Precedents Set by George Washington, Research Paper Example

George Washington was the first president of the United States, and many of his actions were regarded as precedents by presidents that would follow him. Although he did not infringe upon the policy making powers that he believed the Constitution gave both him and Congress, his determination regarding foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern for Washington (The White House, 2013).

Washington’s passion for foreign policy caused him to issue the Proclamation of  Neutrality in 1793- a proclamation designed to keep the US out of further wars (Revolutionary War and Beyond, 2012). His passion for foreign policy has continued through today through the department of defense and the department of homeland security. The jobs of these two departments on todays cabinet is to keep the country safe from foreign threats.

Washington, as the first president of the United States, created a cabinet that would help him lead the country. The cabinet represented various departments of the government and presidents continue to appoint cabinet members today. Washington’s cabinet was composed of Secretary’s of State John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph and Timothy Pickering. His Secretary of Treasury consisted of Alexander Hamilton and Oliver Wolcott. His Secretary of War department consisted of Henry Knox and James McHenry and his Attorney Generals were Edmund Randolph, William Bradford and Charles Lee (Summers, 2008).

The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Today’s cabinet consists of “15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General” (The White House).

Currently, on President Obama’s cabinet, Joseph Biden serves as the vice president, John Kerry serves as the secretary of the department of the state, Chuck Hagel serves as the head of the department of defense, General Eric H. Holder, Jr. is in charge of the department of justice, Sally Jewell is head of the department of the interior, Thomas Vilsack leads the department of agriculture and Rebecca Blank leads the department of commerce. Also on Obama’s cabinet is Secretary Seth Harris, head of the department of labor, Kathleen Sebellius, head of the department of health and human services, Ray LaHood, department of transportation head, Daniel Poneman, department of energy chair, Anne Duncan, head of the department of education, Eric Shineski, head of veteran affairs and Janet Napolitano, department of homeland security chair.

Washington was the first president to leave office after two terms. Since then, it has been a precedent that presidents can only serve two terms as the president of the United States. This is one more situation where the first president set the stage for the rest of the presidents to follow.


“George Washington.” The White House. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2013.

Summers, Robert S. “George Washington – President of the United States (POTUS).” George Washington – President of the United States (POTUS). POTUS, n.d. Web. 08 May 2013.

“The Cabinet.” The White House. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2013.

“George Washington -Proclamation of Neutrality -April 22, 1793.” Revolutionary War and Beyond. N.p., 2012. Web. 08 May 2013.