The Inauguration Date was originally in March to allow for Long Travel Times
It was difficult to be a career politician at the federal/national level at the Founding. Thanks to the horse. The primary means of transportation over great distances. Either on horseback. Or pulled in a buggy. Neither of which provided for a comfortable ride. With that discomfort compounded by the fact you were leaving family and friends behind. People you wouldn’t see again for a very long time.
When John Adams served in the Continental Congress he rode for some two weeks through brutal winter weather on hard, frozen ground. Ground so hard and dangerous that they let the horses only walk. Whether it was traveling to Cambridge to meet with the newly appointed General Washington facing off with the British in Boston. Or riding on to the federal capital in Philadelphia. The ride was long, brutal and cold. As well as lonely. For Adams missed his wife and family when away serving his country. Which he did often. And longed to return home.
James Madison was a Virginian. And hated traveling up to the federal capital in Philadelphia. And then later in New York. For he hated being away from his wife. And he hated those long rides on hard, bumpy roads. As Madison suffered from some digestive disorders. Leaving him with chronic discomfort in his abdomen. And lower. For he probably suffered from hemorrhoids, too. Making those long, bumpy rides unbearable. This is why the inauguration date was originally in March instead of January like it is today. They had to allow for long travel times and bad weather for the new office holders to get to their offices. Unlike today where you can fly from anywhere in the United States to Washington D.C. in one day.
James Reynolds had his Wife seduce and sleep with Alexander Hamilton so he could Blackmail Him
George Washington was president when the nation’s capital was in New York City. Which was a long way from Mount Vernon. Washington’s Virginian home. Other Virginians were the first Secretary of State. Thomas Jefferson. The first Attorney General. Edmund Randolph. And the first Speaker of the House. James Madison. While the first Vice President, John Adams, and the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox, came from Massachusetts. The first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, was a New Yorker. Living in New York City. Close to the capital.
Ironically, the man closest to his wife was the one to have an extramarital affair. Alexander Hamilton. Who was targeted by a couple of con people. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds. That’s right, Mr. Reynolds used his wife, Maria, to seduce Alexander Hamilton. Including actually having sexual relations with him. Just so he, James Reynolds, could blackmail Hamilton for money. Threatening to tell Hamilton’s wife. And ruining his good reputation as a gentleman if he didn’t pay. He paid. For awhile. And with his own money. Reynolds was later arrested for counterfeiting. And told the opposition party of Hamilton’s affair. Thomas Jefferson. And his fellow Republicans (the forerunner to the Democrat party, not the Republican Party of today whose first president was Abraham Lincoln).
Thomas Jefferson loved his wife and hated being apart from her. The last place he wanted to be in 1775/1776 was at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. A lonely year spent a very long way from his wife. Who was sickly. And died in 1782. Jefferson was at her bedside when she passed. And he was devastated. He had promised her he would never remarry. And he never did. He later accepted the post as United States Minister to France. A much greater distance from Virginia. Which is probably the first time he wanted to be far away from his beloved Monticello. To escape the desolation of life without his wife.
The Founding Fathers served Reluctantly and didn’t leave Office Richer than when they entered Office
Hamilton and Jefferson hated each other. They vehemently disagreed with each other’s vision for the United States. When Jefferson got wind of the Hamilton affair he pounced on it. Well, not so much him. But the Republican Party which he was the de facto head of. And a guy by the name of James Callender. A pamphleteer and journalist. And all around scandalmonger. He made the Hamilton affair public for the Jefferson Republicans. Who, being men of the Enlightenment, would not sink to such a low level. But Callender would. And did. Who Jefferson helped with some financial support. But Callender ended up in jail for sedition. And when he got out he wanted Jefferson to make him post master general of Virginia in return for services rendered. Jefferson refused. Then Callender turned on Jefferson. Revealing that it was him that was bankrolling his journalistic scandal mongering. And that he fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.
George Washington was the commanding general of the Continental Army from 1775 until 1783. And he spent most of that time with his army in the field. Away from his beloved Mount Vernon. Just after he returned to civilian life came the Philadelphia Convention. And a new nation. The first president of that new nation? Much to his displeasure it was him. George Washington. Who was the only one people were willing to give the powers of the new federal government to. And after sacrificing so much he did not want to see it all be for nothing. So he served one term as president. Then another. In New York. A long way from Virginia. And pretty much hated every minute of it. Especially the bickering between his ‘children’. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. He was never happier than when he left office in 1797. Sadly, he lived just shy of three years in retirement.
The Founding Fathers hated being in office. They hated being away from home. And the long travel time to and from home. Which meant when they were serving in office they did not see their family and friends. Unlike today. Where modern transportation allows career politicians to enjoy the graft in Washington. While breaking it up with numerous vacations back home. Without having to endure two weeks of bouncy rides with hemorrhoids. Or riding horseback in blowing snow. Being a career politician today is like being part of an aristocracy. Where you travel first class. And live first class. Unlike the Spartan loneliness at the Founding. And the animus. Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Madison’s and Hamilton’s lives all got worse from serving. Washington was cheated out of a long retirement he more than earned. Jefferson suffered bitter loneliness after losing his wife and probably did turn to the comfort of a slave. (Sally Hemings had accompanied him to Paris to care for his daughter. And later was a house servant. Though he didn’t legally free her and her children from slavery they did live their lives out as free people after he died. Which was probably a compromise by Jefferson to reconcile his feelings for her while protecting his historical legacy). Something that blemishes his reputation to this day. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson went from practically best friends to bitter enemies before they left Washington (though they rekindled their friendship later in retirement). James Madison was the father of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Believed in a strong federal government and wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton to help ratify the Constitution. Then he switch sides. And sided with Thomas Jefferson and fought for limited government. Then he was president during the War of 1812 and believed in a strong federal government again after struggling through that war with a weak government. Madison spent his later years rewriting letters and correspondence. Making large revisions to his historical legacy. While Alexander Hamilton’s stand on principle ultimately led to his death in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Washington, Jefferson and Madison all returned home after serving as president poorer than when they left for Washington. That just doesn’t happen today. Today once you get elected to a federal office in Washington you return home a millionaire. Because being a professional politician today pays very well. Which is why there is less standing on principle in Washington and more doing what it takes to remain in power. Such as lying to the American people. “If you like your health insurance and your doctor you can keep your health insurance and doctor.” The Founding Fathers served reluctantly. And their lives were worse for serving. But the country was far better off because they did. And that’s something else that just doesn’t happen today.
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