George Washington was a founding father of U.S. who had the leading role, both militarily and politically, during the American Revolution and went on to become the first President of the United States. Know why Washington is often referred to as “Father of his Country” by studying his 10 major achievements and accomplishments.
#1 HE WAS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
When the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Congress created the Continental Army and George Washington was appointed as its commander-in-chief. Washington took enormous duties during the war. He plotted the overall strategy of the war along with the Congress. He organized and trained the army and maintained their morale. Most importantly his stature as well as his political and personal skill was instrumental to make the Congress, the army, the French and the states work towards a common goal.
#2 HE LED U.S. TO VICTORY IN THE DECISIVE LAND BATTLE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR
Washington actively led his men against the main British forces in 1775 – 77 and then again in 1781. Though he lost battles, he never surrendered his army during the war. In 1781, American and French forces, led by George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau respectively, decisively defeated a British army commanded by Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown. It was the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War and forced the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.
3 WASHINGTON DIDN’T SEIZE POWER DUE TO HIS COMMITMENT TO AMERICAN REPUBLICANISM
In 1782, peace negotiations began and on September 3, 1783 United States was recognized as a free and independent nation after signing of the Treaty of Paris. Instead of seizing power, Washington resigned as Commander-in-chief and returned as quickly as possible to cultivating his lands. Due to this, historians compare Washington with the ancient Roman aristocrat and statesman Cincinnatus, who served Rome during its crisis but after accomplishing his task resigned despite having near absolute authority.
#4 GEORGE WASHINGTON BECAME THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN 1789
The United States Electoral College elected Washington as the first president in 1789. He received 100 percent of the electoral votes and remains the only president of U.S. to be elected unanimously. He was re-elected, again unanimously, in the 1792 election. He refused to run for the third term hence establishing the tradition of a maximum of two terms for a president, which later became law by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.
#5 WASHINGTON ESTABLISHED MANY FORMS IN GOVERNMENT THAT SURVIVE TILL TODAY
After becoming President, Washington’s first focused on setting up the federal judiciary. Through the Judiciary Act of 1789, he established a six-member Supreme Court with one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. Washington established many forms that became part of American tradition like the cabinet system and inaugural address. He ensured a democratic system with tolerance to opposition voices despite fears that it would lead to political violence.
#6 HE SUPPRESSED THE WHISKEY REBELLION
In 1791, to generate revenue to reduce the national debt, a tax was applied by the government to all distilled spirits. Whiskey being the most popular distilled beverage at the time, it became widely known as the ‘whiskey tax’. In parts of U.S. there were protests against the whiskey tax and violence was used to prevent its collection. Washington used negotiations and later force to end the Whiskey Rebellion demonstrating that the newly formed government was capable of suppressing resistance to the laws enforced by it.
#7 THROUGH JAY’S TREATY, WASHINGTON BUILT A STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH BRITAIN
Under the presidency of Washington, the Jay’s Treaty was signed in 1795 between U.S. and Great Britain. Britain agreed to vacate the western forts in America in return of U.S. giving them the most favored nation trading status. Negotiated by John Jay and designed primarily by Alexander Hamilton, the treaty resolved issues of the Treaty of Paris, strengthened economic relations between the two countries and most importantly averted war against Britain until America was economically and politically more capable of handling it.
#8 HE ISSUED THE PROCLAMATION OF NEUTRALITY TO PROTECT U.S. FROM WAR IN EUROPE
On April 22, 1793, Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality declaring United States neutral in the conflict between France and Great Britain during the French Revolution. Although it was vehemently opposed, the proclamation not only preserved America’s trade relations but also protected U.S. from unnecessary harm as it was still a young nation with a small army.
#9 WASHINGTON ESTABLISHED THE UNITED STATES NAVY
Previously American ships were protected by the British and French navies but after the Proclamation of Neutrality, they became vulnerable to pirate attack. By late 1793, a dozen American ships had been captured, goods stripped and everyone enslaved. Due to this Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 which established a permanent naval force. This force would eventually become the present-day United States Navy.
#10 HIS FAREWELL ADDRESS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
After nearly 20 years of service to his nation, George Washington signed off by writing a Farewell Address to the people of America. Issued as a public letter in 1796, it remains one of the most influential statements of American political values. Among other things, it stressed on the importance of unity between the people of America. Washington’s Farewell Address became common reference during political debates well into the nineteenth century.