: 
"On one side, the head of the general. Legend: 'georgio washington supremo duci exercituum adsertori libertatis comitia americana.' On the reverse: Taking possession of Boston. The American army advances in good order toward the town, which is seen at a distance, while the British army flies with precipitation toward the shore, to embark on board the vessels, with which the harbour is covered. In the front of the American army appears the general on horseback, in a group of officers, whom he seems to make observe the flight of the enemy. Legend: 'hostibus primo fugatis.' Exergue: 'bostonium recuperatum die xvii martii, mdcclxxvi.'" 
I think it has the character of simplicity and dignity which is to be aimed at in a memorial of this kind, which is designed to transmit the remembrance of a great event to posterity. You really do not know how much your name is venerated on this side of the Atlantic. 
I have the honour to be, my dear General, your sincere friend and humble servant,
D. Humphreys.

Colonel Humphreys to Thomas Jefferson.
London, January 30, 1786. 
To: Thomas Jefferson, Esq.,
Dear Sir: Gatteaux, the engraver, lives in the street St. Thomas du Louvre, opposite the Treasury of the Duke de Chartres. 
Now that there is no obstacle to commencing the medal for General Washington, since Houdon's return, I could wish, should it not be giving you too much trouble, that you would send for Duvivier, who lives in the old Louvre, and propose to him undertaking it upon exactly the terms he had offered, which, I think, were 2,400 livres, besides the gold and expense of coinage. If he should not choose it, we must let it rest until Dupré shall have finished General Greene's. Gatteaux has a paper on which is the description of General Washington's medal. 
I am, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 
D. Humphreys.

Thomas Jefferson to Colonel Humphreys.
Paris, May 7, 1786. 
To: Colonel Humphreys,
Dear Sir: I have received the books and papers you mention, and will undertake to have finished what you left undone of the medals, or, at least, will proceed in it till the matter shall be put into better hands. 
I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant,
Th: Jefferson.
Oil portrait of George Washington and William "Billy" Lee, by John Trumbull, circa 1780, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.  William Lee, was an enslaved personal servant and the only slave  freed outright by Washington in his will.

In November George Washington and his army  retreated across the Hudson River into New Jersey. In the last months of 1776, desperately short of men and supplies, Washington almost despaired. He had lost New York City to the British; enlistment was almost up for a number of the troops, and others were deserting in droves; civilian morale was falling rapidly; and Congress, faced with the possibility of a British attack on Philadelphia, had withdrawn from the city.

Mary Washington

Colonial morale was briefly revived by the capture of Trenton, New Jersey, a brilliantly conceived attack in which Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and surprised the predominantly Hessian garrison. Advancing to Princeton, New Jersey, he routed the British thereon January 3, 1777. These two engagements restored patriot morale and by spring Washington had 8,000 new recruits. In September and October 1777 he suffered serious reverses in Pennsylvania at Brandywineand Germantown. The major success of that year, the defeat of the British at Saratoga, New York in October, belonged not to Washington but to Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates. The contrast between Washington's record and Gates's brilliant victory was one factor that led to the some members of Congress and army officers to replace Washington with a more successful commander, probably Gates. Washington acted quickly, and the plan eventually collapsed due to lack of public support as well as to Washington's overall superiority to his rivals.

After holding his bedraggled and dispirited army together during the difficult winter at Valley Forge, Washington learned that France had recognized American independence. With the aid of the Prussian Baron von Steuben and the French Marquis de Lafayette, he concentrated on turning the army into a viable fighting force. By spring he was ready to take the field again.

Commander-in-Chief George Washington's portable writing case and field glass used in the war.

In 1780 the main theater of the war shifted to the south. Although other generals conducted the campaigns in Virginia and the Carolinas, Washington was still responsible for the overall direction of the war. After the arrival of the French army in 1780 he concentrated on coordinating allied efforts and in 1781 launched the brilliantly planned and executed Yorktown Campaign against Charles Cornwallis, securing the American victory.

Original handwritten Journal of the United States in Congress Assembled for Wednesday, October 24th, 1781, recording the resolutions enacted by Congress after being informed that Earl Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown.

After the war Washington returned to Mount Vernon, which had once again declined in his absence. Although he became president of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of former Revolutionary War officers, he avoided involvement in Virginia politics, preferring to concentrate on restoring Mount Vernon. His diary notes a steady stream of visitors, native and foreign; Mount Vernon, like its owner, had already become a national institution.

Shays' Rebellion, an armed revolt in Massachusetts, 1786 through 1787, convinced many Americans of the need for a stronger government. Washington and other Virginia nationalists were instrumental in bringing about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to promote that end. 

In May 1787, Washington headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was unanimously elected presiding officer. His presence lent prestige to the proceedings, and although he made few direct contributions, he generally supported the advocates of a strong central government. Washington's attendance at the Constitutional Convention and his support for ratification of the Constitution were critically important for its success in the state conventions. 

On the last day of the Philadelphia Convention, September 17, 1787, its President, George Washington, addressed the delegates, for the first and only time to provide his sentiments on the U.S. Constitution of 1787.    Delegate Nathaniel Gorham, according the notes of James Madison, “... rose and said  that if it was not too late he could wish, for the purpose of lessening objections to the Constitution, that the clause declaring ‘the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every forty thousand’ which had produced so much discussion, might be yet reconsidered, in order to strike out 40,000 and  insert ‘thirty thousand.’ This would not he remarked establish that as an absolute rule, but only give Congress a greater latitude which could not be thought unreasonable.”

Delegates Rufus King and John Carroll immediately seconded and supported the idea of Mr. Gorham. Madison writes:

When the PRESIDENT rose, for the purpose of putting the question, he said that although his situation had hitherto restrained him from offering his sentiments on questions depending in the House, and it might be thought, ought now to impose silence on him, yet he could not forbear expressing his wish that the alteration proposed might take place. It was much to be desired that the objections to the plan recommended might be made as few as possible. The smallness of the proportion of Representatives had been considered by many members of the Convention an insufficient security for the rights & interests of the people. He acknowledged that it had always appeared to himself among the exceptionable parts of the plan, and late as the present moment was for admitting amendments, he thought this of so much consequence that it would give much satisfaction to see it adopted.  No opposition was made to the proposition of Mr. Gorham and it was agreed to unanimously. 

The innovative Plan of the New Federal Government was passed on September 17, 1787  and rushed to New York by stagecoach.  The new constitution was presented to Congress along with a letter from the convention’s President, George Washington to President Arthur St. Clair:


WE have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union: but the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident—Hence results the necessity of a different organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all—Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.
In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interests been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.
With great respect, we have the honor to be, SIR, Your EXCELLENCY'S most obedient and humble Servants,
George Washington , President.
By unanimous Order of the CONVENTION.HIS EXCELLENCY The President of Congress

The Philadelphia Convention Constitution called for the Plan of The New Federal Government to be sent to the states for their consideration with only 2/3rds of their legislatures being required to discard the Articles of Confederation  for the new constitution.   The convention overstepped its authority granted by the seventh USCA  on February 21, 1787 by first discarding the Articles instead of revising the constitution and second, completely dismissing the modification requirements set forth in Article XIII of the federal constitution that stated:

Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. 

The proposed obliteration of the Articles of Confederation by convention was to be accomplished without the unanimous approval by the States. It was a constitutional crisis that, to this day, has not been equaled in the United States save the southern succession of the 1860s. 

