Inauguration Facts!

by Veselin Simonov

Image by Flickr user The British Library. Originally appeared in “The Household History of the United States and its people”, Macmillan & Co, 1889.

Recently, the United States witnessed the inauguration of its 45th President – Donald J. Trump. Inaugurations are festive events and they never fail to make history. Here are some fun historical facts about past presidential inaugurations!

  • Constitutional guidelines about the presidential inauguration only include the date and the oath. Everything else has developed as a matter of tradition and technically isn’t legally required.
  • In 1801, Thomas Jefferson was the first to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. after the city was designated as the fledgling nation’s permanent capital.
  • Jefferson is also the one that started the tradition of the inaugural parade after he rode to the Presidential House from the Capitol when mechanics from the Navy Yard started following him in celebration.
  • In 1865, Abraham Lincoln was the first President to invite African Americans to the inaugural parade.
  • Andrew Jackson’s 1829 public reception drew 20,000 people and the White House was so crowded, Jackson had to escape through a window.
  • While we’ve just inaugurated our 45th President, only 44 men have held the job – Grover Cleveland is counted twice due to his non-consecutive terms in office.
  • The shortest inaugural address: George Washington, 135 words. The longest inaugural address: William Henry Harrison, 8455 words (clocking in at almost 2 hours!).
  • In 1861, the only float in Lincoln’s inaugural parade was one symbolizing the Constitution and the Union. It was clad in red, white and blue with a small girl symbolizing each of the 34 states, even those that seceded.
  • In 1969, Richard Nixon’s inauguration limited the number of military units present to appear less hawkish.
  • Calvin Coolidge was sworn in by his father – a justice of the peace – rather than the Chief Justice, as tradition usually dictates. This is because he wasn’t elected – he took over the presidency after Warren G. Harding’s death.
  • If a presidential term begins on a Sunday, the President will take the oath privately that day and then repeat it at a public ceremony the next day.

Source: White House Historical Association

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