As Washington, D.C. attempts to rein in the crowds on this Inauguration Day, New Yorkers can be thankful someone else is dealing with the traffic snarls for a change. We’re guessing, though, that if Donald Trump had any say on the matter, New York City would be hosting the inauguration as it did for the nation’s first president in 1789.
In that year on April 30, the first United States Congress met, and the first president was sworn in (the presidential term had already started on March 4 of that year, but logistical delays had kept the votes from being counted or certified). With a quorum finally in place, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States, alongside Vice President John Adams, on the balcony of the Federal Hall in what is now the Financial District.
The day included plenty of anxiety–mostly on the part of Washington himself, who began his inauguration speech with, “Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month…” Expressions of humility and the location of the ceremony–New York was the nation’s temporary capital at the time–are but a few differences between the first inauguration and the one in which Donald J. Trump assumes the role of America’s 45th president. Here are a few others.
Number of people in attendance at the ceremony:
George Washington: About 10,000.
Donald Trump: 800,000 to 900,000 people are expected to be in attendance at the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade. Barack Obama set a record eight years ago, drawing an estimated 1.8 million people to the National Mall for the ceremony.
What they wore:
George Washington: The new POTUS dressed in an American-made dark brown suit with white silk stockings and silver shoe buckles, accessorizing with a steel-hilted sword and dark red overcoat.
Donald Trump: He’s wearing a dark suit with a red tie.
Donald Trump: Mr. Trump’s Inauguration Day messages have included, “It all begins today!” and “I’ll see you at 11:00 A.M. for the swearing-in. THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES — THE WORK BEGINS.”
George Washington: Nope.
How wealthy is the new president?
George Washington: According to History.com, the first president “borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York” on April 30, 1789.
Donald Trump: Trump himself claims to be worth $10 billion, but no one knows for sure.
How many inaugural balls the new president will attend today:
George Washington: 1. On May 7th, George Washington attended the first inaugural ball at the federal government’s temporary headquarters in a building on Broadway near Wall Street. Apparently, he liked to dance the minuet. Since his wife was sick and at Mount Vernon, he dined alone later in the evening at the presidential mansion at 1 Cherry Street (it was demolished in 1856).
Donald Trump: The Inauguration Day committee has announced three official balls so far. Barack and Michelle Obama attended 10 balls in 2008. Bill Clinton partied his way through 14.
If you’re interested in learning more about New York’s turn in the inaugural spotlight, the New York Historical Society Museum and Library has an exhibition running through February 26, 2017 titled, “The First Inauguration: George Washington’s 1789 Ceremony at Federal Hall.”
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