Washington was both a military and political leader that showed great ability
to discern people’s character and their abilities. This ability proved to shape
his personality to be extremely productive in both the setting of standards for
government and as a role model.
often would listen to a multiple set of voices with varying opinions or ideals about
a situation or problem. Then he would formulate a tactical procedure from that
collective input. He was known as a superior delegator who surrounded himself
with men of great experience and knowledge, even though in many cases he did
not fundamentally agree with what they might have stood for.
he lost more battles in the revolutionary war than he triumphed in, he
ultimately clenched the victory needed for independence from the British at
Yorktown, Virginia. The siege at Yorktown, the last major operation of the war,
was the only one in which Washington directly commanded the American Army.
glaring example of Washington’s leadership skills is displayed in his choice
for his first Presidential cabinet. He chose Alexander Hamilton for Treasury Secretary.
Hamilton would prove to be very productive in laying the foundations for the
federal government’s role in the economic future of that new Nation. Some
historians actually believe that the best decision Washington made at the onset
of his administration was to bring Hamilton into the position.
selected Thomas Jefferson for Secretary of State. Even though Jefferson came
from a fundamentally different political view than Hamilton regarding the size
and influence of the Federal government, Washington knew that he could trust Jefferson
to do what was needed to produce the best possible results in the formulation
of the government.
Washington was very direct at dealing with domestic policies and problematic
issues. One domestic conflict that arose was the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion
of 1794. An uprising amongst many Pennsylvania farmers about a Federal excise
tax on alcohol. Washington rallied thousands of troops and personally led the
march directly into Pennsylvania. This large showing of military strength ended
the rebellion almost immediately.
declared that the United States would remain neutral when war broke out between
England and France in 1793. This decision would cause several difficulties for
the following presidential office holders. But at the time it was the best
decision for the young Nation that was just recovering from the psychological
and financial devastations that resulted from the conflict that had won their
independence from the British monarchy.
served for two four year terms, even though he was somewhat reluctant to accept
the newly formed office. Washington was ready to retire after his first term
but was persuaded by men such as Madison and Jefferson that the new nation
might founder without him to lead it.
is especially known for one very demonstrative act that probably perpetuated
the ideals and values of the new American republic more than any other
precedent or law he may have participated in. This was articulated in the
smooth and grace filled transfer of his presidency to his successor John Adams.
Grace is in knowing when to leave.
Washington left his office in a dignified manner at the end of his second term
in office. This displayed to not only the citizens of the United States, but
also to many other world governments that authority and power can and should be
transferred to succeeding leaders without turmoil or military involvement.
This precedent is often thought to model
Roman military leader of antiquity known as Cincinnatus. It was probably the
most obvious display of Washington’s character in his professional career.
There were those who had considered making Washington the king of the young and
thriving nation. However, Washington saw his duties and his responsibilities
from a whole different political standpoint and thus he acted in the manner
that he did upon his retirement from public service.
 Boyer, Paul S. United
States History (New York, Oxford
University Press, 2001) p.857
 Bowman, John The
History of the American Presidency
(North Dighton, Massachusetts, 2002) p.16
 Haffner, Craig The
Presidents Volume 1 (History
Channel.com, 2005) DVD