Showing His Teeth by Steve Payne
says: what if Commander-in-Chief George Washington was forced to usurp
the power of the Presidency in order to defeat France? Please note that the
opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the
1798: on July 4th,
on the anniversary of the declaration of independence, and taking an
expeditious decision that would ultimately destroy the careful
constitutional checks and balances laid down at the Philadelphia Convention,
President John Adams commissioned a Commander-in-chief of the armies.
Accordingly, George Washington was ordered to prepare for a war with France
that Adams hoped to avoid by "showing his teeth" in making a talismanic
appointment they both considered largely as symbolic as his ill-fitting
Reluctantly called out of retirement to serve his country
for the third time, Washington set about the business of planning for a
Provisional Army that might meet any emergency that might arise. Both Adams
and Washington hoped this activity could be achieved from Mount Vernon.
Soon enough though, the quasi-war escalated dramatically, the Provisional
Army was mobilized and once again Washington was called upon to save the
infant republic from a belligerent imperial power.
Constitutional amendments were required to place the country on a war
footing, legislation which at the time caused little alarm because of his
former empowerment from the Continental Congress. Proving woefully
inadequate, a whole new government structure was soon required to invest
Washington with the necessary powers to fight a second war of independence.
With the benefit of hindsight, the consequence of the War with France was a
weak civilian Presidency, Cabinet-style government and a peer-level military
authority. Because inasmuch as Washington had brought majestic power to the
office of the Presidency, he had now demonstrated the subordinacy of that
role to the defence of the Republic. In effect, the Imperial Powers who had
been scared off by Washington-as-President, had now been scared off by
Washington-as-C-in-C, and the sum total of that equation was that the
Presidency was fatally diminshed, an outcome that had been scarcely assisted
by John Adam's appalling performance in office.
Other great men such as Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight
Eisenhower, William Westmoreland and Norman Schwartzkopf would follow in his
steps as Commander-in-Chief, but George Washington had the distinction of
says original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's
genius © Ellis, Joseph J. Ellis, "His Excellency, George Washington".
(2004). To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
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superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy
Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting