Symbolism has long history at inaugurations





George Washington showed a keen awareness of political symbolism back in 1789 when he was preparing for his first inauguration.

"The cloth and buttons which accompanied your favor of the 30th ... really do credit to the manufacturers of this country," Washington said in a letter to Acting Secretary of War Henry Knox. The letter was displayed at a news conference today at the National Archives.
Archives historian Marvin Pinkert said Washington had made a conscious decision to have his inaugural suit made in Boston instead of in one of the European fashion centers.

"It's striking that the president was concerned that he show a 'Made in America' suit to the American public," Pinkert said.

At the same time, Washington was apparently upset at the public for its apathy toward his first inaugural.

"The stupor, or listlessness with which our public measures seem to be pervaded, is, to me, a matter of deep regret," Washington wrote to Knox. "Indeed it has so strange an appearance that I cannot but wonder how men who solicit public confidence or who are even prevailed upon to accept of it can reconcile such conduct with their own feelings of propriety."



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