The election of 1796 results in John Adams becoming the nation’s second chief executive, but he quickly finds more questions than answers awaiting him on the path to taking the oath of office. Adams is immediately faced with the need to make decisions about who to keep from the previous administration, what if any policy changes to make, and even where he and his family will live. It’s a transition unlike any other in American history to that point, and with various pressing issues waiting on the desk, the honeymoon for the new President promised to be short-lived. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
After President Washington releases his Farewell Address, informing the nation that he would not seek another term, the 1796 election is carried out though, both domestically and abroad, there is much confusion about how exactly the United States would decide upon its next president. Meanwhile, the French plot to interfere with the election, the public attacks on Washington continue, and a military leader meets his untimely end. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: “”Evacuation day” and Washington’s triumphal entry in New York City, Nov. 25th, 1783,” Edmund Restein and Ludwig Restein, c. 1879, courtesy of the Library of Congress
Though finally managing to resolve his personnel issues, Washington and his Cabinet find themselves faced with a host of new problems including a new round of debate over the Jay Treaty and political maneuverings by the Democratic-Republicans as the next presidential election draws ever closer. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: “James McHenry” by H Pollock, courtesy of Wikipedia
On May 21st, 1796, Ona/Oney Judge slips out of the President’s House in Philadelphia, PA in a bid to obtain her freedom from enslavement. The story of her being born into slavery at Mount Vernon, her being brought to work in the Washingtons’ household, and the Washingtons’ attempts at bringing Ona back into captivity is a narrative that brings much insight into the institution of slavery in the United States in the mid-1790s as well as a more complete view of George Washington’s legacy. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: Newspaper advertisement of the escape of Oney Judge with a reward for her return, 24 May 1796, Philadelphia Gazette, courtesy of Wikipedia
With positions in his Cabinet to fill, Washington is finding it difficult to convince anyone to join his administration. Meanwhile, the son of his Revolutionary War comrade the Marquis de Lafayette shows up in the US and places the President in a difficult position as he’s forced to choose between personal loyalty and public duty. Around the same time, the disgraced Edmund Randolph makes his way up and down the east coast gathering evidence to clear his name. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: Timothy Pickering by Charles Willson Peale, courtesy of Wikipedia
Despite achieving a major diplomatic victory in the Northwest Territory, the administration is rocked by controversy as Secretary of State Randolph is confronted about allegations of collusion with the French while Washington himself is accused of improper use of public finances. Scandals and controversies abound in this episode! Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com
Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar, courtesy of Wikipedia
“Oliver Cromwell” by Samuel Cooper [c. 1656], courtesy of Wikipedia
“George Washington” by Gilbert Stuart [c. 1797], courtesy of Wikipedia
While the construction of the nation’s new capital proceeds, the public battle against the Jay Treaty begins in earnest upon its publication by Benjamin Franklin Bache. Demonstrations and meetings go on up and down the Eastern seaboard, and even Alexander Hamilton has difficulty determining how to respond. Meanwhile, Washington has to fill John Jay’s position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and deal with the last remaining member of his first Cabinet now looking to find a way out of his post. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: Burning of Stamp Act [c.1903], courtesy of Wikipedia
As Alexander Hamilton readies himself to depart from the administration at the beginning of 1795, I use this defining point of the Washington presidency to explore various points of domestic policy and foreign issues including the establishment of the Trans-Oconee Republic, the state of the Democratic-Republican faction, the first steps of the Thermadorian government in France, the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, the influx of refugees from Saint-Domingue and the progress of the Haitian Revolution, and British intrigues in the Caribbean. Many issues face Washington and his new Cabinet secretaries as they enter the final two years of his second term. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: “Portrait of Tadeusz Kościuszko” by Karl Gottlieb Schweikart, courtesy of Wikipedia
Washington, his household, and his administration struggle to deal with an epidemic of yellow fever as it makes its way through the city of Philadelphia, indiscriminately infecting people from all walks of life including a resident at the President’s House. In addition to the loss of life, the epidemic brings up questions about how best to utilize medical knowledge to the public good, the role of the press, the relationship of individuals to their environment, and the ability and role of the government in a crisis management situation. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The lead up to Washington’s second inaugural ended up being much more dramatic than anyone could have imagined as personal conflicts threatened the construction of the Federal City, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds threatened to be made public knowledge, and Representative William Branch Giles filed resolutions against Hamilton accusing him of official misconduct and calling for his dismissal. In the middle of all this, a reluctant president turns to his family for support as he prepares himself for what already appears will be a more turbulent four years ahead than his first term had been. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.