The Treaty of Paris of 1783 was signed almost eight years after The Declaration of Independence. From there, America was recognized as an independent nation by all countries worldwide. As a new country, America is yet to take its form and develop a more organized government structure.
The four most influential presidents that had helped shaping the structure of early America were George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Each had made some major impacts on what the U.S. is today.
George Washington, probably the most recognizable among the four, was the first president of the U.S. He took office on April 30, 1789 by popular support. During his years in office, his most important appointments were Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury. And later, they eventually became the leaders of the first two opposing political parties, Jefferson favored the common people, while Hamilton backed the rich and well-educated. Much like what developed into the present-day Democrats and Republicans. Besides appointing important government officials, George Washington was also known for his Farewell Address, and in which he made it clear that the U.S. should stay neutral regarding foreign affairs, especially those involving European countries and the French Revolution at that time.
After George Washington retired, his vice president, John Adams succeeded him. He was known to favor strong government and a loyal Federalist. While he’s in office, strong sectionalism was apparent. John Adams’ first major decision made was to avoid war with France at all costs. To carry out his plans, he sent out three envoys to France to negotiate which later resulted in the XYZ affair. And, later, the relationship between the two countries became more tense over time, but John Adams stayed persistent and insisted on making peace despite many people’s demand of war. Although he succeeded in making peace with France, his image remained unfavorable and critical to many. To protect him from critics, the Alien and Sedition Act was initiated by the Federalists and passed by the Congress. This again, led to the conflict between the two political parties, it is most likely during this time the difference in ideas and hostility began between the Federalists ( Democrats ) and Republicans, which still remains an issue today.
Thomas Jefferson became president 1801. By that time, he was best known for his informal appearances compared to that of his predecessors. And his format of conduct was later carried by many modern-day Presidents. Jefferson had been a strong opponent of the Alien and Sedition Acts. So he asked Congress to change the period of naturalization from fourteen back to five years. He also pardoned the men who had been convicted under the Sedition Act and ordered their fines returned with interest. Although he feared the federal judiciary was gaining great power at the expense of state governments, yet he was the one who was responsible for a tremendous expansion of federal territory and power. One of his most recognizable accomplishments was the Louisiana Purchase. In which Napoleon sold the entire Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for million in 1803. The U.S. ended up having more than doubled in size.
After Jefferson, Andrew Jackson came to power. Through the years of Andrew Jackson from 1829 to 1837, he promoted what came to known as “Jacksonian Democracy”. He felt that he was the representative of the common people. He defended the spoils system by saying that government jobs ought to be open to everyone. The best form of government relies on public opinion of the people. This kind of political system includes reasoning, reflection, and free expression of deliberate choice. Jackson also brought an end to the Second Bank of the United States, which he saw as an enemy of the common people. Nominating conventions began to replace party caucuses as the favored method of selecting political candidates, this way, the common people would also receive a fair chance of being elected as a public officer. More white males, excluding women and blacks gained say in politics during this period. Andrew Jackson has succeeded in terms of dwindling corporate influence and reducing federal government, two problems that still remain with us today. His idealistic approach to the Presidency proved to be both helpful and harmful because of his ideology.
During these first few decades, the presidents’ decisions and ideals for the country has developed the U.S. in many different directions which had contributed to shape the newly formed U.S.A. and its government. They made the most influence on both the people and the country as a whole. In conclusion, their efforts in shaping America have structured the country back then and what it is today.