George Washington: First Inaugural Address

(1789)

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Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In the opening paragraph of the First Inaugural Address, Washington explains how his election as president changed his life. He had been happy with his “immutable decision” never again to assume public office after his retirement from the army in December 1783. He was content to spend his “declining years” on his plantation, which served as a private “asylum” from public responsibilities. The voice of his country, however, which he could “never...