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Today in history: A reluctant politician prepares to become president
George Washington wasn't exactly thrilled about becoming America's first president...
 
This portrait features George Washington at Princeton during the Revolutionary War, and is dated 1779.
This portrait features George Washington at Princeton during the Revolutionary War, and is dated 1779. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

April 16, 1789: A reluctant President-elect George Washington left his estate in Mount Vernon, Va., for New York, where he would be sworn in as the first president of the United States. Washington was a reluctant president. He was 57 years old and wanted to retire. But he felt compelled to serve, worried that bickering among political factions threatened the future of the young United States.

April 16, 1865: President Abraham Lincoln, the victim of an assassin's bullet, lay in state in the East Room of the White House. The catafalque that held his coffin was later used for the caskets of, among others, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. You can see it on display at the Capitol, in a room originally meant to be George Washington's tomb.

Quote of the Day

“I hope I shall possess firmness & virtue enough to maintain…the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” -George Washington


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