On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. “As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent,” he wrote James Madison, “it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”
Check out more information about George Washington, as well as our other presidents, at the White House website.
Check out some of our books on George Washington:
by David Hackett Fischer
Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost ninety percent of his army and was driven across the Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, Washington–and many other Americans–refused to let the Revolution die. Even as the British and Germans spread their troops across New Jersey, the people of the colony began to rise against them. George Washington saw his opportunity and seized it. On Christmas night, as a howling nor’easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis’s best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington’s men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer’s richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. At the same time, they developed an American ethic of warfare that John Adams called “the policy of humanity,” and showed that moral victories could have powerful material effects. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning, in a pivotal moment for American history.
The general and Mrs. Washington : the untold story of a marriage & a revolution
by Bruce Chadwick
Until now the story of the American Revolution has been incomplete. Many have told the stories of blood and battle, of heroes and traitors, but no one has told the tale of the union that helped form the Union.
The history of America’s First Family is inexorably tied to the workings of the revolution. Martha’s son Jackie (she had four children and George had none) was 28 when he died at Yorktown. George’s own life would have been lost on multiple occasions if not for Martha. Only she could bring comfort and grace to the winter camps and it was in this manner that the revolutionaries came to see Martha not only as a kindred spirit, but as a beloved heroine.
Here is the story of the fateful marriage of the richest woman in Virginia and the man who could have been king. In telling their story, Chadwick explains not only their remarkable devotion to each other, but also why the wealthiest couple in Virginia became revolutionaries who risked the loss of not only their vast estates, but also their very lives.
George Washington: a biography in his own words
Edited by Ralph K. Andrist, with an introduction by Donald Jackson
BIO W318w v. 1
This book is based on The papers of George Washington.