 Throughout the month of September USCA failed to achieve a quorum until the 20th when the Constitution of 1787 arrived in New York from the Philadelphia Convention.  While the Constitution was being examined by the delegates, the USCA convened and reelected treasury commissioners Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood on the 21st while cutting civil employee jobs.  On September 24th Congress accepted John Adams' retirement request from Foreign Service and reviewed a report on the Netherlands.  Finally, on September 26th and 27th President Arthur St. Clair called for the debate to begin on the proposed Constitution of 1787 and the Philadelphia Convention’s recommendation to send it on to the thirteen States for ratification without any alterations.

     Only sketches of the great debate that ensued exist due to the veil of secrecy that surrounded Congress. We do know from the notes by New York delegate Melancton Smith, which became publicly available in 1959, that a majority of the delegates believed they had the right to alter the Constitution of 1787 before it was sent on to the States.  James Madison, Rufus King, and Nathaniel Gorham, all Philadelphia Conventioneers, argued to the contrary. Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the  unanimous 13 state ratification of the second constitution was not required. Richard Henry Lee who sought full 13 State ratification would lead the opposition to amend the Constitution of 1787 with this condition and a Bill of Rights.

At the end of the debate, President Arthur St. Clair’s Congress voted to submit the Constitution unaltered onto the States with the following resolution:
Congress having received the report of the Convention lately assembled in Philadelphia: Resolved Unanimously that the said Report with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same be transmitted to the several legislatures in Order to be submitted to a convention of Delegates chosen in each state by the people thereof in conformity to the resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case. 
On September 30, 1787 James Madison wrote George Washington, the President of the Philadelphia Convention, about the September debate on the Constitution of 1787 in the United States, in Congress Assembled:

It was first urged that as the new Constitution was more than an alteration of the Articles of Confederation under which Congress acted, and even subverted these articles altogether, there was a Constitutional impropriety in their taking any positive agency in the work.  The answer given was that the Resolution of Congress in February had recommended the Convention as the best mean of obtaining a firm national Government; that as the powers of the Convention were defined by their Commissions in nearly the same terms with the powers of Congress given by the Confederation on the subject of alterations, Congress were not more restrained from acceding to the new plan, than the Convention were from proposing it. If the plan was within the powers of the Convention it was within those of Congress; if beyond those powers, the same necessity which justified the Convention would justify Congress; and a failure of Congress to Concur in what was done, would imply either that the Convention had done wrong in exceeding their powers, or that the Government proposed was in itself liable to insuperable objections; that such an inference would be the more natural, as Congress had never scrupled to recommend measures foreign to their Constitutional functions, whenever the Public good seemed to require it; and had in several instances, particularly in the establishment of the new Western Governments, exercised assumed powers of a very high & delicate nature, under motives infinitely less urgent than the present state of our affairs, if any faith were due to the representations made by Congress themselves, echoed by 12 States in the Union, and confirmed by the general voice of the People. An attempt was made in the next place by Richard Henry Lee to amend the Act of the Convention before it should go forth from Congress. He proposed a bill of Rights; provision for juries in civil cases & several other things corresponding with the ideas of Col. M---;---;. He was supported by Mr. M---;---; Smith of this State. It was contended that Congress had an undoubted right to insert amendments, and that it was their duty to make use of it in a case where the essential guards of liberty had been omitted.
On the other side the right of Congress was not denied, but the inexpediency of exerting it was urged on the following grounds. 1. That every circumstance indicated that the introduction of Congress as a party to the reform was intended by the States merely as a matter of form and respect 2. That it was evident from the contradictory objections which had been expressed by the different members who had animadverted on the plan that a discussion of its merits would consume much time, without producing agreement even among its adversaries. 3. that it was clearly the intention of the States that the plan to be proposed should be the act of the Convention with the assent of Congress, which could not be the case, if alterations were made, the Convention being no longer in existence to adopt them. 4. that as the Act of the Convention, when altered would instantly become the mere act of Congress, and must be proposed by them as such, and of course be addressed to the Legislatures, not conventions of the States, and require the ratification of thirteen instead of nine States, and as the unaltered act would go forth to the States directly from the Convention under the auspices of that Body; Some States might ratify one & some the other of the plans, and confusion & disappointment be the least evils that could ensue. 
These difficulties which at one time threatened a serious division in Congress and popular alterations with the yeas & nays on the journals, were at length fortunately terminated by the following Resolution; "Congress having recd. the Report of the Convention lately assembled in Philada., Resold. unanimously that the said Report, with the Resolutions & letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the Resolves of the Convention made & provided in that case." 

Fellow Virginian, Richard Henry Lee, wrote to another prominent Virginian, Patrick Henry on his view of the USCA proceedings:
I have waited until now to answer your favor of September 18th from Philadelphia, that I might inform you how the Convention plan of Government was entertained by Congress. Your prediction of what would happen in Congress was exactly verified. It was with us, as with you, this or nothing; & this urged with a most extreme intemperance. The greatness of the powers given, & the multitude of Places to be created, produces a coalition of Monarchy men, Military Men, Aristocrats, and Drones whose noise, imprudence & zeal exceeds all belief; Whilst the Commercial plunder of the South stimulates the rapacious Trader.

In this state of things, the Patriot voice is raised in vain for such changes and securities as Reason and Experience prove to be necessary against the encroachments of power upon the indispensable rights of human nature. Upon due consideration of the Constitution under which we now Act, some of us were clearly of opinion that the 13th article of the Confederation precluded us from giving an opinion concerning a plan subversive of the present system and eventually forming a New Confederacy of Nine instead of 13 States. The contrary doctrine was asserted with great violence in expectation of the strong majority with which they might send it forward under terms of much approbation.

Having procured an opinion that Congress was qualified to consider, to amend, to approve or disapprove; the next game was to determine that tho a right to amend existed, it would be highly inexpedient to exercise that right; but surely to transmit it with respectful marks of approbation. In this state of things I availed myself of the Right to amend, & moved the Amendments copy of which I send herewith & called the ayes & nays to fix them on the journal.

This greatly alarmed the Majority & vexed them extremely; for the plan is, to push the business on with great dispatch, & with as little opposition as possible: that it may be adopted before it has stood the test of Reflection & due examination. They found it most eligible at last to transmit it merely, without approving or disapproving; provided nothing but the transmission should appear on the Journal. This compromise was settled and they took the opportunity of inserting the word Unanimously, which applied only to simple transmission, hoping to have it mistaken for an Unanimous approbation of the thing.

It states that Congress having Received the Constitution unanimously transmit it &c. It is certain that no Approbation was given. This constitution has a great many excellent Regulations in it, and if it could be reasonably amended would be a fine System. As it is, I think 'tis past doubt, that if it should be established, either a tyranny will result from it, or it will be prevented by a Civil war.
I am clearly of opinion with you that it should be sent back with amendments Reasonable and Assent to it withheld until such amendments are admitted. You are well acquainted with Mr. Stone & others of influence in Maryland. I think it will be a great point to get Maryland & Virginia to join in the plan of Amendments & return it with them. If you are in correspondence with our Chancellor Pendelton, it will be of much use to furnish him with the objections, and if he approves our plan, his opinion will have great weight with our Convention, and I am told that his relation Judge Pendleton of South Carolina has decided weight in the State, & that he is sensible & independent. How important will it be then to procure his union with our plan, which might probably be the case, if our Chancellor was to write largely & pressingly to him on the subject; that if possible it may be amended there also. It is certainly the most rash and violent proceeding in the world to cram thus suddenly into Men a business of such infinite Moment to the happiness of Millions.

