When George Washington took the presidential oath of office as our first president on April 30, 1789, he was a war hero. He could have been King George, but he wisely refused to let the new country go that way.
He was a quiet and sober man whose character would be tested but never tarnished. In the 1770s with much to be won and at the risk of losing everything, he stepped up, took the lead and fought the battles necessary for our country’s independence. Although March 4 was supposed to be inauguration day, he arrived in New York City (where the U.S. Capitol was then) almost 2 months late.
When he died (December 14, 1799) at age sixty-seven, General Henry (Light-Horse Harry) Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) delivered the eulogy in which he called him “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
While our country hardly knows him now, we live each day with a debt, a huge debt, to the man from Mt. Vernon. February 22 marks his 287th birthday.