There were only two Federalist Presidents in American History: George Washington and John Adams. Even though Washington considered himself an independent, he generally favored Federalism.
1st President 1789-1797
- Born: February 22, 1732 in Pope’s Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia
- Died: December 14, 1799 at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
- Home: Mount Vernon, Virginia
- Parents: Augustine (1694-1743) and Mary Ball (1708-1789) Washington
- Wife: Martha Dandridge Curtis (1731-1802)
- Marriage: January 6, 1759
- Children: None; Adopted two from his wife’s first marriage
- Occupations (Career): Surveyor, Soldier, Planter
- Religion: Episcopalian
- Political Party: None (Federalist)
- Political Offices Before Presidency: Member of Virginia House of Burgesses, Delegate to Continental Congress, President of Constitutional Convention
- Military Service: Virginia Militia, Commander-in-Chief of Continental Army
- Election Results: 1789: Unanimous, 69 electoral Votes
- Election Results: 1792: Unanimous, 132 Electoral Votes
- Vice President: John Adams of Massachusetts 1789-1797
- States added to the Union: Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee
- Amendments to the Constitution: Bill of Rights (The first 10), and the Eleventh
- Washington’s mother lived to see him become president
- Washington and his mother had a strained relationship
- After his father died, Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence, acted as his surrogate father
- Washington was the only president who never actually lived in the White House. It was still being constructed when he left office
- Washington considered himself an independent, but two political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, had already formed by 1792. Washington preferred the Former, because its members were his supporters, while the Democratic-Republican party was formed as a result of anger towards Washington
Washington is considered to be America’s second greatest President
- Washington set many precedents for the Government to follow: establishing a checks-and-balances system, as well as passing the Bill of Rights, giving Americans rights not stated in the Constitution
- Washington was also the only president unanimously elected, being elected with every vote in both elections
- He proclaimed neutrality while a devastating war was going on in Europe, saving Young America from devastation
- He crushed the Whiskey Rebellion, establishing government power over the states
- He astounded the world by stepping down as president when his terms were up
He had few opponents and many supporters, but he angered his enemies by signing Jay’s Treaty, which stated that in exchange for Britain withdrawing its troops from the North West territory, Washington would relinquish the U.S. right of Neutrality on the seas, leading to the impressment of U.S. sailors. To learn more about impressment, visit my previous post on that subject.
Washington led this country like no other chief executive, and in his farewell address, he warned against political parties forming, stating that it would collapse the American government and lead to corruption and violence. But even Washington couldn’t stop the forming of political parties.
Washington was then succeeded by his vice-president, an experienced diplomat and the man who signed Washington up for Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.
John Adams2nd President 1797-1801
- Born: October 30, 1735 in Braintree (Now Quincy) Massachusetts
- Died: July 4, 1826, in Quincy, Massachusetts
- Home: Peacefield, Quincy, Massachusetts
- Parents: John Adams (1691-1761) and Susanna Boylston (1699-1797) Adams
- Wife: Abigail Smith (1744-1818)
- Marriage: October 25, 1764
- Children: Abigail Amelia (1765-1813), John Quincy (1767-1848), Charles ( 1770-1800), and Thomas (1772-1832)
- Occupations: Teacher, Farmer, Lawyer, Surveyor, Selectman
- Religion: Unitarian Branch of Congregationalism
- Political Party: Federalist
- Political Offices Before Presidency: Member of Massachusetts Legislature, Member of Continental Congress, Minister to the Netherlands and Britain, Vice-President
- Military Service: None
- Election Results: 1796: 71 Electoral Votes to 68 for Thomas Jefferson
- Vice President: Thomas Jefferson of Virginia 1797-1801
- Sates Added to the Union: None
- Amendments to the Constitution Added: None
- Adam’s mother lived to see him become president, and like Washington, their relationship was strained
- Adams is the only president other than Jefferson who signed the Declaration of Independence
- Adams was the only president who had a vice president from a different political party
- Adams was also the first president to live in the White House, then called the Executive Mansion. The White House had been completed in 1800
- Adams was the first one-term president and the first to be defeated for Re-election
- Adams set a precedent by not attending his successor’s Inaugural
- Adam’s son, John Quincy, later became president
- Adams and Jefferson rekindled their friendship after being political rivals for years
- Adams died on the 4th of July, the same day as Jefferson
- Adams participated in the Quasi-War and resisted public support for an all-out war with France. Instead, Adams used his diplomatic experience to sign a treaty with France, ending the Impressment of sailors for a time.
- Adams also used controversial wartime powers to limit the Democratic-Republican press, passing the Alien, Sedition, and Naturalization acts. He could now restrict immigration and imprison Americans for disapproving with his administration. Jefferson himself was jailed for a month for writing up the Kentucky Resolution, establishing state’s rights.
- After Adam’s defeat, he made the so-called Midnight Appointments, called that because he made hundreds of new federal judgeships and made thousands of new appointments late in the night to restrict the power of Jefferson, who had been elected the new president.
Even though Adams made some controversial decisions, he saved the nation from a war with France that it was not prepared for, and he will always be remembered for that. He was defeated for Re-election and succeeded by his old enemy and current Vice-President, Thomas Jefferson.