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By Cecil Chesterton

Writer: George H. Doran corporation ebook date: 1919 topics: usa background usa Fiction / Classics historical past / basic background / usa / common background / usa / nation

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Jefferson's inauguration was full of that deliberate and almost ceremonial contempt of ceremony in which that age found a true expression of its mood, though later and perhaps more corrupt times have inevitably found such symbolism merely comic. It was observed as striking the note of the new epoch that the President rejected all that semi-regal pomp which Washington and Adams had thought necessary to the dignity of their office. It is said that he not only rode alone into Washington (he was the first President to be inaugurated in the newly built capital), dressed like any country gentleman, but, when he dismounted to take the oath, tethered his horse with his own hands.

It was some time, however, before the antagonism between the two Secretaries became acute, and meanwhile the financial genius of Hamilton was reducing the economic chaos bequeathed by the war to order and solvency. All of his measures showed fertility of invention and a thorough grasp of his subject; some of them were unquestionably beneficial to the country. But a careful examination will show how closely and deliberately he was imitating the English model which we know to have been present to his mind.

This settlement had another interest as being one of the perennial geographical compromises by means of which the Union was for so long preserved. The support of Hamilton's policy came mainly from the North; the opposition to it from the South. It so happened that coincidentally North and South were divided on another question, the position of the projected Capital of the Federation. The Southerners wanted it to be on the Potomac between Virginia and Maryland; the Northerners would have preferred it further north.

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