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Administration of George Washington (President Infinity Alternate Elections)

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The Administration of George Washington 1789-1798 Cabinet
Office Name Term
President George Washington January 1, 1789–September 12, 1798
Vice President Benjamin Franklin January 1, 1789–December 31, 1792
John Hancock January 1, 1793-December 31, 1795
John Jay January 1, 1796–September 12, 1798
Secretary of State John Jay January 1, 1789–December 31, 1795
Thomas Jefferson January 1, 1796-September 12, 1798
Secretary of Treasury *Robert Morris January 1, 1789–
Secretary of War Israel Putnam January 1, 1789–December 31, 1792
*Benjamin Lincoln January 1, 1793
Attorney General John Adams January 1, 1789–December 31, 1792
*Samuel Hitchcock January 1, 1793–
Chief of Staff Alexander Hamilton January 1, 1789–December 31, 1789
*Bushrod Washington January 1, 1793–

The Administration of George Washington was the organization and activity of the executive branch of the United States of America under President George Washington. The Administration took power on January 1, 1789, after the inauguration of President Washington. Being the first Administration under the new Constitution, it focused on the development of the new federal government and necessary centralization. The Administration did not have a party, having occurred before their emergence, but it did have a later-known-as Federalist slant, and it would be the inspiration for the Washingtonian Party. The Administration ended on September 12, 1798, part way through Washington's third-term, following the death of President George Washington, the first President, and the first to die in office.

(Note: In the Cabinet table, an asterisk* signifies being carried over it into the Jay Administration)

First Administration 1789-1792

Summary of Major Policy Areas

Military

Washington expanded control and support of state militias but left them mostly under state direction. Washington rejected the introduction of a standing, preferring to let states establish armies that the federal government could call on for use in emergency situations. Secretary of War Israel Putnam was given authority to set standards for state militias; however, he chose not to.

Economics

Proposals for debt assumption, national banks, and taxation were all brought up, but the President and Treasury opposed them soundly. Washington gave Secretary of the Treasury Robert Morris discretion in most fiscal policy. Morris focused on stabilizing individual state economies and unifying currency.

Foreign Policy

The United States remained mostly inactive and neutral through this term. However, tensions with Britain flared up due to their continual refusal to withdraw troops from the West and ending entrapment. Still, Secretary of State John Jay rejected close relationships with France citing French instability.

Slavery

Washington set out to ignore most controversial issues to focus on stabilizing the new government. The Administration refused to address slavery, and after Congress resoundingly passed the Fugitive Slave Act, Washington signed the bill without comment.

Notable Appointments

  • Chief Justice: Thomas Jefferson

Cabinet

  • Secretary of State: John Jay
  • Secretary of the Treasury: Robert Morris
  • Secretary of War: Israel Putnam
  • Attorney-General John Adams
  • Chief of Staff: Alexander Hamilton

Other Important Figures During This Period

  • Speaker of the House Josiah Bartlett: most vocal abolitionist in the U.S. government but focused on gradual abolition and expanded rights for free blacks.
  • Virginia Senator Patrick Henry: most outspoken opposition member; seen as the leader of an anti-Washington movement.

Second Administration 1793-1796

Summary of Major Policy Areas

Foreign Policy

To balance the interests of both French and British supporters, Washington appointed the famously pro-French Thomas Jefferson as the US Ambassador to France. Nevertheless, Secretary John Jay has strengthened his pro-Britain stance. Jay claims to have made significant process in removing the remaining British troops and establishing trade agreements, but Jefferson stays confident in the promise of French relations.

Military

Secretary Benjamin Lincoln felt that for the safety of the country, militia standards needed to be regulated and centralized, despite Southern protests. A navy was openly considered but decided unnecessary.

Economics

Secretary Robert Morris continued in his moderate approach to federal economics, and the Treasury was considered the most favored department by the opposition.

Supreme Court

After Thomas Jefferson's restrained and unseen Supreme Court, new Chief Justice John Adams encouraged higher participation in circuit court decisions and led the Court in taking a larger caseload.

