Monday, January 21, 2013

George Washington's Inauguration and the New York Society Library

It is inauguration day in our Nation's Capital so I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight a photograph in my collection. It is a photograph of an early print depicting George Washington's inauguration on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. Federal Hall was the home of the New York Society Library in 1789 at the same time that the seat of our Federal government was in Federal Hall. Congress and the President were able to use the library allowing the New York Society Library to make the claim of being the first library of Congress. In 2010 a story made the national news about two books borrowed by George Washington from the New York Society Library but for which there was no record of their return. I wrote a previous post about that story and another post about the digitization of the charging ledger at the New York Society Library which recorded Washington's initial transaction. The photograph above was used in a newspaper article in 1929. The original print was printed and sold by Amos Doolittle of New Haven Connecticut in 1790 from a drawing by Peter Lacour. A copy of the original print is located in the I.N. Phelps Stokes Collection of American Historical Prints of the New York Public Library.

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