A squabbling Congress, vicious partisanship in the nation's capital, a hostile press questioning the president's integrity, political opponents accusing the administration of destroying democracy.
America in the 21st century?
Try America in the 1790s during George Washington's presidency.
When he took the oath of office on April 30, 1789, in New York, Washington had a daunting task as the first U.S. president.
Recovering from war, the nation had finances that were in shambles, burdened by debt to France and others.
States squabbled among themselves over territory and trade. The Constitution drew scorn from those who saw it as an illegal power grab at the expense of state governments.
The U.S. was a new nation of 4 million bordering the hostile empires of Britain and Spain, and containing some American Indian tribes that had allied with the British during the Revolutionary War.
The slavery question already threatened to tear the nation apart.
Two of the Constitution's signers were later shot to death in duels.
The republic's survival was uncertain. Privately, Washington said that he didn't expect the Constitution to last more than 20 years.
Age 57 when he took office, Washington (1732-99) was already a legend for leading the Continental Army to victory over Britain against huge odds, then spurning political power.
The Articles of Confederation, the nation's first try at a central government, failed because of its weakness. Congress had no taxing power and couldn't regulate foreign trade or interstate commerce.
The Constitution was the second bite at the apple, and the presidency existed only on paper until Washington was elected to the job.
It didn't come with a lot of detailed instructions.
But with his astute knowledge of potency and keen political skills, Washington was the man for it.
Despite his reluctance to return to public life, Washington rode his experience as a colonial Virginia politician, wartime general and overseer at the 1787 Constitutional Convention to top results.
"He is one of the best informed people in the country as to the job he is about to hold," Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review and author of "George Washington on Leadership," told IBD.
One of President Washington's first goals was to get the nation's financial house in order. With tax revenues failing to come in, the U.S. could afford to pay only the interest on its war debt.Read the rest of this story HERE.
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