No longer under the maternal care of their old mother, the people of the United States were left to try the yet problematical experiment of self government. Difficulties arose from local jealousies and conflicting interests--a debt of forty millions of dollars had been contracted--government paper became greatly depreciated--the public credit was shivering in the wind--the Liberty that had been so dearly purchased seemed doomed to a premature dissolution. To avoid this threatened disaster delegates convened at Philadelphia from all the States except Rhode Island for the purpose of devising a plan to preserve and perfect that freedom which had cost millions of treasure and fountains of noble blood. Washington was unanimously elected President of this august body. After long and patient deliberation the labors of these patriots resulted in the production of the Federal Constitution, one of the brightest specimens of a republican form of government on record. It is the grand palladium of our LIBERTY, the golden chain of our UNION, the broad banner of FREEMEN, a terror to tyrants, a shining light to patriots, the illustrated chart of our rights and duties, a safeguard against disorganizing factions and stamped its illustrious authors with a meritorious fame that succeeding generations will delight to perpetuate.
On the 17th of September this was reported to Congress and was promptly approved. It was immediately sent to the several states for consideration all of which sanctioned it at that time except North Carolina and Rhode Island. The former acceded to it in 1789, the latter in 1790. Confidence was then restored and Independence made secure. From that time to the present our nation has advanced on the flood tide of successful experiment and been blessed with an increasing prosperity that has no parallel in the annals of history. The star spangled banner waves proudly on every sea and is respected by all the nations of the earth. Our improvements at home have marched in advance of the boldest conceptions of the most visionary projectors--the fondest anticipations of their most ardent friends. They have often outstripped the most adventurous speculators.
By the unanimous voice of a free and grateful people Washington was elected the first President of the new Republic. With the same proverbial diffidence and modesty that had marked his whole career he took the oath of office on the 30th of April 1789. This imposing ceremony was performed in presence of the first Congress under the Federal Constitution assembled in the city of New York and in presence of a crowded audience who deeply felt and strongly expressed their filial affection for the father of their country. He at once entered upon the important duties that devolved upon him which were neither few or small. A cabinet was to be created, a revenue raised, the judiciary organized, its officers appointed and every department of government to be established on a firm, impartial, just and humane basis. In all these arrangements he exhibited great wisdom, exercised a sound discretion and proved as able a statesman as he had been a general. Deliberation and prudence guided him at all times. He acted up to but never transcended the bounds of equal justice and delegated authority. An angel could do no more.