Skip to product information
1 of 2

The History List

George Washington 1789 First Inaugural Button—“Memorable Era / March the Fourth 1789”

Updated at 10:45 pm Eastern on January 11: This has been sold. 

We're looking forward to sharing next week's Rare Find with you. Sign up for the weekly e-mail notification that goes out Thursday nights at 9 pm on our Rare Finds page.

— Lee Wright | Founder


Only one.

This splayed-eagle design brass coat button is dated March 4, 1789, the day appointed for the first meeting of the Federal Congress, though Washington’s inauguration was not until April 30. (See the photo below for the recreation of the inauguration that appears at Mount Vernon.)

Encircling the eagle, the words, "Memorable Era   March the Fourth 1789”

If you've visited the Museum of the American Revolution or Mount Vernon you may have seen a button with this same design on display.

We are able to offer this through special arrangement with Seth Kaller, the nation's preeminent expert in acquiring, authenticating, and appraising American historic documents and artifacts. We look forward to continuing to work with Seth to make more items from our country's early history available to you here.

Size: 34 mm (~ 1 ⅓ inches)

Historical information on these and other inaugural buttons

Historical background on the inauguration

On the morning of April 30, 1789, crowds began to gather in front of the presidential mansion in New York City. According to the diary of Tobias Lear, Washington’s personal secretary:

"At nine o’clock all the churches in the city were opened, and prayers offered up to the Great Ruler of the universe for the preservation of the President.… At half past twelve the procession moved forward, the troops marching in front with all the ensigns of military parade.  Next came the committees and heads of departments in their carriages. Next the President in the state coach, and Colonel Humphreys and myself in the President’s own carriage.  The foreign ministers and a long train of citizens brought up the rear.
"About two hundred yards before we reached the hall, we descended from our carriages, and passed through the troops, who were drawn up on each side, into the Hall and Senate-chamber, where we found the Vice-President, the Senate, and House of Representatives assembled. They received the President in the most respectful manner, and the Vice-President conducted him to a spacious and elevated seat at the head of the room. A solemn silence prevailed.
"The Vice-President soon arose and informed the President that all things were prepared to administer the oath whenever he should see fit to proceed to the balcony and receive it. He immediately descended from his seat, and advanced through the middle door of the Hall to the balcony. The others passed through the doors on each side.
"The oath was administered in public by Chancellor Livingston; and, the moment the chancellor proclaimed him President of the United States, the air was rent by repeated shouts and huzzas,-- “God bless our Washington! Long live our beloved President!” We again returned into the Hall, where, being seated as before for a few moments, the President arose and addressed the two branches of Congress in a speech, which was heard with eager and marked attention."

Fisher Ames “sat entranced,” writing “It was a very touching scene, and quite of the solemn kind.  His aspect grave, almost to sadness; his modesty, actually shaking; his voice deep, a little tremulous, and so low as to call for close attention.”

Following the address, the president and the members of the House and Senate walked about seven hundred yards to St. Paul’s Chapel to attend services conducted by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Provoost, bishop of the Episcopal church of New York and rector of Trinity Church. After prayers and the singing of a Te Deum, Washington retired to the presidential mansion. He apparently dined quietly at home; then as Lear noted in his diary,

“the President, Colonel Humphreys, and myself went in the beginning of the evening in the carriages to Chancellor Livingston’s and General Knox’s, where we had a full view of the fire-works.”

On his way to Livingston’s, Washington halted to admire the house of the French minister, the comte de Moustier,

"illuminated and decorated with several transparencies relative to the victories and virtues of General Washington. He seemed pleased with the one representing eleven bees emerging from their hives, headed by their queen, with this epigraph from Virgil: “Ille operum custos; illum admirantur et omnes / Circumstant fremitus denso.” (“He is the guardian of their toils; they all admire and stand around him in a noisy crowd.”)"

Don Diego de Gardoqui reported to the Spanish minister of State that he had decorated his house

"with two magnificent transparent gardens, adorned with statues, natural size, imitating marble….  There were also various flower-pots, different arches with foliage and columns of imitation marble, and on the sky of these gardens were placed thirteen stars, representing the United States of America—two of which stars showed opaque, to designate the two States which had not adopted the Constitution."

Washington and his party returned to the presidential residence about ten o’clock in the evening, traveling on foot because the crowds thronging the streets were too great to permit the passage of carriages.

