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!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Did The American Revolution Start?

The opening shots of the American Revolution were fired in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts on the morning of April 19, 1775. One British soldier was wounded, while eight men of Lexington fell dead. This tragic exchange of gunfire would trigger the American Revolution, a war that would last for eight long years and would result in the birth of the United States of America.

The colonists who gathered on Lexington Green that day weren't planning to start a war. On the contrary, the British were on their way to Concord -- not Lexington! But the militia of Lexington turned out on the Green, so that the British army would see them as they marched by. It was intended as a show of force, a demonstration of colonial resolve.

The British were headed to Concord to secure arms and munitions reportedly being stockpiled. Lexington was on the way. Captain John Parker turned out his Lexington Company of the Middlesex County Brigade of the Massachusetts Militia to stand in the center of Lexington as the British would (he thought) pass by. Parker's men ranged in age from 18 to 63 and his unit numbered just under 80 men, most of whom were farmers.

The British were not in the mood for such a display. Seeing the colonials turned out, their 700-man force turned off the road to Concord and marched into Lexington.

Seeing the British approach, Parker proclaimed to his men: "Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon. But, if they want to have a war, let it begin here."

The commander of the British advance guard ordered the militiamen to lay down their arms. Seeing that he was overwhelmingly outnumbered, Parker gave the order to disperse. As the colonial militia began to back away, a shot rang out. It remains a mystery to this day as to who fired that shot!

Eight Americans were killed. Nine were wounded. The British suffered one minor casualty and resumed their march to Concord. The grieving citizens of Lexington would never be the same, and neither would New England - or, for that matter, all of North America.

Whoever fired the shot, though, triggered more than a local skirmish. He started what became a global war!

Picture by Don Troiani at

Recommended Reading

"Causes of the American Revolution" (an article by yours truly over at

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fisher

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Do You Owe The Library Any Late Fees?

I don't know about you, but I love to read books. I'm frequently seen at our local Borders and at our local library. In fact, I'm known to walk out of our local library with a huge stack of books, ready to explode out of my grip and all over the floor!

And...yes...I've helped the local government by paying my fair share of late fees over the years. Fortunately, my home county of Loudoun doesn't charge late fees. They just freeze your card. :-(

But the neighboring county of Fairfax DOES charge late fees, and come to think of it, I still owe them about ten bucks. :-(

Well, ten bucks is nothing compared to what George Washington apparently owes the New York City Library. According to The Associated Press, George Washington, if alive today, "might face a hefty overdue library fine."

For more on this story, read "George Washington Racks Up Late Fees at NYC Library."

So, the next time you owe late fees, reflect on the fact that you're in good company. :-)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Washington's Tomb Points to Promise of Easter

Thinking of Easter, I couldn't help but reflect on the tomb of George and Martha Washington. The Washington Tomb, which became the resting place for the remains of George and Martha Washington in 1831, carries an overt Christian declaration.

To read my latest post over at American Creation that deals with the Washington tomb, click on the following link...

"Washington's Very Christian Tomb"

For more on whether George Washington was a Deist, Unitarian, skeptic, or Christian, check out...

"Was George Washington a Deist?" - an article at Suite101 Protestantism

Washington's God by Michael Novak and Jana Novak

George Washington's Sacred Fire by Peter Lillback