Monday, January 2, 2012

The Year of Knowledge: George Washington

Today is the first Monday of the new year. Mondays for me are the Presidential Mondays as, I will admit, I never really much paid attention to politics in school, especially when it was about a bunch of old white dudes. My goal is to learn more about the men themselves who became President to try and figure out how we got to this place in our country. So, let's start at the beginning!

George Washington was an uneducated middle child who was good at mathematics. His rise to politics is fairly well-known and taught to children everywhere when President's Day in February rolls around. But there is more to good old George than just an Army General who later became our first President.

Washington was actually not a big fan of politics. He was interested in fairness and equality, and he felt that political factions would do more harm than good. After turning down the opportunity to become King (which, you've got to admit, is a big thing to turn down - I wouldn't have been able to do it!), he was dragged out of retirement to create this new-fangled kind of government called a democratic republic. Despite his desire to remain out of the political arena, he was voted our first President - unanimously.

The first thing he did was to assign Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton to his cabinet. Today, that would be the equivalent of placing Newt Gingrich next to Michael Moore and telling them to play nice. He truly believed, however, that these two men represented the best ideas of both sides of the political debate (at the time, the Federalists, who believed in a large Federal government and the Democratic Republicans, who believed in less Federal government and more States' rights), which, to Washington, was important for integrity and fairness.

He tried to leave the office after one term, but was unanimously elected again. He continued to tread carefully, balancing interests for all the people of this fledgling country. He did, however, utilize his power to act independently of Congress when it came to all things military, both foreign and domestic. His days as a general served to make him a force to be reckoned with when rebellions popped up. He also had the military sense to declare the United States neutral in a war between England and France - despite misgivings from some members of Congress who felt we owed France for their help in the Revolutionary War (and probably wanted one more dig at those damned British red coats!).

Washington left the office after two terms, exhausted from the political parties' constant battles and petty fights. He died three years later.

Washington was an honorable man who always strove for balance and fairness. He was the first, and probably only, President who could claim a desire for bi-partisan politics - and mean it! Our current President and future Presidential hopefuls would do well with brushing up on the tireless efforts and leadership of our first President.

Thanks to of the University of Virginia for my information in this blog!

Author's Note: Originally called our government a democracy, when, in actuallity, it is a republic, or, more specifically a democratic republic. I changed the original post to correct the mistake, but want to give a shout out to one of my favorite people and readers, Julia Wilson, for catching the error and keeping me on my toes!


  1. A lot of people don't know that he was a British officer. I find that fascinating.

    Nicely written :) I attempted to share, but FB is being a PITA...

  2. Okay, you know I am a huge fan, but I must correct you on one little statement; the United States government is actually a Republic- not a Democracy. As a Republic, we blend elements from Democracy into a government where our country is ruled by law. Here is a link to a video I like that breaks down the different types of government (I try not to focus on the fact that it is created by the John Birch Society).
    Thanks for the Washington lesson! Can't wait to read tomorrow's post!

  3. Thanks, Julia, for the correction. See why I'm doing this?! Must fill in those knowledge gaps!

    Nicole - I know. What else could he have been if the US hadn't been created yet? One of those logic things that just don't get through.

    Thanks for reading! Keep me on my toes!