George Washington's Handwritten Inaugural

Click on the image for a larger view.

On the 14th of April, 1789, Charles Thomson - the secretary of Congress - had a very important trip to make.  The electoral votes, under America’s new constitution, had been counted.  Every one was for George Washington, and it was up to Thomson to let the new president know.

Arriving at Mount Vernon two days later, Thomson advised General Washington that his country had need of him - again.  Martha was not pleased.  The woman who had traveled with her husband during the war, even staying with him at Valley Forge during the difficult winter of 1777-78, would not make this trip north.  She did not attend the inaugural.

Martha’s concerns were not shared by her fellow citizens.  As the new president made his way to New York, then the seat of America’s federal government, people cheered their war hero. 

For the final leg of his journey, thirteen sailors (representing the thirteen states) rowed Washington (on a barge) from Elizabethtown (New Jersey) to Murray’s Wharf (at the foot of Wall Street).  A week later he took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall. 

The image above is the first page of his inaugural address which he nervously read to the members of Congress.  Later, someone commented:

The great man was agitated and embarrassed more than ever he was by the loaded cannon or pointed musket.

Media Credits

U.S. National Archives.


Linked above:  Valley Forge - Washington & Lafayette. Winter 1777-78. Copy of engraving by H. B. Hall after painting by Alonzo Chappel.  U.S. National Archives.

Also linked above:  An East View of Gray's Ferry, near Philadelphia; with the Triumphal Arches, &c. erected for the Reception of General Washington, April 20th, 1789.  Library of Congress.

Also linked above:  Washington Welcomed in New York, from George Washington by Calista McCabe Courtenay, illustrated by A.M. Turner and Harriet Kaucher, 1917 (page 83). Published by Samuel Gabriel Sons & Company, New York.  Online, courtesy Project Gutenberg.


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