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cession of barges swept after him with music and song, while the ships in the harbor, covered with flags, fired salutes in his honor. When he reached the landing he declined to enter a carriage, but walked to his house, accompanied by Governor Clinton. He was dressed in the familiar buff and blue, and, as the people caught sight of the stately figure and the beloved colors, hats went off and the crowd bowed as he went by, bending like the ripened grain when the summer wind passes over it, and breaking forth into loud and repeated cheers.
From Mount Vernon to New York it had been one long triumphal march. There was no imperial government to lend its power and military pageantry. There were no armies, with trophies to dazzle the eyes of the beholders; nor were there wealth and luxury to give pomp and splendor to the occasion. It was the simple outpouring of popular feeling, untaught and true, but full of reverence and gratitude to a great man. the noble instinct of hero-worship, always keen in humanity when the real hero comes to awaken it to life. Such an experience, rightly apprehended, would have impressed any man, and it affected Washington profoundly. He was deeply moved and touched, but he was neither excited nor elated. He took it all with soberness, almost with sadness, and when he was alone wrote in his diary:
“The display of boats which attended and joined us on this occasion, some with vocal and some with
instrumental music on board; the decorations of the ships, the roar of cannon and the loud acclamations of the people, which rent the skies as I passed along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful (considering the reverse of this scene, which may be the case after all my labors to do good) as they were pleasing."
In the very moment of the highest personal glory, the only thought is of the work which he has to do. There is neither elation nor cynicism, neither indifference nor self-deception, but only deep feeling and a firm, clear look into the future of work and conflict which lay silent and unknown beyond the triumphal arches and the loud acclaim of the people.
On April 30 he was inaugurated. He went in procession to the hall, was received in the senate chamber, and thence proceeded to the balcony to take the oath. He was dressed in dark brown cloth of American manufacture, with a steel-bilted sword, and with his hair powdered and drawn back in the fashion of the time. When he appeared, a shout went up from the great crowd gathered beneath the balcony. Much overcome, he bowed in silence to the people, and there was an instant hush over all. Then Chancellor Livingston administered the oath. Washington laid his hand upon the Bible, bowed, and said solemnly when the oath was concluded, “I swear, so help me God," and, bending reverently, kissed the book. Livingston stepped forward, and raising his hand
cried, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States !” Then the cheers broke forth again, the cannon roared, and the bells rang out. Washington withdrew to the hall, where he read his inaugural address to Congress, and the history of the United States of America under the Constitution was begun.
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. Wash
ington 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 anx.. iety, 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 his path.