We’ll get to witness one of the quirks of the august body today when Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) takes to the floor to read a speech originally made by then-President George Washington in honor of the cherry-tree-chopping first president’s birthday.
A member of the Senate reads the speech each year, a tradition that began in 1862. The Senate historian’s office says reading of the speech, Washington’s farewell, was initially intended as a pep rally of sorts “during the darkest days of the Civil War.”
Shaheen, who will get to inscribe her name in a leather-bound book, says she’s a fan of Washington’s. “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of his leadership to our country,” she says in a statement.
The speech contains more than a few lines that might resonate with today’s audiences (on federal borrowing, for example, Washington had this to say: “cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible.”)
The big event starts at 2 p.m., and will be carried live on C-SPAN.