scorecardresearch

Who Was The First President?

Dancy Mason

George Washington was the first president of The United States of America—but few people know the whole story behind his presidency. For one thing, he didn’t even want it.


Who Was The First President?

The Great American Origin

Washington started out his path to the presidency long before America was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. He actually began as a commander in the colonial army, rising up the ranks by fighting for Britain in conflicts like the French and Indian War. Still, the seeds of discord were planted in Washington from early on.

In particular, he nursed a grievance against Merry Old England when his superiors passed him over for a military promotion. But how did a personal grudge lead to the presidency? Well, it almost didn’t.

Washington was always an ambitious, politically-minded man, but he was also something of a househusband. In January 1759, the 26-year-old Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis.

Soon enough, the happy couple settled down at his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia, and Washington got to work growing tobacco, hobnobbing with the social elite, occasionally dabbling in politics, and generally living a stable, uneventful life. Unfortunately, the American Revolution was about to come knocking…

Revolution to Retirement

When the British started unfairly hiking up taxes in America, Washington was one of the loudest voices to speak out against the parliamentary acts. So when this unrest led to full-blown revolution, Washington’s political stances and military background made him the perfect choice to become the Continental Army’s commander in chief.

Of course, we all know now that he and his countrymen won the war and their independence—but believe it or not, this victory didn’t veer straight into Washington’s presidency. Why? Because he quit first.

In fact, Washington quit very publicly. After leading his country to triumph, he gave a 1783 retirement speech to Congress that he called “this last solemn act of my official life.” He then made the celebratory farewell rounds before leaving for his beloved Mount Vernon and a quiet life.

Even more surprisingly, aside from a nagging worry that the new republic needed a strong national constitution, Washington was perfectly happy with his choice. That was supposed to be the end of that. Instead, it was the beginning of America as we know it.

George Bless America

By 1787, the republic was indeed fracturing. In response, the future founding fathers organized the Constitutional Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. Oh, and to elect a president of the unified states. They also only wanted one man for the job: George Washington.

It was not an easy road to convince him, but when they finally got him to come to the convention, the deal was all but done. The minute he walked into the room, Congress was going to elect him president.

Sure enough, at the end of the convention, the Articles of Confederation were complete. The state electors voted Washington in as Commander in Chief again, this time of the nation. Washington’s response? Not exuberant. He had “anxious and painful sensations” about abandoning his “domestic felicity” in Mount Vernon. Washington even tried to refuse the $25,000 salary for the job. He also staunchly refused the suggested titles of “His Excellence” or “His Highness the President” for the more humble “Mr. President.” With this gesture, he set the trend as we know it.

All the same, George Washington became the very first President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789—whether he wanted it or not. It’s not the tale of pre-destined leadership we’ve come to expect, but it does make for one great origin story.

Source: 1


Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
When Edward VIII’s baby brother Prince John died of severe seizure at only 13 years old, Edward’s response was so disturbing it’s impossible to forget.
43 Scandalous Facts About Edward VIII, The King Who Lost His Crown 43 Scandalous Facts About Edward VIII, The King Who Lost His Crown “I wanted to be an up-to-date king. But I didn't have much time.”—King Edward VIII. For such a short-reigning king, Edward VIII left behind no shortage of controversy. First, there was the scandalous womanizing of…
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
The average person doesn't even get 50% correct. I guess it's hard to be smarter than an 8th grader...
Quiz: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth-Grader? Quiz: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth-Grader?
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
I had an imaginary friend named Charlie. My parents asked what he looked like, and I always replied “a little man.” When we moved away, Charlie didn't come with us. My mom asked where he was, and I told her that he was going to be a mannequin at Sears—but that wasn’t even the most disturbing part. The years passed by and I’d forgotten my imaginary friend, but when someone told me a story about my old house, I was chilled to the bone.
People Describe Creepy Imaginary Friends from Their Childhood People Describe Creepy Imaginary Friends from Their Childhood “I was a loner as a child. I had an imaginary friend—I didn't bother with him.”—George Carlin. Many adults had imaginary friends as children. At their best, these make-believe buddies were cute, helpful, and whimsical…
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
The average person only gets 10 right. You muggles don't stand a chance...
Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Harry Potter? Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About Harry Potter?


Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team