These expectations were overshadowed by the Royal Proclamation of which among other provisions forbade colonial governors from issuing land grants west of the Allegheny Mountains. Yet Washington chose to forge ahead, as evinced by a September letter to William Crawford , a Pennsylvania surveyor:.
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I can never look upon the Proclamation in any other light but this I say between ourselves than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians. It must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when those Indians consent to our occupying those lands. Any person who neglects hunting out good lands, and in some measure marking and distinguishing them for his own, in order to keep others from settling them will never regain it. If you will be at the trouble of seeking out the lands, I will take upon me the part of securing them, as soon as there is a possibility of doing it and will, moreover, be at all the cost and charges surveying and patenting the same.
By this time it be easy for you to discover that my plan is to secure a good deal of land.
You will consequently come in for a handsome quantity. Washington was clearly willing to take considerable risks in seeking out choice land for himself. In the same letter, however, he warned Crawford "to keep the whole matter a secret, rather than give the alarm to others or allow himself to be censured for the opinion I have given in respect to the King's Proclamation.
When this is fully discovered advise me of it, and if there appears a possibility of succeeding, I will have the land surveyed to keep others off and leave the rest to time and my own assiduity. Less than two weeks after he had received it, Crawford informed Washington about several tracts in the vicinity of Fort Pitt, and the two men continued to collaborate until Crawford's death in Washington persisted in his attempts to secure the military bounty lands.
In , Governor Botetourt of Virginia at last gave him permission to seek out a qualified surveyor and to notify all claimants that surveying would proceed. Once the surveying was completed the land could be divided among the remaining Virginia Regiment veterans or their heirs.
George Washington: Biography
Washington arranged to have Crawford appointed the "Surveyor of the Soldiers Land. James Craik set out from Fort Pitt by canoe to explore possible sites for the bounty lands, making notes and observations as they journeyed to the junction of the Ohio and Great Kanawha Rivers and several miles up the Great Kanawha. The next year, Crawford began to survey the tracts he and Washington had identified on the Great Kanawha expedition.
Eight of these tracts are shown on a composite map now in the collections of the Geography and Map Division that Washington drew in from Crawford's surveys. Out of a total of 64, acres apportioned on the map, 19,, or approximately 30 percent, were patented in Washington's name. In a letter to Presley Neville, Washington said that these lands were "the cream of the Country in which they are; that they were the first choice of it; and that the whole is on the margin of the Rivers and bounded thereby for 58 miles.
Finally, Washington presided at the Federal Convention in and supported ratification of the Constitution in order to "establish good order and government and to render the nation happy at home and respected abroad. The position of president of the United States seemed shaped by the Federal Convention on the assumption that Washington would be the first to occupy the office.
In a day when executive power was suspect—when the creation of the presidency, as Alexander Hamilton observed in The Federalist, was "attended with greater difficulty" than perhaps any other—the Constitution established an energetic and independent chief executive. Pierce Butler, one of the Founding Fathers, noted that the convention would not have made the executive powers so great "had not many of the members cast their eyes toward General Washington as President, and shaped their ideas of the Powers to be given a President, by their opinions of his Virtue.
After his unanimous choice as president in , Washington helped translate the new constitution into a workable instrument of government: the Bill of Rights was added, as he suggested, out of "reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen"; an energetic executive branch was established, with the executive departments—State, Treasury, and War—evolving into an American Cabinet; the Federal judiciary was inaugurated; and the congressional taxing power was utilized to pay the Revolutionary War debt and to establish American credit at home and abroad.
As chief executive, Washington consulted his Cabinet on public policy, presided over their differences— especially those between Thomas Jefferson and Hamilton— with a forbearance that indicated his high regard for his colleagues, and he made up his mind after careful consideration of alternatives.
He approved the Federalist financial program and the later Hamiltonian proposals—funding of the national debt, assumption of the state debts, the establishment of a Bank of the United States, the creation of a national coinage system, and an excise tax. He supported a national policy for disposition of the public lands and presided over the expansion of the Federal union from eleven states North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution after Washington's inaugural to 16 Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee were admitted between and Washington's role as presidential leader was of fundamental importance in winning support for the new government's domestic and foreign policies.
His Presidency will form an epoch and be distinguished as the Age of Washington. Despite his unanimous election, Washington expected that the measures of his administration would meet opposition, and they did. By the end of his first term the American party system was developing. When he mentioned the possibility of retirement in , therefore, both Hamilton and Jefferson agreed that he was "the only man in the United States who possessed the confidence of the whole" and "no other person … would be thought anything more than the head of a party.
