The sun shines bright on the morning of April 30th, 1789, as people fill the streets of New York City, eager to witness the inauguration of the first President of the United States, George Washington. Among them is a young man named Samuel, dressed in his finest clothes.
Politics have always fascinated Samuel. Even as a young boy, he would read biographies of political leaders and philosophies on governance. And so now, he has come to New York from his home in Philadelphia to witness this historic event firsthand.
He spent the previous night walking around the city, talking to people and listening to their stories. Everyone is excited. The feelings have carried into today. Samuel can feel the energy building around him as he makes his way through the crowds. People of all ages and backgrounds, from wealthy merchants to humble farmers, gather to witness the birth of a new nation.
And then, they, he see him. George Washington, hero of the Revolution, standing tall and proud on a platform in front of Federal Hall. Samuel can feel his heart racing as he watches the great man take the oath of office, his hand on a Bible.
As the cheers and applause die down, the President begins to speak, his voice strong and steady,
“Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years: a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my Country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with dispondence, one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver, is, that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of eve ry circumstance, by which it might be affected. All I dare hope, is, that, if in executing this task I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof, of the confidence of my fellow-citizens; and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me; my error will be palliated by the motives which misled me, and its consequences be judged by my Country, with some share of the partiality in which they originated.”
Samuel can see the passion in President Washington’s eyes as he speaks, the depth of his conviction. President Washington continues speaking, his words echoing through the streets of New York, reaching the hearts and minds of all those who hear him. His speech is full of optimism and hope, as well as a deep sense of responsibility for the future of the country. He promises to do his best to serve the people of the United States, and to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy that the country has fought so hard to achieve.
As Samuel listens, he feels a sense of hope and optimism inside him. Samuel knows that he is witnessing a moment he will never forget, and one which will be remembered for centuries. It is like hearing the words of a prophet. He thinks of his dreams and the many opportunities he can participate in to help improve the nation.
As President Washington’s speech ends, and the crowds erupt into cheers and applause, Samuel feels a sense of newfound pride and gratitude. As he walks away from Federal Hall, his notebook and pen tucked safely in his pocket, Samuel knows he will never forget this day. He will always carry George Washington’s words with him, like a beacon of hope shining brightly in the darkness.
WASHINGTON’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF 1789 – National Archives and Records Administration
“The Inauguration” is a work of historical fiction. While based on real events, the story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
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