The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington is a new digital history project that allows users to interact and explore primary source materials and objects from the Mount Vernon collection. Entries focus on the totality of Washington’s life and experiences, while also covering the Mount Vernon Estate, its history, and preservation. The encyclopedia includes entries written by Mount Vernon staff and experts, as well as a team of more than thirty outside scholars of history and related fields. Periodically, encyclopedia entries will be highlighted on this blog.
With Election Day forthcoming, it seems appropriate to highlight an encyclopedia entry focusing on Washington’s presidency. One of the underlying challenges facing Washington as he took office in April of 1789 was the simple fact that he was occupying a newly created office, suffuse with the difficulty of defining the nature of the presidency. In today’s entry from the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, Earhart Foundation Fellow and former professor of American History at Lourdes University, Dr. Mary Stockwell explores some of the precedents that Washington set as the first president of the United States. As Stockwell explains, Washington “was well aware that he had been given the power to shape the American presidency,” and understood that “the precedents he set must make the presidency powerful enough to function effectively in the national government, but at the same time these practices could not show any tendency toward monarchy or dictatorship.”
Find out more by reading Dr. Stockwell’s encyclopedia entry on “Presidential Precedents.”
Adam D. Shprintzen, Ph.D.
Editor, George Washington Encyclopedia