Bushrod Controversy

Following the departure of Chief of Staff Alexander Hamilton, Washington's search for a dependable and trustworthy Chief of Staff led him to choose his own nephew, the highly-dependable attorney Bushrod. Opposition members, however, denounced the choice of a family member in the Cabinet, and opposition Senators organized to block Bushrod's appointment. The Washington Administration, led by Attorney-General Samuel Hitchcock, contended that not running a department, the Chief of Staff did not require Senate approval. In a case directly appealed to the Supreme Court and led by Senator Aaron Burr (Washington v. Burr), the Supreme Court ruled that, written by Chief Justice Adams, the appointment of a Chief of Staff did not require Senate approval because, as argued by Hitchcock, the position did not head a department.

Notable Appointments

  • Chief Justice: John Adams
  • Ambassador to France: Thomas Jefferson

Cabinet Changes

  • Secretary of War: Benjamin Lincoln
  • Attorney-General: Samuel Hitchcock
  • Chief of Staff: Bushrod Washington

Other Important Figures During This Period

  • Governor Josiah Bartlett: After serving as Speaker, Bartlett retreated to his home state of New Hampshire to lead the abolition effort at the local level. Bartlett became the country's most prominent and vocal abolitionist and remained mostly popular throughout his term, but the state legislature blocked complete abolition.
  • Senator Alexander Hamilton: Serving from New York, Hamilton used the Senate to publicize a stronger federal government and lay the foundation of the Hamiltonian philosophy.
  • Senator Aaron Burr: Hamilton's New York colleague and antithesis became the informal Senate leader of the Henrians following Patrick Henry's retirement from the Senate. He led the Senate effort against the appointment of Bushrod Washington.
  • Benjamin Franklin Bache: Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate grandson and a Philadelphia newspaper editor, Bache has used his paper, the Aurora, to heavily criticize the Washington government and popularize an extreme form of Henriasm that some have called Jeffersonianism. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress.

Third Administration 1797-1798

Summary of Major Policy Areas

Foreign Policy

The most radical shift of Washington's third term was foreign policy. After Secretary of State John Jay, and two terms of pro-British policy left his post to become Vice President, Washington replaced Jay with Ambassador to France, and Henrian icon, Thomas Jefferson. Both impressed by Jefferson's work and the potential of a French partnership, Washington gave Jefferson permission to establish a pro-French department while negotiating continued agreements with Britain.

Military

Secretary Benjamin Lincoln continued to strengthen and increase militia strength, regulation, and centralization. Most importantly, he, controversially, established the first national militia after disputes with Indian tribes. He also called for the foundations of a navy and the creation of a naval department.

Economics

For the first time, Senators openly worked for a national bank, but Secretary Robert Morris continued to denounce such a concept, though taxes increased slightly to fund the new militias. Morris completed his major task of setting the American Dollar as the unified currency of the new nation.

Role of the Vice President

Previous Vice Presidents Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock restricted most of their activity to being President of the Senate, mainly serving as a moderator for Senate debates, and acting as an adviser on the Cabinet. With John Jay, however, Washington's increasing health issues required more participation from the Vice President. Jay spent less time working in the Senate and more time with Washington in the President's Mansion.

Cabinet Changes

Secretary of State: Thomas Jefferson

Other Important Figures During This Period

  • Governor Josiah Bartlett
  • Senator Aaron Burr
  • Senator Alexander Hamilton
  • Congressman Benjamin Franklin Bache

Washington's Decline in Health and Death

About a year and a half into his third term, Washington's health declined rapidly, with both his hearing and sight in a steady decline and difficulty breathing. By the end of July, Washington was regularly bedridden, and Vice President Jay oversaw Cabinet meetings, and his instruction was taken equal with Washington's. At the start of August, after being informed of Washington's situation, Chief Justice John Adams, along with the rest of the Supreme Court, urged Congress to make some form of confirmation of succession, an urging that became the 11th Amendment, clarifying that the Vice President would be sworn in as President for the remainder of the term, in mid-August. On September 11, Washington took a sudden collapse in health, while in vacation at Mount Vernon. After over a day in bed struggling to speak and breathe, George Washington died on the night of September 12, 1798. The following day, September 13, 1798, John Jay was sworn in, in the Senate Hall in front of Congress and administered by Chief Justice Adams, as the second President of the United States.

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