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Washingtoniana

( Originally Published 1916 )



Extracts from the Contemporary Newspapers and other Accounts of the Inauguration of our First President in 1789.

From The Massachusetts Sentinel, May 6, 1789:

New York, May 1. Yesterday the great and illustrious Washington, the favorite son of liberty, and deliverer of his country, entered upon the execution of the office of First Magistrate of the United States of America; to which important station he had been unanimously called by the united voice of the people. The ceremony which took place on this occasion was truly grand and pleasing, and every heart seemed anxious to testify the joy it felt on so memorable an event. His Excellency was escorted from his house by a troop of light Dragoons, and the Legion, under the command of Colonel Lewis, attended by a committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, to Federal Hall, where he was formally received by both Houses of Congress, assembled in the Senate Chamber; after which he was conducted to the gallery in front of the hall, accompanied by all the members when the oath prescribed by the Constitution was administered to him by the Chancellor of this State, who then said

" Long live George Washington,

President of the United States ; " which was answered by an immense concourse of citizens, assembled on the occasion, by the loudest plaudit and acclamation that love and veneration ever inspired. His Excellency then made a speech to both Houses, and then proceeded, attended by Congress, to St. Paul's Church, where Divine Service was performed by the Right Rev. Samuel Provost, after which His Excellency was conducted in form to his own house. In the evening a most magnificent and brilliant display of fireworks was exhibited at the Fort, under the direction of Colonel Beuman. The houses of the French and Spanish Ministers were illuminated in a superb and elegant manner; a number of beautiful transparent paintings were exhibited, which did infinite credit to the parties concerned in the design and execution.

April 30. We have had this day one of those impressive sights which dignify and adorn human nature. At nine o'clock all the churches were opened —and the people, in prodigious numbers, thronged these sacred temples—and, with one voice, put up their prayers to Almighty God for the safety of the President.

At twelve the procession moved to the Federal State House, where in the gallery fronting Broad Street, in the presence of an immense concourse, His Excellency took the oath, the book being placed on a velvet cushion. The Chancellor then pro-claimed him President—and in a moment the air trembled with the shouts of the citizens, and the roar of artillery. His Excellency, with that greatness of soul—that dignity and calmness, which are his characteristics—then bowed to his " fellow-citizens "—who again huzzaed.

From "History of the Arts of Design in America," by William Dunlap :

Major L'Enfant was a native of France; he was employed to rebuild after a design of his own the old New York City Hall in Wall Street, fronting Broad Street; making therefrom the Federal Hall of that day (1789). The new building was for the accommodation of Congress ; and in the balcony upon which the Senate Chamber opened, the first President of the United States was inaugurated. A ceremony which I witnessed, and which for its simplicity, the persons concerned in it, the effect produced upon my country and the world, in giving stability to the Federal Constitution, by calling Washington to administer its blessings, remains on my mind unrivaled by any scene witnessed, through a long life, either in Europe or America.

From Dunlap's "School History of New York ":

In 1789, I saw Washington divested of the garb of war, place his hand on the Bible, and swear to support that Constitution under which I have since lived happily half a century. Between the pillars of the old City Hall, in Wall Street, as altered for the reception of the Federal Congress, in view of thousands who filled Broad Street as far as the eye could extend its view, and every avenue within sight of the building, the man of the people's choice was announced to them, as the first President of the United States of America.

Abstract of account in New York Packet:

New York, May 1, 1789. Yesterday at two o'clock was solemnly inaugurated into office, our Illustrious President.

The ceremony was begun by the following pro-cession from the Federal House to the President's house, viz.:

Troop of Horse
Assistants
Committee of Representatives
Committee of Senate
Gentlemen to be admitted in the Senate Chamber
Gentlemen in coaches
Citizens on foot

On their arrival, the President joined the pro-cession in his carriage and four, and the whole moved through the principal streets to the State House in the following order:

Troop of Horse
Infantry
Sheriff on horseback
Committee of Representatives
Committee of Senate
President and Assistants (President's Suite) Assistants Gentlemen to be admitted in the Senate Chamber
Gentlemen in coaches
Citizens on foot

When the van reached the State House, the troops opening their ranks formed an avenue, through which, after alighting, the President, advancing to the door, was conducted to the Senate Chamber, where he was received by both branches of Congress, and by them accompanied to the balcony or outer gallery in front of the State House, which was decorated with a canopy and curtains of red interstreaked with white for the solemn occasion. In this public manner the oath of office required by the Constitution was administered by the Chancellor of this State, and the illustrious Washington there-upon declared by the said Chancellor, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, amidst the repeated huzzas and acclamations of a numerous and crowded audience.

