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Guard against the impostures - George Washington
Guard against the impostures - George Washington

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April 30, 1789 marks the inauguration of inaugurations, as the first ever President of the United States took office. The universally adored general had been elected unanimously by the Electoral College, and would be again in 1792 – the only president in all history to ever receive 100% of the vote. Given his widespread popularity, George Washington probably could have stayed on in office indefinitely, but he wisely set a precedent of stepping down after two terms. That self-imposed precedent would be followed by every president until Teddy Roosevelt.

Washington took the oath of office at Federal Hall in New York City, his namesake city still nothing but forest and swamp at the time. Reportedly, he insisted on having Barbados Rum served at the after party. Though most of his closest friends knew he wanted nothing more to do with public life, Washington accepted the burden because to do otherwise might have spelled ruin for the new government. He was a rare sort of statesman that loved his country more than he loved power (and proved it, by voluntarily stepping down after eight years when no European leader would have ever considered such a thing). Many politicians today would do well to follow his example.