On October 5th Richard Henry Lee also wrote a lengthy letter to his dear friend Samuel Adams concluding:

But I think the new Constitution (properly amended) as it contains many good regulations, may be admitted; And why may not such indispensable amendments be proposed by the Conventions and referred With the new plan to Congress, that a new general Convention may so weave them into the proffer'd system as that a Web may be produced fit for free men to weave? If such amendments were proposed by a capital state or two, & a willingness expressed to agree with the plan so amended; I cannot see why it may not be effected. It is a mere begging the question to suppose, as some do, that only this Moment and this Measure will do. But why so, there being no war external or internal to prevent due deliberation on this most momentous business. The public papers will inform you what violence has been practiced by the Agitators of this new System in Philadelphia to drive on its immediate adoption as if the subject of Government were a business or passion, instead of cool, sober, and intense consideration.

The ratification of the constitution was a bumpy and although 11 States had ratified the new federal plan by the summer of 1788, Rhode Island and North Carolina remained opposed.    Moreover, the implementation of the new constitution was delayed because Congress could not agree on where the seat of the United States government would be located.  On September 13th, 1787, the Delegates “finally passed, without a dissentient voice or the least apparent animosity,” a federal capital location and the USCA enacted this enabling resolution: 
… whereas the constitution so reported by the Convention and by Congress transmitted to the several legislatures has been ratified in the manner therein declared to be sufficient for the establishment of the same and such ratifications duly authenticated have been received by Congress and are filed in the Office of the Secretary therefore Resolved That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing Electors in the several states, which before the said day shall have ratified the said constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective states and vote for a president; and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time and the present seat of Congress the place for commencing proceedings under the said constitution. 
Virginia delegate Henry Lee delivered the news on the 13th to George Washington noting that the capital would remain in New York and added this paragraph on the new U.S. Presidency:

It would certainly be unpleasant to you & obnoxious to all who feel for your just fame, to see you at the head of a tumbling system. It is a sacrifice on your part, unjustifiable in any point of view. But on the other hand no alternative seems to be present. Without you the govt. can have but little chance of success, & the people of that happiness, which its prosperity must yield. 

Soon after the enabling resolution was adopted, the eleven States enacted legislation to hold the first Constitution of 1787 elections.  George Washington was unanimously elected president in 1789.

Original Manuscript of the April 6th, 1789, US Senate certification of the Constitution of 1787 Presidential election. - Library of Congress  image

On April 30th, 1789, George Washington was escorted to the newly-renovated Federal Hall located at Wall and Nassau Street. The newly remodeled building:

… came richly laden with historical associations, having hosted John Peter Zenger’s trial in 1735, the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and the Confederation Congress from 1785 to 1788. Starting in September 1788, the French engineer Pierre-Charles L’Enfant had remodeled it into Federal Hall, a suitable home for Congress. L’Enfant introduced a covered arcade at street level and a balcony surmounted by a triangular pediment on the second story. As the people’s chamber, the House of Representatives was accessible to the public, situated in a high-ceilinged octagonal room on the ground floor, while the Senate met in a second-floor room on the Wall Street side, buffering it from popular pressure. From this room Washington would emerge onto the balcony to take the oath of office. In many ways, the first inauguration was a hasty, slapdash affair. As with all theatrical spectacles, rushed preparations and frantic work on the new building continued until a few days before the event. Nervous anticipation spread through the city as to whether the 200 workmen would complete the project on time. Only a few days before the inauguration, an eagle was hoisted onto the pediment, completing the building. The final effect was stately: a white building with a blue and white cupola topped by a weather vane.[1]

There was, as yet, no U.S. Chief Justice so the oath was administered by New York Chancellor Robert R. Livingston on Federal Hall’s second floor balcony, overlooking a crowd assembled in the streets. Mrs. Eliza Susan Morton Quincy, wife of Josiah Quincy, provides this account of the inauguration:

I was on the roof of the first house in Broad Street … and so near to Washington that I could almost hear him speak. The windows and roofs of the houses were crowded; and in the streets the throng was so dense, that it seemed as if one might literally walk on the heads of the people. The balcony of the hall was in full view of this assembled multitude. In the centre of it was placed a table, with a rich covering of red velvet; and upon this, on a crimson velvet cushion, lay a large and elegant Bible. … All eyes were fixed upon the balcony; where, at the appointed hour, Washington entered, accompanied by the Chancellor of the State of New York, who was to administer the oath; by John Adams, the Vice-President; Governor Clinton; and many other distinguished men. … His appearance was most solemn and dignified. Advancing to the front of the balcony, he laid his hand on his heart, bowed several times, and then retired to an arm-chair near the table. The populace appeared to understand that the scene had overcome him, and were at once hushed in profound silence. After a few moments, Washington arose, and came forward. Chancellor Livingston read the oath according to the form prescribed by the Constitution; and Washington repeated it, resting his hand upon the Bible. Mr. Otis, the Secretary of the Senate, then took the Bible to raise it to the lips of Washington; who stooped, and kissed the book. At this moment, a signal was given, by raising a flag upon the cupola of the Hall, for a general discharge of the artillery of the Battery. All the bells in the city rang out a peal of joy, and the assembled multitude sent forth a universal shout. The President again bowed to the people, and then retired from a scene such as the proudest monarch never enjoyed. Many entertainments were given, both public and private; and the city was illuminated in the evening.[2]

President Washington, Vice President Adams, and the members of Congress retired to the Senate Chamber. Here the President delivered the first inaugural address that was drafted by James Madison. Washington explained his disinclination to accept the presidency and highlighted his own shortcomings, including “frequent interruptions in health,” “unpractised in the duties of civil administration,” and intellectually “inheriting inferior endowments from nature.” Washington left the presidential prerogative "to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient” to Congress except for suggesting they consider amendments to the constitution that were proposed by the states’ conventions.


On September 24th, 1789, the United States Congress set the yearly salary of the United States President at $25,000 and the Vice President at $5,000.  The 1789  Presidential salary of $25,000 translates to $672,000 in 2012 dollars. Currently  the US Presidential salary is $400,000/year, plus a $50,000 non-taxable expense account. The compensation of the President is controlled by law,  Compensation of the President: Title 3, Section 102. 

After the inauguration, each branch of Congress went about establishing its own rules for conducting the nation’s business. The House and the Senate also established joint committees drawing up conference rules. They dealt with the logistics of communication with the President and between the two legislative bodies. 