After the inauguration, the President, returning to the Senate Chamber, delivered a speech to both Houses of Congress.

After this the President, accompanied by both

Houses of Congress, proceeded on foot to St. Paul's Church (where divine service was performed by the Right Rev. Dr. Provost, suitable to the immediate occasion) in the following order, viz. :

Troop of Horse
Infantry
Door Keeper and Messenger of Representatives
Clerk
Representatives
Speaker
President and Vice-President
President's Suite
Senators
Secretary
Door Keeper and Messenger of the Senate
Gentlemen admitted into the Senate Chamber
Sheriff
Citizens

Constables, marshals, etc., on each side of the Members of Congress at proper distances, from the front of the Representatives to the rear of the Senators.

In the evening fireworks were displayed under the direction of Colonel Bauman.—The brilliancy and excellency of them does honor to the projector.

The houses of their Excellencies the French and Spanish Ambassadors were most elegantly illuminated on this auspicious occasion.

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in New York to his friend in Philadelphia, dated May 1, 1789:

Yesterday the great Patriot Washington took a solemn charge of the liberties of America. The magnificence and splendor of the procession, from his house to the Federal Building, commanded the admiration of every beholder. But above all, the solemnity which appeared while he took the oath of office, was truly affecting. The silent joy which every rank of spectators exhibited in their countenances, bespoke the sincere wishes of their hearts. I could have wished you to have been a spectator.

The fireworks exhibited in the evening were truly brilliant; and the illuminations and transparent paintings of the Spanish and French Ambassadors surpassed even conception itself.

New York, May 2, 1789. We feel satisfied in adding to the account given in yesterday's paper of the inauguration of the President,—that His Excellency on that great day, was dressed in a complete suit of elegant broadcloth of the manufacture of his country.--Pennsylvania Packet, May 6, 1789.

THE PRESIDENT, accompanied by His Excellency the Vice-President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and both Houses of Congress, went to St. Paul's Chapel, where divine service was performed by the Right Rev. Dr. Provost, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in this State, and Chaplain to the Senate.

The religious solemnity being ended, the President was escorted to his residence.

Evening Celebration

The transparent paintings exhibited in various parts of the city, on Thursday evening, were equal at least to anything of the kind ever before seen in America.

That displayed before the Fort at the bottom of Broad-way did great honor to its inventors and executors, for the ingenuity of the design, and goodness of the workmanship ; it was finely lighted and advantageously situated : The virtues, Fortitude,) Justice, and Wisdom were judiciously applied; of the first, all America has had the fullest evidence; and with respect to the two others, who does not entertain the most pleasing anticipations.

His Excellency Don Gardqui's residence next caught the eye—and fixed it in pleasing contemplation : The Tout-en-senible here, formed a most brilliant front; the figures well fancied. The Graces suggested the best ideas ; and the pleasing variety of emblems, flowers, shrubbery, arches, &c., and above all the Moving Pictures, that figured in the windows or, as it were, in the background, created by fixing the transparencies between the windows, afforded a new—an animated and enchanting spectacle.

The residence of his Excellency, Count Meustier, was illuminated in a stile of novel elegance; the splendid bordering of lamps round the windows, doors, &c., with the fancy pieces of each window; and above all the large designs in front, the allusions, of which we cannot at present particularly describe, did great honor to the taste and sentiment of the inventor.

The above two instances of attention to honor this great and important occasion, so highly interesting to our "dear country," evince the friendship, the delicacy, and politeness of our illustrious allies.

The portrait of " THE FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY " exhibited in Broad-Street, was extremely well executed, and had a fine effect.

There was an excellent transparency, also shown at the Theatre, and at the corner, near the Fly-Market : In short, emulation and ingenuity were alive; but perhaps were in no instance exhibited to greater advantage than in the display of fireworks, which, from one novelty to another, continued for two hours, to surprise by variety, taste, and brilliancy.

The illumination of the Federal State House was among the most agreeable of the exhibitions of the evening; and the ship Carolina formed a beautiful pyramid of stars : The evening was fine—the company innumerable—everyone appeared to enjoy the scene, and no accident casts the smallest clouds upon the retrospect.

May 1st. Yesterday morning The President received the compliments of His Excellency the Vice-President, His Excellency the Governor of this State, the principal Officers of the different Departments ; the foreign Ministers ; and a great number of other persons of distinction.

We are informed that the President has assigned every Tuesday and Friday, between the hours of two and three, for receiving visits; and that visits of compliment on other days, and particularly on Sundays, will not be agreeable to him.

It seems to be a prevailing opinion that so much of The President's time will be engaged by the various and important business imposed upon him by the Constitution, that he will find himself constrained to omit returning visits, or accepting invitations to Entertainments.



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