In 1789, George Washington became the first president of the United States, unanimously elected to the office and enjoying wide support from both politicians and the public alike. However, he had few examples to guide him in taking over his new, largely undefined role Despite this challenge, Washington helped shape the office's future role and powers, as well as set both formal and informal precedents for future presidents. Washington believed that it was necessary to strike a delicate balance between making the presidency powerful enough to function effectively in a national government, while also avoiding any image of establishing a monarchy or dictatorship. In the process, Washington significantly influenced the path for the presidency moving forward, setting standards in all aspects, including political power, military practice, and economic policy. Washington's final presidential legacy, his oft-quoted farewell address, warned against political factions, what he labeled "the danger of parties in the State."
Alan Pell Crawford examines the personal and professional ties between Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. Once allies, politics served to fracture the relationships of these founding fathers from Virginia.
George Washington’s cabinet included four original members: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.
Learn more about major diplomatic issues facing Washington as President.