Growing rivalry between the French and British created new opportunities for George Washington. He was dispatched in October of 1753 to warn the French Commander at Fort Le Boeuf not to impede on British claimed territory. Following this dangerous and difficult journey Washington was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.. In 1758, Washington left the army to complete personal unfinished business at his estate in Mt. Vernon. While there, a group of influential friends had persuaded Washington to enter politics. Those friends were Thomas Jefferson and William Harrison. In 1769 Washington became a leader in Virginia’s House of Burgess. In 1769 he became a leader in Virginia’s opposition to Great Britain’s colonial policies. At first he had hoped for reconciliation because some of the British land policies had touched him personally, especially British land policies and restrictions on westward expansion. As a delegate to the first and second Continental Congress he was voted unanimously as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. (www.constitutionfacts.com)
After two great terms in presidency, George Washington left office in 1797. However, he felt he was leaving the country in the hands of a talented well developed government and with a well established financial system. (www.ameslab.gov)
In conclusion, George Washington is a legacy in the United States of America and his contributions are endless. From fighting in two major wars, to politician and then on to be the first president. He took a young nation and put it back on its feet. George Washington without a doubt deserves the title of “Founding Father of our Country”. (www.constitutionfacts.com)
William J. Clinton
William Clinton comes in second after George Washington in my opinion. Of course it took me until the last year or so to realize it. My disappointment in George Bush reminded me how much more peaceful and economically strong this country was while Mr. Clinton was our president. During his administration the U.S. enjoyed more peace and well being that at any other time in its history. He was also the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. Also during his administration unemployment was at its lowest, home ownership was at its highest. .(www.whitehouse.gov)
In the world he successfully dispatched forces to war torn Bosnia and bombed Saddam Hussein when U.S. inspectors were not allowed to look for evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. (www.searchfoxnews.com) A bold move in a peaceful time, but he made a powerful statement.
Along with the good, comes the bad too. He did stir up controversy by advocating the end to the ban on gays and lesbians in the armed forces. He was faced with ferocious opposition with that one and settled for a “don’t ask, ” don’t tell” policy that meant no official acknowledgment of gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors. Even more damaging to his political standing at one time was the attempt to reform the nations health care system. Hillary Rodham Clinton was put in charge of a task force to redesign the medical service industry. The committee unveiled its stupefying complicated plan in October 1993. It was virtually dead on arrival in Congress. The First Lady took a lot of abuse for that one. Clinton had better luck with the deficit reduction bill in 1993, which combined an increasingly buoyant economy to shrink the federal deficit to its lowest level in more than a decade. By 1998 economic policymakers were fighting how to spend projected federal budget surpluses. ( The Brief American Pageant)
As Bill Clinton tried to understand how his time in office fit into the stream of history he wrote these words. History is largely the story of our efforts to honor our founders, change to form a more perfect union. In calmer times our country has been well served by our two party system, with progressives and conservatives debating what to change and what to preserve. But when change is forced upon us by events, we all are tested and thrown back to our fundamental mission to widen the circle of opportunity, deepen the meaning of freedom, strengthen the bonds of our community. To me, that is what it means to make our union more perfect. (Clinton)
Our Declaration of Independence has earned Jefferson this spot in my report.
Thomas Jefferson was a freckled, sand haired, tall and awkward man. He was an eloquent correspondent, but not good at public speaking. He contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As what he was called a “silent member” of the Congress, Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. In following years he labored to make its words a reality in Virginia. ( www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents)
Jefferson became the third president of the United States and was this nations greatest champion of representative democracy and the rights of man.( www.etext.virginia.edu)
Jefferson stated “I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people” ( Jefferson)
Jefferson was a righteous man. Even when a treaty was agreed upon with France and the purchase of Louisiana was on the bargaining table, Jefferson still had reservations. He was pleased with the terms but uncertain whether the United States had authority to accept it, since he had always insisted that the federal government could rightfully exercise only those powers explicitly assigned to it. Nowhere did the constitution say anything about the acquisition of new territory. His advisors persuaded him that his treaty making power under the Constitution would justify the purchase of Louisiana. He finally agreed, trusting as he said ” that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of loose construction when it shall produce ill affects (Jefferson)
Let me end with a famous quotation from Thomas Jefferson – ” The essential principles of our government form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instructions, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety” (Jefferson)
His passion for setting free all slaves is the reason he is one of my choices. When Lincoln was elected President in 1860, seven slave states left the Union to form the Confederate States of America, and four more joined when it became hostile between the North and the South. The Civil War began and it was bloody as it engulfed the nation. Lincoln vowed to preserve the Union, enforce the laws of the United States and the end the secession. This war lasted over four years and took the lives of about 600,000 Americans.
Halfway through the war Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves within the Confederacy and changed the war from a battle to preserve the Union into a battle for freedom.
Lincoln was the first Republican President and union victory forever changed the claim that sovereignty suspended Federal Authority. Only a week after the Confederate forces surrendered, President Lincoln was killed by an assassin’s bullet. (www.americanpresident.org)
His life that was that of an honest and humble man. When he owned a store he thought he had charged someone too much for their purchase and walked 6 miles to return the money. When he became a lawyer he would only charge someone what he thought they could afford. These are just a couple of reasons why he was nicknamed “Honest Abe”. (Abraham Lincoln pg.10)
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was our 35 th president of the United States. I was very young when he became president, but from what I have seen , read and watched documentaries on, his kind demeanor yet strong leadership skills makes him one of my choices.
John Kennedy was raised in a rich, politically connected Irish family. With all this fortune surrounding him, he still strove to earn his own way which included writing a book (While England Slept – 1940) while at Harvard University and volunteering for hazardous combat duty during World War II. His war time service made him a hero.
While President he faced a number of foreign crisis, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. Kennedy was the youngest and first Roman Catholic to be elected president. (www.britannica.com/eb/article)
After a long succession of elderly presidents it was refreshing to for many to see the Kennedy’s family youth and vitality. Daughter Caroline was born in 1957 and John Jr. was born only a few days after Kennedy was elected president. A third child, Patrick died only two days after he was born.One particular image that will always stand out is that of John Jr. Playing the President’s desk in the oval office. The other is that of Jacqueline Kennedy whispering to John Jr to give a military salute as the casket carrying the President, his father passed by. (www.americanpresident.com )
David M. Kennedy, Lizabeth Cohen and Thomas A. Bailey. The Brief America Pageant. New York, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002
Oberle, Laura, Abraham Lincoln. Capstem Press, 2002