Birth-Death: (1732 - 1799 ) Term: (1789-1797 )
George Washington was the head of a new and growing nation. The new government had been established, but remained untested. It was Washington's belief that the United States must remain a neutral third party in order to survive.
Foreign Events of George Washington
The Treaty of Paris of 1783 established peace with Great Britain. However, even though the United States defeated Great Britain and won its independence it was still a very weak nation, and it was viewed as insignificant by the European Community. As the country stabilized domestically, Washington sought for ways to improve its foreign relations, and lower barriers to trade.
According to the Treaty of Paris, the United States' western border was the Mississippi River, and the southern border was with Spain. Thus, the United States lacked a port on the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish also did not allow U.S. ships to navigate the Mississippi south of the border. Thomas Pinckney was sent by Washington to talk with the Spanish about the above problems. He returned with a very favorable treaty that gave the U.S. not only the right to navigate the Mississippi, but also the right of deposit at New Orleans.
At the same time as Pinckney was talking with the Spanish. John Jay was sent to negotiate with the British. In 1793 Great Britain stated that it would not follow the provisions of the treaty of Paris and would not leave its posts on the Great Lakes, until the United States repaid all debts to Great Britain. In the Jay treaty the British agreed to leave the posts, but in return American ships could not trade for sugar or molasses with the West Indies. The treaty was highly unpopular, but Washington realized that he needed to establish peace with Great Britain at any price: the country could not withstand another war.
In order to avoid war with Great Britain, Washington also refused to help the people in the French revolution. While the American public was ready to help the Frenchmen and their fight for "Liberty, equality, and fraternity," the government was strongly against it. When an ambassador named Genet from the French arrived to the U.S. in 1793, he realized that he could get no help from the government. Thus, he hired people and recruited privateers to disrupt British trade in the Indies. Washington was outraged that Genet bypassed the government, and demanded Genet's recall. However, by this time the revolution has taken a more violent approach and Genet would have been executed had he returned to France. He appealed to Washington, and Washington pardoned him, in addition to making him the first political refugee to seek sanctuary in the United States.
Throughout his presidency, Washington tried to keep the country peaceful, while attaining stability at home. By avoiding war he had enabled the new government to take root, he prepared the way of growth for the West, and by maintaining trade he had safeguarded national revenues and public credit.
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