George Washington: The Founding Father (Eminent Lives)

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Instead, he would stand there aglitter with patriotic symbols. The suit had gilt buttons with an eagle insignia on them; to round out his outfit, he would wear white hosiery, silver shoe buckles and yellow gloves. Washington already sensed that Americans would emulate their presidents.

From this room Washington would emerge onto the balcony to take the oath of office. In many ways, the first inauguration was a hasty, slapdash affair. As with all theatrical spectacles, rushed preparations and frantic work on the new building continued until a few days before the event.

Nervous anticipation spread through the city as to whether the workmen would complete the project on time. Only a few days before the inauguration, an eagle was hoisted onto the pediment, completing the building. The final effect was stately: a white building with a blue and white cupola topped by a weather vane.

The procession wound slowly through the narrow Manhattan streets, emerging yards from Federal Hall. After alighting from his carriage, Washington strode through a double line of soldiers to the building and mounted to the Senate chamber, where members of Congress awaited him expectantly. As he entered, Washington bowed to both houses of the legislature—his invariable mark of respect—then occupied an imposing chair up front.

A profound hush settled on the room.

Vice President John Adams rose for an official greeting, then informed Washington that the epochal moment had arrived. As he stepped through the door onto the balcony, a spontaneous roar surged from the multitude tightly squeezed into Wall and Broad streets and covering every roof in sight. This open-air ceremony would confirm the sovereignty of the citizens gathered below.

A member of the crowd, the Count de Moustier, the French minister, noted the solemn trust between Washington and the citizens who stood packed below him with uplifted faces. The sole constitutional requirement for the swearing-in was that the president take the oath of office. That morning, a Congressional committee decided to add solemnity by having Washington place his hand on a Bible during the oath, leading to a frantic, last-minute scramble to locate one.

A Masonic lodge came to the rescue by providing a thick Bible, bound in deep brown leather and set on a crimson velvet cushion. By the time Washington appeared on the portico, the Bible rested on a table draped in red.

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Livingston administered the oath to Washington, who was visibly moved. As the president finished the oath, he bent forward, seized the Bible and brought it to his lips.


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Whether or not Washington actually said it, very few people would have heard him anyway, since his voice was soft and breathy. For the crowd below, the oath of office was enacted as a kind of dumb show. Long live our beloved president! When the balcony ceremony was concluded, Washington returned to the Senate chamber to deliver his inaugural address. In an important piece of symbolism, Congress rose as he entered, then sat down after Washington bowed in response.

As Washington began his speech, he seemed flustered and thrust his left hand in his pocket while turning the pages with a trembling right hand. His weak voice was barely audible in the room. On the other hand, Washington refrained from endorsing any particular form of religion. After this speech, Washington led a broad procession of delegates up Broadway, along streets lined by armed militia, to an Episcopal prayer service at St.


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After these devotions ended, Washington had his first chance to relax until the evening festivities. That night Lower Manhattan was converted into a shimmering fairyland of lights. From the residences of Chancellor Livingston and General Knox, Washington observed the fireworks at Bowling Green, a pyrotechnic display that flashed lights in the sky for two hours. This sort of celebration, ironically, would have been familiar to Washington from the days when new royal governors arrived in Williamsburg and were greeted by bonfires, fireworks and illuminations in every window.

Excerpted from Washington: A Life. Continue or Give a Gift. Privacy Policy , Terms of Use Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Science Age of Humans. Future of Space Exploration. Human Behavior. Our Planet. Earth Optimism Summit. Ingenuity Ingenuity Awards. The Innovative Spirit. Featured: Reality Gets an Upgrade. Travel Taiwan. American South. Travel With Us. At the Smithsonian Visit.

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Photo of the Day. Video Ingenuity Awards. Smithsonian Channel. Video Contest. Games Daily Sudoku. Universal Crossword. Daily Word Search. Mah Jong Quest. Subscribe Top Menu Current Issue. Archaeology U. History World History Video Newsletter. When it came to the presidency, George Washington harbored both desire and doubt.

In this illustartion, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress, formally notifies him that he has been elected. I chose to research George Washington Wilson , an eminent Victorian photographer who had many connections with Aberdeen. The university was donated a huge collection of his glass plate negatives around 37, in by Archibald J.

The collection is described as a comprehensive chronicle of Victorian Life and is available online here. Wilson originally included a third person standing at the rear of the horse. This person was strategically cropped off, highlighting the intimate friendship between the Queen and John Brown.

How sneaky! Wilson was a pioneer in instantaneous photography allowing cameras to capture objects in motion. Fascinated and inspired by his photos of the River Don — especially his famous views of Bridge of Balgownie — I went to the same location trying to reproduce similar photos in colour. I have posted both here for you to see how little the place has changed in all those years — but please do not judge my photographic skills against those of one of the masters of 19 th Century photography.

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George Washington: The Founding Father (Eminent Lives)

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B. 18 George Washington: Founding father tijdens de Amerikaanse Revolutie

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