Washington's First Inaugural Address

Washington's First Inaugural Address

Yesterday we discussed the inauguration of George Washington.

Today I thought it would be fun to piggyback off that article by taking a closer look at Washington’s First Inaugural Address. 

In just six paragraphs, the first President sums up the state of the nation and the heavy responsibility his country had heaped upon his shoulders.

Washington’s Conflict

George Washington began his first inaugural address by pointing out the anxiety he felt after being saddled by the weight of a hopeful nation.

He was torn.

The aging man had eight years of war which had taken a toll on his health and he was happy to live in retirement.

However, as his country had requested he take the reigns of the most important position in the new government, George felt compelled to accept.

Washington’s one request was that, if his performance did not live up to everyone’s expectations, his countrymen remember his intentions were just and they had chosen him.

Thanking the Great Author

The second paragraph of Washington’s Inaugural Address is dedicated to thanking God.

Interestingly, he never uses the word ‘God’ but instead chose phrases like ‘Almighty Being’ and ‘Great Author.’

Though we can debate the reasons for his language choice, it is clear that the President believed the good fortune of the American people rested in the decisions of a higher power.


Washington continues his speech by discussing the heartbeat of a republic of laws...private morality.

He says the Congress must pay attention to the, “indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy”.

Additionally, he acknowledges that he is supposed to make recommendations to the Congress, but as the government was just beginning, he would reserve that for another time. 

Free of Charge

The final topic Washington discusses was his pay.

He references his time in the Revolutionary War, where he denied accepting payment. 

George again refuses to accept money for his serve, only asking that his expenses be paid.

This was quite a clever thing to do, as funding a President, even the first one, could be extremely pricey.

Here are some other articles I’ve written about General Washington:

George Washington: The Early Years

George Washington and The Rules of Civility

First Siblings - George Washington’s Brothers (And Sister)

George Washington has hundreds of biographies about him.

Personally, I would recommend to most readers ‘His Excellency.’ I like Joseph J. Ellis’ writing style because it is targeted at a general audience and easy to consume.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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