Original Manuscript Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, to wit; being New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia  being the Eleven States that have respectively ratified the Constitution of Government for the United States by Federal Convention held in Philadelphia 17th of September 1787. - 
Library of Congress  image

Original Manuscript Journal of the First Session of the Senate of the United States, viz; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia  being the Eleven States that have respectively ratified the Constitution of Government for the United States proposed by the Convention held at Philadelphia on the 17th.  September 1787 - 
Library of Congress  image

 There was much for everyone to do in forming this new republic ranging from immediately raising revenues for funding the federal government to reformulating existing departments and passing laws, including the Northwest Ordinance, that were enacted under the Articles of Confederation. Three important acts would be passed establishing three executive departments under the U.S. Presidency -- after Congress rejected a U.S. Senate Committee’s proposal that the president should be called "His Highness the President, Protector of the Liberties of the United States." The major legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Washington in 1789 included:

  • On June 1st, 1789: An Act to regulate the Time and Manner of administering certain Oaths was the first law passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President George Washington after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Parts of the law still remain on the books;
  • On July 4th, 1789 An Act for laying a Duty on Goods, Wares, and Merchandises imported into the United States was passed to immediately establish the tariff as a regular source of revenue for the federal government and as a protection of domestic manufacture;
  • July 20th., 1789 An Act imposing Duties on Tonnage is passed and laid out various rates of duty on the tonnage of ships and vessels entered in the United States from foreign countries;
  • On July 27th, 1789 An Act for Establishing an Executive Department, to be Denominated The Department of Foreign Affairs was passed. John Jay, Articles of Confederation Secretary of Foreign Affairs turned down reappointment but agreed to serve as acting Secretary until a Presidential appointment was confirmed. During the enactment of this bill a debate arose as to the power of removal of the Foreign Secretary. One side contended that the power belonged to the President, by virtue of the executive powers of the Government vested in him by the constitution. The other side maintained that the power of removal should be exercised by the President, conjointly with the Senate. The important question was decided by Congress in favor of the President's power to remove the heads of all these Departments, on the ground that they are Executive Departments;
  • On July 31st, 1789 An Act to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States was passed establishing ports of entry in each of the eleven states where duties were to be collected. North Carolina and Rhode Island, who had not ratified the new constitution, were subject to same goods’ duties as from foreign countries. Be it therefore further enacted, That all goods, wares and merchandise not of their own growth or manufacture, which shall be imported from either of the said two States of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, or North Carolina, into any other port or place within the limits of the United States, as settled by the late treaty of peace, shall be subject to the like duties, seizures and forfeitures, as goods, wares or merchandise imported from any State or country without the said limits;
  • On August 5th, 1789 An Act for settling the Accounts between the United States and individual States was passed appointing and paying commissioners to carry into effect the May 7th, 1787 ordinance and subsequent resolutions established by the USCA “… for the settlement of accounts between the United States and individual States;”
  • On August 7th, 1789 An Act to establish an Executive Department, to be denominated the Department of War was passed. Former USCA Secretary of War Henry Knox was re-appointed by President Washington and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Department of War oversaw all military affairs until Congress created a separate Navy Department in 1798. The National Security Act, passed by Congress in 1947, designated departments for the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. A National Military Establishment, renamed the Department of Defense in 1949, administered these departments; 
  • Also on August 7th, 1789 An Act to provide for the Government of the Territory Northwest of the river Ohio was passed. This bill was the reenactment of the Northwest Ordinance passed by the USCA in July 1787 so that “… may continue to have full effect, it is requisite that certain provisions should be made, so as to adapt the same to the present Constitution of the United States.” Former USCA Governor Arthur St. Clair was re-appointed by President Washington and confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • On August 20th, 1789 An Act providing for the Expenses which may attend Negotiations or Treaties with the Indian Tribes, and the appointment of Commissioners for managing the same was passed;
  • On September 1st, 1789 An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes was passed providing for the licensing and enrollment of vessels engaged in navigation and trade;
  • On September 2nd, 1789 An Act to establish the Treasury Department was passed. The act assigns duties to the Secretary, Comptroller, Auditor, Treasurer, Register, and Assistant to the Secretary. It prohibits persons appointed under the act from engaging in specified business transactions and prescribes penalties for so doing. It also provides that if information from a person other than a public prosecutor is the basis for the conviction, that person shall receive half the fine. Alexander Hamilton was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Washington and was confirmed the same day by the U.S. Senate;
  • On September 11th, 1789 An Act for establishing the Salaries of the Executive Officers of Government, with their Assistants and Clerks was passed; 
  • On September 15th, 1789 An Act to provide for the safe-keeping of the Acts, Records and Seal of the United States, and for other purposes was passed. This law changed the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State because certain domestic duties were assigned to the agency. These included: Receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of the laws of the United States; Preparation, sealing, and recording of the commissions of Presidential appointees; Preparation and authentication of copies of records and authentication of copies under the Department's seal; Custody of the Great Seal of the United States; Custody of the records of the former Secretary of the Continental Congress, except for those of the Treasury and War Departments. Thomas Jefferson was appointed by President Washington September 25, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate the following day. Chief Justice John Jay served as Acting Secretary of State until Secretary Jefferson returned from France. Other domestic duties for which the Department was responsible at various times included issuance of patents on inventions, publication of the census returns, management of the mint, control of copyrights, and regulation of immigration;
  • On September 22nd, 1789 An Act for the temporary establishment of the Post-Office was passed. “That there shall be appointed a Postmaster General; his powers and salary and the compensation to the assistant or clerk and deputies which he may appoint, and the regulations of the post-office shall be the same as they last were under the resolutions and ordinances of the late Congress.” Samuel Osgood was appointed Postmaster General by President Washington on September 26th, 1789 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate the following day;
  • Also on September 22nd, 1789 An Act for allowing Compensation to the Members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, and to the Officers of both Houses was passed. Unlike the USCA, whose members were paid by their respective states, the congressmen were paid $6.00 a day from the new federal treasury; 
  • On September 23rd, 1789 An Act for allowing certain Compensation to the Judges of the Supreme and other Courts, and to the Attorney General of the United States was passed with salaries ranging from $4,000 for the Chief Justice to $800 for the Delaware Federal District Judge. The Attorney General’s salary was set at $1,500 while Associate Justices of the Supreme Court were paid $3,500;
  • On September 24th, 1789 An Act for allowing a compensation to the President and Vice President of the United States was passed with the salaries of $25,000[3] and $5,000 respectively.
  • On September 24th, 1789 the Judiciary Act was established. The Act calls for the organization of the U.S. federal court system, which had been sketched only in general terms in the U.S. Constitution. The act established a three-part judiciary that was made up of district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. The act also outlined the structure and jurisdiction of each branch. John Jay was appointed U.S. Chief Justice and Edmond Randolph appointed Attorney General by President Washington on September 24th, 1789 and the two were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 26th. 
  • On September 25th, Congress passed a 12 article joint resolution to amend the Constitution of 1787. The amendments were introduced by James Madison as a series of legislative articles. Eighteen amendments were initially adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789.  In early September, the U.S. Senate formally proposed 12 amendments and in a HR/Senate Conference Committee a joint resolution was agreed upon and passed by Congress on September 25, 1789. Ten of the Constitutional Amendments, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the states, were enacted on December 15, 1791. Of the remaining two amendments, Article  Second was adopted 203 years later as the Twenty-seventh Amendment. Only Article the First  remains unratified and pending before the states.
  • On September 29th, 1789 An Act to regulate Processes in the Courts of the United States was passed authorizing the courts of the United States to issue writs of execution as well as other writs; 
  • On September 29th, 1789 An Act making Appropriations for the Service of the present year was passed. Specifically the bill provided for “a sum not exceeding two hundred and sixteen thousand dollars for defraying the expenses of the civil list, under the late and present government; a sum not exceeding one hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars for defraying the expenses of the department of war; a sum not exceeding one hundred and ninety thousand dollars for discharging the warrants issued by the late board of treasury, and remaining unsatisfied; and a sum not exceeding ninety-six thousand dollars for paying the pensions to invalids”;
  • On September 29th, 1789 An Act providing for the payment of the Invalid Pensioners of the United States was passed. The act specified “that the military pensions which have been granted and paid by the states respectively, in pursuance of the acts of the United States in Congress assembled, to the invalids who were wounded and disabled during the late war, shall be continued and paid by the United States, from the fourth day of March last, for the space of one year, under such regulations as the President of the United States may direct”;
  • On September 29th, 1789 An Act to recognize and adapt the Constitution of the United States the establishment of the Troops raised under the Resolves of the United States in Congress assembled, and for other purposes therein mentioned was passed. The act specified “that the establishment contained in the resolve of the late Congress of the third day of October, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, except as to the mode of appointing the officers, and also as is herein after provided, be, and the same is hereby recognized to be the establishment for the troops in the service of the United States;”
  • On September 29th, 1789 An Act to alter the Time for the Next Meeting of Congress was passed adjourning the 1st Federal Bicameral Congress until January 5, 1790
National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Independence Hall Class of 2017 students at Federal Hall National Historic Park with Ranger holding the 1789 Acts of Congress opened to the 12 Amendment Joint Resolution of Congress issued September 25th, 1789. The only amendment in the "Bill of Rights" that was not ratified is Article the First, which is still pending before Congress. Cintly is holding an Arthur St. Clair signed Northwest Territory document, Imani is holding the First Bicameral Congressional Act establishing the U.S. Department of State and Rachael is holding a 1788 John Jay letter sent to the Governor of Connecticut, Samuel Huntington, transmitting a treaty with France. – Primary Sources courtesy of