Washington's second term was dominated by foreign-policy considerations. Early in the French Revolution became the central issue in American politics when France, among other actions, declared war on Great Britain and appointed "Citizen" Edmond Genet minister to the United States. Determined to keep "our people in peace, " Washington issued a neutrality proclamation, although the word "neutrality" was not used. His purpose, Washington told Patrick Henry, was "to keep the United States free from political connections with every other country, to see them independent of all and under the influence of none.
In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others. Citizen Genet, undeterred by the proclamation of neutrality, outfitted French privateers in American ports and organized expeditions against Florida and Louisiana. For his undiplomatic conduct, the Washington administration requested and obtained his recall.
In the midst of the Genet affair, Great Britain initiated a blockade of France and began seizing neutral ships trading with the French West Indies. Besides violating American neutral rights, the British still held posts in the American Northwest, and the Americans claimed that they intrigued with the Indians against the United States. Frontier provocations, ship seizures, and impressment made war seem almost inevitable in , but Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a settlement of the differences between the two nations. Although Jay's Treaty was vastly unpopular—the British agreed to evacuate the Northwest posts but made no concessions on neutral rights or impressment—Washington finally accepted it as the best treaty possible at that time.
The treaty also paved the way for Thomas Pinckney's negotiations with Spanish ministers, now fearful of an Anglo-American entente against Spain in the Western Hemisphere. Washington happily signed Pinckney's Treaty, which resolved disputes over navigation of the Mississippi, the Florida boundary, and neutral rights. While attempting to maintain peace with Great Britain in , the Washington administration had to meet the threat of domestic violence in western Pennsylvania. The Whiskey Rebellion, a reaction against the first Federal excise tax, presented a direct challenge to the power of the Federal government to enforce its laws.
After a Federal judge certified that ordinary judicial processes could not deal with the opposition to the laws, Washington called out 12, state militiamen "to support our government and laws" by crushing the rebellion. The resistance quickly melted, and Washington showed that force could be tempered with clemency by pardoning the insurgents. Nearly all observers agree that Washington's 8 years as president demonstrated that executive power was completely consistent with the genius of republican government.
Putting his prestige on the line in an untried office under an untried constitution, Washington was fully aware, as he pointed out in his First Inaugural Address, that "the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Perhaps Washington's chief strength—the key to his success as a military and a political leader—was his realization that in a republic the executive, like all other elected representatives, would have to measure his public acts against the temper of public opinion. As military commander dealing with the Continental Congress and the state governments during the Revolution, Washington had realized the importance of administrative skills as a means of building public support of the army. As president, he applied the same skills to win support for the new Federal government.
Essay on George Washington Biography
Until reaching 16 years of age, he lived there and at other plantations along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, including the one that later became known as Mount Vernon. His education was rudimentary, probably being obtained from tutors but possibly also from private schools, and he learned surveying.
After he lost his father when he was 11 years old, his half-brother Lawrence, who had served in the Royal Navy, acted as his mentor. As a result, the youth acquired an interest in pursuing a naval career, but his mother discouraged him from doing so. At the age of 16, in , Washington joined a surveying party sent out to the Shenandoah Valley by Lord Fairfax, a land baron. For the next few years, Washington conducted surveys in Virginia and present West Virginia and gained a lifetime interest in the West.
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In he also accompanied Lawrence on a visit he made to Barbados, West Indies, for health reasons just before his death. The next year, Washington began his military career when the royal governor appointed him to an adjutantship in the militia, as a major. That same year, as a gubernatorial emissary, accompanied by a guide, he traveled to Fort Le Boeuf, PA, in the Ohio River Valley, and delivered to French authorities an ultimatum to cease fortification and settlement in English territory. During the trip, he tried to better British relations with various Indian tribes.
In , winning the rank of lieutenant colonel and then colonel in the militia, Washington led a force that sought to challenge French control of the Ohio River Valley, but met defeat at Fort Necessity, PA - an event that helped trigger the French and Indian War Late in , irked by the dilution of his rank because of the pending arrival of British regulars, he resigned his commission.
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That same year, he leased Mount Vernon, which he was to inherit in In Washington reentered military service with the courtesy title of colonel, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, and barely escaped death when the French defeated the general's forces in the Battle of the Monongahela, PA.
here As a reward for his bravery, Washington rewon his colonelcy and command of the Virginia militia forces, charged with defending the colony's frontier. Because of the shortage of men and equipment, he found the assignment challenging. Late in or early in , disillusioned over governmental neglect of the militia and irritated at not rising in rank, he resigned and headed back to Mount Vernon. Washington then wed Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow and mother of two children.