President George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States on this day in history, April 30, 1789.
In his address, which he delivered at New York City’s Federal Hall, Washington expressed his anxiety over the prospect of leading a new nation.
At the time, New York City’s Federal Hall served as the U.S. Capitol, according to the National Archives.
Washington had been notified officially of his election as president on April 14, said the National Archives website.
In his inaugural address, Washington noted that “no life event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month.”
Robert Livingston, who was the chancellor of the State of New York, administered the oath of office, says the National Archives website.
“After repeating this oath, Washington kissed the Bible held for him by the Chancellor, who called out, ‘Long live George Washington, President of the United States,’ and a salvo of 13 cannons was discharged,” it added.
The first-ever presidential inauguration bore little resemblance to modern-day affairs.
In addition to being held in New York City, it was the only scheduled inauguration to occur in April.
The other three presidents who were inaugurated in April — John Tyler, Andrew Johnson and Harry S. Truman — were inaugurated following the deaths of their predecessors, notes the website History In Pieces.
There was only one inaugural ball for President Washington, said the Library of Congress website. It occurred on May 7, a week after the inauguration.
There were, however, fireworks to mark the occasion that day, which private citizens paid for, the website added.
Further, Washington’s wife Martha did not make the trip to New York City.
Prior to the inauguration, Washington embarked on a mini tour of the nation he was to lead.
On April 16, he left his house in Virginia and began traveling to New York City.
“President Washington significantly influenced the path for the presidency moving forward.”
“Accompanied by Charles Thompson, his official escort, and Col. David Humphreys, his aide, he traveled through Alexandria, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton, New Brunswick and Bridgetown (now Rahway, New Jersey),” said the National Archives.
Upon arrival in each location, “the artillery roared a salute of honor and the citizens and officials presented [Washington] with marks of affection and honor, so that his trip became a triumphal procession,” said the National Archives.
Washington and his companions arrived in New York City on April 23, on a “magnificent barge built especially for the occasion,” the site added.
George Washington helped shape the office’s future role and powers, as well as set “both formal and informal precedents for future presidents,” notes Mountvernon.org.
Washington believed that it was necessary to “strike a delicate balance” between making the presidency “powerful enough to function effectively in a national government” — while also avoiding “any image of establishing a monarchy or dictatorship,” that site notes.
“In the process, President Washington significantly influenced the path for the presidency moving forward, setting standards in all aspects, including political power, military practice and economic policy,” it adds.