Inauguration Day: Did You Know?

Inauguration day, January 20, 2021

I had a different blog post ready for today but when I realized my post about favorite shows to stream was scheduled to run on Inauguration Day, well, it seemed a little anti-climactic. Instead, I decided to dig up some Inauguration Day trivia to share…

Our first president, George Washington, was inaugurated in New York at Federal Hall on April 30, 1789. Construction on the original building was started in 1699 and completed in 1703 on Wall Street (Lower Manhattan today). Architect Pierre L’Enfant made renovations in 1788. This was considered America’s first example of Federal architecture. Unfortunately, that building was demolished in 1812 but part of the original railing and floor where Washington was inaugurated is on display at the memorial today.

Thomas Jefferson, America’s 3rd president, was the first president to be sworn in as president in Washington, DC. It seems his first inauguration was a pretty chill affair: he walked to the Capitol to be sworn in and, afterwards, walked back to his boarding house for dinner. For those of you familiar with DC, the boardinghouse stood where the Longworth House Office Building stands today.

Thomas Jefferson’s 2nd inauguration started the tradition of the open house at the White House where people would just pop in to congratulate and celebrate the newly elected president. This tradition continued until 1885 when Grover Cleveland was elected and realized the White House – and probably the president! – couldn’t handle the crowds anymore and thus the parade tradition was started.  

Isn’t in bonkers to think that, for about 85 years, people just walked up to the White House to hang out?

First “official” inaugural address: James Monroe in 1817.

Fewest words said at an inauguration: George Washington with 135.

Longest inaugural address: William Henry Harrison with 8445 words in a speech that took almost 2 hours. Harrison was the 68 year-old genius who didn’t wear a hat or coat during his cold, wet inauguration day in early March. He got sick and died 31 days after taking office. Tippecanoe and Tyler too? More like Tippecanoe got the flu.

Speaking of early March, inauguration day was originally March 4th. This allowed time for elections to take place, votes to be counted, and was the date Congress commenced in the spring. It was changed to January 20 in 1933. Tech advances meant that votes were counted much faster so the extra time was no longer needed. This made Franklin Delano Roosevelt the only president to be sworn in on the original date of March 4 and the new date of January 20.

The newly elected president is always sworn in at noon on January 20th.

A few famous inaugural address quotes:

“Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
-Barack Obama, 2009

“But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
-Thomas Jefferson, 1801

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
-Bill Clinton, 1993

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
-Ronald Reagan, 1981

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
-John F. Kennedy, 1961

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
-Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Which quote is your favorite? Share in the comments below!

I hope these next four years for our country are united and healing; collaborative and cohesive. Best of luck to our newly elected President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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