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CHAPTER II.

STARTING THE GOVERNMENT.

Washington was deeply gratified by his reception at the hands of the people from Alexandria to New York. He was profoundly moved by the ceremonies of his inauguration, and when he turned from the balcony to the senate chamber he showed in his manner and voice how much he felt the meaning of all that had occurred. His speech to the assembled Congress was solemn and impressive, and with simple reverence he acknowledged the guiding hand of Providence in the fortunes of the States. He made no recommendations to Congress, but expressed his confidence in their wisdom and patriotism, adjured them to remember that the success of republican government would probably be finally settled by the success of their experiment, reminded them that amendments to the Constitution were to be considered, and informed them that he could not receive any pecuniary compensation for his services, and expected only that his expenses should be paid as in the Revolution. This was all. The first inaugural of the first President expressed only one thought, but that thought was pressed home with force. Washington wished the

Congress to understand as he understood the weight and meaning of the task which had been imposed upon them, for he felt that if he could do this all would be well. How far he succeeded it would be impossible to say, but there can be no doubt as to the wisdom of his position. To have attempted to direct the first movements of Congress before he had really grasped the reins of the government would have given rise, very probably, to jealousy and opposition at the outset. When he had developed a policy, then it would be time to advise the senators and representatives how to carry it out. Meanwhile it was better to arouse their patriotism, awaken their sense of responsibility, and leave them free to begin their work under the guidance of these impressions.

As for himself, his feelings remained unchanged. He had accepted the great post with solemn anxiety, and when the prayers had all been said, and the last guns fired, when the music had ceased and the cheers had died away, and the illuminations had flickered and gone out, he wrote that in taking office he had given up all expectation of private happiness, but that he was encouraged by the popular affection, as well as by the belief that his motives were appreciated, and that, thus supported, he would do his best. In a few words, written some months later, he tersely stated what his office meant to him, and what grave difficulties surrounded bis path.

“ The establishment of our new government,” he

said, " seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness by a reasonable compact in civil society. It was to be, in the first instance, in a considerable degree, a government of accommodation as well as a government of laws. Much was to be done by prudence, much by conciliation, much by firmness. Few who are not philosophical spectators can realize the difficult and delicate part which a man in my situation had to act. All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external happiness of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it beyond the lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity. In our progress towards political happiness my station is new, and, if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely an action the motive of which may not be subject to a double interpretation. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent. If, after all my humble but faithful endeavors to advance the felicity of my country and mankind, I may indulge a hope that my labors have not been altogether without success, it will be the only real compensation I can receive in the closing scenes of life."

There is nothing very stimulating to the imagination in this soberness of mind and calmness of utterance. The military conquerors and the saviors of society, with epigrammatic sayings, dramatic effects and rhythmic proclamations, are much more exciting and dazzle the fancy much better. But it is this seriousness of mind, coupled with intensity of purpose and grim persistence, which has made the English-speaking race spread over the world and carry successful government in its train. The personal empire of Napoleon had crumbled before he died an exile in St. Helena, but the work of Washington still endures. Just what that work was, and how it was achieved, is all that still remains to be considered.

The policies set on foot and carried through under the first federal administration were so brilliant and so successful that we are apt to forget that months elapsed before the first of them was even announced. When Washington, on May 1, 1789, began his duties, there was absolutely nothing of the government of the United States in existence but a president and a congress. The imperfect and broken machinery of the confederation still moved foobly, and performed some of the absolutely necessary functions of government. But the new organization had nothing to work with except these outworn remnants of a discarded system. There were no departments, and no arrangements for the collection of revenue or the management of the postal service. A few scattered soldiers formed the army, and no navy existed. There were no funds and no financial resources. There were not even traditions and forms of government, and, slight as these things may seem, settled methods of doing public business are essential to its prompt and proper transaction. These forms had to be devised and adopted first, and although they seem matters of course now, after a century of use, they were the subject of much thought and of some sharp controversy in 1789. The manner in which the President was to be addressed caused some heated discussion even before the inauguration. America had but just emerged from the colonial condition, and the colonial habits were still unbroken. In private letters we find Washington referred to as " His Highness," and in some newspapers as " His Highness the PresidentGeneral," while the Senate committee reported in favor of addressing him as "His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties." In the House, however, the democratic spirit was strong, there was a fierce attack upon the proposed titles, and that body ended by addressing Washington simply as the "President of the United States," which, as it happened, settled the question finally. Washington personally cared little for titles, although, as John Adams wrote to Mrs. Warren, he thought them appropriate to high office. But in this case he saw that there was a real danger lurking in the empty name, and so he was pleased by the decision of the House. Another matter was the relation between the President and the Senate. Should he communicate with them in writing or orally, being present during their deliberations as if they formed an executive council? It was promptly decided

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