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We have come to the home of George Washington today in memory of another day, exactly 150 years ago, when the owner of Mount Vernon received a message from the First Congress of the United States.

Here in his beloved Mount Vernon he listened to the formal message from the Congress announcing his election as the first President of the United States of America. Charles Thomson, his guest, had ridden hither from New York to bring it—Charles Thomson, native of County Derry in Ireland, a Pennsylvania Irishman, with a passionate zeal for liberty, who, through fifteen eventful years, had served as the secretary of the Continental Congress.

We who are here today can readily visualize that scene from this porch the sprouting lawn, the budding trees and the dogwoods, and the majestic Potomac running by at the foot of the hill. We can visualize the thoughts, too, which flowed through General Washington's mind. Saying farewell to his army in 1783, the independence of the colonies assured, he, already the Father of his Country, had returned to his beloved Mount Vernon with the hope and expectation that his task was done and that he would live a happy and useful life on his broad acres during the remainder of his days.

But trying times still lay ahead for the struggling nation, and those years after 1783 proved the most critical peace years in all our history. Called from his home, he had presided with skill and patience over the Constitutional Convention in 1787. And anxiety and doubt had attended him for many months thereafter while he waited for belated news that the Constitution itself had been ratified by the states.

I take it that when the permanent framework of the Union had been assured in the summer of 1788, the elections ordered and the First Congress summoned, General Washington must have known that the task of the Presidency would, without question, fall on him. It meant that once more he would leave Mount Vernon behind him, with no certainty of his return, and that on his shoulders, in the far off North, would lie the burden of initiating the civil leadership of a new, untried republic. He knew that his would be the task of ending uncertainty, jealousy between the several states, and creating, with



the help of the Congress, a functioning national government fit to take its place among the organized nations of the world.

Two days later he was to set forth on that long and difficult journey by highway and ferry and barge, which was to culminate in his inauguration as President on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York on April 30, 1789. Doubtless on this very porch he sat with Charles Thomson, hearing at first-hand of the long efforts of the first Senate and the first House of Representatives to obtain a quorum, learning of the unanimity by which the votes of the electors were cast for him, listening to the precedents that were being set in the conduct of the first legislature under the Constitution, and thinking doubtless that his own every move from that day on for many years to come would be chronicled for future generations and thereby set the tempo and the customs of the Presidency of the United States.

But I am to be forgiven if I, the Thirty-First President, dwell for a moment on the feelings within the heart of him who was about to be the First President.

Washington was essentially a man close to mother earth. His early training on a plantation, his profession of surveyor, his studies in agriculture and the development of farm lands were never replaced by his outstanding military service under Braddock or as Commanderin-Chief for the eight years of the Revolution. We know that when Mount Vernon came to him by inheritance, here his heart was planted for all time. Here he could talk with his neighbors about the improvement of navigation on the river, about grist mills on the creeks, about the improving of highways, about the dream of a canal to the western country, about saw mills and rotation of crops, about the top soil, which even then had begun to run off to the sea, about the planting of trees, new varieties of food and fodder crops, new breeds of horses and cattle and sheep. Here, too, he had his books and was in touch with the authors and artists of the new and old worlds. Here at the junction point of the North and of the South, at the foot of one of the main arteries that led to the exciting new lands beyond the mountains, the travelers and the news stopped at his door.

Rightly, he must have felt that his labors in the service of his state and of his nation had rounded out his contribution to the public weal. Rightly he felt that he had earned the privilege of returning for all time to the private life which had been his dream.

That Washington would have refused public service if the call had been a normal one has always been my belief. But the summons to the Presidency had come to him in a time of real crisis and deep

emergency. The dangers that beset the young nation were as real as though the very independence Washington had won for it had been threatened once more by foreign foes. Clear it must have been that the permanence of the republic was at stake and that if the new government, under the Constitution, should fail in its early days, the several states, falling out among themselves, would become so many small and weak nations subject to attack and conquest from overseas. So it came about that once more he put from him the life he loved so well and took upon himself the Presidency.

That cannot have been a happy day for General and Mrs. George Washington on the fourteenth of April 1789-a day of torn emotions, a day of many regrets. The decision had been made. We, their successors, are thankful for that decision and proud of it. And I think that it would have made General and Mrs. Washington happy if they had known that one hundred and fifty years later tens of millions of Americans would appreciate and understand how they felt that day in their Mount Vernon home.

Musical selection by Mr. Conrad Thibault

Star Spangled Banner

Benediction by the Chaplain of the United States Senate, Rev. Ze Barney Thorne Phillips, D. D.

May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be upon our country, our beloved President, and all unto whom we have committed the authority of governance, and abide with them and their successors forever. Amen.

Musical selections by the United States Marine Band.

Memorial Celebration at the New

York World's Fair




FROM henceforth the 30th day of April will have a dual significancethe inauguration of the first President of the United States, thus beginning the executive branch of the federal government and the opening of the New York World's Fair of 1939.

Today the cycle of sesquicentennial commemorations is complete. Two years ago, in Philadelphia and in other communities, was celebrated the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which gave to us the form of government under which we have lived ever since. Last year was celebrated in many states the ratification of the Constitution by the original states. On March 4 of this year the first meeting of the First Congress was commemorated at a distinguished gathering in the House of Representatives in the National Capitol. On April 14 I went to Mount Vernon with the Cabinet in memory of that day, exactly 150 years before, when General Washington was formally notified of his election as first President.

Two days later he left the home he loved so well and proceeded by easy stages to New York, greeted with triumphal arches and flower-strewn streets in the large communities through which he passed on his way to New York City. Fortunately, there have been preserved for us many accounts of his taking of the oath of office on April 30 on the balcony of the old Federal Hall. In a scene of republican simplicity and surrounded by the great men of the time, most of whom had served with him in the cause of independence throughout the Revolution, the oath was administreed by the chancellor of the State of New York, Robert R. Livingston.

The permanent government of the United States had become a fact. The period of revolution and the critical days that followed

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In the framework of government which had been devised and in the early years of its administration, it is of enormous significance to us today that those early leaders successfully planned for such use of the Constitution as would fit it to a constantly expanding nation. That the original framework was capable of expansion from its application to thirteen states with less than 4,000,000 people to forty-eight states with more than 130,000,000 people is the best tribute to the vision of the fathers. In this it stands unique in the whole history of the world, for no other form of government has remained unchanged so long and seen, at the same time, any comparable expansion of population or of area.

It is significant that the astounding changes and advances in almost every phase of human life have made necessary so relatively few changes in the Constitution. All of the earlier amendments may be accepted as part of the original Constitution because the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed and has maintained personal liberty through freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and similar essentials of democracy, was already popularly accepted while the Constitution itself was in the process of ratification.

There followed the amendments which put an end to the practice of human slavery and a number of later amendments which made our practice of government more direct, including the extension of the franchise to the women of the nation. It is well to note, also, that the only restrictive amendment which deliberately took away one form of wholly personal liberty was, after a trial of a few years, overwhelmingly repealed.

Only once has permanence of the Constitution been threatened it was threatened by an internal war brought about principally by the very fact of the expansion of American civilization across the continent a threat which resulted eventually and happily in a closer union than ever before. And of these later years-these very recent years, indeed-the history books of the next generation will set it forth that sectionalism and regional jealousies diminished and that the people of every part of our land acquired a national solidarity of economic and social thought such as had never been seen before.

That this has been accomplished has been due, first, to our form of government itself and, secondly, to a spirit of wise tolerance

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