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Virginians in another expedition against the fort, which terminated successfully. At the close of this campaign he left the army, and was soon after married to Mrs. Martha Custis (the widow of Colonel Daniel Parke Custis), whose maiden name was Dandridge, and whose intelligent and patriotic conduct, as wife and widow, will ever be gratefully remembered in American annals.
In 1759, he was elected to the House of Burgesses, and continued to be returned to that body, with the exception of occasional intervals, until 1774, when he was sent to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress. His well-tempered zeal and military skill, which enabled him to suggest the most proper means for national defense, if the country were urged to extremities, soon fixed all eyes upon him, as one well qualified to direct in the hour of peril; and accordingly, after the first scene of the revolutionary drama was opened at Lexington and Concord, and an army had concentrated at Cambridge, he was, on the 15th of June, 1775, unanimously appointed Commander-in-Chief of the American forces. The self-sacrificing spirit which governed his future course is too well known to require any elucidation.
After bringing the war to a successful termination, he hastened to Annapolis, where Congress was then in session, and on the 23d of December, 1783, formally resigned his commission.
In May, 1787, he was elected to the Convention which met at Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a Constitution, and was at once called upon to preside over its deliberations. After that admirable instrument was adopted by the people, he was unanimously elected the first President of the United States for four years; at the expiration of which he was unanimously reëlected for a second term.
On the 12th of December, 1799, he was seized with an inflammation in the throat, which grew worse the next day, and terminated his life on the 14th, in the 68th year of his age.
No. of Electors from each State.
Election for the First Term, commencing March 4, 1789, and
terminating March 3, 1793
PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
5 New Hampshire....
6 Maryland Virginia...
John Adams, of
Whole No. Electors.. 69
John Jay, of New
John Hancock, of
· .. ....
R. H. Harrison, of
George Clinton, of
John Rutledge, of
4 6 3 6
The first Congress under the Constitution was convened at the "Federal Hall," situated at the head of Broad, fronting on Wall street, (where the Custom House now stands,) in the city of New York, on the first Wednesday, being March 4, 1789-Senators and Representatives having been elected from the eleven States which had ratified the Constitution; but, owing to the absence of a quorum, the House was not organized till the 1st of April, and, for a like reason, the Senate was not organized till the 6th; when the latter body "proceeded by ballot to the choice of a President, for the sole purpose of opening and counting the [electoral] votes for President of the United States." John Langdon, of New Hampshire, was chosen President pro tem. of the Senate, and Samuel Alyne Otis, of Massachusetts, Secretary; after which, proper measures were taken to notify the successful individuals of their election.
George Washington took the oath of office, as President, and entered upon his duties April 30, 1789. (For his Inaugural Address, see p. 43.
John Adams, Vice-President, entered upon his duties in the Senate April 21, 1789, and took the oath of office June 3, 1789.
Election for the Second Term, commencing March 4, 1793, and terminating March 3, 1797.
George Washington, re-elected President, took the oath of office for a second term, and entered upon his duties March 4, 1793. John Adams, re-elected Vice President, took the oath of office, and entered upon his duties in the Senate December 2, 1793.
After the expiration of his second Presidential term, Washington retired to the tranquil shades of Mount Vernon, fondly indulging the hope that the remainder of his days would be peacefully enjoyed in his much cherished home; but these pleasing anticipations were not allowed to remain long undisturbed. In 1798 the conduct of the French Directory and its emissaries led to frequent difficulties with this country, which were calculated to provoke a war; and the opinion was universally entertained that he who had formerly so well acquitted himself, must be again called to the command of our armies. Accordingly, early in July, the rank and title of Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the armies raised, or to be raised, in the United States," was conferred upon him; and the Secretary of War, Mr. McHenry, immediately waited upon him to tender the commission. In a letter to President Adams, accepting this "new proof of public confidence," he makes a reservation that he shall not be called into the field until the army is in a situation to require his presence, and adds: "I take the liberty also to mention, that I must decline having my acceptance considered as drawing after it any immediate charge upon the public, and that I cannot receive any emoluments annexed to the appointment, before entering into a situation to incur expense."
THE SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
And whose fame as a patriot and statesman is imperishable, was born at Braintree, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735. He early displayed superior capacity for learning, and graduated at Cambridge College with great credit. After qualifying himself for the legal profession, he was admitted to practice in 1761, and soon attained that distinction to which his talents were entitled. From the commencement of the troubles with Great Britain, in 1769, he was among the most active in securing the freedom of his country. Being elected to the first Continental Congress, he took a prominent part in all the war measures that were then originated, and, subsequently, suggested the appointment of Washington as commander-in-chief of the army. He was one of the committee which reported the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, and the next year visited France, as commissioner, to form a treaty of alliance and commerce with that country. Although the object had been accomplished before his arrival, his visit had, otherwise, a favorable effect on the existing position of affairs; and he was afterward appointed to negotiate a treaty of peace with Great Britain, which, after many laborious and fruitless efforts, was finally accomplished in 1783. In 1785, he was sent to England as the first minister from this country, and, on his return, was elected first Vice-President, in which office he served two terms, and was then, in 1797, elected to succeed Washington as President. Many occurrences tended to embarrass his administration and to render it unpopular; but it is now generally admitted to have been characterized by patriotism and vigor equal to the emergencies which then existed. His political opponents, however, managed to defeat his reëlection, and he was succeeded in the Presidency by Mr. Jefferson, in 1801; after which he retired to his farm at Quincy, where his declining years were passed in the gratification of his unabated love for reading and contemplation, and where he was constantly cheered by an interesting circle of friendship and affection. The semi-centennial anniversary of American
Independence (July 4, 1826) was remarkable, not merely for the event which it commemorated, but for the decease of two of the most active participants in the measures by which independence was achieved. On that day, Adams and Jefferson were both gathered to their fathers, within about four hours of each other, "cheered by the benediction of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of their fame and the memory of their bright example."
As has been noticed elsewhere, Mr. Adams deemed it prudent, in the early part of his administration, when impending difficulties with France seemed to render war inevitable, to offer Washington the commission of LieutenantGeneral and Commander-in-Chief of the army, which he accepted as a matter of duty, and held until his death, but fortunately never found it necessary to take the field.