Source: Seth Kaller 

Shipping

For shipments to addresses within the U.S. (scroll down for International shipping) 

Flat-rate shipping: Regardless of the number of items you order, the shipping price for shirts, caps, unframed prints and posters, bracelets, lapel pins, pendants, and button packs is $5.95.

For hooded and crewneck sweatshirts, mugs, and blankets, the shipping cost is $8.95. 

Our flat rate shipping means you can add two or more t-shirts, sweatshirts, or caps for no additional shipping charge.

Note that some large or heavy items, including larger framed prints, may have a different shipping charge or a shipping surcharge. When they do, it will be noted on the product page.

 

Timing

We try to ship orders within three business days of receiving them. This applies to in-stock items. Framed items or items requiring personalization may take up to two weeks longer. If there is an extended delay, it will be noted on the product page.

We close for a week over Independence Day and Christmas. A notice will appear at the top of every page of the site in advance of this closure.

We ship most orders via USPS, so if the post office is closed, we won't be shipping orders that day.

If you need to receive your order by a certain date, such as to give as a gift or have for a trip, we recommend ordering at least two weeks in advance, especially if you are using USPS shipping. 

If you're looking for reliable, on-time deliveries, we strongly suggest upgrading to "UPS 3 Business Day Select Shipping."

Additional notes:

  • When fulfillment takes longer, such as around the Christmas holidays, we'll put up an announcement in the site and will list recommended shipping deadlines below.
  • If an item is out of stock, we will contact you.
  • If one of your items is an advance order, that will be noted on the product page along with an estimate of when it will ship. If that estimated date changes, the product page will be updated.

    Charges for shipping to destinations in the United States and to APO, DPO, and FPO addresses

    • Free shipping
      • On stickers, magnets, decals, patches, static clings, and individual button pins.

    • US Postal Service shipping - The least expensive, though also less reliable than UPS. (See more on UPS in the next section.) 

      • $5.95 for shirts, caps, unframed prints and posters, bracelets, lapel pins, pendants, button packs.

        Regardless of the number of items you order, the shipping price is still fixed at $5.95. Our flat rate shipping means you can add another t-shirt, cap, or book for no additional shipping charge.

      • $8.95 for hooded and crewneck sweatshirts, mugs, and blankets.

    We strongly recommend using UPS, especially in November and December.

      UPS 3 Business Day Select 

      Note: UPS 3 Business Day select is not available for addresses in Hawaii and Alaska. If UPS is selected for Hawaii or Alaska, the order will be shipped UPS Ground.

      Cut off time: Orders received by 3 pm Eastern will ship the same business day.  Applies to in-stock items that do not require personalization or signing.
        UPS's normal (non-holiday) delivery guarantee is by the end of the third business day, and this includes delivery on Saturday.  This applies to the 48 contiguous states. 
          • $14.95 for shirts, caps, unframed prints and posters, bracelets, lapel pins, pendants, button packs.

          • $18.95 for hooded and crewneck sweatshirts, mugs, and blankets.

          • If the actual shipping cost is significantly higher than what we’re charging, we will contact you to discuss alternatives.

        • UPS Overnight (Next Business Day Delivery)
        Before placing your order, call 469-233-7712.

        For shipments to addresses outside the United States

        Destinations

        We only ship to locations that are served by US Postal Service International Service.

        Charges

        • Canada and Mexico

          • $18.00 for shirts, caps, unframed prints and posters, bracelets, lapel pins, pendants, button packs.
          • $24.00 for hooded and crewneck sweatshirts, mugs, and blankets.

        • Rest of the World

          • Rates starts at $65.00.

        Additional charges for all destinations

        Some large, heavy items may have an additional shipping charge.  If that's the case, it will be noted on the product page.

        If the actual shipping cost is significantly higher than what we’re charging, we will contact you to discuss alternatives.

          All original designs are copyrighted by The History List

          All designs are copyrighted by The History List and the History Nerd text and design on t-shirts is a registered trademark. If you see a knock off, please let me know.

          Mission

          Your purchases support our mission to engage people with local history and to support historic sites and history organizations across the country.

            ["USA made"]
          

          Customer Reviews

          Be the first to write a review
          0%
          (0)
          0%
          (0)
          0%
          (0)
          0%
          (0)
          0%
          (0)