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History 101: Interesting Facts of US Presidential Inaugurations

Old Photo US President Abraham Lincoln Inaugurations

Photo of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln standing under the cover at the centre of Capitol steps during his inauguration in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 1861. The scaffolding at the upper right was used in the construction of the Capitol dome. Image source: Denver Post

Note: The Presidential inauguration is the event where the president-elect and vice-president-elect take their oaths of office and assume their duties. The following information is sourced from several sources on the internet.

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Inaugurations Interesting Facts

These are just some of the fascinating facts about US Presidential Inaugurations:-

  • George Washington was the only president to be inaugurated in two different cities and the first inauguration took place in New York City on April 30, 1789, and his second one in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793.
  • George Washington had to borrow money to attend his inauguration as he was considered “land poor” which means he owned a lot of land but not much cash. He had to get a loan to travel to New York City for the ceremony.
  • Inaugurations used to happen on March 4 until 1937 but after the 20th Amendment changed the date to January 20 to reduce the time between the election and the start of a new administration. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be inaugurated on the new date.
  • John Adams was the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration. He left Washington eight hours before Thomas Jefferson’s ceremony in 1801.
  • John Adams was also the first president to have no family members present at his inauguration in 1797.
  • John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson were the only other presidents who did not attend their successors’ inaugurations. John Quincy Adams boycotted Andrew Jackson’s ceremony in 1829, and Andrew Jackson did not go to Martin Van Buren’s in 1837.
  • William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech in history, lasting almost two hours. He also did not wear a coat or hat despite the cold weather. He died of pneumonia 31 days later, making his presidency the shortest one.
  • Barack Obama used two Bibles for his oath of office in 2009. One of them belonged to Abraham Lincoln, and the other was his personal childhood Bible. George Washington started the tradition of using a Bible for the oath in 1789.

Steps To Be The President

Step 1

The first step is the presidential election, which takes place every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The candidates who win the most votes in each state get a certain number of electors, who form the Electoral College.

The electors then cast their votes for president and vice president in December, usually following the popular vote of their state. The candidate who gets at least 270 electoral votes wins the election.

Step 2

The second step is the presidential transition, which is the period between the election and the inauguration. During this time, the president-elect and their team prepared to take over the administration of the federal government. They also select and nominate their cabinet members and other key officials, who need to be confirmed by the Senate.

The transition team works with the outgoing administration, Congress, and various agencies to ensure a smooth transfer of power and information. The transition is supported by the General Services Administration, which provides office space, funding, and other resources.

Step 3

The third step is the inauguration itself, which takes place on January 20 (or January 21 if January 20 falls on a Sunday).

The inauguration is planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which oversees the swearing-in ceremony, the inaugural address, and the pass in review. The ceremony is held at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, and is attended by members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, former presidents, and other dignitaries.

The vice-president-elect is sworn in first by a judge of their choice, followed by the president-elect, who is usually sworn in by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Both of them recite an oath of office that is mandated by the Constitution. After taking the oath, the president delivers their inaugural address, which outlines their vision and agenda for their term.

The ceremony ends with a pass in review, which is a military tradition where the president inspects the troops.

Other Events

The inauguration day also includes other events, such as a luncheon hosted by Congress, a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, and various inaugural balls and parties. These events are organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is appointed by the president-elect.

Democratic Process

The U.S. presidential inauguration is a significant event that showcases the peaceful transfer of power and the continuity of democracy in America. It also reflects the history and culture of the nation and its people. As such, it can offer some valuable lessons for other countries that also have a democratic system of government and a diverse society.

  • The importance of respecting the constitutional process and accepting the outcome of free and fair elections, even if one disagrees with or dislikes the winner.
  • The value of having a smooth and orderly transition between outgoing and incoming administrations, with cooperation and communication on matters of national interest and security.
  • The a need to have a clear and coherent vision and plan for governing the country, as well as communicating it effectively to the public and soliciting their feedback and support.
  • The benefit of celebrating diversity and inclusivity in society, by inviting representatives from different ethnic, religious, cultural, and political groups to participate in or attend the inauguration ceremony and events.
  • The opportunity of using culture and art as a means of expressing national identity and values, as well as promoting unity and harmony among people.

Final Say

The US presidential inauguration is a historic event that marks the beginning of a new era in American politics. It is also a celebration of democracy, unity and hope for the future. The inauguration ceremony, the inaugural address, the inaugural parade and the inaugural balls are all part of the tradition that honours the peaceful transfer of power and the oath of office.

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