On April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall, George Washington was duly inaugurated first President of the United States, and the great experiment of self-government on these Western shores was fairly begun.
The beginning was most auspicious. Than Washington no finer man ever stood at the forefront of a nation's life. Of Washington America is eminently proud, and of Washington America has the right to be proud, for the "Father of His Country" was, in every sense of the word, a whole man. Time has somewhat disturbed the halo that for a long while held the place about the great man's head. It has been proven that Washington was human, and all the more thanks for that. But after the closest scrutiny, from every part of the world, for a century and a quarter, it is still to be proven that anything mean, or mercenary, or dishonorable or unpatriotic ever came near the head or heart of our first President.
Washington loved his country with a whole heart. He was a patriot to the core. His first, last and only ambition was to do what he could to promote the high ends to which the Republic was dedicated. Politics, as defined by Aristotle, is the "science of government." Washington was not a learned man, and probably knew very little of Aristotle, but his head was clear and his heart was pure, and he, too, felt that politics was the science of government, and that the result of the government should be the "greatest good to the greatest number" of his fellow citizens.
From that high and sacred conviction Washington never once swerved, and when he quit his exalted office he did so with clean hands and unsmirched fame, leaving behind him a name which is probably the most illustrious in the annals of the race.
Rapid and phenomenal has been the progress of Washington's country! It seems like a dream rather than the soundest of historical facts. The Romans, after fighting "tooth and nail" for 300 years, found themselves with a territory no larger than that comprised within the limits of Greater New York. In 124 years the Americans are the owners of a territory in comparison with which the Roman Empire, when at the height of its glory, was but a small affair--a territory wherein are operant the greatest industrial, economic, moral and political forces that this old planet ever witnessed.