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    The Presidential Inauguration in History

    The First Inauguration

    It was in New York City, out nation's first capital, that George Washington became the first President of the United States. Congress had planned for the new government to begin its responsibilities on March 4, 1789, but a harsh winter made travel difficult, and it wasn't until April 6 that enough congressmen arrived in New York to count the electors' votes and announce, "Whereby it appears that George Washington, Esq. Was unanimously elected President, --and John Adams, Esq. Was duly elected Vice President of the United States of America…"

    It took several days for the exciting news to reach Mount Vernon, General Washington's home in Virginia. He set off for the capital, leaving behind his wife, Martha, who would join him later. He traveled by coach and on horseback through Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia, finally arriving in New York City aboard a grand barge that had been rowed from New Jersey across Newark Bay. Meanwhile John Adams, his Vice President-elect, and the Congress were deciding what the new Chief Executive's official title should be. Adams preferred "His Most Benign Highness," but a congressional committee settled on the title we still use today: "President of the United States."

    Inauguration Day, April 30, began with the sounds of ceremonial artillery and church bells ringing across the city. At noon, General Washington made his way through large crowds to Federal Hall, where both houses of Congress were assembled for swearing-in. New York Chancellor Robert Livingston read the oath, and Washington, his right hand on a Bible, repeated the words inscribed in the Constitution: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." President Washington added the words, "So help me God," a custom followed by every President since.

    Inaugural Traditions

    The First Inauguration gave rise to many traditions that continue today. For example, President Washington followed his swearing-in with an Inaugural Address, a special speech written for the occasion. In 1793, the oath of office for Washington's second term was administered by William Cushing, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the first in a long line of Supreme Court Justices to preside over Presidential Inaugurations.

    Thomas Jefferson was the first to be sworn in as President in Washington, D.C., the location chosen for the permanent capital and the site of all but a handful of Inaugural ceremonies. Jefferson showed his taste for simplicity by going on foot to the Capitol for the oath-taking and returning to his boardinghouse afterwards for dinner. After his second Inauguration, however, Jefferson rode on horseback from the Capitol to the President's House (the name then used for the White House) amid music and a spontaneous gathering of mechanics from the nearby Navy Yard – a procession that grew into today's Inaugural Parade.

    Jefferson's second Inauguration also began the tradition of the Inaugural Open House, when the executive mansion was opened to all who wished to greet the President after his swearing-in. The popularity of the Open House would later cause our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, to flee through a window after a mob of well-wishers stormed the White House, ruining furniture and breaking china in their eagerness to see him. In 1865, despite growing concern about safety, Abraham Lincoln shook some 6,000 hands after his second Inauguration. President Grover Cleveland, realizing that the White House could no longer accommodate such crowds, instead held a review of the troops from a flag-draped grandstand just outside, adding another element to the Inaugural Parade.

    Presidents have celebrated in many ways since George Washington danced the minuet after his Inauguration in 1789. James Madison, America's fourth President, and his wife, Dolley, were the guests of honor at the first official Inaugural Ball, held at Long's Hotel in Washington, D.C. Martin Van Buren's Inauguration featured two balls, and President William Henry Harrison held three to meet the ever-growing demand for tickets. Later Inaugurations have featured specially built pavilions for dancing, balls held at several sites throughout the capital, and even Inaugural parties in other cities. Modern Inaugural festivities reflect not only the President they honor, but also the desire to include the many Americans who want to take part in celebrating our nation's rich history and the transfer of presidential power.

    Technology and Ceremony

    You may have watched President Bill Clinton's 1997 Inauguration on television or heard about it from a radio broadcast. Maybe your local newspaper carried photographs of the event, or perhaps you visited an Internet web site to get information about the ceremony and various Inaugural celebrations. We rely on technology to help us participate in and learn about our government in ways that previous generations of Americans never dreamed.

    For example, only the members of Congress gathered in Federal Hall on April 30, 1789, heard President Washington's first Inaugural Address. Twenty years later, after James Madison's swearing-in, his speech was published in the newspaper for all to read. James Polk took the oath of office on 1845 while Samuel Morse, inventor of the electric telegraph, sat near him on the platform tapping out the news on his miraculous machine.

    Source : clintonwhitehouse4.archives.gov

    Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

    Presidential inaugural ceremonies are perhaps the most widely known of the numerous ceremonies held at the U.S. Capitol.

    Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

    Presidential inaugural ceremonies are perhaps the most widely known of the numerous ceremonies held at the U.S. Capitol.


    The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) erects the inaugural platform on the Capitol's West Front, sets up the necessary seating and fencing on the grounds, and coordinates other activities with the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) regarding all of the physical arrangements that are necessary to accommodate this event.

    Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

    The 20th amendment to the Constitution specifies that the term of each elected President of the United States begins at noon on January 20 of the year following the election. Each president must take the oath of office before assuming the duties of the position.

    With the 2021 inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the oath has been taken 73 different times by the 46 Presidents of the United States. This numerical discrepancy results chiefly from two factors: a president must take the oath at the beginning of each term of office, and, because Inauguration Day has sometimes fallen on a Sunday, four Presidents (Hayes [1877], Wilson [1917], Eisenhower [1957], and Reagan [1985]) have taken the oath privately before the public inaugural ceremonies. In addition, President Arthur took the oath privately following the death of President Garfield and again two days later in the Capitol. Grover Cleveland is considered the 22nd and 24th presidents, having served two nonconsecutive terms (1885-1889 and 1893-1897).

    The oaths administered to date have been taken place in the following locations:

    U.S. Capitol (55 occasions)

    East Portico — 34

    Hall of the House of Representatives — 6

    Senate Chamber — 3 West Front — 9

    East Front of Original Senate Wing — 1

    President's Room — 1

    Rotunda — 1

    Vice President's Room — 1

    White House — 6

    Old Brick Capitol (1st & A Sts., N.E.; site of present Supreme Court Building) — 1

    Washington, D.C. (not in Capitol or White House) — 2

    Outside Washington, D.C. — 7

    Key Historic Dates and Details

    Presidential Inaugurals

    Read about Vice Presidential Inaugurations here.



    Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath in 2021.


    January 20, 2021 Joseph R. Biden Jr. January 20, 2017 Donald J. Trump January 21, 2013 Barack Obama January 20, 2009 Barack Obama January 20, 2005 George W. Bush January 20, 2001 George W. Bush

    First time that a former president (George H.W. Bush) attended their son's inauguration as president.



    President Ronald Reagan's inauguration at the U.S. Capitol 1981.


    January 20, 1997 William J. Clinton

    First time that the ceremony was broadcast live on the Internet.

    First inaugural that fell on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

    January 20, 1993 William J. Clinton January 20, 1989 George H.W. Bush

    January 20, 1985 & January 21, 1985

    Ronald Reagan

    First time that the oath was taken in the Rotunda.

    First inaugural that fell on a Super Bowl Sunday.

    The Bible was placed on a marble-topped table that was built for the second inaugural of Abraham Lincoln. The table was constructed with an iron baluster cast for the Capitol dome in the 1860's.

    First time a television camera was placed inside the president's limousine from the Capitol to the White House.

    January 20, 1981 Ronald Reagan

    Outdoor band concert was held on the West Front lawn on the day before the inaugural.

    First inaugural held on the West Terrace of the Capitol.

    First time that room EF-100 was used as a holding room.

    First closed-captioning of television broadcast for the hearing impaired.

    First post-inaugural luncheon held in Statuary Hall.

    Post-inaugural luncheon was partially televised.

    Nine inaugural balls were held.

    First time that an inaugural ball was held in a legislative building (Rayburn House Office Building).

    Balls were transmitted by satellite to 32 ballroom sites across the country.

    January 20, 1977 Jimmy Carter

    Folding chairs instead of wooden benches were used on the East Plaza.

    Used an old family Bible; second Bible on lectern had been used at inauguration of George Washington.

    At Carter's request, the traditional inaugural luncheon was not held.

    First president to walk all the way from the Capitol to the White House with their family after ceremony.

    First time that an outgoing President left from the Capitol Grounds aboard a helicopter.

    Solar heat was used in the reviewing stand.

    Source : www.aoc.gov

    First inauguration of George Washington

    First inauguration of George Washington

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    First presidential inauguration of George Washington

    Date April 30, 1789; 232 years ago

    Location Federal Hall,

    New York City

    Participants George Washington

    1st President of the United States

    Robert Livingston

    Chancellor of New York

    John Adams

    1st Vice President of the United States

    John Langdon

    President pro tempore of the United States Senate

    1793 →

    The first inauguration of George Washington as the first president of the United States was held on Thursday, April 30, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, New York. The inauguration was held nearly two months after the beginning of the first four-year term of George Washington as president. Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston administered the presidential oath of office. With this inauguration, the executive branch of the United States government officially began operations under the new frame of government established by the 1787 Constitution. The inauguration of John Adams as vice president was on April 21, 1789, when he assumed his duties as presiding officer of the United States Senate, this also remains the only scheduled inauguration to take place on a day that was neither January or March.


    1 Start of the first presidential term

    1.1 Washington's journey to New York

    2 Inauguration

    3 In popular culture

    4 See also 5 References 6 External links

    Start of the first presidential term[edit]

    The first presidential term started on March 4, 1789, the date set by the Congress of the Confederation for the beginning of operations of the federal government under the new U.S. Constitution.[1] However, logistical delays prevented the actual start of the operations of the Executive Branch on that day. On that date, the House of Representatives and the Senate convened for the first time, but both adjourned due to lack of a quorum.[2] As a result, the presidential electoral votes could not be counted or certified. On April 1, the House convened with a quorum present for the first time, and the representatives began their work, with the election of Frederick Muhlenberg as its Speaker. The Senate first achieved a quorum on April 6, and elected John Langdon as its president pro tempore. That same day, the House and Senate met in joint session and the electoral votes were counted. Washington and Adams were certified as having been elected president and vice president respectively.[3][4]

    It was 5 p.m. at Mount Vernon on April 14, 1789, when Washington received official notification that he had been unanimously selected by the Electoral College to be the nation's first president. The letter had been sent by Senator John Langdon of New Hampshire, the first president pro tempore of the United States Senate, who had presided over the counting of the electoral votes. Washington replied immediately, and set off in the morning two days later,[5] accompanied by David Humphreys and a Mr. Thomson,[6] who was the Messenger appointed by the Senate, that delivered to General Washington the letter containing the news of his election.[7]

    Washington's journey to New York[edit]

    On his way to New York City, Washington received triumphal welcomes in almost every town he passed through. These included Alexandria, Georgetown, Maryland (now part of Washington D.C.), Baltimore and Havre de Grace. One of the places he spent the night was Spurrier's Tavern in Baltimore. Just after noon on April 20, Washington arrived to an elaborate welcome at Gray's Ferry in Philadelphia. On April 21, the Ladies of Trenton hosted his reception at Trenton.[8] On April 23 he took a small barge with 13 pilots through the Kill Van Kull tidal strait into the Upper New York Bay, and from there the city. A variety of boats surrounded him during the voyage, and Washington's approach was greeted by a series of cannon fire, first a thirteen gun salute by the Spanish warship , then by the , and finally by other artillery.[6] Thousands had gathered on the waterfront to see him arrive.[9] Washington landed at Murray's Wharf (at the foot of Wall Street), where he was greeted by New York Governor George Clinton as well as other congressmen and citizens.[6] A plaque now marks the landing site.[10] They proceeded through the streets to what would be Washington's new official residence, 3 Cherry Street.[9]


    Federal Hall, New York City, site of George Washington's first inauguration, April 30, 1789.

    Since nearly first light on April 30, 1789, a crowd of people had begun to gather around Washington's home, and at noon they made their way to Federal Hall by way of Queen Street and Great Dock (both now Pearl Street) and Broad Street.[6] Washington dressed in an American-made dark brown suit with white silk stockings and silver shoe buckles; he also wore a steel-hilted sword and dark red overcoat.[11]

    Upon his arrival at Federal Hall, then the nation's capitol and the site where the 1st United States Congress met, Washington was formally introduced to the House and Senate, after which Vice President John Adams announced it was time for the inauguration (Adams had already assumed the office of Vice President on April 21, when he began presiding over the Senate sessions). Washington moved to the second-floor balcony. Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston, who had served on the Committee of Five which had drafted the Declaration of Independence, administered the presidential oath of office in view of throngs of people gathered on the streets.[12][13] The Bible used in the ceremony was from St. John's Lodge No. 1, A.Y.M.,[14] and due to haste, it was opened at random to Genesis 49:13 ("Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon").[11] Afterwards, Livingston shouted "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" [15] to the crowd, which was replied to with cheers and a 13-gun salute.[16] The first inaugural address was subsequently delivered by Washington in the Senate chamber,[6] running 1419 words in length.[11] At this time there were no inaugural balls on the day of the ceremony, though a week later, on May 7, a ball was held in New York City to honor the first President.[17]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

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