On the public relations front President Washington, hoping to prevent sectionalism from dividing the new nation, he toured the New England states in 1789 and the South in 1791. By appointing Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury and Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State, he brought the two ablest and most principled figures of the revolutionary generation into central positions of responsibility. An able administrator, he nevertheless failed to heal the widening breach between factions led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Because he supported many of Hamilton's controversial fiscal policies, the assumption of state debts, the Bank of the United States, and the excise tax, Washington became the target of attacks by Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans.

Copyright © Stan Klos,2000

Washington letter as President 
Courtesy of the

On August 30th George Washington writes to Samuel Huntington, Governor of Connecticut, transmitting two acts of Congress including the approval of the Treaty of Hamar and an order to begin a survey of Ohio. Washington writes in full:

New York August 30th 1789 
I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency a Resolution of Congress for carrying into effect a Survey directed to be made by an Act of the late Congress -- and requesting the President of the United Sates to appoint a proper person to compleat[sic] the same. -- Also the duplicate of an Act relative to negotiations and Treaties with the Indian Tribes. –
I have the honor to be
With due consideration
Your Excellency's Most Obt.
and Most Humble Sevt.
Go: Washington
His Excellency
Samuel Huntington

                              For More on the Treaty of Hamar Click Here

Washington was reelected president in 1792, and the following year the most divisive crisis arising out of the personal and political conflicts within his cabinet occurred over the issue of American neutrality during the war between England and France. Washington, whose policy of neutrality angered the pro-French Jeffersonians, was horrified by the excesses of the French Revolution and enraged by the tactics of Edmond Genet, the French minister in the United States, which amounted to foreign interference in American politics. Further, with an eye toward developing closer commercial ties with the British, the president agreed with the Hamiltonians on the need for peace with Great Britain. 

In the Northwest Territory Washington and his officials pursued the course of recovering from Governor St. Clair's disastrous losses to British backed Native Americans. President Washington recalled retired General Anthony Wayne from civilian life to lead an expedition in the Northwest Indian War. Many American Indians in the Northwest Territory had sided with the British in the Revolutionary War. Although the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, the British had ceded this land to the United States without consulting their Native American allies. 

The Western Native American Confederacy achieved major victories over U.S. forces in 1790 and 1791 under the leadership of Blue Jacket of the Shawnees and Little Turtle of the Miamis. They were encouraged and supplied by the British, who had refused to evacuate British fortifications in the region as called for in the Treaty of Paris. Wayne established a basic training facility at Legionville to prepare professional soldiers for his force. Wayne's was the first attempt to provide basic training for regular U.S. Army recruits and Legionville was the first facility established expressly for this purpose.    Wayne was also supplied with peace medals generally known as the "Red Jacket medal," from its having been given by President Washington to the celebrated Seneca orator and chief Sa-go-ya-wat-ha (He keeps them awake), better known as Red Jacket, that were initially minted on the occasion of the Chief's visit to Philadelphia in March and April, 1792.

PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON and RED JACKET SILVER PEACE MEDAL - General Washington in uniform and bareheaded, standing, facing the left, has just given the calumet of peace to an Indian chief, who is smoking it. The Indian, standing, facing the right, has a large medal suspended from around his neck; on the left, a pine tree; at its foot, a tomahawk; in the background, a farmer ploughing. Exergue: GEORGE WASHINGTON PRESIDENT, Circa 1792 -- Reverse: The arms and crest of the United States of America. Arms: Paleways of thirteen pieces, argent and gules, a chief, azure. The escutcheon on the breast of the American eagle, displayed proper, holding in his dexter talon an olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows,[62] all proper, and in his beak a scroll inscribed with this motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM (One out of many). Crest: Over the head of the eagle, which appears above the escutcheon, a glory, or, breaking through a cloud, proper, and surrounding thirteen stars forming a constellation, argent, on an azure field.

In 1792, it  was then customary with the Indians, when they made a treaty of peace, to simulate the burying of the tomahawk. In a speech of Red Jacket's to the Honorable Samuel Dexter, secretary of War, delivered at Philadelphia, February 11, 1802, is the following passage: "Brother, you offered to join with us in tearing up the largest pine tree in our forests, and under it to bury the tomahawk. We gladly join with you, brother, in this work, and let us heap rocks and stones on the root of this tree, that the tomahawk may never again be found." The picture above is a representation of the medal generally known as the Red Jacket medal, from its having been given by President Washington to the celebrated Seneca orator and chief Sa-go-ya-wat-ha (He keeps them awake), better known as Red Jacket, on the occasion of his visit to Philadelphia in March and April, 1792. On the death of this great chief of the Six Nations of the State of New York (Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras), in 1830, it passed into the hands of his nephew the Seneca chief So-sa-wa (Corpulent man), James Johnson. It now belongs to James Johnson's grand-nephew, Do-ne-ho-gà-wa (Open door), General Ely S. Parker, who served during the Civil War on the staff of General U.S. Grant. He was afterward for some time commissioner of Indian Affairs, and is now living in the city of New York. It is owing to the politeness of General Parker that I am able to give an engraving of this, the only well-authenticated Washington Indian peace medal, although similar ones were given during his administration to different Indian chiefs, as will be seen from the following extract from a message addressed by General Knox, then secretary of War, to the Choctaw nation, and dated Philadelphia, February, 17, 1792: "Brothers, your father, General Washington, sends you two great silver medals—you will point out the two great chiefs who are to receive these marks of distinction." General Parker says that this medal was made by Dr. Rittenhouse, who was director of the United States Mint at Philadelphia from 1792 till 1795, that these medals were of three sizes from President Jefferson to President Fillmore's administration, and that they were given to Indian chiefs according to their rank. Since then they have been made of two sizes only.
By 1794, the excise tax on distilled spirits, which led to protests in frontier districts, especially Pennsylvania came to an impasse on enforcement. President Washington, in an effort to collect the tax,  ordered the protesters to appear in U.S. district court with the following proclamation:

