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In 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States. During his two terms in office, Washington influenced the path for the presidency moving forward, creating standards in all political, military, and economic areas. He helped shape the office's future role and powers, as well as set both formal and informal models for future presidents to follow.

Ten Facts about Washington's Presidency
10 Facts

Ten Facts about Washington's Presidency

Learn more about the many precedents and challenges confronting Washington as our first president.

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President Washington's Inauguration

Explore the timeline to learn about Washington's first day as president

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Washington Selects First Presidential Cabinet

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.

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Slavery and Washington’s Presidency

After the American victory in the Revolution, George Washington repeatedly voiced opposition to slavery in personal correspondence, but as a public figure and president, he did not make abolition a cause.

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Whiskey Tax Tests the New Nation

In January 1791, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed a seemingly safe tax. What Congress failed to predict was the rejection of this tax by American citizens. 

The Whiskey Rebellion

Washington and Foreign Policy

In February 1793, France went to war with Great Britain and its allies. Washington had a big decision to make: support France, Britain, or remain neutral. 

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Primary Sources to Explore Washington's Presidency

State of the Union

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered his First Annual Address to Congress, this act would become the annual State of the Union address. Explore the handwritten speech to see what topics Washington deemed important for the new nation. 

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Terrestrial Floor Globe

Four months after taking office, President Washington ordered this terrestrial floor globe "of the largest dimensions and of the most accurate and approved kind now in use." Examine the globe and think about what purpose would Washington have for a globe and how would it have been a useful tool during foreign policy issues. 

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Letter to Hebrew Congregation in New Port, Rhode Island

Read the open letter that President Washington wrote to the congregation of the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island. In this letter, he confirmed the protection of religious liberty and freedom in American life.

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Washington's Farewell Address

George Washington wrote this letter to "The People of the United States" near the end of his second term as President, before his retirement. In the very long address, he presents three main arguments for the American people: the importance of national unity, the danger of political parties, and the need to stay out of foreign affairs. Read the letter to discover his parting words to the country. 

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What Did Washington Think of King George III?

Did George Washington go from ardent supporter of King George III, to rebel of the crown? Or did he always have negative feelings towards the royals?

Why Didn't George Washington Abolish Slavery?

After being elected the first president of the United States, why didn't George Washington abolish slavery?