Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Washington’s Second Inauguration and Republicanism, 28 February 1793

Notes on Washington’s Second Inauguration and Republicanism

Feb. 28. Knox, E.R. and myself met at Knox’s where Hamilton was also to have met, to consider the time manner and place of the President’s swearing in. Hamilton had been there before and had left his opinion with Knox. To wit, that the Presid. should ask a judge to attend him in his own house to administer the oath in the presence of the heads of departments, which oath should be deposited in the Secy. of state’s office. I concurred in this opinion. E.R. was for the President’s going to the Senate chamber to take the oath, attended by the Marshal of the U.S. who should then make proclamation &c. Knox was for this and for adding the house of Repr. to the presence, as they would not yet be departed. Our individual opinions were written to be communicated to the Presidt. out of which he might form one. <He adopted E.R. [. . . .]>1 In the course of our conversation Knox stickling for parade, got into great warmth and swore that our government must either be entirely new modelled or it would be knocked to peices in less than 10. years, and that as it is at present2 he would not give a copper for it, that it is the President’s character, and not the written constitution which keeps it together.

Same day. Conversation with Lear. He expressed the strongest confidence that republicanism was the universal creed of America, except of a very few, that republican administration must of necessity immediately overbear the contrary faction, said that he had seen with extreme regret that a number of gentlemen had for a long time been endeavoring to instil into the President that the noise against the administration of the government was that of a little faction, which would soon be silent and which was detested by the people, who were contented and prosperous: that this very party however began to see their error and that the sense of America was bursting forth to their conviction.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; partially dated; includes heavily canceled text in margin (see note 1 below); written on the other side of a sheet bearing part of “Anas” entry for 26 Feb. 1793. Entry in SJPL: “[Notes] on time & manner of the President’s swearing in.” Included in the “Anas.”

Edmund Randolph composed a report on the Cabinet’s individual opinions respecting the ceremony for the President’s second inauguration and submitted it to Washington this day (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 169–70; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 74). The Cabinet met again on 1 Mch. 1793 to consider this issue and advised the President to be sworn in publicly in the Senate chamber by Justice William Cushing. TJ evidently did not attend this meeting and was not a signatory to the opinion prepared by Randolph and Alexander Hamilton. Washington followed the exact inaugural ceremony recommended by the Cabinet (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 176; Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington, New York, 1948–57, 7 vols.; 7th volume by J. A. Carroll and M. W. Ashworth description ends , vii, 7–9).

1This is all that can be restored of thirteen short lines of text that TJ added here in the margin, which is now partly torn away, and that he evidently intended for insertion at this point. He later canceled the lines heavily in a different ink.

2Here TJ canceled “it is not worth.”

Index Entries