President George Washington: Election and First Term

About the election and first term of the first President of the United States George Washington.


Election: February 4, 1789....

After 11 of the 13 States had ratified the new Constitution, the Electoral College was assembled as quickly as possible, and on February 4, 1789, Washington, as expected, was elected unanimously--the only President to receive that honor. The only disagreement involved the race for Vice-President, which was won by John Adams of Massachusetts against token opposition.

First Term: April 30, 1789...

Washington's inauguration had to be postponed until Congress had time to assemble in New York, the capital city, and as the day drew near, the joyous mood of the citizens began to approach hysteria. When Washington finally appeared on the morning of the ceremony, crossing New York harbor in a ceremonial barge, the town's citizens and thousands of visitors cheered wildly and tirelessly. The general looked majestic, calm, and tall, dressed in brown broadcloth and white silk stockings, with his dress sword at his side. His suit had been made in America--a gesture intended to boost New England's infant textile industry.

The oath of office was administered on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall by Robert Livingston, chancellor of New York State. According to one newspaper account, the new President repeated the oath with such "devout fervency" that many members of the huge crowd were in tears. After he had finished, Washington bowed to kiss the Bible. Then Chancellor Livington said, "It is done," and shouted out, "Long live George Washington, President of the U.S.!" The crowd repeated the cry, as cannonfire and bell-ringing rolled out across the city.

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