Today in history: May 7
One week after his historic inauguration in 1789, George Washington attended the first inaugural ball
The inauguration of George Washington on April 30, 1789.
The inauguration of George Washington on April 30, 1789. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

May 7

On this day. 1789: President Washington attended the first inaugural ball, which quickly became a tradition for new presidents. The wife of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza, noted that Washington particularly enjoyed dancing the minuet. Some presidents (Wilson, Harding) canceled inaugural balls to save money. Others (Coolidge, Hoover, FDR) turned them into charitable events.

On this day. 1915: While golfing in Maryland, President Wilson was informed that RMS Lusitania had been torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The sinking of the Lusitania killed 1,198 people, including an estimated 128 Americans — and pushed the United States closer to war with Germany. Until the ship was attacked, U.S. policy towards World War I had been neutral.

Quote of the day

"Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." -George Washington

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