George Washington’s first inaugural address, 30 April 1789

The Library of Congress Manuscripts Division has a selection of digitised documents relating to American history. Among these is the first ever inagural address delivered by an American president. You can see it here: Washington’s First Inaugural Address.

The Library describes this document thus:

George Washington (1732-1799) delivered his first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress, assembled in Federal Hall, New York City, on 30 April 1789. The newly elected president delivered the speech in a deep, low voice that betrayed what one observer called “manifest embarrassment.” Aside from recommending constitutional amendments to satisfy citizens demanding a Bill of Rights, Washington confined himself to generalities. He closed by asking for a “divine blessing” on the American people and their elected representatives. In delivering an inaugural address, Washington went beyond the constitutional requirement of taking an oath of office and thus established a precedent that has been followed since by every elected president.

Presumably President Obama’s efforts today will not be tinged with ‘manifest embarrassment’!

For a full list of online manuscripts at the Library of Congress visit http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/mcchtml/corlst.html.