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day in 1789, the nascent United States of America held its first presidential election, which was won by George Washington, the commander in chief of the armed forces during the American Revolution. In his victory, he became the first and only president to nab 100 percent of all the electoral votes. The man he defeated, Continental Congress hero John Adams, took on the office of Vice President.

Of course, even the idealized version of Washington's election isn't perfect. After all, the only people allowed to vote in the very first election were white men who owned property (racial limits on voting weren't lifted until 1870, and women weren't given the right to vote until 1920, a shameful precedent if there ever was one).

Still, Washington himself set a number of precedents that are still held to this day. For example, he insisted that he be referred to as "Mr. President," which simultaneously cut out the regal formality of English courts and put the power of the office above the individual currently holding it. He also refused to run for a third term, which created passive term limits long before there was specific legislation limiting presidents to two terms. He also initially passed up a salary of $25,000 (a fortune at the time) because he was already rich, though took it so as not to create a precedent that would only allow independently wealthy people from holding the office (though that still ends up happening anyway).

In honor of the first presidential election, enjoy Wyclef Jean's "If I Was President."

Authors: Kyle Anderson

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