They made it.
With a New York welcome fit for royalty, President-elect George Washington, standing tall at the bow of the elaborate Shallop barge, was rowed into South Street Seaport late Sunday afternoon.Mayor Edward I. Koch waited on the dock of a jammed Pier 17, as Washington and his entourage disembarked to thunderous applause, cheers, music and musket fire. New Jerseysans similarly sent off the party from the Municipal Pier in Elizabeth, two hours earlier, close to 2:30 p.m.
Koch, surrounded by local dignitaries, promised an enormous celebration next weekend for Washington's swearing in Sunday as the first president of the United States.
First, though, he promised the 10 oarsmen who rowed the Washington party, "There is grog in 20 minutes."
The general, humble and eloquent, as he has been at each stop on the eight-day journey, promised to be true to the Constitution he helped draft. And with the support of the citizenry, "the United States then will secure itself as the greatest republic in the world."
At an impromptu press conference before general left the crowds, he fielded questions on personal and political subjects.
Asked what he thought of Koch, the general praised the mayor's enthusiasm, saying, "this country needs people of that nature to raise spirits."
"Sorry, sir, I'm not familiar with those terms," he said, when asked if he would visit Shea Stadium to see the New York Mets.
He likes to "ride daily if I can, and I race my horse, Magnolia, occasionally. But most of all, I love to dance."
Washington dispelled the myth that he has wooden teeth, though he admitted he wears false teeth.
The general is against political parties and "entanglements with foreign powers," he said. "We're very young, and it would be a mistake to get involved with any mess in Europe."
There is talk in some states, including Virginia, about attaching a Bill of Rights to the infant constitution to safeguard American liberties, the general said. "I would support that."
Asked about gun control, the general said: "On the frontier a gun or rifle is a handy thing. But a weapon should be respected, it should be used for the defense of country . . . or sporting. The proliferation of weapons for the general citizenry is not all that necessary."
The general said he is "totally against the trading of the human species," and promised to work "within the law" to abolish slavery.
"How do you feel about Star Wars?"
"Are you from this planet?" Washington responded.