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.
Washington often sent a list of questions to cabinet members and used the questions as the agenda for meetings.
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... ”
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.
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.
John Adams broke the tie.
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?
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?