Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Knox, Henry (1750-1806) [Opinions on the manner of George Washington taking the oath of office]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.05840 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph manuscript signed Date: 1 March 1793 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 32.4 x 20.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Signed and initialed by Knox. Marked "Copy." Knox and Randolph provide President Washington with opinions on the upcoming second presidential inauguration. Knox and Randolph believe that: the president should take the oath in public, that the time should be noon, that the place should be the Senate chamber, that the marshal of the district should inform the vice president that the Senate chamber will be used, that the vice president, governor, and foreign ministers be notified of the time of the oath, and that Mr. [William] Cushing administer the oath. Knox has signed for himself and on behalf of Randolph and then transcribed the opinion of Alexander Hamilton, who did not object to the ideas on the oath of office, but said "I am not however Satisfied that prudential considerations are not equally ballanced." Docket notes that Thomas Jefferson gave his opinion to the president verbally on 28 February. Jefferson thought the oath should take place at the president's house. Retained draft.

Full Transcript: [draft]
March 1. 1793
(Copy)
It is our opinion
1. That the President ought to take the oath in Public.
2 That the time be on Monday next at 12 oclock in the forenoon
3 That ...the place be the Senate chamber
4th That the Marshall of the district inform the vice President that the Senate chamber being the usual place of the Presidents Public acts, it is supposed to be the best place for taking the oath; and that it is wished that the chamber be open
5 That it be uniformally notified to the vice President, Governor and foreign ministers that the oath is to be taken at the time and place above mentioned
6. That Mr. Cushing be requested to attend; and administer the oath
7 That the President go without form attended by such Gentlemen, as he may choose; and return without form, except that he be preceeded by the Marshall

H Knox Edm: Randolph March 1. 1793

My opinion given yesterday was founded on prudential considerations of the moment; though I think it right in the abstract to give publicity to the act in question. If this is to be done on the present occasion I see no objection to the above form. I am not however Satisfied that prudential considerations are not equally ballanced
A. Hamilton

Sir
I have the honor to enclose the [struck: are] opinions of [struck: Mr. Hamilton] Mr. Randolf and myself upon the time place and manner of the Presidents taking the oath and also Mr. Hamiltons qualified opinion on the same subject
I am Sir with perfect respect yr [humble svt]
HK

The President of the US.
[docket]
Copy
March 1. 1793.
Mr Randoph and
Mr Knoxs opinion
on the time place
and manner of
the Presidents taking
the oath [struck: off] of office
and also Mr Hamiltons
qualified opinion on
the Same Subject -
N.B.
Mr Jefferson on the 28
gave his opinion verbaly
that the President should
have the
oath administered
to him in his own
house-
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Randolph, Edmund, 1753-1813
Hamilton, Alexander, 1757-1804
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary War GeneralPresidentOathGovernment and CivicsInaugurationVice PresidentCongressDiplomacyJudiciary

Sub Era: The Early Republic

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources