George Washington was unanimously elected President of the United States by the electoral college February 4, 1789. At that time, as there was no Vice President, the Senate elected John Langdon as President of the Senate, “for the sole purpose of opening and counting the votes for President of the United States.” George Washington learned of his election on April 14th. He then wrote John Langdon, and Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress.
From George Washington to John Langdon,
Mount Vernon April 14th 1789.
I had the honor to receive your Official Communication, by the hand of Mr. Secretary Thompson, about one o’clock this day. Having concluded to obey the important & flattering call of my Country, and having been impressed with an idea of the expediency of my being with Congress at as early a period as possible; I propose to commence my journey on Thursday morning which will be the day after to morrow. I have the honor to be with sentiments of esteem Sir Your most obedt Servt
Sir, I have been long accustomed to entertain so great a respect for the opinion of my fellow citizens, that the knowledge of their unanimous suffrages having been given in my favour scarcely leaves me the alternative for an Option. Whatever may have been my private feelings and sentiments, I believe I cannot give a greater evidence of my sensibility for the honor they have done me than by accepting the appointment.
I am so much affected by this fresh proof of my country’s esteem and confidence, that silence can best explain my gratitude—While I realize the arduous nature of the task which is conferred on me and feel my inability to perform it, I wish there may not be reason for regretting the choice. All I can promise is only that which can be accomplished by an honest zeal.
Upon considering how long time some of the gentlemen of both houses of Congress have been at New York, how anxiously desirous they must be to proceed to business and how deeply the public mind appears to be impressed with the necessity of doing it immediately I cannot find myself at liberty to delay my Journey—I shall therefore be in readiness to set out the day after to morrow, and shall be happy in the pleasure of your company. For you will permit me to say that it was a peculiar gratification to have received the communication from you.