George Washington

(March 1 1797)

Invitation to the Inauguration of the President


In this letter the President writes:

"It appearing to me proper that the

Senate of the United States should be con­vened on Saturday the fourth day of March instant; you are desired to attend in the Chamber of the Senate on that day, at eleven O’clock in the forenoon to receive any communications which the President of the United States may then have to lay before you touching their interests."




This message was far more than an apparently routine call for a Senate session. Terms for Representatives and retiring members of the Senate in the Fourth Congress expired on 3 March. In 1797, March 4 would mark not only the beginning of a new Congress, but the beginning of the administration of a new President, John Adams.



For the first time in the history of the United States,


Washington was


not referring to himself


when he stated

"The President of The United States”,


It was the Inauguration


of John Adams!



The Senators gathered in their chamber in Congress Hall on that Saturday to see Adams, their former presiding officer take office. One observer called the ceremony the "most august and sublime" occasion he had ever wit­nessed. Adams himself was more realistic when he wrote his wife the day after his inauguration to com­ment on Washington: “He seemed to me to enjoy a triumph over me. Methought I heard him say, 'Ay! I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of us will be happiest!"