Transcript of draft of note from President George Washington to his
Cabinet concerning plans for taking of the Presidential oath, February 27,
National Archives, Records of the Department of State
To the Secretaries of the Treasury, and War
February 27, 1793.
Sir: As the day is near at hand, when the President-elect is to take the oath of qualification, 40 and no mode is pointed out by the Constitution or law; I could wish that you, Mr. Jefferson (Genl. Knox, or Colo. Hamilton) and Mr. Randolph could meet tomorrow morning, at any place which you may fix between yourselves; and communicate to me the result of your opinions as to time, place and manner of qualification.
[Note:Oath of office. ]
P.S. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Randolph have suggested the idea of meeting at the War Office at nine o'Clock tomorrow morning, if this is convenient and agreeable to you, you will be there accordingly; if otherwise you will be so good as to let me know. 41
[Note: From the "Letter Book" copy in the Washington Papers.
The following memorandum, in the writing of Edmund Randolph, under date of February 27, is in the Washington Papers:
"If the qualification is to he in private, T. J, A. H H. K and E. R, are of opinion, that Mr. Cushing 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.
"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. The Prest. to go without form, accompanied with such gentlemen, as he thinks proper, and return preceded by the Marshall.
"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."
On March 1 a further opinion was given by Knox and Randolph, and a qualified one by Hamilton, as follows:
"It is our opinion,
"1. That the President ought to take the oath in public.
"2. That the time be on Monday next at twelve o'clock in the forenoon.
"3. That the place be the Senate-chamber.
"4. That the Marshal of the district inform the Vice-President, that the Senate-chamber, being the usual place of the president's public acts, is supposed to be the best place for taking the oath; and that it is wished, that the chamber be open.
"5. That it may be informally notified to the Vice-President governor [of Pennsylvania] and foreign ministers, that the oath is to be taken at the time and place above mentioned.
"6. That Mr. Cushing be requested to attend; and administer the oath.
"7. That the President go without form attended by such gentlemen, as he may choose, and return without form, except that he be preceded by the Marshal. H. Knox, Edmund Randolph.
"My opinion given yesterday was founded on prudential considerations of the moment; though I think it right in the abstract to give publicity to the Act in question. If this is to be done on the present occasion, I see no objection to the above form. I am not, however, satisfied that prudential considerations are not equally ballanced. A. Hamilton."
Hamilton's opinion is in the Washington Papers. ]
An exhibition Taking the Oath, will be displayed to the public January 12 through January 25, 2009.