Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's like posting First! in comments...

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart (mostly). 

Ask anyone who the first president of the US was, and they'll either look at you blankly and have no idea, or they'll tell you that the first president was George Washington. 

Ask them when his presidency started, and most people will tell you 1776.

... Unfortunately, that's a myth. George Washington didn't become president until 1789.

Yes, that means there's a 13 year gap between the kick-off of the Revolutionary War / American War of Independence and Washington's presidency. 

So what happened? 

The map looks a little different now, I know. 

It gets a little tricky to explain, but George Washington was the first president of the United States of America under the current Constitution. But that wasn't the first government that was set up after the US gained independence from England. 

The first government was the Articles of Confederation. Each of the 13 colonies was an independent country. Basically, the Articles of Confederation was an agreement between these 13 nation-states to work together jointly, while retaining their independence. They each printed their own money. They each managed their own taxes. And they each governed themselves as independent nations. 

A modern example for how it worked is the current European Union. It's not an exact match, but you get the basic idea. 

Instead of having a central federal government, the Confederation was a loose confederation of nations that had what was called the Congress of the Confederation. * This Congress had a president, though his abilities and legal powers were far smaller than the ones the US presidents have under the Constitution.  This Congress of the Confederation had 16 successive presidents. (The longest was president for about 2 years, the shortest term was 4 days).  [**]

I won't say that the Confederation was an unmitigated disaster, but it wasn't a raving success. 8 of its years of power were during the War of Independence, which does go some way in explaining how it ate though presidents at an average rate of more than one a year. 

years after the war, the government was reformed so that instead of the Articles of Confederation, the state were joined via the Constitution, creating the United States of America government we have today, and George Washington was the first president of the new government

No comments:

Post a Comment