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any he had yet undertaken. He felt all this keenly, and noted in his diary: “About ten o'clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York, with the best disposition to render service to my country, in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.” The first stage of his journey took him only to Alexandria, a few miles from his home, where a public dinner was given to him by his friends and neighbors. He was deeply moved when he rose to reply to the words of affection addressed to him by the mayor, as spokesman of the people. “All that now remains for me,” he said, “is to commit myself and you to the care of that beneficent Being who, on a former occasion, happily brought us together after a long and distressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious Providence will again indulge me. But words fail me. Unutterable sensations must then be left to more expressive silence, while from an aching heart I bid all my affectionate friends and kind neighbors farewell.” So he left his home, sad at the parting, looking steadily, but not joyfully, to the future, and silent as was his wont. The simple dinner with his friends and neighbors at Alexandria was but the beginning of the chorus of praise and God-speed, which rose higher and stronger as he advanced. The road, as he travelled, was lined with people, to see him and cheer him as he passed. In every village the people from the farm and workshop crowded the streets to watch for his carriage, and the ringing of bells and firing of guns marked his coming and his going. At Baltimore a cavalcade of citizens escorted him, and cannon roared a welcome. At the Pennsylvania line Governor Mifflin, with soldiers and citizens, gathered to greet him. At Chester he mounted a horse, and in the midst of a troop of cavalry rode into Philadelphia, beneath triumphal arches, for a day of public rejoicing and festivity. At Trenton, instead of snow and darkness, and a sudden onslaught upon surprised Hessians, there was mellow sunshine, an arch of triumph, and young girls walking before him, strewing flowers in his path, and singing songs of praise and gratitude. When he reached Elizabethtown Point, the committees of Congress met him, and he there went on board a barge manned by thirteen pilots in white uniform, and was rowed to the city of New York. A long procession 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. It was 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 30th 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-hilted 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.
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