Let Congress Take Warning, 03/06/1909
The Inauguration Day of William Howard Taft was one of the worst Inauguration days ever due to rain, snow, sleet, slush, and chilling winds. In the cartoon, telegraph lines are shown falling over because of the strong winds and snow. Uncle Sam is bundled in winter gear while holding a resolution to change the date of Inauguration Day and telling Congress that they shouldn’t let the same thing happen again. Because of the bad weather, there was much support in changing Inauguration Day to April 30, which is when George Washington was inaugurated. The resolution was not successful until 1933 though, when Inauguration Day was changed to January 20.
One follower commented on the photo of Jimmy Carter’s pioneering “Inaugural Walk”:
“I remember this day and gasping when they got out of the car!”
What’s your most memorable Presidential Inauguration moment?
Jimmy Started Something New
In 1977, Jimmy Carter started a tradition that has now become one of the most anticipated events on Inauguration Day.
While in the motorcade of the Inaugural Parade, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter exited their car to walk the route to the White House.
Only the Secret Service had been notified of Carter’s decision to break with tradition, and at first, parade viewers thought the car had broken down.
Nine-year-old Amy Carter joined her parents for part of the parade route, jumping and skipping along Pennsylvania Avenue in her excitement.
-from the Carter Library
Inauguration Fact: The inaugural ball tradition began with the first inauguration, held in New York.
It was unofficial, and President Washington attended alone—his wife had not yet arrived in New York.
Dolley Madison planned the first official ball, held for her husband President James Madison in Long’s Hotel in Washington, DC. Guests paid four dollars to attend.
During Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency, the inaugural balls were canceled to preserve the solemnity of the day. Franklin D. Roosevelt brought back the tradition with an official inauguration ball in 1933, but the war would make the following balls more subdued. In 1949, President Truman began the tradition of multiple balls so that more people could participate and see the President and First Lady.
Image: President William Jefferson Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Dancing at the Tennessee Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC, 01/20/1997, ARC 5950246, Clinton Presidential Library.
Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to be inaugurated on January 20th?
FDR was the last POTUS to take the oath of office on March 4, 1933. After the passage of the 20th Amendment, FDR became the first President to be sworn in on the new day of January 20 for his second inauguration in 1937.Th 20th amendment was passed in order to shorten the transition time between administrations.
President Roosevelt watching the Inaugural Parade from a replica of Andrew Jackson’s “Hermitage” in front of the White House. January 20, 1937.-from the FDR Library
Inauguration Fact: Presidents do not need to be inaugurated. In case of the death of a President, the oath of office can be administered by a nearby official.
Vice Presidents John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A. Arthur were all sworn in after the death of a President (and none of them were reelected).
Theodore Roosevelt took the oath in Buffalo, NY, after the assassination of William McKinley. In 1923, Calvin Coolidge was at home in Vermont when Warren Harding died and had to be sworn in by his father, a notary public and justice of the peace. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on board Air Force One after President Kennedy’s death.
And Gerald Ford took the oath of office in the East Room of the White House after President Nixon resigned.
Image: Harry S. Truman taking the oath of office as President of the United States in the Cabinet Room of the White House, following the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, 04/12/1945 (ARC 199062), Truman Presidential Library.
Inauguration Fact: The Constitution does not dictate where the inauguration should happen.
Washington’s first inauguration took place in New York on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, with a crowd assembled in the streets below. Washington’s second inauguration and John Adams’s only inauguration were held in Philadelphia.
Even when the ceremony was held in the new capital city, the location still varied. Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, DC, took the oath twice in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol.
Starting with Andrew Jackson in 1829, inauguration ceremonies were held on the Capitol’s East Portico, but even that was not permanent. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth and final inauguration was a small, wartime ceremony held on the South Portico of the White House.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first President to to take the oath of office on the West Portico of the Capitol, facing out onto the Mall.
Image Lyndon Johnson takes the Oath of Office as President of the United States on January 20, 1965, Johnson Presidential Library.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is lassoed by cowboy star Montie Montana (with permission from the Secret Service) while reviewing the inaugural parade as Vice President Richard M. Nixon and other dignitaries look on on January 20, 1953.
Originally, the parade was meant to escort the President to the White House from the Capitol, but it soon developed into something more. Jefferson began the tradition of the open house. Americans could come directly into the White House and congratulate the President. Over time, the crowds became so enormous that President Jackson fled the crush through an open window.
By the time Grover Cleveland took office, the number of inaugural visitors was too large to manage, and so Cleveland had parade stands set up outside, where he could review the troops. Over time, this the review came to include floats and other civilian contributions. For Clinton’s second inauguration, the parade featured floats, choirs, and marching bands from all 50 states.
Inauguration Fact: The shortest Inaugural Address is Washington’s second address at just 133 words. The longest Inaugural Address was 8,495 words, delivered by President Harrison on an extremely cold day. (He died of pneumonia a month later.)
One of the most memorable lines in American history comes from an Inaugural Address. On March 4, 1933, President Roosevelt was sworn in, and told the crowd that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
In honor of the upcoming Inauguration Day, George Washington’s first Inaugural Address is on display at the National Archives until January 31.
Image: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, 03/04/1933, ARC 197333.
Practice Makes Perfect
Military personnel act as stand-ins for President-elect George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Vice President-elect J. Danforth Quayle and Marilyn Quayle during a rehearsal prior to the Inauguration Day ceremonies of the 41st president of the United States, 01/15/1989
In honor of the 2013 Inauguration, the first and last page of Washington’s first Inaugural Address are on display at the National Archives until January 31.
Unseasonably cold and snowy weather delayed the first Presidential inauguration, which had been scheduled for the first Wednesday in March 1789. Many members of the First Federal Congress were unable to arrive promptly in New York City, then the seat of government.
On April 6, 1789—over a month late—enough members had reached New York to tally the electoral ballots. George Washington won unanimously with 69 electoral votes. When notified of his victory, he traveled to New York City from his home in Virginia.
On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the Presidential oath on a second floor balcony of Federal Hall. Below, an enthusiastic crowd assembled in the streets. The President and members of Congress then retired to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered his first inaugural address.
Keenly aware of the momentousness of the occasion, Washington accepted the Presidency and spoke of his determination to make the American experiment a success. He humbly noted the power of the nation’s call for him to serve as President and the shared responsibility of the President and Congress to preserve “the sacred fire of liberty” and a republican form of government. You can read the transcript of this speech.
The National Archives will be open on Inauguration Day! Come and see this featured document, and then watch the 11:30 a.m. swearing-in ceremony in our theater.
This evening gown was designed by Roxanne of Samuel Winston, under the Neiman Marcus label. It is made of white peau-de-soie with a bodice of white bugle and crystal beads. The gown was worn by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson at the Inaugural Gala, 1965; the visit of His Excellency Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan, December 14, 1965; the visit of Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy, April 20, 1965; and the visit of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, February 14, 1967.