George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 23 April 1789]

[23 April 1789] The display of boats which attended and joined us on this occasion, some with vocal and some with instrumental music on board; the decorations of the ships, the roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the people which rent the skies, as I passed along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful (considering the reverse of this scene, which may be the case after all my labors to do good) as they are pleasing.

Today’s diary entry is a fragmentary account of GW’s reception in New York City. The New York Daily Advertiser, 24 April 1789, was more explicit. “Yesterday arrived the illustrious George Washington, President of the United States, amidst the joyful acclamations of every party and every description of citizens. . . . The President was received at Elizabeth-Town, by a deputation of three Senators, five Representatives of the Congress of the United States, and three officers of the State and Corporation; with whom he embarked in the barge, built . . . and rowed by thirteen pilots of this harbour, dressed in white uniform; Thomas Randall, Esq. acting as cockswain.

“No language can paint the beautiful display made on his excellency’s approach to the city. The shores were crouded with a vast concourse of citizens, waiting with exulting anxiety his arrival. His Catholic Majesty’s sloop of war the Galviston, (Mr. Dohrman’s) ship North-Carolina, and the other vessels in port, were dressed and decorated in the most superb manner. His excellency’s barge was accompanied by the barge of the Hon. Gen. Knox, and a great number of vessels and boats from Jersey and New-York, in his train. As he passed the Galviston, he received a salute of thirteen guns, and was welcomed by an equal number from the battery. . . .

“On his excellencys arrival at the stairs, prepared and ornamented, at Murray’s wharf, for his landing; he was received and congratulated by his excellency, the Governor of this State, and the officers of the State and Corporation, and [a] . . . procession was formed . . . followed by an amazing concorse of citizens.

“The procession advanced through Queen street to the house fitted up for the reception of his Excellency, where it terminated, after which, he was conducted without form to the house of Governor Clinton, with whom his Excellency dined. In the evening the houses of the citizens were brilliantly illuminated.”

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