On April 30, 1789 a 6’3″ tall George Washington arrives at Federal Hall in New York City. He is dressed in a plain brown suit and holds a ceremonial sword. Washington is impressive and solemn as he takes the oath of office on the second story balcony of Federal Hall. George Washington is the first President of the United States.
After taking the oath of office he goes to the Senate chamber, in the same building, to deliver his inaugural address. The address contains mostly generalities, but he spoke specifically of the need for a strong Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Washington took the presidency very seriously and believed he served only at the behest of the people. He served two terms and although he easily could have gained a third term, he retired. He believed presidents should only serve one term and only accepted his second term because the country needed him.
Two hundred and nineteen years later, most of the same traditions and procedures for the inauguration of the president remain intact. It is hoped the person who becomes president truly realizes the great privilege and responsibility he has been granted by the people of the United States.
Washington taking the oath on the balcony of the Federal building in NYC in 1789.