Historians and other scholars alike have had a lot to write about the rein of the first president of the United States. Having guided the people to greater heights of success as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and also leading the people in writing of the constitution, it is not surprising that George Washington would rise up to the occasion as the first president of his country. He not only doubled as the only president to have been unanimously elected by the electoral college to lead the people in the capacity of president; he was to set up precedents in leadership styles, which the current leaders still find crucial in giving direction to the people of America. He, indeed, received acceptance from all corners of the country. This paper presents a critical review of works by different scholars on the achievements and the criticisms against the presidency of George Washington.
Creation of a Formidable, Well Financed National Government
It is clear that a huge role lay in the hands of whoever was going to take up the task of forming a government for the people of America, once the constitution had been ratified. The job was hectic, given the size and the structure of the country. So many issues were yet to be attended to; this called for an individual with greater understanding of his/her people, one who had the interests of the entire country. George Washington reluctantly took the mantle and set up a scheme of ensuring that the American people at the end of the day acquire what they wanted most. He ensured that a stable government is put in place to provide a framework, through which growth and development of the people of America would be achieved.
Top on President Washington’s agenda was establishment of a well financed federal government. It is important to recall that prior to the ratification of the American constitution, which provided for the creation of a very strong government, the articles of confederation had created a very weak government which could not live up to the expectations of the people of America. It had given individual states more powers than had the national government. This had left the national government with a lesser pool of resources than it actually required. Upon ascension to the power, backed up by the newly ratified constitution, George Washington was ready to work with the Congress to ensure that crucial legislations are formulated to catalyze development. Having already his country in different capacities, he clearly understood the various areas of his government that called speedy action in order to establish a stronger government.
To achieve financial stability of his government, Washington sought to see that the federal government controlled major economic resources in the country. This was essential since the federal government would never achieve any success if did not control major income, generating activities in the country. He, in fact, reasoned that leaving major financial resources to the individual states would worsen the economic situation in the country, since it would have meant continuous rift in the economic capabilities of different states since different states were not equally endowed in terms of natural resources.
Having created a strong financial base for the government, President George Washington already had one foot into achieving his people’s expectations. A financially stable government implied that development projects could be started and completed with much ease. It also meant any development project would be initiated and completed without the involvement of donor funds or even loans as was the case with other nations. This aspect of financial independence, indeed, gave Americans a greater advantage over their rivals. It meant that the US would concentrate on marching forward without having to look back in terms of settling budget deficit as would have been expected of such an infant nation.
Institution of Leadership Styles and Precedents
During his tenure as president of the United States, George Washington ensured that he set up leadership standards and styles that could be emulated by his countrymen and admirers even centuries after his demise. First of all, he did this by instituting a cabinet; this was to ensure that he does not single handedly make key decisions, regarding the leadership of his country. The structure of a cabinet he came up with during his tenure has been key in championing political developments not only in the US, but rather in the entire world, especially in countries that have adapted the presidential system of government like the US. Presence of a cabinet played a key role since it ensured that as the president, he does not become obsessed with the powers and, hence, trailing away from the right path of leadership.
As the president of United States, George Washington pursued the creation sober foreign policies. For instance, the policy of non-involvement in matters of other countries was very influential in ensuring that the US steered clear even in times, when European countries were waging wars against each other. This policy was instrumental, as it became evident, many years after he was gone. It should be remembered that the US was to emerge as a super power, especially after World War I, thanks to President George Washington’s set precedent, that is, the policy of non involvement, which barred the US from being involved in such war since it was not fought on its front. All the countries that participated in World War I were left economically constrained. At this point, United States was able to boast as the strongest economic power since its resources had not been thrown into the battle fields as was the case with the European Powers that had initially enjoyed that opportunity.
Another crucial institution that was presented by President George Washington’s administration was the judiciary. This was established through the Judiciary Act of 1789, which witnessed the formation of a six member supreme court, whose composition entailed the Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. This was the highest court of the land and enhanced coexistence between the states and the federal system which was very important. This gave the president an opportunity to oversee the smooth flow of different events in the country and, hence, achieving the expectations of the people.
President George Washington’s decline to run for a third term ensured that he set another vital precedent in the leadership of America. He was satisfied with the two terms with which he had energetically served his people. This meant that he served his country at his best and, hence, left the office for another leader to take over in the spirit of democracy. This marked a crucial milestone in the future of American democracy. The two term period he ruled effectively as the president was soon to become constitutionally the maximum term that an individual would serve as the president.
Criticisms on George Washington’s Presidency
A number of scholars have expressed their concerns over President George Washington’s administration. The major issues that different scholars have had include the policy of non-involvement in foreign affairs, his administration’s treatment of the Native Americans; some scholars further blame him for failing to take a stand on whether to support the French or the British, when the two countries entered into bloodshed. Machael Zakim, Patrica Cline Cohen, and other scholars have painted George Washington’s second term in office as a failure. They base their argument first, on his loss of one of his most intelligent advisors, that is, Jefferson. They give a comprehensive account of the man he replaced him with. As a matter of fact, they have no kind words for him since they describe the man as being less capable and, hence, could not live up to the task of a senior advisor of the president of George Washington’s capacity. They back up their argument with the fact that his administration was even unable to put to an end the rift between the North and South Americas, the farmers and the merchants, the Americans that were pushing for the support of France and their pro-Britain counterparts and so on.
President George Washington was an intelligent man that did all he could to serve his countrymen in the best way possible. He set up the foundation through which the later generation leadership had been grounded on. His success is enviable as are his followers. The people entrusted him with demanding job; that is giving direction to millions of people who looked upon him in times of hardship and were always ready to celebrate with him the achievements, resulting from their combined efforts. George Washington ensured that the American people had a strong government which could, indeed, act as a symbol of national pride; that is an all inclusive government. This meant that all states, constituting the larger America, were adequately represented in the Federal Government. As early as it was, he ensured that no one was denied justice by instituting independent justice and criminal system to oversee the cries for injustice in the society. This even included disagreements between a state and the federal government. By virtue of intelligence, George Washington distanced his nation from interfering with the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. This enabled the Americans to enjoy peace since the policy of non involvement meant that the US would not declare war against another nation just because of involvement of her allies. This policy was to be upheld for many years after the departure of George Washington. Scholars, criticizing the performance of George Washington, basically, do so, basing their facts on his involvement in the United States army and not as a president. Arguments of him launching war and, hence, failing to protect the liberties of the native American-Indians are all subject to misinformation and, therefore, misrepresented. It is even so unfair for some scholars to point out their fingers towards Washington for failing to side with either the British or the French. In so doing, the president saved more bloodshed. Going with either side would only have created more enmity and, hence, more bloodshed.