George Washington - Proclamation of September 15, 1792


Whereas certain violent and warrantable proceedings have lately taken place tending to obstruct the operation of the laws of the United States for raising a revenue upon spirits distilled within the same, enacted pursuant to express authority delegated in the Constitution of the United States, which proceedings are subversive of good order, contrary to the duty that every citizen owes to his country and to the laws, and of a nature dangerous to the very being of a government; and

Whereas such proceedings are the more unwarrantable by reason of the moderation which has been heretofore shown on the part of the Government and of the disposition which has been manifested by the Legislature (who alone have authority to suspend the operation of laws) to obviate causes of objection and to render the laws as acceptable as possible; and

Whereas it is the particular duty of the Executive "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, " and not only that duty but the permanent interests and happiness of the people require that every legal and necessary step should be pursued as well to prevent such violent and unwarrantable proceedings as to bring to justice the infractors of the laws and secure obedience thereto:

Now, therefore, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do by these presents most earnestly admonish and exhort all persons whom it may concern to refrain and desist from all unlawful combinations and proceedings whatsoever having for object or tending to obstruct the operation of the laws aforesaid, inasmuch as all lawful ways and means will be strictly put in execution for bringing to justice the infractors thereof and securing obedience thereto.

And I do moreover charge and require all courts, magistrates, and officers whom it may concern, according to the duties of their several offices, to exert the powers in them respectively vested by law for the purposes aforesaid, hereby also enjoining and requiring all persons whomsoever, as they tender the welfare of their country, the just and due authority of Government, and the preservation of the public peace, to be aiding and assisting therein according to law.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. 

Done this 15th of September, A. D. 1792, and of the Independence of the United States the seventeenth.


In response to the tax and Proclamation, violent opposition erupted in Westmoreland County when U.S. marshals attempted to serve court papers.  The federal officials were met with armed mobs, local militias, and a rebellion soon spread throughout western Pennsylvania. The Whiskey Rebellion insurgents went so far as to tarring and feathering tax collectors, the destruction of government offices, the burning of tax collectors' houses and the organization of insurgent forces.  The survival of the US Constitution and authority of the federal government over the states were at now at stake. 

Although determined to maintain government authority, George Washington did not want to alienate public opinion. He asked his cabinet for written opinions about how to deal with the crisis. The cabinet recommended the use of force, except for Secretary of State Edmund Randolph, who urged reconciliation. Washington did both: he sent commissioners to meet with the rebels while raising a militia army. Washington privately doubted the commissioners could accomplish anything, and believed a military expedition would be needed to suppress further violence.  For this reason, historians have sometimes charged that the peace commission was sent only for the sake of appearances, and that the use of force was never in doubt. Historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick argued that the military expedition was "itself a part of the reconciliation process", since a show of overwhelming force would make further violence less likely.

Meanwhile, Hamilton began publishing essays under the name of "Tully" in Philadelphia newspapers, denouncing mob violence in western Pennsylvania and advocating military action. Washington and Hamilton believed the Democratic-Republican Societies, which had been formed throughout the country, were the source of civic unrest. "Historians are not yet agreed on the exact role of the societies" in the Whiskey Rebellion, wrote historian Mark Spencer in 2003, "but there was a degree of overlap between society membership and the Whiskey Rebels".

The US Army was too small to be used to enforce the federal laws, so Washington invoked the Militia Act of 1792 to summon militias from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.  Congress funded the measure with this act:

Third Congress Of The United States...An Act To Amend The Act Intituled "An Act To Enable The Officers And Soldiers Of The Virginia Line On Continental Establishment, To Obtain Titles To Certain Lands Lying North West Of The River Ohio, Between The Miami And Sciota" and An Act making Appropriations for Certain Purposes therein expressed, Philadelphia. 1794. [2]pp. Single folio sheet. 
The first act which adds provisos to an act granting lands to members of the Virginia line, allowing them to pass warrants on Ohio lands to their heirs, and locates the grants between the Scioto and Miami Rivers in the Northwest Territory. 
The Act is followed by another "An Act making Appropriations for Certain Purposes therein expressed," which funds the troops President Washington requires to put down the Whiskey Rebellion:  “For the purposes of the act directing a detachment from the militia of the United States, two hundred thousand dollars”   
Approved - June the ninth 1794," and signed in print by Speaker of the House Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, President of the Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Izard, and President George Washington. Variant states of other acts of the Third Congress are known, and this issue is that which also has the printed lines, "Deposited among the Rolls in the Office of the Secretary of State" and "Secretary of State," and signed in manuscript by the second Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph. Edmund Randolph became the second Secretary of State on Jan. 2, 1794, succeeding Thomas Jefferson, who resigned at the end of 1793. He continued the practice begun in the First Congress of the Secretary of State signing a small number of "official" copies of Congressional acts for distribution to the States and important government officials. After the Third Congress, official acts were no longer signed in manuscript by the Secretary of State. 

Before troops could be raised, the Militia Act of 1792 required a justice of the United States Supreme Court to certify that law enforcement was beyond the control of local authorities. On 4 August 1794, Justice James Wilson delivered his opinion that western Pennsylvania was in a state of rebellion. On 7 August, Washington issued a presidential proclamation announcing, with "the deepest regret", that the militia would be called out to suppress the rebellion. He commanded insurgents in western Pennsylvania to disperse by September 1st.  


Whereas from a hope that the combinations against the Constitution and laws of the United States in certain of the western counties of Pennsylvania would yield to time and reflection I thought it sufficient in the first instance rather to take measures for calling forth the militia than immediately to embody them, but the moment is now come when the overtures of forgiveness, with no other condition than a submission to law, have been only partially accepted; when every form of conciliation not inconsistent with the being of Government has been adopted without effect; when the well-disposed in those counties are unable by their influence and example to reclaim the wicked from their fury, and are compelled to associate in their own defense; when the proffered lenity has been perversely misinterpreted into an apprehension that the citizens will march with reluctance; when the opportunity of examining the serious consequences of a treasonable opposition has been employed in propagating principles of anarchy, endeavoring through emissaries to alienate the friends of order from its support, and inviting its enemies to perpetrate similar acts of insurrection; when it is manifest that violence would continue to be exercised upon every attempt to enforce the laws; when, therefore, Government is set at defiance, the contest being whether a small portion of the United States shall dictate to the whole Union, and, at the expense of those who desire peace. indulge a desperate ambition:

Now, therefore, I, George Washington, President of the United States, in obedience to that high and irresistible duty consigned to me by the Constitution " to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, " deploring that the American name should be sullied by the outrages of citizens on their own Government, commiserating such as remain obstinate from delusion, but resolved, in perfect reliance on that gracious Providence which so signally displays its goodness towards this country, to reduce the refractory to a due subordination to the law, do hereby declare and make known that, with a satisfaction which can be equaled only by the merits of the militia summoned into service from the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, I have received intelligence of their patriotic alacrity in obeying the call of the present, though painful, yet commanding necessity; that a force which, according to every reasonable expectation, is adequate to the exigency is already is motion to the scene of disaffection; that those who have confided or shall confide in the protection of Government shall meet full succor under the standard and from the arms of the United States; that those who, having offended against the laws, have since entitled themselves to indemnity will be treated with the most liberal good faith if they shall not have forfeited their claim by any subsequent conduct, arid that instructions are given accordingly.

