our progress towards political happiness my station is new; and if
I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground."
--George Washington, January 1790
Participants in the new government knew they were establishing models for the future, and no one was more conscious of this responsibility than the first president.
Always aware of symbolism, George Washington struck a careful balance between acting too regal or too egalitarian. He chose to be addressed simply as "Mr. President," yet bowed to guests rather than extending a personal handshake.
Most important, Washington established the presidency as the central power of the executive branch. He carefully maintained the dominance of the office, never ceding its authority to his cabinet secretaries, never granting its powers to the other branches of government.