George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States on this date in 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City.
Washington, the only man to receive 100 percent of the electoral votes cast, remains one of the history’s most remarkable individuals.
Against almost unfathomable odds, he led a rag-tag collection of volunteers and state militia troops to victory over the greatest military force on the planet, enabling the Thirteen Colonies secure their independence from Great Britain.
He also presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and his support convinced many states to vote for ratification.
As president, Washington avoided the temptation of war and his farewell address was a primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against partisanship, sectionalism and involvement in foreign entanglements.
He reluctantly began a second term in office in 1793 but afterward retired to Mount Vernon.
Few men, given the opportunity to hold office for life, would be able to walk away in the manner of Washington. Washington did it twice, first after the American Revolution and then after his second term as president.
That didn’t escape the notice of the British monarch, King George III. Following the end of the American Revolution in 1783, George asked painter Benjamin West what Washington would do next and was told of rumors that he’d return to his farm.
The king responded by stating, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”