« PreviousContinue »
PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Election for the First Term, commenciug March 4, 1789, and terminating March 3, 1793.
The first Congress under the Constitution was convened at the "Federal Hall," situated at the head of Broad, fronting on Wall street (where the Custom House now stands), in the city of New York, on the first Wednesday, being March 4, 1789-Senators and Representatives having been elected from the eleven States which had ratified the Constitution; but, owing to the absence of a quorum, the House was not organized till the 1st of April, and, for a like reason, the Senate was not organized till the 6th; when the latter body "proceeded by ballot to the choice of a President, for the sole purpose of opening and counting the [electoral] votes for President of the United States. John Langdon, of New Hampshire, was chosen President pro tem. of the Senate, and Samuel Alyne Otis, of Massachusetts, Secretary; after which, proper measures were taken to notify the successful individuals of their election.
George Washington took the oath of office, as President, and entered upon his duties April 30, 1789. (For his Inaugural Address, see p. 43.)
John Adams, Vice-President, entered upon his duties in the Senate April 21, 1789, and took the dath of office June 3, 1789.
Election for the Secona Term, commencing March 4, 1793, and terminating March 3, 1797.
George Washington, re-elected President, took the oath of of fice for a second term, and entered upon his duties March 4, 1793. John Adams, re-elected Vice President, took the oath of office, and entered upon his duties in the Senate December 2, 1793. After the expiration of his second Presidential term, Washington retired to the tranquil shades of Mount Vernon, fondly indulging the hope that the remainder of his days would be peacefully enjoyed in his much cherished home; but these pleasing anticipa tions were not allowed to remain long undisturbed. In 1798 the conduct of the French Directory and its emissaries led to frequent difficulties with this country, which were calculated to provoke a war; and the opinion was universally entertained that he who had formerly so well acquitted himself, must be again called to the command of our armies. Accordingly, early in July, the rank and title of Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies raised, or to be raised, in the United States," was conferred upon him; and the Secretary of War, Mr. McHenry, immediately waited upon him to tender the commission. In a letter to President Adams, accepting this "new proof of public confidence," he makes a reservation that he shall not be called into the field until the army is in a situation to require his presence, and adds: “I take the liberty also to mention, that I must decline having my acceptance considered as drawing after it any immediate ebargo upon the public, and that I cannot receive any emoluments annexed to the appointment, before entering into a situation to incur expense."
THE SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
And whose fame as a patriot and statesman is imperishable, was born at Braintree, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735. He early displayed superior capacity for learning, and graduated at Cambridge College with great credit. After qualifying himself for the legal profession, he was admitted to practice in 1761, and soon attained that distinction to which his talents were entitled. From the commencement of the troubles with Great Britain, in 1769, he was among the most active in securing the freedom of his country. Being elected to the first Continental Congress, he took a prominent part in all the war measures that were then originated, and, subsequently, suggested the appointment of Washington as commander-in-chief of the army. He was one of the committee which reported the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, and the next year visited France, as commissioner, to form a treaty of alliance and commerce with that country. Although the object had been accomplished before his arrival, his visit had, otherwise, a favorable effect on the existing position of affairs; and he was afterward appointed to negotiate a treaty of peace with Great Britain, which, after many laborious and fruitless efforts, was finally accomplished in 1783. In 1785, he was sent to England as the first minister from this country, and, on his return, was elected first Vice-President, in which office he served two terms, and was then, in 1797, elected to succeed Washington as President. Many occurrences tended to embarrass his administration and to render it unpopular; but it is now generally admitted to have been characterized by patriotism and vigor equal to the emergencies which then existed. His political opponents, however, managed to defeat his reëlection, and he was succeeded in the Presidency by Mr. Jefferson, in 1801; after which he retired to his farm at Quincy, where his declining years were passed in the gratification of his unabated love for reading and contemplation, and where he was constantly cheered by an interesting circle of friendship and affection. The semi-centennial anniversary of American
Independence (July 4, 1826) was remarkable, not merely for the event which it commemorated, but for the decease of two of the most active participants in the measures by which independence was achieved. On that day, Adams and Jefferson were both gathered to their fathers, within about four hours of each other, "cheered by the benediction of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of their fame and the memory of their bright example."
As has been noticed elsewhere, Mr. Adams deemed it prudent, in the early part of his administration, when impending difficulties with France seemed to render war inevitable, to offer Washington the commission of LieutenantGeneral and Commander-in-Chief of the army, which he accepted as a matter of duty, and held until his death, but fortunately never found it necessary to take the field.
Election for the Third Term, commencing March 4, 1797, and.
terminating March 3, 1801.
John Adams, elected President, took the oath of office, and entered upon his duties, March 4, 1797.
Thomas Jefferson, elected Vice President, took the oath of office, and entered upon his duties in the Senate, March 4, 1797. The administration of Mr. Adams encountered the most viralent opposition, both domestic and foreign. France, still in the confusion following her revolution, made improper demands on our country, which not being complied with, she commenced seizing American property on the high seas. Our people, taking different sides, were about equally divided-some approving and others deprecating the course pursued by France. Letters of marque and reprisal were issued by our government, and a navy was raised with surprising promptitude. This had the desired effect, peace being thereby secured; and the aggressor was taught that the Americans were friends in peace, but were not fearful of war when it could not be honorably averted.
The Indians on our western frontiers also caused much trouble; but at length, being severely chastised by General Wayne, they sued for peace, which was granted in 1795.
In 1800 the seat of government was removed from Philadel phia to Washington City, which had been designated by Wash ington, under a law of Congress, as the most central situation.