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Showing His Teeth by Steve Payne

Author 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 author(s).


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 dentures.

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 being first.

Author 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 Today in Alternate History web site for Showing His Teeth.

Other Contemporary Stories

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Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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