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070 Who was the first President?

70. Who was the first President?
(George) Washington

Starting a new job is always difficult because you’re doing many things for the first time. But starting a job that is new and has never existed before is even more difficult because no one has ever done the things that you’re being asked to do. No one can tell you how to do it because no one has that experience. This is similar to what happened to the first president of the United States, George Washington.

George Washington was unanimously elected to be the first U.S. president, meaning that no one voted against him. Once this happened, everything that George Washington did became a precedent (or something that is used as an example for how people should behave in the future). Many of the things that George Washington did have become standard (or unchanging) for all U.S. presidents. For example, he chose to be called “Mr. President,” and all U.S. presidents have been called that ever since.

Throughout his time as president, George Washington travelled to many different states, working hard to make sure that each state felt like an important part of the new country. He listened carefully to the advice (or ideas and suggestions) of other people before he made decisions as president. He was very careful to avoid (or not have) war with France or Britain.

Many people wanted George Washington to be president for three four-year terms (which would be a total of 12 years as president), but he declined (or said no). This set (or created) the precedent that presidents could serve (or work) for only two terms. Only one president was elected to more than two terms, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Today George Washington’s portrait (which is a painting or drawing of him) is on the United States’ one-dollar bills (or pieces of paper money) and quarters (or pieces of metal worth 25 cents). There is also a tall monument (or something that is built to remember a person or place) to George Washington in Washington, DC.


unanimously – with everyone in agreement; with everyone making the same decision
* The city council members unanimously agreed to create a new city park.

precedent – something that was done in the past and is used as a reason for doing things the same way later
* If we buy our children candy at the store, we'll set a bad precedent for all future trips to the store, because they'll always want more candy.

standard – unchanging; the same every time
* A computer is now standard equipment for college students.

to avoid – to do something so that something else does not happen; to find a way to prevent something from happening
* She avoided an argument by changing the subject.

to decline – to say no; to decide not to have, do, or accept something
* She declined his invitation to the party, saying that she would be busy that night.

portrait – a painting or drawing of a person
* Portraits were more common before there were cameras.

bill – a piece of paper money; money that is printed on paper
* Could you please give me four $5 bills for this $20 bill?

quarter – a coin (a piece of money made from metal) worth 25 cents
* I need some quarters to use the public telephone.

monument – a building, statue, or something else that is built to remember an important person or event
* The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC was built to remember the Americans who died while fighting in the Vietnam War.