Explore the timeline to learn how Washington’s cabinet worked through the neutrality crisis with compromise, civic disagreement, and civic friendship. As you read the information, think about what qualities of character, virtues, or values make a good citizen or leader.

Media Gallery Image Quote Text Video
1789, April 30

President Washington is Inaugurated

President Washington was inaugurated on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City after being unanimously elected.

Read More
1789, September 11

Alexander Hamilton is Confirmed by the Senate

A former military aide and a renowned financier, Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury, serving from 1789-1795.

Read More
1789, September 12

Henry Knox is Confirmed by the Senate

Knox served as a senior general of the Continental Army and directed the artillery during the American Revolution. He was close to Washington and served as Secretary of War from 1789 to 1794. 

Read More
1790, February 2

Edmund Randolph is Confirmed by the Senate

Randolph attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the nation’s leading attorneys and politicians. He served Washington as the first Attorney General and the second Secretary of State.

Read More
1790, March 22

Thomas Jefferson is Confirmed by the Senate

Jefferson’s experience as an ambassador to France led to his position as the first Secretary of State. He served President Washington between 1790-1793.

Read More
1793, April 8

Citizen Genet Arrives in South Carolina from France

Genet arrived in Charleston to promote French interests to the U.S. government. He also arranged for four privateers to raid British shipping boats off of the American coast.

Read More
1793, April 18

Question I. Shall a proclamation issue for the purpose of preventing interferences of the Citizens of the United States in the War between France & Great Britain & etc.? Shall it contain a declaration of Neutrality or not? What shall it contain? Question II. Shall a Minister from the Republic of France be received? Question III. If received shall it be absolutely or with qualifications; and if with qualifications, of what kind... ”

Washington often sent a list of questions to cabinet members and used the questions as the agenda for meetings.
1793, April 19

President Washington Meets with Cabinet

The four cabinet members met with President Washington and answered the first two to three questions from the list. After heated discussions and strong differences of opinion, all decisions were unanimous: the president would agree to receive the representative from France.

Read More
1793, April 22

Washington Issues Proclamation of Neutrality

Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality to declare that the nation would be neutral in the conflict between France and Great Britain. It threatened legal proceedings against any American providing assistance to either country at war.

Read More
1794, March 13

Senate Passes the Neutrality Act

John Adams broke the tie. 

Read More
1794, June 2

House of Representatives Passes the Neutrality Act

Congress passed the Neutrality Act in 1794, which gave the President’s policy the force of law. The Act marked an acknowledgement that foreign policy was mostly in the hands of the executive branch.

Read More
Loading Timeline

Personal Reflection

Do all of your friends agree with you about everything?

Do they give you advice when you need it? Do they give you advice when you don’t?

Have you ever changed your mind based something your friends have said?

Think About the Big Picture

How did Washington’s cabinet work through the neutrality crisis with compromise, civic disagreement, and civic friendship?

Why are civil disagreements and toleration of differing views important?

Buy Tickets Activities Calendar Shop Restaurant Give Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save