How much do you know about the history of the inauguration of our President? I knew next to nothing so I decided to put together a post for my own edification.
George Washington’s first inauguration was held on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, DC, which only officially became the federal capital on June 11, 1800.
Inauguration day was originally on March 4, four months after election day. The March 4th date was so travelers could avoid bad weather as most of it was done by foot or horseback. Letters had to mailed to prospective appointees and replies had to be mailed back. Roads were often impassible. After rapid transportation and communication came into being the March 4th date could be moved to January 20 and the passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in 1933 made the change permanent.
When Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the chief justice will administer the oath to the president either on inauguration day itself or on the Sunday privately and the following Monday publicly. President Obama’s inauguration will take place on Monday, January 21, 2013. The President will take a private oath of office on Sunday, January 20.
The only inauguration element mandated by the United States Constitution is that the president make an oath before that person can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency.
At 12:00 noon on January 21, 2013, President Obama will recite the Oath of Office as follows
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The Inaugural Address
On Thursday, April 30, 1789, George Washington gave the first inaugural address before members of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives in the senate chamber.
Through carefully chosen words, new presidents have used their inaugural addresses to assess the state of the nation, offer a synopsis of their plans for the four years of their terms, and offer a vision for the future beyond their terms.
Some of the most famous expressions ever uttered by US presidents have come out of the addresses.
In Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address he said: “With malice towards 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 . . .”
Franklin D.Roosevelt’s address in 1933: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
John F. Kennedy’s 1961 address: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
After women were finally granted the right to vote in 1920, Warren G. Harding, in his 1921 address, stated: “With the nationwide induction of womanhood into our political life, we may count upon her intuitions, her refinements, her intelligence and her influence to exalt the social order.”
I had the privilege of living in Washington, DC for many years and I attended President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981. As he paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue we learned that the 52 American hostages held in Iran for the previous 444 days had been released. It was an exciting day for me.