Nowadays George Washington is celebrated as the founding father and the first president of the United States of America. His brilliant leadership and extraordinary personal characteristics led him to celebrate the victory in American Revolutionary War. Chosen to be the first president by the nation unanimously he himself always believed that “it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title” (Washington, 1756).
Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in the northern part of Virginia. His future prospects of getting an education were shattered after the death of his father who left him no inheritance. Later, Washington was employed as a surveyor, a job that required him to take frequent journeys to the west. Early in 1752, Washington was appointed an officer in the Virginia militia and was sent in a diplomatic mission to oust the French from the Ohio Valley. Between 1775 and 1799, Washington was the main political and military leader of the newly formed United States of America. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington liberated the United States after defeating Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War.
Washington held the post of the president of the United States in the years between 1789 and 1797. He put much effort into establishing a powerful, well-financed state government that withdrew from the wars rampaging in Europe, censored revolution, and was favored by Americans of all walks of life. Washington’s style of leadership established several rituals and forms of government that have been adopted and are used nowadays; for instance, delivering inaugural speeches and the cabinet system (Calkhoven 20). Even though Washington never achieved what he desired from the British army, he gained important leadership, political, and military skills. He was keen on studying the tactics used by the British military thereby gaining a deep insight into their weaknesses and strengths that later became helpful during the Revolution. Washington confirmed his courage and toughness in the thorniest situations, including retreats and defeats.
Due to his stamina, strength, bravery, and connections, Washington was a natural leader who was followed undoubtedly and with a great loyalty. Washington gained valuable experience in disciplining, training, and drilling his regiments and companies. From his conversations, readings, and observations with qualified officers, he mastered the basics of battlefield tactics and gained an excellent understanding of problems associated with logistics and organization (Johnson 16).
According to historian Calkhoven, Washington’s disappointment dealing with government officials led him to continue advocating vigorously for responsible as well as united national government that could deliver on all the promises to the people. Other historians tend to attribute the Washington’s position on government to his service in the American Revolutionary War. Washington had very unpleasing experience with the militia whom he termed as too undisciplined, unreliable, and short termed in comparison with regulars. This may be explained by the fact that he only had experience of commanding merely at most 1000 men in the frontier and did not know how to act in urban situations that emerged during the Revolution (Calkhoven 21).
In 1778, France decided to support America in the war. Washington led his army against the British in the battle of Monmouth Courthouse, which turned out to be a deadlock for him. In 1778, under the control of the Comte de Rochambeau, French military invaded the United States. George Washington and de Rochambeau refused the plans to hit New York and went instead to Virginia where they defeated the British with the assistance of French troops. This magnificent conquest successfully ruined the rebellion. Washington stayed in power until an official accord to finish the combat was reached; meanwhile, he made efforts to keep his agitated army from conquering the parliament.
Toward the end of 1783, he refused his military leadership, a step of self-sacrifice that astonished the whole world. Washington quitted commanding the Continental Army believing that the United States government needed to be led by the people rather than by the military ideals. Furthermore, it is argued that he also resigned since he truly wanted to leave. Throughout the war, he had overlooked his family as well as his home at Mount Vernon and that triggered him to return.
Washington was, however, concerned about the instability and weakness of the federal government. He attended the delegates’ conference in Philadelphia to amend the Articles of Confederation that could give more power to the government. It is at this convention that Washington’s fellow delegates supported his idea of rejecting the entire Articles of Confederation and coming up with a completely new and different document. It was Washington's prestige and support that made the delegates consent to the new United States Constitution. According to the Constitution, a president would be elected to help balance the power exercised by the Congress. The unanimous decision to elect Washington president came as a relief to many people fearing that future president could turn out a tyrant.
Washington wanted to make the United States a powerful and great state that would be united under the ideals of Republicans using federal power. He wanted to use the state government to safeguard liberty, make western lands accessible through improved infrastructure, promote trade and commerce, establish a permanent capital, and promote a culture of American nationalism as well as eliminate tension between certain regions of the country. Even after his death, Washington was considered as the first in the hearts of his countrymen, the first in war, and the first in peace.
Washington strived to live joyfully while at his home, he enjoyed entertaining his numerous guests, was keen on experimenting with new crops, and kept his vast estate in perfect order. Washington detested tyranny just like any other American, but he supported the idea of a stronger and united government. As many wealthy men of his social class, he feared for his status and property. He was terrified by the Shay's Rebellion, although opposed the attitudes of his fellow planters. Washington comprehended the importance of continental unity. He strongly believed that the war was won through unity and it is the same unity that would lead to the safe resettlement of frontiers. Most notably, he asserted that it was the unity that defined virtuous nations. According to Washington, the American unity was nurtured not only by economic or political ideals, but also by the morality of the fellow Americans (Willard 1).
In April 1789, Washington was sworn in as the President of the United States and took up his duties in the New York City, the then capital. He took his duties extremely seriously and ruled the country with profound self-devotion and respect to the law aware of the fact that upcoming leaders would follow in his footsteps and take after him. He initiated meetings in his cabinet that proved his aspiration to pay attention to all opinions. This occasionally caused disagreements, particularly involving Alexander Hamilton, his Treasury Secretary, and Thomas Jefferson, his State Secretary. George Washington’s anxieties were incorporated in his last speech. He declared that he did not wish for political segregation that created the two influential enemies in the country. Until these days, opponent political groups are in continuous disagreement with each other and this is not what Washington expected of American government to become. If his ideas were taken into account at present, the nation would be capable of discovering ways to unite modern Democrats and Republicans in the name of the nation’s wellbeing (Johnson 12).
By any standards, Washington’s accomplishments are immense and indeed difficult to be overrated, but it is impossible not to mention that he, in his governmental policy, went through hard times too. He faced a lot of obstacles, for instance, when he passed Jay Treaty withstanding strong opposition of the Jeffersonians. The President, on the other hand, supported the treaty and believed that it was the best opportunity to resolve remaining issues.
An important part of Washington’s presidency was the Battle of Falling Timbers, deciding battle of Northwest Indian War, where the Americans scored a victory. This battle involved three parties: Indians, British, and Americans. Washington sought to confirm the possession of the lands that were supposed to go to the US after they won the American Revolutionary War; but the British got involved in the battle as the Indians’ ally. The utter defeat of the British and Indians eventually led to the passing of the Treaty of Greenville (1795) according to which much of present-day territory of the state Ohio was ceded to the United States.
George Washington wanted to resign at the end of his first term of office, but was persuaded by his followers that he was the only one capable of leading now alienated country. He ran for presidency once again and was elected. During this subsequent term, he decided that it would the best for the USA not to become involved in the disagreement between France and Britain and issued the Proclamation of Neutrality that officially declared the nation’s neutrality. He retired from the presidency in 1797 with a sense of relief. Washington decided to return to Mount Vernon where he engaged into farming and peaceful life (Calkhoven 22).
In private life, George Washington possessed an amicable and honest individuality that may have appeared sublime but stayed unshakable and powerful. Washington was passionate in his desires and stayed loyal to his duties. He found more enjoyment in his family, than in the vanity and pride of military achievements on the battlefields or in the pomp of sovereign power. On the whole, his life presents an extraordinary role model not only to men of war or politicians, but also to fellow citizens for as he was a constellation of all the virtues and talents which dignify human nature.