Description

    George Washington Autograph Partial Draft of His Inaugural Address. Two pages, 7.25" x 2.25", unsigned, n. p. [Mount Vernon, Virginia], n. d. [circa 1789]. This is the top section of pages twenty-one and twenty-two from a draft of Washington's first Inaugural Address, made out entirely in his hand. During the nineteenth century, the address was cut into pieces and scattered. Washington always denied the idea that he accepted the presidency for financial gain and was adamant that he did it only in an effort to further serve his country. The ideas he puts to paper here reinforce those claims and were kept for inclusion in his final draft, read before a joint session of Congress convened in the nation's capital (then New York City) on April 30, 1789.

    By January 1789, it was apparent that Washington would be elected as the first President of the United States. It was around this time that he began to ponder what he would say before Congress. Longtime friend Colonel David Humphreys, then living at Mount Vernon, had already begun work on an address which would total seventy-three pages. Washington edited and amended Humphreys' draft, adding his own bits here and there. Washington then sent his draft to James Madison for his opinion on it. Madison returned it personally while traveling to New York for the new session of Congress and Washington's inauguration.

    In the end, Washington discarded the majority of Humphrey's address, due to its length. The speech he delivered to Congress was pared down, but did keep the themes found in this fragment: his reason for accepting, albeit reluctantly (he had really just wanted to retire from public life and attend to the day-to-day happenings of his farm), the position as president and his joy at the consideration by Congress on adopting a new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.

    At the top of page twenty-one, Washington is discussing the reason for accepting the presidency: "...from any one of my Countrymen, point to the sinester [sic] object, or to the earthly consideration beyond the hope of rendering some little service to our parent Country, that could have persuaded me to accept this appointment." The first part of the sentence is found on the preceding page and, as found in "The Papers of George Washington," reads: "Let then the Adversaries to this Constitution - let my personal enemies if I am so unfortunate as to have deserved such a return..." [continued on page twenty-one]

    The top of page twenty-two, found on the verso, is also in reference to the new Constitution and reads: "...to any favoured nation. We have purchased wisdom by experience. - Mankind are believed to be naturally averse to the coertion [sic] of government. - But when our Countrymen had experienced the inconveniences, arising from the feebleness of our..." [here the text ends] The text that both precedes and follows this piece has been lost.

    Two small spots of red wax in the blank right margin on the verso (page twenty-two), else fine.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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