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Staying out of other people's wars

The French had a bloody revolution of their own starting in 1789, occasioning yet another French war with Britain. The Franco-American Alliance (1778) that was key in helping the United States win its independence was still on the books, but Washington decided not to take sides and issued his Neutrality Proclamation (1793). That was okay with the French, who figured that the baby United States wouldn't be much help anyway.

Meanwhile, on the Ohio frontier, some American Indians had gotten together in the Miami Confederacy (1790) and had twice beaten small U.S. armies sent against them. The British were still staying in forts on American soil, arming the American Indians. Finally, a serious U.S. force beat the American Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794), and the American Indians sold most of their lands in the Treaty of Greenville (1795).

Rolling along the treaty trail, trying to stay out of trouble, the United States signed Jay's Treaty (1794) with Britain to stop the British from staying in forts on American soil. The agreement didn't stop Britain from seizing American ships at sea and forcing U.S. sailors to join its navy, but it did let the United States into the valuable trade with the British West Indies. Spain helped the United States with Pinckney's Treaty (1795), giving the new country all the land down to Florida and free use of the Mississippi. America was getting a little respect.

Example

Question: What was Pinckney's Treaty?

Answer: Pinckney's Treaty of 1795 with Spain fixed Southern boundaries and gave U.S. ships the right to use the Mississippi River.

Washington leaves office

Facing criticism and tired of politics, Washington left office at the end of his second term. His Farewell Address (1796) warned the nation to stay out of permanent alliances and asked people to be governed by moral and spiritual principles.

Washington himself was a freethinking Freemason who welcomed all religions and avoided being a formal member of any church in his later years. He was an example of good behavior; after 200 years, his character still shines. He liked a good time, however; his major retirement project was the construction on his property of one of the largest whiskey stills in the country. His last words were "It is well."

 
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