On April 20, 1791, George Washington visited Tryon Palace in New Bern during his Southern Tour.
In 1791, the federal government was new and so was the presidency. Washington had been elected only two years before in February 1789, and North Carolina had become part of the Union in November of the same year.
Like any political move, the formation of the United States was seen with much skepticism from both citizens and government leaders. Washington’s tour of the Southern states allowed him to explore the nation he led, giving him the opportunity to promote national unity among its people. In his diary, Washington reported details about the geography of the states, exports such as tobacco and the attitudes of the citizens.
Washington’s visit was warmly received by New Bernians. During his two-day stay, the president dined at Tryon Palace and attended a “dancing assembly” with about 70 ladies. He also visited many of New Bern’s well-known citizens including John Wright Stanly, John Sitgreaves and Richard Dobbs Spaight.
Leaving New Bern on April 22, Washington headed south toward Wilmington.
Visit: Tryon Palace and the New Bern Preservation Foundation will celebrate the anniversary of Washington’s visit to the area with a whole host of activities this weekend.
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