History Essay The United Sates declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Great Britain did not recognize its independence until, the Treaty of Paris, two years after the American forces defeated the Britain army at the siege of Yorktown. Since the Articles of Confederation were replaced by the U. S. Constitution in 1789, the United States has had forty-two different presidents. Among these presidents, two of the best have were George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. This essay will prove that George Washington was the greatest U. S. president of all time. There are certain attributes that good presidents have.
It is said that good presidents are always stubborn and disagreeable. 1 Along with those two qualities good presidents are intelligent, selfless, hard working, good communicators, good listeners, good problem solving tactics, determination, and they are able to recognize problems. George Washingtons rise to power started in 1732 when he was born, in Westmoreland, Virginia on his fathers farm. He lived until 1799, when he died at the age of sixty-seven. He served as president from 1789 threw until 1797. When growing up, George received most of his education from his father and older brother.
When he was 17 he was named the surveyor of Culpeper County, this was the first public office position he held. 2 When Washington was finished surveying, in November of 1752, he was appointed the adjutant in the colonial militia. His first mission did not come until the following summer, when he volunteered to take a message from Governor, to the French commander. Following this mission he was brought to the kings attention, and he was given a lieutenant colonels commission. 3 Washington showed his opposition to Britain started in 1759 when he became a member of Virginias House of Burgesses.
He was known to be shy and reserved4 but he opposed the British rules and regulations that they placed on the Americans and protested the Stamp Act and the Townshend act which in both cases placed taxes on people without consulting them. This was known as taxation without representation. After serving in the House of Burgesses for 15 years he was elected to the Continental congress. On June 15, 1775 the Continental Congress unanimously elected him general and commander in chief of its army. They chose George because he was respected for his military abilities, his selflessness, and his strong commitment towards colonial freedom.
General George Washington led his men and his country too freedom in the American war of independence. After 8 years of war, all George wanted to do was go back home too Mount Vernon and spend the rest of his life with his beloved wife Martha. Instead he ended up presiding over the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia. This is where he and delegates from the 13 colonies wrote the Constitution of the United Sates. This shows Washingtons desire to put what is best for the country before his on personal desires. This is a quality of a good president.
Washingtons days as president began in 1789, along with the ratification of the Constitution. George was unanimously voted president along with Vice-president John Adams. What makes George Washington different from a lot of U. S. presidents is that he as careful not to overstep the limits of his branch of government. He respected the independence of the legislative and judicial branches of government. Also, because he was the first president he was especially anxious not to set any dangerous trends that following presidents might abuse.
In fact, Washington rejected a movement by his fellow officers to make him King of the United States. 6 Washington had a conservative outlook. He made his cabinet with a balance of Liberals and Conservatives. 7 George was determined to be a strong and fair leader of his country. This is another quality of a good president. In Washingtons first term as president, he added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. This was an amendment that Washington knew the people desired. This specified the unalienable rights of American citizens. 8 This showed that he was able to recognize problems and respond in a way favorable to everybody.
Like every other new government Washington and his colleagues had trouble raising revenues. Congress gave Washington a bill that called for Tariffs on imports and exports, which Washington signed. With the money that was being raised from tariffs a new bill was brought too Washington for a signature. This was the bank bill. This bill was supported by Alexander Hamilton but was not supported by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson stated that the bill was unconstitutional because the constitution did not give the government the power to establish a national bank.
Hamilton said that the National bank was needed to help the government exercise other parts of the constitution, such as, the payment of public debt, coining of money, and regulation of commerce. Washington signed this bill because he felt that a strong central government was necessary and a strong government needed flexible from the constitution because unexpected situations were certain to arise. Washington established the first National Bank. By starting the National Bank it shows how Washington was able to recognize and solve problems. On March 4, 1793 George Washington was reelected to a second term as president.
Two weeks after his reelection the French Revolution began. Washington wanted to stay out of the French and British war so he issued the proclamation of neutrality. This kept the U. S. out of the French and British war. In 1794, a series of disturbances against U. S. federal law which placed taxes on Whiskey. Grain farmers believed that this was an attack on their liberty and economic well being. This was Washingtons first test on law enforcement power. Washington was one of the most liked presidents. He was known as a great people person and during his second term he created a lot of good ties with Spain, Great Britain, and Algiers.
Washington tied up all the loose ends with Britain, he gained free access to the Mississippi River from the Spanish, and he talked pirates into freeing American captives. 9 At the end of Washingtons second term as president he retired. This was the next precedent that Washington set. He returned to Mount Vernon where he eventually died in 1799. Abraham Lincolns life started in 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Lincoln moved many times when he was younger. When Lincoln was younger, there was little time for play. Most of the day was spent hunting, fishing, farming, and doing chores.
When Lincolns father Thomas could spare him from the chores Lincoln attended ABC school. 10 This is where Lincoln learned to become a hard worker. Lincolns working days started in 1831. Abe and his brother were hired to build a boat and float it down the Mississippi with a load of cargo on it. The boat was headed towards New Orleans and this is where Lincoln saw his first, but not last, slave auction. Lincoln is quoted in saying, if I ever got a chance to hit that thing, I would hit it hard. 11 Lincoln was not in favor of slavery but he was certainly to abolitionist.
