Pierre Henri (c. 1760—1822)

by Pierre Henri (c. 1760—1822)

Watercolor on ivory; Ivory: 2 3/4 x 2 1/8 in. (7 x 5.4 cm); Framed: 5 x 4 1/4 in.

John Adams was inaugurated as second president on March 4, 1797. Washington had preceded him to the hall and sat on the dais with Jefferson the Vice-President-elect, as Adams spoke. When the new President finished and left, Washington motioned to Jefferson to go next. The two Virginians had known each other since 1769, when Washington had been thirty-seven years old and Jefferson only twenty-six. From long habit and lingering respect, Jefferson now held back. But Washington gestured again, in a manner not to be ignored. The younger man was now Vice-President and must go first.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)