Full Text

Chapter Twenty-Five. George Washington and Republican Government: The Political Thought of George Washington

Nicholas P. Cole

Subject History » Political History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics political theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00027.x


Unlike many of the famous politicians of his generation, Washington is not remembered as a political philosopher and his political thought is seldom discussed. He had the distinction of being the first President of the United States under the 1787 Constitution, yet played a largely passive role in its creation and wrote relatively little during the process of ratification. At least one detailed analysis of his Presidency began by noting that his most significant contribution was “his endowment of the office with that vital if elusive” symbolic and ritualistic quality ( McDonald (1974) ix). He set many precedents, but the political philosophy that governed his Presidency is often understood as the work of the members of his cabinet. It is futile to search Washington's writings for a detailed discussion of political science: the construction of the machinery of government that would sustain America's republic he left to others. Yet he shared with his generation a sense that providing strong foundations to America's system of government was very important indeed, and at times shared a pessimism about the prospects for the future. As this essay demonstrates, Washington did write about his vision for the Republic, but it was something he articulated not in terms of the system of government – he took some form of republican government for granted – but rather in terms of his hopes for ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top