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George Washington's Administration 1789-1797

( Originally Published 1916 )


WASHINGTON'S PATRIOTISM.—Washington would have preferred to spend the remainder of his life in his tranquil home at Mount Vernon, but his patriotism would not allow him to disregard the call of his country. He had so little money at the time, that his home was threatened by the sheriff, and he had to borrow funds with which to pay his most pressing debts.

WASHINGTON'S INAUGURATION.---The President-elect left Mount Vernon on April 16, and the entire journey to New York was a continual ovation. He received honors at almost every step of the way, and was welcomed to the nation's capital by the joyous thousands who felt that no reward could be too great for the illustrious patriot that had enshrined him-self forever in the hearts of his loving countrymen. The inauguration ceremonies took place April 30, in Federal Hall, on the present site of the sub-treasury building. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York administered the oath, in a balcony of the Senate chamber, in full view of the vast con-course on the outside, who cheered the great man to the echo. Other ceremonies followed, Washington showing deep emotion at the manifestation of love and loyalty on the part of all.

THE FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL, CONGRESS.—The first session of the first Constitutional Congress was chiefly occupied in setting the government machinery in motion. The following nominations for the first Cabinet were made by Washington, and con-firmed by the Senate : Thomas Jefferson, secretary of foreign affairs, afterward known as secretary of state ; Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury; Henry Knox, secretary of war; and Edmund Randolph, attorney-general. John Jay was appointed chief justice of the supreme court, with John Rutledge, James Wilson, William Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, and John Blair associates. (The Senate refused to confirm the nomination of Rutledge.)

FEDERALISTS AND REPUBLICANS.—The most urgent question was that of finance. Hamilton handled it with great skill. The debt of the con-federation and States was almost eighty million dollars. Hamilton's plan, as submitted to Congress, called for the payment by the United States of every dollar due to American citizens, and also the war debt of the country. There was strong opposition to the scheme, but it prevailed. The decision in Congress brought out the lines between Federalists and the Republicans, or, as thy were afterward called, Democrats. The Federalists favored the enlargement of the powers of the general government, while the Republicans insisted upon holding the government to the exact letter of the Constitution, and giving to the individual States all rights not expressly prohibited by the Constitution.

THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT.North Carolina did not adopt the Constitution until November 13, 1789. Little Rhode Island sulked until Massachusetts and Connecticut proposed to parcel her between them, when she came to terms and adopted the Constitution, May 29, 1790. It was decided to transfer the seat of government to Philadelphia until 1800, when it was to be permanently fixed upon the eastern bank of the Potomac. The third session of the first Congress, therefore, was held in Philadelphia, on the first Monday in December, 1790. Through the efforts of Hamilton, the United States Bank and a national mint were established in that city, and did much to advance the prosperity of the country.

A PROTECTIVE TARIFF.—In 1791, Hamilton made a memorable report to Congress. In it he favored a protective tariff, recommending that the materials from which goods are manufactured should not be taxed, and advising that articles which competed with those made in this country should be prohibited. These and other important features were embodied in a bill, which was passed February 9, 1792.

TROUBLE WITH THE INDIANS.—Trouble occurred with "Indians in the Northwestern Territory and in the south Georgia was dissatisfied with the treaty, by which a considerable part of the State was relinquished to the Indians. The difficulty in the Northwest was much more serious. General Harmar was sent to punish the red men for their many outrages, but was twice defeated. Then General St. Clair took his place. Before he set out, Washington impressively warned him against being surprised, but he, too, was beaten, and his army routed with great slaughter.

" Mad Anthony " Wayne now took up the task, with nearly three thousand men, and completed it thoroughly. At Fallen Timbers, August 20, 1794, he met the combined tribes and delivered a crushing defeat, from which the Indians did not recover for years. One year later, eleven hundred chiefs and warriors met the United States commissioners at Fort Greenville and signed a treaty of peace, relinquishing at the same time a vast tract of land lying in the present States of Indiana and Michigan.

THE WHISKEY REBELLION.—Among the important laws passed by Congress was one imposing a duty on distilled spirits. This roused great op-position in western Pennsylvania, where whiskey was the principal article of manufacture and trade. The revolt there assumed such formidable proportions that it became known as the " Whiskey Rebellion," and the President was compelled to call out the militia, fifteen thousand strong, to suppress it.

WASHINGTON'S SECOND TERM.—Washington did not desire a second term, but his countrymen would not permit him to decline. He again received all the electoral votes cast, while the next highest number went to John Adams. Strong party spirit was shown, Hamilton being the leader of the Federalists, and Jefferson the foremost Republican.

" CITIZEN GENET."—During Washington's ad-ministrations, France was plunged into the bloodiest revolution known in history. Her representative in this country was Edmond Charles Genet (zheh-na), better known as " Citizen Genet." Landing at Charleston, South Carolina, in April, 1793, he did not wait to present his credentials to the government, but began enlisting soldiers and fitting out privateers for the French service. Many thought-less citizens encouraged him, but the wise Washing-ton, finding that Genet defied him, ended the business by compelling his country to recall him.

JAY's TREATY.—There was much trouble also with Great Britain, but a treaty was finally arranged with her by our special envoy, John Jay. One of its provisions guaranteed payment to British citizens of debts due them before the war. This caused much opposition, but the time came when it was admitted that Jay's treaty was one of the best made by our government.

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