Portrait of George Washington by Adolph Ulrik Wertmuller in 1795
New-York Gazette, New York, NY, Saturday, February 25, 1797, Page 2, Courtesy of Genealogy Bank
Philadelphia, February 23
Yesterday being the Anniversary of the birth day of the President of the United States, in which he entered the 65th year of his age, it was observed here as a day of Festival and Rejoicing. It was ushered in by ringing of bells and firing of cannon. Most of the members of Congress and the Governor and the Legislature of this State in a body congratulated him on the occasion. The Officers of the Militia met at eleven o’clock at the State-House, and marched from thence to the house of the President, to whom they presented an address, and received his answer thereto. They then returned to the State House, and accompanied the Society of Cincinnati in their visit to the President, who also presented to him an address and received his answer. At twelve o’clock a federal salute was fired. The procession was attended by the uniform military corps, who performed a variety of evolutions on this occasion.
This day has always been observed in this city by marks of joy and festivity; but this being the last birthday which will return to George Washington, as Chief Magistrate of the Union, it was not only honoured by outward Marks of joy, but by sensations of a peculiar kind, which are better felt than expressed – they were those of Gratitude and Esteem for eminent Services.
In the evening there was a Ball on the occasion at Rickett’s Amphitheatre, which for Splendor, Taste and Elegance, was, perhaps, never excelled by any similar Entertainment in the United States.
I’ve always enjoyed reading newspapers from the era when George Washington was president. It was interesting to read this account of his last birthday in office and appears it was celebrated with mixed emotions. After being in the public eye for many years in service to his country, Americans probably couldn’t imagine life without Washington at the forefront as their leader.
A few interesting facts about George Washington from Wikipedia:
* As a young man, Washington had red hair. He never wore a wig, but powdered his hair instead.
* His father Augustine Washington died when George was 11. His death prevented George from going to England to attend the Appleby School as his older brothers had done. As a result, he was tutored and received the equivalent of an elementary school education and also attended a school run by an Anglican clergyman.
* Washington was six feet tall and towered over his contemporaries.
* Washington’s ancestors were from Sulgrave, England. His great-grandfather, John Washington emigrated to Virginia in 1657.
* Thomas Jefferson called Washington “the best horseman of his age.”
* He is the only president to be elected unanimously by the Electoral College and receive 100 percent of the electoral votes in 1789 and again in the 1792 election.
* Congress voted to pay Washington $25,000 a year which he initially declined. He eventually accepted the $25,000 a year, because he didn’t want to create the perception that the presidency should be limited to independently wealthy individuals who could serve without a salary.
* Washington was not a member of any political party.
* According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 1993 data, Washington is the 17th most common street name in the United States and the only person’s name so honored.
* He retired from the presidency in March 1797 and returned home to Mount Vernon. Unfortunately his retirement was short lived, as he died two years and nine months later on December 14, 1799.