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Collection George Washington Papers

The Early Republic

A timeline of Washington's presiding over the Continental Congress, his Presidency, and death, 1786-1799.

  • 1786

    Amidst growing dissatisfaction with Articles of Confederation, Washington corresponds with James Madison and others to consider how the federal government might be formally strengthened.

  • May - September 1787

    Presides at Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

    Detail of Convention at Philadelphia. 1787. Elkanah Tisdale (b. 1771). Engraving, in A History of the United States, 1823. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction #: (b&w) LC-USZ62-92869
  • April 14, 1789

    Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson arrives at Mount Vernon to inform Washington of his election to the presidency. Washington accepts. Washington's letterbook record

  • April 30, 1789

    Washington is inaugurated in New York City. He makes nominations and appointments to fill new offices; works with Congress in formation of new departments; assists Congress in adoption of amendments that become Bill of Rights. Letterbook record

  • June 1790

    Washington supports plan by which federal government assumes and funds Revolutionary War debts of states. Congress chooses Philadelphia as interim capital of the United States. To assuage Virginia, foremost opponent of assumption, Congress selects site on Potomac River for permanent capital, to be occupied in ten years time. July 16, Washington signs bill.

  • November 4, 1791

    General Arthur St. Clair is decisively defeated near Wabash River by a smaller force of confederated Indians led by Miami Indian, Little Turtle.

  • February 13, 1793

    Electoral votes counted and Washington is unanimously re-elected to the presidency; John Adams elected vice-president.

  • August 20, 1794

    General Anthony Wayne defeats Indian nations of Wabash and Maumee Rivers at Fallen Timbers (near present-day Toledo, Ohio). British, still occupying frontier forts, begin to slacken in support of Indian allies.

  • March 3, 1795

    Congress approves and Washington thereafter signs Treaty of San Lorenzo, which opens Mississippi River to American navigation and sets boundary between United States and Florida at 31st parallel.

  • August 3, 1795

    General Anthony Wayne concludes treaty of Greenville, by which Indian nations of Ohio River cede lands in present-day Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

  • August 18, 1795

    Washington signs Jay's Treaty with Great Britain, which forces the British to evacuate western forts as stipulated in the Paris peace treaty of 1783. The treaty stabilizes American-British relations until the War of 1812.

  • 1796

    Washington arranges publication of his farewell address, which appears in the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser September 19, the day of his departure from that city for Mount Vernon. Farewell Address

  • October - December 1796

    He attends to government matters in Washington, the new federal city.

  • July 1798

    In wake of the XYZ affair and deteriorating relations with the new government of France, Washington accepts nominal command of American armies preparing for the impending conflict. War, however, is averted by the Adams administration.

  • December 14, 1799

    Washington dies at Mount Vernon, of a throat infection, after making a tour of his estate on horseback in severe winter weather. In his will he frees his slaves.

    George Washington, full-length portrait, standing on bunker. Engraving by Laugier from Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. c1839. Reproduction #: (b&w) LC-USZ62-14094

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