Originally Posted by SuperPippen
Lincoln. Only politician that I've ever idolized. That probably has something to do with his portrayal as some sort of God-like historical legend in history books, but whatever.
And, forgive me for being so historically ignorant, but what the hell did Washington do to be considered such a great President? I'm not bashing him at all; I'd genuinely like to know.
Other great Presidents are particularly famous for certain accomplishments; Lincoln united the country and ended slavery, FDR put an end to the Depression and guided America through WWII, but Washington doesn't really have that accomplishment that his legacy has been hung on. Is the appraisal of his presidency due solely to the fact that he was America's first President?
I often think that Washington being considered a great president takes into account what he did before he became president. Without him the revolution would have failed. He was the indispensable man, probably the only one who could have united the militias of various states and led them as an army to victory. He was also universally admired for his leadership and integrity. He was just someone that people looked up to, a natural leader.
I don't know too much about his presidency, but one thing he did that was incredibly important was he retired from the presidency. He could won every election for the rest of his life, but once the country was up and running he walked away from power. That was something that almost never happened in the world. Usually the King either died or their was a war and somebody else took power. The peaceful transfer of power is one the hallmarks of American democracy and Washington started that tradition.
Wikipedia has these as the major acts of his presidency
Major acts as President
Organized the first United States Cabinet and the Executive Branch
Established the United States federal judiciary
Oversaw the ratification of the United States Bill of Rights
Oversaw the establishment, location and planning of the future District of Columbia