In 1751, Pennsylvania lawmakers had a bell made to celebrate freedom. That year was the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania's charter. This charter, or official document, promised freedom to people in the colony.
Quakers founded Pennsylvania so they would be free to practice their religious beliefs. They gave people who practiced other beliefs the same freedom. They wrote a verse from the Bible on the bell: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.??
The Bell rang to bring citizens together for important announcements and events. It rang on July 8, 1776 for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. It rang when the U.S. Constitution was ratified.
The Bell rang on July 8, 1776, to call the people of Philadelphia. They listened to Captain John Nixon read aloud the Declaration of Independence.
The Great Train Ride
In 1915, the Bell traveled from Philadelphia to San Francisco by train. In towns and cities along the way, flag-waving crowds greeted the Bell with brass bands.
Main Idea George Washington became the first President under the Constitution.
The United States elected a President for the first time in 1789. The Constitution set up the system for elections. The states chose representatives for a group called the Electoral College. It was the job of the members of the Electoral College to vote for the President. Everyone in the first Electoral College agreed that George Washington was the only one for the job. Washington, however, was not sure he would succeed. He wrote,
“My Countrymen will expect too much from me.??
Washington knew his actions would set an example for other Presidents to follow. He acted with thought and care.
Souvenirs These buttons celebrated the new Congress and President. SKILL Primary Source What do you think the letters GW on the souvenir stand for?
Inauguration George Washington takes the oath of office at Federal Hall in New York City. Those behind him include Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox.
In April 1789, Washington traveled to New York City, where the government met. He was greeted as a hero. An excited crowd watched his inauguration (ihn aw gyur AY shun) in New York City. An inauguration is an official ceremony to make someone President. Washington promised to
“preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.??
Every President since Washington has made the same promise.
Congress created three departments to help the President run the executive branch. Washington chose people he trusted to run the departments. They were called Secretaries. Thomas Jefferson became Washington's Secretary of State. He would decide how the United States acted toward other countries. Washington picked Alexander Hamilton to take care of the nation's finances as Secretary of the Treasury. General Henry Knox, who had been in the army with Washington, became Secretary of War. Knox would be in charge of protecting the nation. Edmund Randolph became Attorney General. He would see that federal laws were obeyed.
These men often met at Washington's house to advise him. Together, they became known as the President's Cabinet. The Cabinet is a group chosen by the President to help run the executive branch and give advice. Every President since Washington has had a Cabinet.
REVIEW What is the purpose of the Cabinet?
Arguments in the Cabinet
Points of View
Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were both in Washington's Cabinet. They argued about the role of the government in the United States.
Jefferson wanted the nation's economy to help the farmers who owned small plots of land. He felt the people should be as free of government control as possible.
Hamilton believed that the nation would be stronger if its economy helped large businesses and trade. He thought that a strong government was necessary to keep order and make rules about trade.
Main Idea Hamilton and Jefferson argued about how the government should act.
Two Cabinet members, Hamilton and Jefferson, often disagreed. Hamilton wanted a strong national government that supported trade and manufacturing. Jefferson felt that the government should be limited so that it could not take away states' rights. He said it should support farming instead of trade.
Jefferson and Hamilton both had followers who formed political parties. A political party is a group of people who share similar ideas about government. People supporting Jefferson formed the Democratic-Republican Party. Hamilton's party was known as the Federalist Party.
Hamilton and Jefferson often gave the President opposite advice. For example, Hamilton wanted to start a national bank. He believed it would make the nation wealthier and stronger.
Jefferson was against the idea. He said that the government did not have the power to create the bank. Washington took Hamilton's advice. He approved the law that created a national bank.
The national bank controlled the money of the United States. Customers could keep money in savings accounts there. Today, a savings account is a way to earn money. The bank borrows from savings accounts to make loans. It earns money on the loans by charging interest. Interest is what people pay to borrow money. The bank also pays interest for the use of the money to each person who has a savings account.
Hamilton and Jefferson compromised on some problems. Hamilton supported Jefferson's wish to build a new national capital on the Potomac River, between Virginia and Maryland. A capital is the city where the government meets. In return, Jefferson agreed to Hamilton's plan to pay the nation's war debts.
President Washington chose the new capital's exact location. Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker, both astronomers, measured the land. A French engineer, Pierre L'Enfant (lahn FAHN), designed the city. Building began in 1792. The city was named Washington, to honor the President.
After eight years as President, Washington announced his retirement in a farewell address, or speech, to the nation. In his address, he advised people not to form political parties. He felt parties divided people. Washington also wanted the nation to stay out of wars between other countries. Britain and France were at war at this time. Washington refused to take sides. For many years after that, the nation did not take sides in any foreign wars.
“first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.??
REVIEW Why did Hamilton and Jefferson disagree about creating a national bank?
George Washington became the first President under the Constitution.
Disagreements in the Cabinet led to the first political parties.
Washington agreed to a plan for a national bank and chose the location of a capital city.
Why It Matters …
The presidency of George Washington set up traditions that have been followed by all American Presidents.
VOCABULARY Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.
inauguration Cabinet political party
Thomas Jefferson and Henry Knox both served in Washington's . Jefferson's supporters formed a .
READING SKILL What was one effect that President George Washington had on later Presidents?
MAIN IDEA: Government What was the Electoral College created to do?
MAIN IDEA: Citizenship Why did political parties form during Washington's presidency?
TIMELINE SKILL When did Washington become President?
CRITICAL THINKING: Compare and Contrast How were Hamilton's ideas about government different from Jefferson's ideas about government?
WRITING ACTIVITY Write a newspaper article announcing that President Washington is going to retire. Describe the examples he set for future Presidents. Be sure to answer the questions Who?, What?, When?, and Where?