January 7, 1789: George Washington wins the first election for President of the United States. See how much you know about this giant step in American history with these trivia questions..
Who Were the Candidates for President in the First Election? While George Washington was favored by a large margin, other candidates included John Adams, John Jay, Robert Harrison, John Hancock, George Clinton and John Rutledge. Washington was chosen by 69 electors. John Adams received the second-highest vote with 34 electors, positioning him to serve as vice president under Washington, even though the two men were from different political parties. Under the system at that time, there was no differentiation between votes for the president and vice president with both chosen simultaneously by the number of votes cast. In addition to the votes received by John Adams, John Jay received nine votes, Robert Harrison and John Rutledge received six apiece, John Hancock received four and George Clinton received three.
Did All 13 States Participate in the Presidential Election? Only 10 states participated in the election out of the 13 original colonies. This was because New York was late in choosing its electors, and neither North Carolina nor Rhode Island had ratified the Constitution. Each elector had two votes. All of the chosen electors cast one of their votes for General Washington. Washington took the oath of office April 30, 1789, in New York City on Wall Street. He served until John Adams was sworn in as the second president of the United States on March 4, 1797.
Was Washington Happy About Being Nominated for President? After serving as the general in charge of the troops through a long and bloody war and helping to set up the government for the fledgling United States of America, Washington was more than ready to retire to Mount Vernon and live quietly. He had reached the age of 60 and had rheumatism, along with hearing and eyesight problems. However, an intense letter campaign in support of his candidacy from fellow citizens, soldiers and from people abroad made it difficult for Washington to refuse. Washington, as the most famous person in America and the general who led the soldiers to victory in the war, was the logical choice to assume the role of president.
What Issues Did Washington Face as President As Washington became the first president of the new republic, he faced continuing volatility and the serious issues of the times, which meant that as a popular, trusted figure, he needed to use his influence to lead the country and lend stability. A central government was important to address the problems facing America. Not even the currency was stable with many citizens still using British currency. Some citizens used Spanish or French currency, among other currencies. Although the American dollar existed, its worth fluctuated depending on the state. A schism between the north and south was a continuing problem that was feared might result in the South splitting off and forming its own country. In addition, the rivalry between the French and British was ongoing.