WI George Washington Died Immediately After the Constitutional Convention?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Anaxagoras, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. Anaxagoras 21st Century Jeffersonian

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    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?
     
  2. Jasen777 Martyr Without a Cause

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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...
     
  3. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

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    Perhaps, presuming the 1787 Constitution is ratified, we could see John Adams or George Clinton as the 1st POTUS.
     
  4. Wolfpaw Banned

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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.
     
  5. eliphas8 Frankentrotsky

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    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.
     
  6. Wolfpaw Banned

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    Yeah, that's why it's only the playful part of me ;)

    As I said, my money is on Adams.
     
  7. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    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.
     
  8. Socrates Well-Known Member

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    John Adams was pretty widely respected, no? Wouldn't they also trust him?
     
  9. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    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.
     
  10. Sevarics Just Another Gay Guy

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    What if the end result was that the anti-federalist states became one country and the federalist states became another?
     
  11. Darth_Kiryan The Númenorean Sith

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    Adams in the North, Jefferson in the South, maybe?
     
  12. Thande Toujours Phrais

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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?
     
  13. Anaxagoras 21st Century Jeffersonian

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    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.

    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.