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.
A Great and Good Man
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.
Despite Washington's abhorrence of factionalism, his administrations and policies spurred the beginnings of the first party system. This ultimately identified Washington, the least partisan of presidents, with the Federalist party, especially after Jefferson's retirement from the Cabinet in Washington's Farewell Address, though it was essentially a last will and political testament to the American people, inevitably took on political coloration in an election year.
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Warning against the divisiveness of excessive party spirit, which tended to separate Americans politically as "geographical distinctions" did sectionally, he stressed the necessity for an American character free of foreign attachments. Two-thirds of his address dealt with domestic politics and the baleful influence of party; the rest of the document laid down a statement of firs principles of American foreign policy.
But even here, Washington's warning against foreign entanglements was especially applicable to foreign interference in the domestic affairs of the United States. Washington's public service did not end with his retirement from the presidency.
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During the "half war" with France, President John Adams appointed him commander in chief, and Washington accepted with the understanding that he would not take field command until the troops had been recruited and equipped. Since Adams settled the differences with France by diplomatic negotiations, Washington never assumed actual command.
He continued to reside at Mount Vernon, where he died on Dec. At the time of Washington's death, Congress unanimously adopted a resolution to erect a marble monument in the nation's capital "to commemorate the great events of his military and political life"; Congress also directed that "the family of General Washington be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it.
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The most thorough biography of Washington is Douglas Southall Freeman's monumental six-volume George Washington, completed in a seventh volume by John A. Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth He told his father of the arrangement to serve Washington in a letter on October 7, Tilghman rode next to Washington in the streets of Trenton after Christmas in , and he was one of the few eyewitnesses that actually saw the confrontation between Washington and Charles Lee during the chaotic retreat before the British on June 28, The young officer shared the harsh conditions at Morristown and Valley Forge.
His knowledge of French was essential to Washington when dealing with foreign officers and he became a close friend of the Marquis de Lafayette. In May of , Washington convinced Congress that Tilghman deserved the rank and pay of a lieutenant colonel, with seniority dating to April 1, The British were cornered at Yorktown and forced to surrender in October of Tradition at the time placed a great honor on the soldier who delivered such information;  James Wilkinson, for example, had been given the brevet rank of brigadier general by Congress for delivering the news of the fall of British General John Burgoyne in October of Tilghman left on the morning of October 20 and arrived in Philadelphia at about three in the morning of the 24 th.
Congress rewarded him with a sword and a horse. In the years after the war, Tilghman lived in Baltimore where he started a mercantile business with the help of Robert Morris. He stayed close to Washington, exchanging personal letters and news. In one note, Washington chided the young man for not notifying him of his marriage in June of On one occasion, Washington needed plans for renovating his greenhouse and asked Tilghman to get information on the structure built at Dr. Unfortunately, Tilghman would not live very long after the war ended. After delivering the news of Yorktown, he showed signs of ill health, never feeling entirely well.
He became extremely sick in early , dying on April 18, apparently of the effects of hepatitis. As there were few men for whom I had a warmer friendship, or greater regard than for your Brother — Colonel Tilghman — when living; so, with much truth I can assure you, that, there a re none whose death I could more sincerely have regretted … .
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Washington placed Tilghman among the prominent of the Revolution in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:. You have probably heard of the death of Genl Greene before this reaches you, in which case you will, in common with your Countrymen, have regretted the loss of so great and so honest a man. Add to cart to save with this special offer. If you Buy It Now, you'll only be purchasing this item.
A Great and Good Man: George Washington in the Eyes of His Contemporaries - Google книги
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