THE BLOG
01/19/2013 10:54 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2013

Presidential Inaugurations: Feats, Facts and Historic Firsts

On Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will take the oath of office, marking the 57th formal presidential inaugural ceremony.

In all, U.S. presidents have been sworn in 70 times, which includes both private and public ceremonies.

This year's ceremony will be the seventh time the inauguration date has fallen on a Sunday. There has never been a precedent for a president holding a formal inauguration on a Sunday, so in keeping with tradition, President Obama will be sworn in publicly on Monday, January 21.

Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes (1877), Woodrow Wilson (1917),Dwight D. Eisenhower (1957) and Ronald Reagan (1985), however, all elected to have the oath of office administered privately on a Sunday, with the formal swearing-in taking place on the following Monday. Presidents James Monroe (1821) and Zachary Taylor (1849) did not hold private swearing-in ceremonies on a Sunday.

Like his predecessors, Mr. Obama will hold a private swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House just before noon on Sunday, January 20.

Since Monday's ceremony coincides with Martin Luther King's birthday, the 44th U.S. president will use one of the Bibles used by Dr. King, along with another Bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his public swearing-in ceremony.

As part of the star-studded entertainment scheduled for Monday's Inauguration, James Taylor will belt out "America the Beautiful''; Kelly Clarkson will let loose with "My Country, 'Tis of Thee''; while the national anthem will be sung by Beyonce. Other musical selections will be performed by PS 22, Staten Island, N.Y.; Lee University Festival Choir, Cleveland, Tenn.; and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

The poet chosen to read at the Inauguration is Richard Blanco, a Spanish born Cuban-American, the first Latino, openly gay, as well as the youngest poet ever at a presidential inauguration. Myrlie Evers-Williams, a civil rights activist and journalist and widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers will deliver the Invocation.

In order to prepare for Monday's festivities, what follows are some feats, facts, and historic firsts for presidential inaugurations.

• George Washington, the nation's first chief executive, took his oath of office on Thursday, April 30, 1789, in New York City on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall on Wall Street.

• On March 4, 1793, during the first inauguration to take place in Philadelphia, Pa., George Washington delivered the shortest inauguration address in presidential history, a mere 135 words. George Washington was additionally the only president not to be sworn in by a Chief Justice.

• John Adams on March 4, 1797, was the first president to receive the oath of office from a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

• The first inauguration to be held in Washington, D.C., took place on March 4, 1801, for the presidency of Thomas Jefferson.

• The first inaugural ball was held on March 4, 1809, for James Madison. The festivities were held at Long's Hotel; tickets went for $4.

• The first president to take the oath of office on the east front portico of the U.S. Capitol was Andrew Jackson on March 4, 1829.

• President William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address (8,445 words) on March 4, 1841. He died of pneumonia one month later.

• In 1845, the Marine Band played "Hail to the Chief'' for the first time at the inauguration ceremony for James Polk.

• Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath on inauguration day a record nine times from 1801 through 1833.

• On March 4, 1853, Franklin Pierce was the first president to recite his inauguration address entirely from memory.

• The inauguration ceremony for James Buchanan on March 4, 1857, was the first to be photographed.

• For the inauguration ceremony of Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1865, African-Americans participated in the ceremonies for the first time.

• The first inaugural ceremony recorded by a motion picture camera took place on March 4, 1897, for William McKinley.

• For the first time since 1853, the inaugural ball was suspended on March 4, 1913, at the request of President Wilson because he found it inappropriate for such a solemn occasion.

• Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was the first first lady to accompany the President (Woodrow Wilson) both to and from the Capitol on March 5, 1917.

• Warren G. Harding in 1921 was the first president to travel to and from his inauguration ceremony in an automobile.

• Calvin Coolidge's inauguration ceremony was the first to be broadcast nationally by radio on March 4, 1925.

• Beginning in 1933 with Franklin D. Roosevelt, every president has said "so help me God'' at the conclusion of the oath.

• As a result of a change made by the 20th Amendment, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1937.

• The Inauguration ceremony for Harry S. Truman on Jan. 20, 1949, was the first ceremony to be televised. Truman also reinstated the inaugural ball.

• Dwight D. Eisenhower on Jan. 20, 1953, broke with precedent by reciting his own prayer after taking the oath, rather than kissing the Bible.

• Bill Clinton's Inauguration on Jan. 20, 1997, was the first to be broadcast live on the Internet.

• Ronald Reagan's inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981, was the first to be held on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. Prior to 1981, all outdoor inaugurations were held on the east side of the Capitol.

• Jan. 21, 1985, was the coldest inauguration date on record with noon temperature of 7 degrees; the warmest inauguration day on record with a noon temperature of 55 degrees took place four years earlier on Jan. 20, 1981.

• President Obama's Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, drew the largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, D.C., as well as the largest audience for a presidential Inauguration.

Source: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

This article was cross-posted from The Morning Delivery

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