Father of Our Country
April 30, 1789: George Washington takes the oath of office and becomes the first elected President of the United States. He spoke from the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City and his opening greeting was, “Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives.” There were nearly 4 million people living in the new country.
Washington had hoped to retire to farming after the war, but with the call to further duty he assumed the mantle of leadership again. This time in pursuit of peace and harmony. Washington resided at The President’s House in Philadelphia during his terms as leader. It has since been torn down but once stood one block north of Independence Hall. Ironically, the entrance to the new Liberty Bell Center is built at the site where slave quarters once stood to house the nine slaves Washington brought with him to Philadelphia, two of whom escaped.
The 3-story house was built in 1767-1769 by Mrs. Mary Lawrence Masters, one of the richest women in the city. Her daughter married Richard Penn, lieutenant-governor of the colony and grandson of the founder of the Pennsylvania. She gave them the house as a wedding present. During the Revolutionary War, the house suffered a fire and was extensively damaged. Robert Morris rebuilt the house and took ownership in 1785. He restored the house to its original floor plan with 6 bedrooms and 4 servant rooms but added significantly to the outbuildings. The kitchen was given a second story as well. Kitchens were separated from the main houses of the time in order to limit fire hazards.
Morris offered the house to Washington while the new Federal City, now Washington DC, was being built. The house was not large enough for Washington and his staff and a 2-story addition was built on the south side along with many significant additions to the outbuildings. Both Washington and Adams lived there until the new buildings were ready in 1800. By 1832 the President’s House was gutted and turned into three separate stores. These, too, eventually fell into disrepair and were demolished over time with the final assault on the area completed in 1951 without realizing the significance of the buildings. The area is now known as an archeological site and study continues with government funding.
“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an ‘Honest Man.’”
“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”
“Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.” – all from George Washington