By the President of the United States of America
Few individuals in history have had a more profound and lasting effect on a nation and its people than has George Washington. His character, convictions, and vision shaped our Republic in its crucial formative years and started us on the great American journey that continues to this day.
At every moment of challenge or peril in the early history of our Nation, George Washington emerged as a leader of uncommon wisdom and steadfast dedication to the ideals of service. A brilliant warrior, he held together a small, undisciplined army with the force of his personality and the trust he inspired in his men, ultimately leading them to victory in the American Revolution. When the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia in 1787, the delegates turned to George Washington to lead their efforts to create a Constitution for the American people. Elected unanimously to preside over the Convention, Washington helped to craft the blueprint for our democracy that has inspired freedom-loving peoples across the globe for more than 2 centuries.
As the first President of the United States, George Washington used his power wisely and with restraint, recognizing that his actions would set enduring precedents and traditions for the leaders who would follow him. He set a steady course for our fledgling Nation, keeping us free from entanglement in foreign conflicts, laying the foundations for financial stability and economic prosperity, maintaining a strong defense to preserve our independence and security, and ensuring above all the protection of Americans' rights and freedoms. And, in relinquishing his office at the appointed time, he established by example the peaceful transition of power that has become the hallmark of our democracy.
Near midnight on December 14, 1799, America's great warrior, statesman, and leader took his final breath. His last words were, "'Tis well." Due in large part to the early guiding hand of George Washington, it has been well for our Nation ever since. Now, 200 years later, as America continues its journey into a new century, it is fitting that we acknowledge our enduring debt to this great man.
The Congress, by Senate Concurrent Resolution 83, has requested the President to proclaim December 14, 1999, as a day to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 14, 1999, as the Bicentennial Commemoration of the Death of George Washington. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, paying tribute to the life and achievements of George Washington and his contributions to our Nation. As a further mark of respect, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions on Tuesday, December 14, 1999. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff on that day at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., December 16, 1999]