George Washington Papers

Cabinet Opinion on the Administration of the Presidential Oath, 28 February 1793

Cabinet Opinion on the Administration of the Presidential Oath

[Philadelphia, 28 February 1793]1

If the qualification is to be in private, T.J, A.H H.K and E.R, are of opinion, that Mr Cushing2 should administer the oath to the President at his own house, where such officers, or others, as He may notify, will attend. T.J. and A.H. think, that it ought to be in private.3

H.K. and E.R. on the other hand think, that the qualification ought to be in public: and that the Marshal of the district should prepare the house of Representatives for the purpose where Mr Cushing shall administer the oath.4 The Prest to go without form, accompanied with such gentlemen, as he thinks proper, and return preceded by the Marshall.5

Monday, 12 o’clock, is presumed to be the best time. But as the mode will be considered by the public, as originating with the President, it is submitted to him for his decision.6

Df, in Edmund Randolph’s writing, DLC:GW.

1This document is dated “27 Feby 1793,” but letters and documents written by GW, Knox, and Jefferson show that the cabinet met on 28 February (GW to Cabinet, 27 Feb., and note 3; Jefferson’s “Notes on Washington’s Second Inauguration and Republicanism,” 28 Feb., Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:301).

2The circuit of William Cushing, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, encompassed the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.

3Hamilton was not present at this cabinet meeting, but he had left his written opinion with Knox. Hamilton came out in support of a public oath after a second meeting on 1 Mar. with only Knox and Randolph (“Notes on Washington’s Second Inauguration and Republicanism,” 28 Feb., ibid.; Cabinet Opinion on the Administration of the Presidential Oath, 1 Mar.).

4Clement Biddle served as the U.S. marshal for Pennsylvania between 1789 and 1793.

5At this place in the draft, Randolph wrote, revised, and then struck the following sentence: “T.J. if a public mode of qualification be preferred, approves of the foregoing.”

6Cushing administered the oath of office to GW on Monday, 4 Mar., in the chamber of the U.S. Senate (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 666–68; see also Second Inaugural Address, 4 Mar., n.2).

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