And I do moreover exhort all individuals, officers, and bodies of men to contemplate with abhorrence the measures leading directly or indirectly to those crimes which produce this resort to military coercion; to check in their respective spheres the efforts of misguided or designing men to substitute their misrepresentation in the place of truth and their discontents in the place of stable government, and to call to mind that, as the people of the United States have been permitted, under the Divine favor, in perfect freedom, after solemn deliberation, and in an enlightened age, to elect their own government, so will their gratitude for this inestimable blessing be best distinguished by firm exertions to maintain the Constitution and the laws.

And, lastly, I again warn all persons whomsoever and wheresoever not to abet, aid, or comfort the insurgents aforesaid, as they will answer the contrary at their peril; and I do also require all officers and other citizens, according to their several duties, as far as may be in their power, to bring under the cognizance of the laws all offenders in the premises.

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 25th day of September, 1794, and of the Independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.

By the President:

EDM: RANDOLPH, Secretary

Militia was called up from New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania. The federalized militia force of 12,950 men was a large army by American standards of the time: the army that had been with Washington during the Revolutionary War had often been smaller. Because relatively few men volunteered for militia service, a draft was used to fill out the ranks. Draft evasion was widespread, and conscription efforts resulted in protests and riots, even in eastern areas. Three counties in eastern Virginia were the scenes of armed draft resistance.  In Maryland, Governor Thomas Sim Lee sent 800 men to quash an antidraft riot in Hagerstown; about 150 people were arrested.

In October 1794, Washington traveled west to review the progress of the military expedition. According to historian Joseph Ellis, this would be "the first and only time a sitting American president led troops in the field". Jonathan Forman, who led the Third Infantry Regiment of New Jersey troops against the Whiskey Rebellion, wrote about his encounter with Washington: 
"October 3d Marched early in the morning for Harrisburg, where we arrived about 12 O'clock. About 1 O’clock recd. information of the Presidents approach on which, I had the regiment paraded, timely for his reception, & considerably to my satisfaction. Being afterwards invited to his quarters he made enquiry into the circumstances of the man [an incident between a militia man and an old soldier mentioned earlier in the journal] & seemed satisfied with the information."
 Washington met with the western representatives in Bedford, Pennsylvania, on October 9 before going to Fort Cumberland in Maryland to review the southern wing of the army. Convinced the federalized militia would meet little resistance, he placed the army under the command of the governor of Virginia, Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Washington returned to Philadelphia; Hamilton remained with the army as civilian adviser.

The insurrection collapsed as the army marched into western Pennsylvania in October 1794. Some of the most prominent leaders of the insurrection, like David Bradford, fled westward to safety. After an investigation, federal government officials arrested about 20 people and brought them back to Philadelphia for trial.  Eventually, a federal grand jury indicted 24 men for high treason. Most of the accused had eluded capture, so only ten men stood trial for treason in federal court. Of these, only Philip Wigle and John Mitchell were convicted. Wigle had beaten up a tax collector and burned his house; Mitchell was a simpleton who had been convinced by David Bradford to rob the U.S. mail. Both men were sentenced to death by hanging, but they were pardoned by President Washington. Pennsylvania state courts were more successful in prosecuting lawbreakers, securing numerous convictions for assault and rioting.

Washington's forceful action proved the new government could protect itself.  This campaign remains the first and only time a sitting US President has led troops in action. These events also marked the first time under the  Constitution of 1787, that the federal government utilized a strong military force to exert its authority over the states and their citizens.  

Meanwhile, during this same period a major war broke out between conservative Great Britain and its allies and revolutionary France, launching an era of large-scale warfare that engulfed Europe until 1815. Washington, with cabinet approval, proclaimed American neutrality:

The Proclamation of Neutrality 1793

Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands, of the one part, and France on the other; and the duty and interest of the United States require, that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial toward the belligerant Powers;

I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid towards those Powers respectfully; and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever, which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.

And I do hereby also make known, that whatsoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said Powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States, against such punishment or forfeiture; and further, that I have given instructions to those officers, to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons, who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the law of nations, with respect to the Powers at war, or any of them.

In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the twenty-second day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the seventeenth.

George Washington  

Washington, enveloped in a western Indian war against British allies, decided to send Chief Justice John Jay, the most effective Treaty of Paris negotiator, to great Britain in hope of securing peace. The initial terms of the new treaty was designed primarily by Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury with guidance from Washington and fine tuning by John Jay. 

The treaty was designed to achieve the withdrawal of British Army units from pre-Revolutionary forts that the English failed to relinquish in the Northwest Territory and insure US neutrality in the new European war. In the negotiation, Jay and the British negotiators  agreed that disputes over wartime debts and the American–Canadian boundary were to be sent to arbitration. The US was granted limited rights to trade with British possessions in India and colonies in the Caribbean in exchange for some limits on the American export of cotton.  In a series of meetings, Jay and  Lord Greenville concluded the negotiations on November 19th, 1794.  

Hamilton and Washington considered the treaty jay negotiated an exceptional diplomatic achievement. The Jeffersonians, however, were solidly behind the French and launched a propaganda campaign maligning the agreement that resulting in Americans labeling it as "Jay's Treaty.”   Chief Justice John Jay decided his office prevented him from publicly defending the treaty. He sought the help of fellow Federalists leaders noting that the treaty was so unpopular that he could travel from Boston to Philadelphia by the glow of his burning effigies. Alexander Hamilton exacted the entire weight of the Federalist Party to refute Jefferson's Republican Party's anti-treaty publicity campaign. The public attacks continued and were so severe that only the firmness of Washington's character and the might of his administration that public opinion slowly began to swing back to the the neutrality policy.  The U.S. Senate finally agreed to consider ratifying the treaty and passed a resolution in June 1795, advising the president to amend the treaty by suspending the 12th article, which concerned trade between the U.S. and the West Indies. In mid-August, the Senate ratified the treaty 20–10, with the condition that the treaty contain specific language regarding the June 24 resolution. President Washington signed ten days later. The Treaty was proclaimed in effect on February 29, 1796 and in a series of close votes, after another bitter fight against the Washington and led by James Madison, the House funded the Treaty in April 1796.

This enabled the fledgling nation to avert a war with Great Britain until 1812 when the United States was on a much stronger political and economic footing. Lord Sheffield of Great Britain, who viewed the treaty as a "Complete Surrender by England,” wrote on the eve of the War of 1812:

 "We have now a complete opportunity of getting rid of that most impolitic treaty of 1794, when Lord Grenville was so perfectly duped by Jay."

A year later, when President Washington left office, the country's financial system was well established,  the Indian threat east of the Mississippi had been largely eliminated, Jay's Treaty and Pinckney's Treaty (1795) with Spain had enlarged U.S. territory while removing serious diplomatic difficulties. In spite of the animosities and conflicting opinions between Republicans and members of the  Federalist party, the two groups were at least united in the acceptance of the new federal government. Washington refused to run for a third term and, after a masterly Farewell Address in which he warned the United States against permanent alliances abroad, he went home to Mount Vernon. His vice-president, Federalist John Adams, succeeded him.