Lincolns career in politics began in the spring of 1832, when Lincoln was 23, he ran for a seat on the Illinois House of Representatives. In his campaign, Lincoln called for construction of canals and roads, better schools, and a low interest rate to stimulate local economic growth. 12 Unfortunately Lincoln lost in this election. Following the election Lincoln took a job as the postmaster where he became well known and well liked. Despite losing the election Lincoln learned how to overcome failure and adversity. After the election, while working as the postmaster, Lincoln had lots of time to read, and keep up with politics.
Also, while working there, he became well known around the community which would later help him get elected. To make extra money, Lincoln, like fellow American president George Washington, had become surveyor. 13 Lincoln was surveyor of Sangamon County. In 1834 Lincoln made a second attempt to maintain a seat in the Illinois State legislature. This time Abe Lincoln was successful in gaining a seat. This shows Lincolns hard work, and determination. Lincoln was elected in 1834, 1836, 1838, and in 1840. Lincoln was successful in achieving his goal of relocating the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield.
In 1836, Lincoln became floor leader, and was encouraged to practice law by Congressman John T. Stuart. 14 Lincoln became a licensed attorney in 1836. After serving four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives Abe Lincoln begun to practice law. Lincoln was loosing interest in politics until Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an act that allowed Kansas and Nebraska to enter the union. What intrigued Lincoln was the fact that these two new states would each decide weather or not to become a free state or a slave state. This shows how Lincoln is willing to fight for a cause that he believes in.
In 1856 Lincoln declared himself a Republican and in 1858 he ran against Senator Stephen Douglas for a seat in the U. S. senate. Both Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were good public speakers. 15 Abe Lincoln lost by a narrow margin but it left the door open for him to be nominated for president by the Republican Party. Abe Lincoln defeated William Seward and on March 4, 1861 was sworn in as the 16th president of the United States. It is said that Abe Lincoln looked up to President George Washington and made the ideals of Washington his own. 16 In Lincolns inaugural address he said that he would not stop slavery.
This is believed to be Lincolns weak spot. He should have abolished slavery rate away. However, he would not allow any states to secede from the Union, which was beginning to happen. Despite Lincolns light-footed approach to slavery the south started attacking Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. Lincoln had to find the measure to win the war while upholding his oath too preserve, protect and defend17 the U. S. constitution. In the winter of 1861, war with Britain almost seemed certain until the intervention of Lincoln. The Trent affair happened when the confederacy sent two men to Britain to help gain support for the Southern cause.
After pushing threw a northern blockade Americans boarded a Britain boat, called the Trent, and took two prisoners. This was a violation of International law. Britain was furious with the states and was willing to go to war over this matter. Lincoln was able too prevent war by apologizing to the British. 18 This shows Lincolns communication skills, and how he is able to solve problems. If Britain had of declared war, it would have been fatal for the Union. In Lincolns second year in office he came up with the Emancipation Proclamation. This bill came into affect on Jan 1, 1863.
The bill stated that slaves within any state, or designated part of a statethen in rebellion, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. 19 The Emancipation Proclamation was brilliant. It increased support for the unions and it calmed the radical abolitionists. With the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln is able to end slavery and do what is needed to win the war, which is what is best for the country. This also shows his selflessness. In 1862, the confederacy issued a draft and in 1863, the north retaliated when the passed a conscription act of their own.
This bill made men between the ages of 20 and 45 liable for military service. This bill was violently opposed by workingmen and immigrants. They called it the rich mans law. However, Lincoln did what he thought was best for the country and left the draft alone. Lincoln said this bill was needed to keep up with the confederacy and win the war. Before the war was over, Abe Lincoln gave a lot of thought to reconstructing the country after the war was over. Whenever the union conquered an area they encouraged them to start a government loyal to the union. On December 8, 1863 Lincoln offered his Amnesty Proclamation.
This would pardon and southerner a full pardon with exception to certain leaders. Furthermore, anyone who took an oath in his state could vote in the next election. 20 The Amnesty Proclamation was essentially forgiveness and showed everybody that Lincoln was a forgiving man. In 1864, Lincoln was elected to a second term as president. On April 9, 1865 the confederacy surrendered to U. S. Grant, At Appomatax courthouse, a small village in Virginia. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, April 14 1865, Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth. This ultimately brought his reign of presidency to an end.
Although not mentioned above Lincoln faced many set backs when in the White House. His son Willie died and left his wife mentally ill. 21 Despite this Lincoln was still able to focus on his main duties. This is why is one of the greatest Presidents of all time. In Conclusion, it is difficult to make a clear decision on who was the best president. Although by reading the above you will clearly see that both presidents did many great things for their country. Despite the fact that each president faced different situations, it is clear that President George Washington was the greatest president of all time.