George Washington established many precedents during his tenure of office, but one that had arguably the greatest impact was his establishment, not by law but by practice, of what we now know of as the Cabinet. To examine the beginnings of this institution and what it meant for the Washington presidency, I am joined in this special episode by Lindsay Chervinsky, a historian with the White House Historical Association and author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. In our conversation, Lindsay provided great insights into Washington’s thought process in turning to the Cabinet as an advisory body as well as how the events and culture of the 1790s influenced the development of the executive branch. Additional resources for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Images: Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Ph.D., courtesy of the author, and “Henry Knox” by Gilbert Stuart [c. 1806], 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
Developments on both sides of the Atlantic keep the administration busy in 1794. Prominent envoys are sent to both Britain and France in order to avert the US being drawn into conflict with a foreign power. General Wayne and his troops march into action in the Northwest Territory. Even Washington is getting into the action as he heads into the field to face the rebels in western Pennsylvania. Though only five years old, the new government under the Constitution is tested like never before. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured image: John Jay, copy based on an original by Gilbert Stuart, courtesy of Wikipedia
The Washington administration is beset by various problems in the west while the British threaten American shipping interests in the West Indies, leading the two nations on the path to war. Though growing ever more tired of his position, President Washington must devise a plan to thwart attempts at rebellion in the west, decide upon an envoy to send east to London to seek out a diplomatic resolution, and begin work to build the US Navy. No rest for a weary President in 1794! Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Washington and his administration adjusts to the shake-up following Jefferson’s departure from the Cabinet. Meanwhile, attention is turned west due to General Wayne making steps to take his Legion of the United States into action as an attempt at negotiation with native forces fails in part because of British interference. The federal government must also decide how to approach an increased uproar coming from western Pennsylvania over the whiskey excise tax. Though Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton has to devote a good portion of his time in the first part of 1794 to defending his record, this doesn’t stop him from meddling in affairs with other parts of the government. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.