Proceedings Initiatory to the First Presidential Inauguration 1789 Part I

[From the Washington Papers (Executive Proceedings, vol. 17), Department of State]

Volume: I Pages: 42-44

Charles Thomson, esq., Secretary of the late Congress, being appointed by the Senate of the United States to carry to General Washington the official information of his unanimous election to the office of president of the United States of America, arrived at Mount Vernon on the 14th day of April, A.D. 1789, when he communicated to General Washington the purport of his mission in the following words:

SIR: The President of the Senate chosen for the special purpose, having opened and counted the votes of the electors in presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, I was honored with the commands of the Senate to wait upon Your Excellency with the information of your being elected to the office of President of the United States of America. This commission was intrusted to me on account of my having been long in the confidence of the late Congress, and charged with the duties of one of the principal civil departments of Government.

I have now, sir, to inform you that the proofs you have given of your patriotism, and of your readiness to sacrifice domestic ease and private enjoyments to preserve the happiness of your country, did not permit the two Houses to harbor a doubt of your undertaking this great and important office, to which you are called, not only by the unanimous vote of the electors, but by the voice of America.

I have it, therefore, in command to accompany you to New York, where the Senate and House of Representatives are convened for the dispatch of public business.

To which General Washington replied:

SIR: I have been accustomed to pay so much respect to the opinion of my fellow-citizens that the knowledge of their having given their unanimous suffrages in my favor scarcely leaves me the alternative for an option. I can not, I believe, give a greater evidence of my sensibility of the honor which they have done me than by accepting the appointment.

I am so much affected by this fresh proof of my country's esteem and confidence that silence can best explain my gratitude. While I realize the arduous nature of the task which is imposed upon me, and feel my own inability to perform it, I wish, however, that there may not be reason for regretting the choice, for, indeed, all I can promise is only to accomplish that which can be done by an honest zeal.

Upon considering how long time some of the gentlemen of both Houses of Congress have been at New York, how anxiously desirous they must be to proceed to business, and how deeply the public mind appears to be impressed with the necessity of doing it speedily, I can not find myself at liberty to delay my journey. I shall therefore be in readiness to set out the day after tomorrow, and shall be happy in the pleasure of your company, for you will permit me to say that it is a peculiar gratification to have received the communication from you.

Official Information of the Election of the President of the United States, April 6, 1789.

Be it known that the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, being convened in the city and State of New York, this 6th day of April, A.D. 1789, the underwritten, appointed president of the Senate for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes of the electors, did, in the presence of the said Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and count all the votes of the electors for a President and Vice-President, by which it appears that His Excellency George Washington, esq., was unanimously elected, agreeably to the Constitution, to the office of President of the said United States of America.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal.

                                                                                                                                                        JOHN LANGDON.

                                                                                                                                            Mount Vernon, April 14, 1789.

To the Honorable John Langdon,
President pro tempore of the Senate of the United States.

SIR: I had the honor to receive your official communication, by the hand of Mr. Secretary Thomason, about 1 o'clock this day. Having concluded to obey the important and flattering call of my country, and having been impressed with an idea of the expediency of my being with Congress at as early a period as possible, I propose to commence my journey on Thursday morning, which will be the day after tomorrow.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of esteem, sir, your most obedient servant,

                                                                                                                      G. WASHINGTON.

Resolve of the Senate of the United States Respecting Mr. Osgood's Preparing His House For the Reception of the President of the United States.

                                                                                                                                                        United States of America,
                                                                                                                                                        In Senate, April 15, 1789.

The committee to whom it was referred to consider of and report to the House respecting the ceremonial of receiving the President, and to whom also was referred a letter from the chairman of a committee of the Senate to the Speaker, communicating an instruction from that House to a committee thereof to report if and what arrangements are necessary for the reception of the Vice-President, have agreed to the following report:

That Mr. Osgood, the proprietor of the house lately occupied by the President of Congress, be requested to put the same and the furniture thereof in proper condition for the residence and use of the President of the United States, and otherwise, at the expense of the United States, to provide for his temporary accommodation.

That it will be more eligible, in the first instance that a committee of three members from the Senate and five members from the House of Representatives, to be appointed by the two Houses respectively, attend to receive the President at such place as he shall embark from New Jersey for this city, and conduct him without form to the house lately occupied by the President of Congress, and at such time thereafter as the President shall signify it will be most convenient for him, he be formally received by both Houses.

Read and Accepted.

                                                                                                                                                               IN SENATE, April 16, 1789

The Senate proceeded by ballot to the choice of a committee, agreeably to the report of the committee of both Houses agreed to the 15th instant, when the Honorable Mr. Langdon, the Honorable Mr. Carroll, and the Honorable Mr. Johnson were chosen.

A true copy from the Journals of the Senate.


                                                                                                                                                                SAM. A. OTIS, Secretary


Website: The History
Article Name: Proceedings Initiatory to the First Presidential Inauguration 1789 Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897 by James D. Richardson, A Representative from the State of Tennessee published by the authority of Congress 1899.
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