The President's Challenging Job

Why was his job so hard?

Consider International Relations

Even after the US had made peace with great Britain, and made an alliance with France, The US had some problems with them. France was having its own revolution, and was at war with Great Britain. France expected the US to help them, they wanted the US to fight Great Britain AGAIN. Washington decided against it, America was already tired and in debt. America took neutrality. This really tested France's patience with America. When Washington finally left office in 1796, he warned of issues that would arise with other countries, and of passionate loyalties to parties. He also promoted isolationism, which meant no interactions with other countries. Later in 1799 the issues were solved with a peace treaty between France and the US, which canceled their former alliance. The in 1803, Great Britain and France were at it again and both countries were trying to seize American ships. The US then canceled all trades with all countries to see if they could get Great Britain or France mad enough to stop attacking their ships. Instead, it just got worse. This act was called the Embargo act, it was instated in 1807 but repealed in 1809. Later that year, James Madison tried to make a deal with either Great Britain or France. It said that America would stop all trade with their enemy, if they stopped attacking american ships.

Imagine being any one of those presidents and having to make these decisions for our country. Coming up with these ideas to help save ourselves. Doesn't sound very easy now, does it?

And Then Internal Divisions

In the times of the early presidents, America had many internal issues as well. Like first off, the US no longer had a national army to defend itself. The army from the American Revolution had separated because the government didn't have the money to support it, and some american citizens thought that having a national army would take away their liberty. Then the "Whiskey Rebellion" broke out. The national treasury was empty and the only way they could raise its funds was to raise taxes. Congress taxed such luxury items as whiskey. This made western settlers very angry because they took their grains that they grew and made it to whiskey, as it was easier and cheaper to transport. Many people thought that taxing the whiskey made it too expensive, and therefore refused to buy it. Congress eventually lowered the tax but some stubborn men in western Pennsylvania would tar and feather the tax collectors. These men were known as the "whiskey boys". George Washington finally made a decision on what to do with these rebels. He saw these rebels as a threat to the national government and sent out troops of 13000 state militia men. The rebels were overwhelmed and soon gave up. Imagine the pressure that Mr. Washington endured in these times.

There was also the issue of what to do with a tie in a presidential election. This problem arose in 1801 with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. There were several re-votes in the house of representatives before someone finally changed their mind and voted for Thomas Jefferson. Because of this tie, the twelfth amendment was made. It states that the electoral college must vote separately for a president and vice president. If no president has majority electoral votes, the votes will go to the house of representatives where they will choose from the 3 men with the most votes. Same for the votes of a vice president, except the senate chooses form the top 3.

Then there were the native american Indians. With the american population ever growing, people needed to move westward, which meant pushing the natives from their homes. This angered them very much, I mean who wouldn't be mad about invaders pushing you out of your own home? Many indians along the Mississippi River banned together into one giant indian force. In the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek, the indian force attacked the militia attempting to move them. The American militia was led by William Henry Harrison, and they defeated the indians, however, after the battle, they noticed the indians were fighting with British guns. Americans became very angry about this. Many people, including President James Madison at the time, were contemplating going at war with Great Britain and trashing George Washington's declarement of isolationism. Many Americans thought that this would mean Canada would become part of the United States. James Madison still wasn't sure that war was a good decision. He didn't know if the US was ready for another battle with Great Britain. He had the burden of deciding what to do in this very serious situation. War is a great contributor of why being the President of the United States is such a difficult job.