VICE PRESIDENT: John Adams (1735-1826), of Massachusetts, served 1789-1797. See "John Adams, 2d President."
Secretary of State. (1) Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), of Virginia, served 1790-1793. See "Thomas Jefferson, 3d President," "Career before the Presidency." (2) Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753-1813), of Virginia, served 1794-1795. Author of the Randolph (or Virginia) plan, favoring the large states, at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Transferred from attorney general, he remained aloof of the struggle between Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Denounced by supporters of both, he was largely ineffective and was forced to resign amid unfounded charges that he had misused his office for private gain. (3) Timothy Pickering (1745-1829), of Massachusetts, served 1795-1800. Transferred from war secretary, he was a staunch Hamiltonian and stayed on in the Adams administration.
Secretary of the Treasury. (1) Alexander Hamilton (c. 1755-1804), of New York, served 1789-1795. President Washington's closest advisor, he was a great admirer of British institutions and a master of power politics. He saw his role in the government as that of prime minister. His influence went beyond economics to include foreign affairs, legal matters, and long-range social planning. He advocated and helped create a strong central government at the expense of states' rights. He put the infant nation on sound financial footing by levying taxes to retire the national debt and promoted the creation of a national bank. He also advocated tariffs to insulate fledgling American manufacturing from foreign competition. Hamilton's vision of America's future encompassed the evolution from a largely agrarian society to an industrial giant, a national transportation program to facilitate commerce and blur regional differences, a strong permanent national defense, and a sound, conservative monetary system. Even after resigning his post, he kept his hands on the controls of power. Washington continued to consult him. Hamilton's successor, Oliver Wolcott, and others in the cabinet took his advice. He even helped draft Washington's Farewell address. The foremost conservative leader of his day, he was anathema to Thomas Jefferson and his supporters. (2) Oliver Wolcott (1760-1833), of Connecticut, served 1795-1800. A lawyer and Hamilton supporter, he stayed on in the Adams administration.
Secretary of War. (1) Henry Knox (1750-1806), of Massachusetts, served 1789-1794. Chief of artillery and close adviser to General Washington during the Revolution and war secretary under the Articles of Confederation, he was a natural choice for this post. He pressed for a strong navy. Fort Knox was named after him. (2) Timothy Pickering (1745-1829), of Massachusetts, served January-December, 1795. A lawyer and veteran of the Revolution, he strengthened the navy. He resigned to serve as secretary of state. (3) James McHenry (1753-1816), of Maryland, served 1796-1800. He had served as a surgeon during the Revolution and was a prisoner of war. He stayed on in the Adams administration. Fort McHenry at Baltimore was named after him.
Attorney General. (1) Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753-1813), of Virginia, served 1789-1794. He helped draft President Washington's proclamation of neutrality. Washington disregarded his opinion that a national bank was unconstitutional. He resigned to become secretary of state. (2) William Bradford (1755-1795), of Pennsylvania, served 1794-1795. He was a state supreme court justice at the time of his appointment. (3) Charles Lee (1758-1815), of Virginia, served 1795-1801. He was a brother of Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. He urged, unsuccessfully, that the United States abandon its policy of neutrality and declare war on France. He stayed on in the Adams administration.
ADMINISTRATION: April 30, 1789-March 3, 1797.
Precedents. "Many things which appear of little importance in themselves and at the beginning," President Washington observed, "may have great and durable consequences from their having been established at the commencement of a new general government."10 With this in mind, then, he proceeded cautiously, pragmatically, acting only when it seemed necessary to flesh out the bare-bones framework of government described so sparingly in the Constitution: (1) In relying on department heads for advice, much as he had used his war council during the Revolution, he set the pattern for future presidents to consult regularly with their cabinet. (2) Because Congress did not challenge his appointments, largely out of respect for him personally rather than out of principle, the custom evolved that the chief executive generally has the right to choose his own cabinet. Congress, even when controlled by the opposition party, usually routinely confirms such presidential appointments. (3) How long should a president serve? The Constitution did not then say. Washington nearly set the precedent of a single term, for he had originally decided to retire in 1793, but remained for a second term when it became clear that the nonpartisan government he had so carefully fostered was about to fragment. Thus he set the two-term standard that lasted until 1940. (4) When John Jay resigned as chief justice, Washington went outside the bench for a successor rather than to elevate one of the sitting justices to the top position, as many had expected him to do. In disregarding seniority as a necessary qualification to lead the Supreme Court, Washington established the precedent that has enabled his successors to draw from a much more diverse and younger talent pool than that of a handful of aging incumbent jurists.
Indian Affairs. In 1791 President Washington dispatched forces under General Arthur St. Clair to subdue the Indians who had been resisting white settlement of the Northwest Territory. St. Clair failed, having been routed by Miami Chief Little Turtle on the Wabash River. Washington then turned to Revolutionary War veteran "Mad" Anthony Wayne, who before launching the expedition spent many months training regular troops in Indian warfare. He marched boldly into the region, constructed a chain of forts, and on August 20, 1794, crushed the Indians under Little Turtle in the Battle of Fallen Timbers near present-day Toledo, Ohio. Under the terms of the Treaty of Greenville (1795), the defeated tribes ceded disputed portions of the Northwest Territory to the