An East View of Gray's Ferry, near Philadelphia, with the Triumphal Arches, &c. erected for the Reception of General Washington, April 20, 1789
, line engraving (1789) by James Trenchard
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the
United States of America."
Article II, Section 1
forces at the Federal Convention that were pressing for a strong federal government
saw a powerful executive as an essential ingredient of the new system. When the
delegates created the presidency, they knew that position would be filled by the
man who presided over their deliberations: the American hero, former Commander in
Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington. They knew that only Washington
could unite the people behind the new government, thus giving Congress the time
needed to deal with its pressing agenda and confront the many potentially divisive issues.
Although the Constitution established the powers of the presidency, from the beginning
Congress made decisions and established protocol that defined the presidency as a
republican institution and rejected monarchical forms.