Elected as the first President of the United States in 1789, he attempted to bring rival factions together to unify the nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton's programs to pay off all state and national debt, to implement an effective tax system and to create a national bank (despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson). Washington proclaimed the United States neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Great Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs. Washington's "Farewell Address" was an influential primer on republican virtue and a warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.
As president, Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history. He signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement. He implemented Don't ask, don't tell, a controversial intermediate step to full gay military integration. After a failed health care reform attempt, Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, for the first time in forty years. Two years later, the re-elected Clinton became the first member of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second full term as president. He successfully passed welfare reform and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing health coverage for millions of children. Later, he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in a scandal involving a White House intern, but was acquitted by the U.S. Senate and served his complete term of office. The Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus between the years 1998 and 2000, the last three years of Clinton's presidency.
Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II.