George Washington delivered the country’s first inaugural address 225 years ago on April 30th, 1789.
Just as the legends pertaining to Washington have grown and persisted since his lifetime, so has the iconography. Throughout the years, artists have provided their own conceptions of the first presidential inauguration, as in this print published in 1849, which included the text of the address on the back.
A few years earlier, Nathaniel Currier (of Currier & Ives fame), focused on color in multiple senses of the word, depicting the inaugural procession and the women attending it.
Members of the public have also participated in celebrating the first inauguration and its significance. A full-scale parade marked the centennial in 1889, and photographers capitalized on the visuals, as in this image–one of a series of photos depicting the celebration.
Washington’s inauguration marked the beginning of many things in the United States, including a developing focus on the rich visual possibilities and symbolism of inaugural events.
- View a variety of depictions of George Washington in Prints & Photographs Division collections.
- Survey the literature on George Washington depictions: the Library of Congress Online Catalog lists more than 85 works indexed with the subject heading, “Washington, George, 1732-1799–Portraits,” one of several headings that lead to explorations of Washington iconography.
- Read about Washington’s inauguration and the many precedents it set in the online exhibition, “I Do Solemnly Swear.”
- Explore the setting and tone of Washington’s inaugural address, as well as related materials in Library of Congress collections, in this Today in History entry.