When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
April 30, 1789
Washington sworn in as
1st President of the United States under the US Constitution
On April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, the first capital of the United States, Washington took the presidential oath of office. With a hand on the Bible, a “sacred volume” borrowed from a local Masonic lodge and subsequently known as the “George Washington Inaugural Bible,” he said, “I, George Washington, 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.” At that moment, the Chancellor of the State of New York, Robert Livingston, the person who administered the oath to the first chief executive, exclaimed, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States!”
Technically, George Washington was not our nation’s first president but rather the first president of the republic under the constitution. Eight other men can claim to have been president before Washington because they served as the presiding officer of the Continental Congress (AKA President):
The following men served as President of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1781:
- Peyton Randolph (1st time), September 5, 1774 – October 22, 1774
- Henry Middleton (acting), October 22, 1774 – October 26, 1774
- Peyton Randolph (2nd time), May 10, 1775 – May 24, 1775
- John Hancock, May 24, 1775 – October 28, 1777
- Charles Thomson (acting), October 29, 1777 – November 1, 1777
- Henry Laurens, November 1, 1777 – December 9, 1778
- John Jay, December 10, 1778 – September 28, 1779
- Samuel Huntington, September 28, 1779 – March 2, 1781.
Washington, of course did not preside over the Continental Congress because he was leading the Army as Commander-in-Chief.
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