He made some tough decisions. Guided by Hamilton, Washington persuaded Congress to approve excise taxes on local governments in order to bring in needed revenue and reduce the war debt to France, the Netherlands, and other lenders. He also sided with Hamilton and had the federal government assume the states' wartime debts.
Writes Updegrove: "Washington was the one man in American history who was bigger than the government itself; the hero of the Revolution could have been emperor of the state he, more than any other, helped found. Instead, he ensured that government would remain in the hands of the people. In doing so, he set his most important precedent, leaving office after two terms in office and exemplifying a fundamental democratic ideal ... Washington made the presidency. Everyone who comes after him is subject to his standard. He was the first."
For all this, Washington has been consistently rated by historians as one of America's greatest presidents.