George Washington, the first president of the United States, became the commander-in-chief of the country by a unanimous vote in 1789. His leadership and reputation earned during the American Revolutionary War made him a popular choice. However, it was his work during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, lobbying for a new constitution and not simply amendments to the Articles of Confederation, that led to his landslide victory in the first presidential election.Continue Reading
Washington took the oath of office at Federal Hall in the nation's capital of New York City. He foresaw his decisions as setting precedents and inspiring the choices of future presidents, and to that end, he wanted to be referred to as "Mr. President" rather than a more royal or imposing sounding name. He accepted a salary from Congress against his own instincts. He wore a black velvet suit to public ceremonies instead of a military uniform or robes, giving the perception that the position was neither military nor monarchy-based.
As President of the United States, he signed several peace treaties with Native Americans, helped instill policies to reduce the nation's debt, and guided the country on a course of neutrality in European affairs. He urged the Senate to pass the Jay Treaty, which helped secure peace with Britain for another two decades, established a boundary with Canada, and helped open the western frontier by removing British forts.Learn more about US History