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and in look and bearing must have much resembled a comely and prosperous Englishman of the middle class. There can be no question as to the many and great services he rendered to America ; but his errors of temper and judgment were attended with serious consequences, of which the following pages will supply some striking illustrations.
When the time came for the choice of a VicePresident, and it was generally acknowledged, for the reasons already stated, that a citizen of New England should have the preference, the name of Adams was one of those which at once attracted the public attention. Hamilton was of course consulted, and seems at first to have hesitated. He knew that Adams had declared in favour of the Constitution, and that he would have the support of many Federalists; but he also remembered that the New Englander had formerly shown distrust of Washington, and he feared that he was too democratical in his tendencies. He wrote to friends in Massachusetts to make inquiries on the subject. He was assured that Adams had returned from Europe with his prejudices softened, and his views much modified, and that he was a man of “unconquerable intrepidity, and incorruptible integrity, greatly experienced in the interests and character of the country.” Under these circumstances, Hamilton resolved to give him every assistance in securing his election. But another danger soon presented itself to the sagacious mind of the Federalist leader. The Anti-Federalists had started Clinton as a candidate, and threatened to divide their vote between him and Adams. The Constitution had provided that two names should be selected, the one with the largest number of votes for President, and the one with the next largest for Vice-President. If the Federalists all voted for Adams, it might so happen that Washington's election for President would fail. It was necessary, not only to prevent the possibility of such an occurrence, but to procure the return of the great chief by such a preponderating majority, as would clearly prove that no other name could for a moment be brought into competition with his. It was, therefore, Hamilton's opinion, that the Federalists should take care to give so many less votes to Adams than to Washington as would secure the above objects; and the electors of the different States appear to have acted upon his advice. When the returns were made up, Washington had sixty-nine votes, or the unanimous voice of all the States; whereas Adams had thirty-four votes
and the remaining thirty-five were distributed amongst various persons.
Mr. Adams was deeply offended at the course pursued by Hamilton on this occasion, and his grandson and biographer, Mr. Charles Francis Adams, stigmatizes it as a "refinement of policy,” and “ominous of imperfect faith.” It is difficult to say what is meant by this. Hamilton was no personal friend of Adams, and was in no way pledged to him as a politician. He gave him the preference over other candidates on public grounds alone; and, in consulting with those who confided in his judgment and patriotism, he had a perfect right to suggest such measures as he thought necessary, to place the paramount claims of Washington above all dispute. In this there was no breach of faith, and nothing that ought to have wounded the most sensitive pride. But Adams was peculiarly susceptible on the subject of his own dignity, and strongly resented what he considered an unjustifiable interference with his votes. It was the beginning of a misunderstanding between him and Hamilton, which afterwards grew to larger proportions, and, in the end, proved very fatal to the interests of the Federalist party.
But, for the present, all else was forgotten in the
triumphant progress of Washington, When the result of the election was known, the whole country prepared to honour the chieftain of their choice. His friends and neighbours escorted him on the first part of his journey. At Baltimore and Philadelphia, he was received by a numerous cavalcade, and passed under laurelled arches, amid the roar of artillery. At Trenton, the scene of his former exploits, young girls dressed in white strewed flowers before him, and the bridge bore the inscription : “The defender of the mothers will be the protector of the daughters.” Through all New Jersey, the line he had so often traversed in his weary marches was marked by a series of festivities. As he approached New York, a committee of Congress came out to meet him, and, embarking on board a splendid barge, he entered the bay to the sound of martial music, amid the ringing of bells, the thunder of salutes, and the shouts of an excited multitude. Governor Clinton received him at the landing-place, and General Knox, and other old comrades in arms, welcomed him as he stepped on shore. The streets were hung with flags and garlands, ladies waved their handkerchiefs from the windows, the people crowded on his passage, and tears of joy and enthusiasm were mingled with acclamations. It was one of the brightest, fairest, and most genuine of civic triumphs. And yet, in the midst of it all, Washington had a painful feeling, that he might not be able to satisfy the expectations of his countrymen, and that he might live to witness the reverse of that joyous spectacle.
A few days later, on the 30th of April, 1789, he was finally inaugurated as President. In the morning, the churches were thronged with worshippers, imploring the blessing of heaven on the new government. A procession was formed to attend the President to the Hall of Congress. John Adams, as Vice-President, conducted him to the chair of state; but it was in an open balcony, in full view of the people, that he was to take the oath of office. Clad in a suit of dark brown cloth, with white silk stockings, and a steel-hilted sword, Washington advanced to the table, on which lay a richly-bound Bible on a velvet cushion. Chancellor Livingston administered the prescribed oath, the Secretary of the Senate presented the Bible, and Washington, having solemnly repeated the words, “I swear—so help me God!" stooped down, and reverently kissed the book. Then the Chancellor exclaimed, in a loud voice: