NEW YORK – On April 30, 1789, at 26 Wall Street in New York City, George Washington became the first president of the newly created United States of America. Now, 225 years later, the National Park Service (NPS) is celebrating that momentous occasion with a full-day of special programming at Federal Hall National Memorial.
A wide range of activities appropriate for different ages and interests are designed to bring history to life and offer a glimpse of the society and pageantry that surrounded the first inauguration and laid the ground work for the ceremony that takes place today.
Popular programs returning this year include the "meet and greet with George Washington," a Ranger-led talk on Washington and the re-enactment of the inauguration performed by representatives of St. Johns Lodge #1 of the Masons. New this year is the Ranger Reading and Junior Ranger program in the Grotto, which is geared for youth ages 8 to 12, although all are welcome.
"The highlight of this year's program will be a special panel discussion on 'George Washington and Religious Freedom in the New Nation,' " said Shirley McKinney, superintendent of Federal Hall National Memorial. "Not only is Federal Hall the site of the first presidential inauguration, it is the site where the Bill of Rights was drafted, which enshrined the right to freedom of religion. This panel is an exciting opportunity to see how the politically powerful and popular George Washington and the society he lived in shaped America's views on this important topic."
From 1 to 3 p.m., the panel, which consists of representatives from denominations that were present in New York City in 1789, will discuss the political and religious climate and attitudes at the time Washington became President. Also present will be a descendent of Rabbi Mendes Seixas, who will read letters between Washington and Seixas affirming religious freedom for all. Seixas was in attendance at Washington's inauguration.
And, at any time during the day's programming, visitors can follow in Washington's footsteps with the self-guided walking tour through lower Manhattan of "Washington's New York." Copies may be picked up at the Visitor Center desk.
What: Commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington
Where: Federal Hall National Memorial, 26 Wall Street
When: April 30, 2014 10 a.m. –Ranger-led program "The Critical Years: 1783-1789" in the Zenger Gallery 11 a.m. – Meet and greet with George Washington (re-enactor Mike Grillo) 11 a.m. – Children of all ages are invited to become Junior Rangers and to attend a special reading in the Grotto NOON – Representatives from the St. Johns Lodge #1 of the Masons are scheduled to conduct a re-enactment of George Washington's inauguration 1-3 p.m. – Special panel discussion: "George Washington and Religious Freedom in the New Nation."
1 p.m. – Children of all ages are invited to become Junior Rangers and to attend a special reading in the Grotto Throughout the Day – The Old Barracks Fifes & Drums will perform 18th-century music
Did You Know?
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