April 30, 1789: George Washington Becomes the First President
On this day in 1789, George Washington was inaugurated in New York City as the first president of the United States of America. At Federal Hall, New York Chancellor Robert Livingston swore him into office.
Washington recited these words from the Constitution:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Although it was not in the script, he went ahead and added, “So help me God.” In every presidential inauguration since then, every president has followed tradition and repeated those same last four words.
Celebrate this moment by reading George Washington’s inaugural speech.
Image: George Washington, full-length portrait, standing on bunker c.1839 (Library of Congress)