Our first four presidents were George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Each of these men had different domestic and foreign policies that shaped our new country. There outlooks, ideas, and actions made what our country what it is today. Since our country was new they’re policies were the first Americans had ever seen and were the trial and error for the future. They helped form and create the beginning to the country and greatly influenced history. George Washington was the first president of the United States.
His opinion in domestic and foreign policies was to remain neutral. Since he was the first president he was setting a precedent for the rest of the country and was the one who created the idea of remaining neutral through all foreign conflicts. George Washington had a reasoning behind this idea. He believed that the United States were still a young and newly formed country and was not strong enough to be in foreign affairs. The country still did not have the military strength or economic basics to get involved.
Washington also believed it was too soon to be in another war so soon after the revolution and this is why the United States were not involved in the war between France and Britain During Washington’s second term as president he issued the proclamation of neutrality, meaning the United States would not take side in the fighting by helping or assisting either one of the fighting countries. In 1796 Washington left office and gave a speech known as the Farewell Address of 1796.
In this speech he stated the danger of political parties and called for a policy of neutrality in domestic and foreign affairs. After George Washington John Adams was elected president. The policy of neutrality with Adams though was much different. The country then drifted from the idea of neutrality and moved toward a war with France. John Adams tried avoiding this war as much as possible though. He sent officials to Paris trying to negotiate a treaty and agreement between the two countries. This did not work out as Adams planned.
Three secret agents referred to as X, Y, and Z told the American officials that they had to pay a ridiculous high bribe to see the French prime minister. This even was a complete fail and angered many Americans. Adams lost his Federalist support and popularity very quickly and was not reelected next term. In the next election Thomas Jefferson was elected. In the election of 1800 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were tied with electoral college votes. Alexander Hamilton helped Thomas Jefferson win the election. Thomas Jefferson unlike Adams was a Democratic Republican.
He wanted a weaker central government and grasped the domestic policy of lassie faire. Jefferson had set many goals as president for himself, one of his major ones was to limit the government and the impact it had on the people. He reduced the government officials in half and armed forces after Adams and Washington just had build both of these up. Jefferson was reelected but his second term was not as successful as the same with Washington. Foreign issues began to form overseas. In 1805 Britain and France began attacking American ships and Jefferson passed the Embargo Act.
This act stated that no trading with foreign countries was permitted. This act though hurt America because now trade was down and the economy was hurt, as so it was the same with France and Britain. Since this act was an economic fail, the Non-Intercourse Act was passed. This act permitted trading with other foreign countries except France and Britain. This still did not settle everything because these acts made people believe that there was too much of a direct obstruction of national government in the economy and it was too strong.
By 1808 Jefferson completely ruined his second term and popularity. In the next election James Madison was elected. He was in office during the War of 1812. Since he was in war during his term he could not support the neutrality policy obviously. During the War of 1812 the capitol and Washington D. C was completely destroyed and burned by the British. The war ended by December 24, 1814 and Treaty of Ghent was signed. Another battle occurred after this though because the ending of the war and signing of the treaty was unknown.
This war was not wanted by either side but it had beneficial results by the end of it. It spread nationalism and American pride throughout the country and the economy also experienced a great increase. All of these first four presidents made up our country’s first political basis. They all had different policy for domestic and foreign affairs. Even though these men had different ideas they help make our country go through the ups and down to learn what will work and not work in our country. These men help to truly make our country what it is today.