Washington was elected president in a unanimous vote held by the newly formed Electoral College; he took his oath of office in 1789 and established various precedents that would remain influential for future presidents. Washington was so beloved after his leadership of the Continental Army during the American Revolution that his installment as president was seen as inevitable.
Washington's intention following the close of the war in 1781 was to retire to his plantation on Mount Vernon and abdicate himself from politics. It was only when he realized that the Articles of Confederation were proving inadequate to the governance of the fledgling nation that he returned to the political proceedings of his day.
Washington himself helped to establish the Electoral College and to draft and win support for a new Constitution. This led to the signing into law of the Constitution of the United States, a document Washington fought hard for and believed in.
As president, Washington largely absented himself from affairs and acted only when he believed action was necessary. He preferred not to impinge on the powers and authorities of Congress or the Senate and not to involve himself directly in questions of legality. He saw himself as a statesman and pursued his duties in as diplomatic a fashion as he could.