I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.George Washington taking an oath to become the first president of the United States on this day 234 years ago.
- After being sworn in, President Washington gave his first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress "assembled in Federal Hall in the nation's new capital, New York City," the Library of Congress shares, noting that "Washington had not sought the office of president and was humbled by the request to serve." (The U.S. capital was in NY until 1790; in 1791, Pres. Washington announced that Washington, D.C. would serve as the nation's permanent capital, with Philadelphia being the temporary location until 1800.)
- Before being unanimously elected as president by the electoral college (twice), Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention – where the constitution was created, signed and ratified. Learn more about his life HERE.
Big Picture: By delivering an inaugural address, Pres. Washington went beyond taking the oath required by the Constitution. Since then, every U.S. president elected has delivered an inaugural address. Did you know? In Pres. Washington's inaugural address, he said he would not accept a salary for his new position noting that he "must accordingly pray that" the money would "be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require." However, because the Constitution requires U.S. presidents to receive a salary, he did end up taking a salary of $25,000 (a large sum today!).
President George Washington's First Inaugural Speech (1789) (National Archives)
George Washington's First Inaugural Address (Library of Congress)
The First Inauguration at Federal Hall in New York City (History, Art & Archives; United States House of Representatives)
Timeline: President Washington's Inauguration (George Washington's Mount Vernon)
Ten Facts About Washington's Presidency (George Washington's Mount Vernon)
by Jenna Lee,