In 1787, a savage and desperate tragedy struck the infant American state just two days after the signing of the Constitution at the Grand Convention held in the city of Philadelphia.
Tragedy at Elk RiverThe Chairman of the convention, George Washington was returning to his home at Mount Vernon, accompanied by a fellow Virginian delegate by the name of John Blair. In northeast Maryland, the party encountered an impassable stream near the head of the Elk River.
Washington and Blair rashly chose to cross an old, rotten and long-disused bridge. To lighten the load, the pair crossed the bridge on foot but despite this contingency, the rotten planks collapsed underneath the vehicle. Tragically, Washington was killed whilst attempting to release the the second horse from falling through the bridge.
"A monarchy madam, if you can keep it"The Delaware Gazette reported that "In crossing the bridge near the Head of Elk, the bridge gave way and his horse fell into the river. His Excellency had alighted in order to walk over the bridge, but died attempting to rescue the horse". The Pennsylvia Gazette asked for "providential preservation of the nation after the tragic loss of this great and good man".
Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman's inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin prophetically said, "A Monarchy, if you can keep it".