A Commentary on George Washington’s Letter to John Jay: The Constitution Reader Challenge

In a letter to John Jay dated August 15, 1786, George Washington opined the idea of a strong centralized national government, an idea that would soon find its way into the Constitution of the United States.

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George Washington had been there and done that for many years by the time he was elected President. He was seen as the one who, as General of the First Continental Army, led the charge to America’s victory during the Revolution. No one had more respect than that of George Washington. Before being elected, he wrote many letters discussing the ideas and direction of America.

This letter from Washington was written while he was still a private citizen, prior to having been elected the first President. Under the Articles of Confederation, John Jay was serving as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Both of these men had witnessed firsthand the shortcomings of the Articles, due to the states still operating differently from one another.

It is this letter to John Jay that initiates the idea of a strong centralized national government. A government that would connect each state with the others. A government that would grant powers to each state. And, it must be said that the national government would operate in a limited fashion. Thus, the powers delegated to the states.

This new idea of a centralized government was to create an operation of unity among the states. Being that they were operating under their own guidelines per say, Washington wished to see a way that they could operate together, under one umbrella. However, there was concern that this national government could grow too large in power.

With that being said, welcome to some of the first debates that led the Continental Congress to begin work on what we know now to be the Constitution.

With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project: The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.

We hope you are enjoying this journey to dig deeper into what inspired those who wrote the Constitution. If you are, TWEET IT!

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