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Until the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, the official day for presidential inaugurations was March 4 . When the fourth fell on a Sunday, as it did in 1821, 1849, 1877, and
, the ceremonies were held on March 5.
The first president of the United States,
, was not inaugurated until April 30. Although Congress scheduled the first inauguration for March 4, 1789, they were unable to count the electoral ballots as early as anticipated. Consequently, the
was postponed to allow the president-elect time to
make the long trip
from his home in Virginia to the nation’s capital in New York City.
In celebration of his
inauguration on March 4, 1829
invited the American public to the White House. Overwhelming crowds ruined many White House furnishings and forced the new president to make a getaway through a window. Undeterred by the raucous reception, Jackson continued to host public parties at the residence.
In 1921, President-elect
Warren G. Harding
set another inaugural first by traveling to the Capitol for
in an automobile. It was just one sign of the changing times. With modern advances in communication and transportation, election officials and newly-elected candidates no longer needed four months to gather election returns and travel to Washington. To minimize the transition period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, and curtail “Lame Duck” Congresses in which members defeated in November served until March, legislators introduced the
Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
. It was ratified in 1933, and on January 20, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president sworn into office in January.
- The resource guide
U.S. Presidential Inaugurations: “I Do Solemnly Swear…”
presents information about presidential inaugurations and digitized primary source materials, including photographs, manuscripts, campaign posters, letters, broadsides, and inaugural speeches.
- View the videos in the
Presidential Inauguration Series
including one on the
Presidential Inauguration Date Change
- Read the Headlines & Heroes blog post to learn
Intriguing Facts About Presidential Inaugurations Past
Library of Congress Blogs
to find more compelling stories and fascinating facts.
- The Performing Arts blog, In the Muse, highlighted musical compositions celebrating inaugurations in the post
Inauguration Music of Yesteryear
. Search the
Notated Music Collections
on inauguration to identify additional
- Visit the
feature presentation on the
. This feature is designed for teachers and students.
- Read the
President Washington delivered in New York’s Federal Hall.
- Be sure to see the online exhibition
American Treasures of the Library of Congress
. This collection includes
Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address
from Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 presidential campaign.
Today in History
for the name of your favorite chief executive.
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