Although Washington reluctantly accepted command of the army in 1798 when war with France seemed imminent, he did not assume an active role. He preferred to spend his last years in happy retirement at Mount Vernon. In early December, Washington contracted what was probably quinsy or acute laryngitis; he declined rapidly and died at his estate on Decem 14, 1799.

Copyright © 2012 Stanley Y.Klos
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George Washington (February 22, 1732 [O.S. February 11, 1731] – December 14, 1799) was the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and served as the first President of the United States of America (1789–1797). For his central role in the formation of the United States, he is often referred to as the father of his country.

The Continental Congress appointed Washington commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. The following year, he forced the British out of Boston, lost New York City, and crossed the Delaware River in New Jersey, defeating the surprised enemy units later that year. As a result of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured the two main British combat armies at Saratoga and Yorktown. Negotiating with Congress, the colonial states, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and failure. Following the end of the war in 1783, King George III asked what Washington would do next and was told of rumors that he'd return to his farm; this prompted the king to state, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." Washington did, in fact, return to private life and retired to his plantation at Mount Vernon.

He presided over the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787 because of general dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation. Washington became President of the United States in 1789 and established many of the customs and usages of the new government's executive department. He sought to create a nation capable of surviving in a world torn asunder by war between Britain and France. His unilateral Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793 provided a basis for avoiding any involvement in foreign conflicts. He supported plans to build a strong central government by funding the national debt, implementing an effective tax system, and creating a national bank. Washington avoided the temptation of war and began a decade of peace with Britain via the Jay Treaty in 1795; he used his prestige to get it ratified over intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs and was its inspirational leader. Washington's farewell address was a primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

Washington was awarded the very first Congressional Gold Medal with the Thanks of Congress.

Washington died in 1799, and the funeral oration delivered by Henry Lee stated that of all Americans, he was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". Washington has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

Copyright © Stan Klos 2000

Autograph letter signed "Go: Washington" to his nephew Robert Lewis, dated from Mount Vernon, February 12, 1798. Faced with monetary woes after personally financing the office of President, Washington was forced to sell and/or lease many of his land investments. This was his only hope for maintaining and keeping Mount Vernon. The letter refers to a particular parcel of land in Virginia that contained a valuable walnut grove. Washington encouraged his nephew, who handled his financial affairs, to use the walnut grove as an added incentive to sell or lease the property. Washington suggested that his potential:
"…tenant is permitted to kill the Walnuts by girdling the trees, I do not believe that the Crops would sustain much injury by their standing. They would season in this manner, and a few years hence, when the navigation of the River is in a more improved state might be brought down with more ease & safety.Perhaps, upon the whole, this may be found the most eligible plan." - Virtualology Collection.
This letter is notable for two reasons, First, the story about Washington cutting down a cherry is a myth created by Parson Mason Locke Weems. SecondVirtualology has a 2 page George Washington letter on how to girdle and cut down a grove of Walnut trees.

Copyright © Stan Klos 2000
Photo of the Mason Locke Weems' "Life of George Washington" from "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Mariesha KlosBaker Elementary School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.
Letter signed page 1 - page 2: ("G. Washington") as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army to Captain [Samuel] Carr, Head-Quarters [Verplancks Point, New York], 16 September 1782. 2 pages, folio, 308 x 195 mm., text in hand of Tench Tilghman (an aide-de-camp), light browning of paper.

Emphatic orders from Washington regarding a curious dilemma of considerable importance, since it involved the crucial alliance with France. Similar letters were addressed by Washington to Lt. Col. John Popkin and to Capt. Seth Bannister. The Marquis de Vaudreuil had arrived at Boston Harbor in August with a fleet of thirteen warships to aid the American cause, but some French soldiers and sailors had jumped ship and attempted to join the American forces. Washington writes:
"Complaint having been made to me by the Marquis de Vaudreuil commanding the Fleet of His Most Christian Majesty in the Harbor of Boston, that numbers of his Seamen and Soldiers have deserted, and that he has reason to believe many of them are engaged in the Continental Service…[M]ake immediate Enquiry among the Recruits which may be assembled at your Place of Rendezvous, and if you discover any, either Soldiers or Sailors, belonging to the Service of France, you are to send them immediately under proper guard to Monsieur de la Tombe Counsul of France at Boston. And you are in future, on no Account whatever, to pass any Foreigner, except he can produce full and satisfactory Proof that he does not belong to the Army or Navy of France." - Virtualology Collection

Copyright © Stan Klos 2000

Gorget, Worn by George Washington to differentiate officers from their troops - Unidentified Philadelphia silversmith, 1774, Gilded copper or brass, Massachusetts Historical Society -- Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Louis Klos Upper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.
George Washington Life Mask Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Louis KlosUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown by John Trumbull, 1787, Oil on canvas, sketch - Detroit Institute of Arts -- Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Louis KlosUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

George Washington by Joseph Wright, 1784, oil on canvas -- Historical Society of Pennsylvania -- Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Louis KlosUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

George Washington, Vaughan Type by Gilbert Stuart, 1795, oil on canvas, University of Virginia -- Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: Louis KlosUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Copyright © Stan Klos 2000

The Washington Family by Edward Savage, 1789-98, oil on canvas, National trust Collection Woodlawn Plantation -- Photo taken at "George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: LouisUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.
Martha Washington Charles Wilson Peale, 1795, oil on canvas, Virginia Historical Society -- Photo taken at"George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths Exhibit" at the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center - October 7, 2000 - by: LouisUpper St. Clair High School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

Message of President John Adams nominating George Washington to be Lieutenant General and Commander in Chief of the Armies raised or to be raised in the United States. (NWL-46-MCCOOK-1(8) --Courtesy of: National Archives and Records Administration

   The Congressional Evolution of the United States of America 

Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents 
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776

September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776

Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America

George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783

Continental Congress of the United States Presidents 
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781

July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
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June 5, 1786
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February 1, 1787
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January 21, 1789

Presidents of the United States of America

D-Democratic Party, F-Federalist Party, I-Independent, R-Republican Party, R* Republican Party of Jefferson & W-Whig Party 

 (1881 - 1881)
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United Colonies and States First Ladies

United Colonies Continental Congress
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Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
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United States Continental Congress
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
United States in Congress Assembled
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
01/22/88 - 01/29/89

Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
January 20, 2009 to date

Capitals of the United Colonies and States of America

Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
September 27, 1777
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
October 6, 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Dec. 6,1790 to May 14, 1800       
Washington DC
November 17,1800 to Present

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Primary Source Exhibits

727-771-1776 | Exhibit Inquiries

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Dr. Naomi and Stanley Yavneh Klos, Principals

Primary Source exhibits are available for display in your community. The costs range from $1,000 to $35,000 depending on length of time on loan and the rarity of artifacts chosen. 


U.S. Dollar Presidential Coin Mr. Klos vs Secretary Paulson - Click Here

The United Colonies of North America Continental Congress Presidents (1774-1776)
The United States of America Continental Congress Presidents (1776-1781)
The United States of America in Congress Assembled Presidents (1781-1789)
The United States of America Presidents and Commanders-in-Chiefs (1789-Present)