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Original Manuscript, Washington's First Inaugural

Click on image for an expanded view.

Exhibiting Washington’s first inaugural speech online, the Library of Congress notes:

Keenly aware of the momentousness of the occasion, Washington accepted the Presidency and spoke of his determination to make the American experiment a success. All eight pages of the speech delivered to the Congress are in George Washington's own clear and distinctive handwriting.

Washington recognized that his country’s new form of government was untested.  In his speech, he said:

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Nine months after becoming president of a country where not everyone trusted the power of centralized government, Washington wrote to a friend:

My station is new; and, if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground.


Media Credits

Image, U.S. National Archives. 

 

Information and quotes, Library of Congress.

 

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