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BY EDWARD EVERETT HALE
On the fourth of March, 1789, Elbridge Gerry, who had been chosen to the Senate of the United States, wrote thus from New York to John Adams:
My Dear Friend: I find, on inquiry, that you are elected Vice-President, having three or four times the number of votes of any other candidate. Maryland threw away their votes on Colonel Harrison, and South Carolina on Governor Rutledge, being, with some other states which were not unanimous for you, apprehensive that this was a necessary step to prevent your election to the chair. On this point they were mistaken, for the President, as I am informed from pretty good authority, has a unanimous vote. It is the universal wish of all that I have conferred with, and indeed their expectation, that both General Washington and yourself will accept; and should either refuse, it will have a very disagreeable effect. The members present met to-day in the City Hall, there being about eleven Senators and thirteen Representatives, and not constituting a quorum in either house, they adjourned till to-morrow.
Mrs. Gerry and the ladies
join me in sincere regards to yourself,
your lady, Colonel and Mrs. Smith, and be assured I remain, etc.
So slow was the movement of news in those days, and so doubtful, even after the election, were all men as to its results, Adams would not start from Braintree, his home, till he knew he was elected, nor Washington from Mt. Vernon. Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the old Congress, arrived at Mt. Vernon on the fourteenth of April and communicated to Washington the news of his election. No quorum of the House of Representatives had been formed until the first of April, nor of the Senate until the sixth. These bodies then counted the electoral vote, with the result predicted by Gerry in his letter written two days before.
Washington waited a day before starting to the seat of Government. On the sixteenth of April he started for New York. He writes in his diary:
About ten o’clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York in company with Mr. Thompson and Colonel Humphries, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.
The journey began with a public dinner at Alexandria. Said the gentlemen of Alexandria in their address to him:
and make a grateful people happy, a people who
will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice
for their interest.
And Washington in his reply said: