Thursday, December 25, 2008

INAUGURATION OF GEORGE WASHINGTON AS OUR FIRST PRESIDENT - Above are both a painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart as well as an illustration from Columbian Magazine dated May 1789 of the triumphal arch erected at Gray's Ferry to greet Washington as he approached the city of Philadelphia on his way to New York for his inaguration as the first President of the United States. A reception was held for Washington in Philadelphia on April 20, 1789. As described in the Columbian Magazine, the railings of the bridge at Gray's Ferry were decorated with laurels interwoven with cedar, while a 20 foot high arch was erected at each end of the bridge made of laurels and other evergreens. Eleven flags were planted at the north side of the bridge representing the eleven states that had ratified the Constitution. About noon the illustrious Washington appeared, to be greet by the cheers and acclamations of an immense crowd. After being saluted by a discharge of cannons, Washington was escorted into Philadelphia by a troop of soldiers and prominent citizens of the city. Washington was subsequently inaugurated on April 30, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City. He set the precedent of taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible, and adding the words "so help me god" after the official oath. That evening there was fireworks to celebrate his inauguration, while an inaugural ball was held on May 7, 1789. As with his initial election as President, Washington was unanimously re-elected for a second term as President. His second inaugural speech on March 4, 1793 was the shortest given by any President, consisting of only 135 words. Washington set a precedent for future Presidents, with the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, by serving only two terms as President and then stepping down and returning to life as a citizen. Washington quote: ". . it is yet to be decided, whether the Revolution is ultimately to be considered a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn Millions be involved."