Federal Hall, the Seat of Congress - 1789


Front elevation of Federal Hall in New York City. George Washington's inauguration, in 1789, on the second floor balcony of the recently remodeled Federal Hall, the old City Hall. This historical building was the first seat of Congress. Illustration drawn by Peter Lecour and engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832). Printed and sold by A. Doolittle New Haven, 1790. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

At Federal Hall, Vice President John Adams, the Senate, and the House of Representatives awaited the President’s arrival in the Senate Chamber. After being received by Congress, Washington stepped from the chamber onto the balcony, where he was followed by the Senators and Representatives. Before the assembled crowd of spectators, Robert Livingston, Chancellor of the State of New York, administered the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

After repeating this oath, Washington kissed the Bible held for him by the Chancellor, who called out, “Long live George Washington, President of the United States,” and a salvo of 13 cannons was discharged.


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Federal Hall, the Seat of Congress - 1789









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