Friday, April 30, 2010

Facts About George Washington's Inauguration

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the President of the United States of America, the first person to serve in that capacity under the newly ratified Constitution of the United States.

Here are some facts about George Washington's inauguration:

*George Washington was not the first person to bear the title "president of the United States." That distinction goes to John Hanson, the first American president under the Articles of Confederation. The men who served as president under the Articles did not carry executive authority. Theirs was a very weak presidency. Washington was the first person sworn in as President under the new (and still current) Constitution of the United States.

*George Washington was inaugurated in New York City (the only President to be inaugurated in that city). The nation's capital would soon move to Philadelphia and then, during the administration of John Adams, to the newly constructed city of Washington.

*Since there were no Supreme Court Justices as of yet, Robert Livingstone (New York's highest ranking judge) administered the oath.

*Washington took the oath of office on a Bible, starting a tradition followed by virtually all Presidents since.

*Washington wore a sword to his inauguration, a tradition that did not have as much staying power.

*Though it is a matter of some dispute, historical tradition holds that Washington said the words "so help me God" after reciting the constitutional oath of office. While some researchers challenge this tradition, Washington's First Inaugural was very religious. In his speech, he most pointedly asked for God's help. Accordingly, most Presidents (certainly since the mid-1800s) have appended the words "so help me God" to the presidential oath - a tradition that probably (though we can't say for certain) goes back to Washington.

*Washington's second inauguration (1793) had much less fanfare, probably reflecting his lack of enthusiasm for accepting a second term. His Second Inaugural Address is a mere 135 words, the shorest in history!

No comments: