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President-Elect George Washington's Journey to the Inauguration

Pomp and procession have graced Inauguration Day for the past two centuries. Yet no celebration of a president-elect's acceptance of this post can match the grandeur that surrounded George Washington's trip to New York in April 1789 and the subsequent inaugural ceremony at Federal Hall.

The journey to America's first capital by its first president was not only a national effusion of gratitude and admiration for the "Father of His Country,'' but a triumphal march for Americans themselves. In praising General Washington, the citizens were acknowledging victory over tyranny; in lauding President Washington they welcomed strength and purpose to the administration of their new government.

On April 16, 1789, George Washington, in a rare diary entry of this period, described his departure from home:

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 in company with Mr. Charles Thompson, [sic] and Colonel Humphries, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.

Washington's inaugural entry to New York City (LOC)

For the next seven days, George Washington would be deluged with honorary dinners, speeches and revelries at almost every town along the road to New York.

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