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Old October 6th, 2012, 10:39 PM
Anaxagoras Anaxagoras is online now
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WI George Washington Died Immediately After the Constitutional Convention?

IOTL, while riding home to Mount Vernon from Philadelphia after the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, George Washington was nearly killed when a bridge over a river collapsed. His horse was badly injured and Washington himself only escaped serious injury or death because he had decided to get off and walk for a little bit to stretch his legs.

What if Washington had not dismounted and had died when the bridge collapsed beneath him?

The Constitution had been written, but it had not yet been ratified. IOTL, the ratification process was far from a sure thing (nearly failing in Virginia and New York) and some of those who reluctantly approved the document did so only because it was obvious that Washington would be the first President. If Washington were removed from the scene, could the ratification conventions in Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts reject the Constitution?

Even if the Constitution had been ratified, who would the first President have been? How would the tension between the merchant/banking interests of Hamilton and the agrarian interests of Jefferson and Madison have played out without President Washington? Could the nation have been held together?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 03:03 AM
Jasen777 Jasen777 is offline
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Is hard to say what would happen, but his death would certainly make things more difficult. Ratification could very well fail. If it does pass we could easily see the first presidential election thrown to the House, and some of the precedents Washington set could go in other ways...
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:19 AM
Lord Grattan Lord Grattan is offline
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Perhaps, presuming the 1787 Constitution is ratified, we could see John Adams or George Clinton as the 1st POTUS.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:24 AM
Wolfpaw Wolfpaw is offline
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Washington's death at this point changes nothing but the question of who the first president is. My money is on president Adams, though my playful side would like to see a President Franklin.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:28 AM
eliphas8 eliphas8 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfpaw View Post
Washington's death at this point changes nothing but the question of who the first president is. My money is on president Adams, though my playful side would like to see a President Franklin.
Franklins a bit to old here, it would probably be bad if the assumed first president and the actual president died in the same years and its a very real possibilty. The guy was in his mid seventies by then and died shortly after OTL so it may not work out well.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 05:34 AM
Wolfpaw Wolfpaw is offline
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Originally Posted by eliphas8 View Post
Franklins a bit to old here, it would probably be bad if the assumed first president and the actual president died in the same years and its a very real possibilty. The guy was in his mid seventies by then and died shortly after OTL so it may not work out well.
Yeah, that's why it's only the playful part of me

As I said, my money is on Adams.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 06:56 PM
Dathi THorfinnsson Dathi THorfinnsson is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfpaw View Post
Washington's death at this point changes nothing but the question of who the first president is. My money is on president Adams, though my playful side would like to see a President Franklin.
Why do you say that? Seriously, the points the other guys raised about ratification match what I remember reading - that several prominent movers and shakers were only comfortable with that much power in the President's office because they knew GW was going to handle it responsibly and set precedent. Whether there were enough doubts to prevent ratification, I have no clue; but an insouciant "changes nothing" is, I think, far off the mark.

It would certainly change the tone of the ratification debates, if nothing else.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 07:33 PM
Socrates Socrates is offline
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John Adams was pretty widely respected, no? Wouldn't they also trust him?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 09:18 PM
Dathi THorfinnsson Dathi THorfinnsson is online now
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John Adams was pretty widely respected, no? Wouldn't they also trust him?
Not in the same ways, no.

This IS the guy who introduced the "Alien and Sedition Acts", which is pretty un-Washingtonian....

More to the point, he was an avowed Federalist, where Washington was 'above politics' (hah!). The anti-federalists would have feared where he would take the country. IMO.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 09:24 PM
Sevarics Sevarics is offline
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What if the end result was that the anti-federalist states became one country and the federalist states became another?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 10:40 PM
Darth_Kiryan Darth_Kiryan is online now
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Originally Posted by Sevarics View Post
What if the end result was that the anti-federalist states became one country and the federalist states became another?
Adams in the North, Jefferson in the South, maybe?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 10:45 PM
Thande Thande is offline
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Could John Hancock have been a viable compromise? He was ill at the time and not long for this world but was interested in the presidency...although he was a northerner, he was also only a reluctant federalist, and of course there is the symbolic point that he was President of the Continental Congress when they had signed the Declaration of Independence. Might this have been enough to let everyone agree on him as the first President and to be the same kind of 'nonpartisan figure everyone looks up to' as Washington, even though they all know he'll fairly soon die and then partisan politics will begin?
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Old October 7th, 2012, 11:44 PM
Anaxagoras Anaxagoras is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfpaw View Post
Washington's death at this point changes nothing but the question of who the first president is.
Actually, it throws into question whether or not the Constitution would be ratified at all. IOTL, it was a very near-run thing, with the ratification conventions in Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts being very closely divided. Indeed, the Constitution was actually rejected by North Carolina's convention and Rhode Island did not even bother calling one as its defeat in that state was a certainty.

For many reluctant federalists, the crux of the matter was the reassurance that Washington would be the first President. Take that away, and ratification of the Constitution becomes much less likely.

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Could John Hancock have been a viable compromise? He was ill at the time and not long for this world but was interested in the presidency...although he was a northerner, he was also only a reluctant federalist, and of course there is the symbolic point that he was President of the Continental Congress when they had signed the Declaration of Independence. Might this have been enough to let everyone agree on him as the first President and to be the same kind of 'nonpartisan figure everyone looks up to' as Washington, even though they all know he'll fairly soon die and then partisan politics will begin?
Possibly. But then this raises the question of who would be the Vice President under Hancock and, more than likely, the first "real" President. If Hancock is the first President, Adams will probably not be the first Vice President, as a Southerner would be more likely in order to achieve geographic balance.
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