There are too many George Washington Accomplishments to list. Some are small while some are significant. Nobody will quite understand how important he was to the founding of America.
He has been called the Indispensable Man, which is accurate.
Here are the 5 most important George Washington Accomplishments throughout the Revolution and his Presidency. Each of these came at a critical point in American history that could have torn the nation down the middle if he had not handled it appropriately.
1. Kept the Continental Army Together
There is much debate as to whether or not General George Washington was a great general when it comes to tactics.
The reality is, there were probably men throughout the American Revolution such as Nathanael Greene, Daniel Morgan, John Starks, and even Benedict Arnold that were better tacticians, but I don’t know of anyone that would say he wasn’t a great leader.
When he arrived in Boston the men were disorganized, did not dispose of there bodily excrement correctly, and their leadership structure was fragmented. Washington was tasked with bringing this rag-tag army together.
Throughout the war he dealt with men deserting, Congress not paying his men and officers, his peers betraying him and even trying to overthrow him, and he did not lose his composure.
During arguably one of the hardest winters, Washington brought in Baron von Steuben, a man of questionable character but excellent military skills, to train his beat-up army into becoming a professional group of soldiers. These men were tested at the Battle of Monmouth and held the field against the British.
His greatest test of the American Revolution came after the victory of Yorktown. His army had not been paid and his officers were grumbling. With peace on the horizon, many believed that Congress would disband the army and not pay them what they were owed.
An old nemesis of General Washington, Horatio Gates, began to lead the charge to usurp Washington’s authority and threaten Congress.
Washington heard about a meeting planned with Gates and the other officers. He then wrote to the generals and told them that the meeting was unauthorized since he, the Commander-in-chief, had not authorized and set up another meeting with the officers.
He arrived at the meeting and began to deliver a speech. He then pulled a letter out of his pocket and could not read it. He pulled out his spectacles so that he could read the letter and said these famous words,
Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.
His officers began to become emotional and some began to weep. Washington read the letter and then left the room. The Newburgh Conspiracy ended there.
2. General Washington Returns Army to Congress
After the war, King George III asked Benjamin West what Washington would do. He expected the American Revolution to end the same way that every revolution ended by turning on itself.
When he learned that Washington would probably return the army to Congress and go back to civilian life King George said,
If he does that he will be the greatest man in the world!
When Washington returned to civilian life the entire world was shocked. It had never been done before and every revolution in history always led to some form of a dictatorship rather than a republic.
It set an example for the United States because General Washington was the most powerful man in the country.
3. George Washington and the Connecticut Compromise
After a few years in civilian life, the country again needed Washington’s leadership.
The Articles of Confederation was sufficient to fight a revolution but was not sufficient in be governing a nation. It had come under fire by staunch Federalists and others knew that a change needed to be made. There needed to be a stronger Federal government to manage the states.
However, the Convention was stuck at an impasse when it came to the Connecticut provision.
Smaller states were worried that the larger states would simply overpower them. They put forth a provision that all states would be equal in Congress.
The Federalists opposed and would not agree. Washington was on the side of the Federalists and the convention stalled.
After much thought and deliberation, Washington switched his vote from Nay to Yay which then carried the Virginia delegation forward and the dominos began to fall in favor of the Connecticut Compromise.
Washington’s ability to change his mind for the better of the country rather than his own personal beliefs was a staple throughout his life.
4. George Washington’s Foreign Policy
When Thomas Jefferson arrived in the United States after his diplomatic mission in France ended he was given the position of Secretary of State in Washington’s cabinet.
Jefferson, however, returned a radical and in favor of the French Revolution. He believed their revolution to be an offshoot of the American Revolution and wished America to help them just as the French had helped America.
Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s Secretary of Treasury, believed that the United States should repair their relationship with England.
Hamilton’s plan was rooted in realism while Jefferson’s plan was rooted in idealism.
In the end, Washington chose realism over idealism which proved to be correct. The French Revolution ended with Napoleon becoming Emperor and beginning the Napoleonic Wars. This included a full war with Great Britain.
Washington believed it best for the young nation to stay out of entangling foreign alliances. He spoke of it in his Farewell Address and practiced it throughout his Presidency.
He navigated through complicated diplomatic matters and saved the country from getting into a war that they would not be able to win.
5. George Washington Retires From Politics
After his second term, George Washington again returned to public life. He could have served until the end of his life, but this set an example to the country of how to give up power.
John Adams was elected the 2nd President of the United States and after his inauguration, Washington told him
I am fairly out, and you are fairly in. See which of us is the happiest
Again his retirement shocked the world who had never seen a world leader stop down from power without being removed by a coup or death.
He delivered his farewell speech which talked against party politics and favored unity and compromise and again spoke of avoiding entangling European alliances.
While party politics could not be avoided, his foreign policy did influence future presidents.