Thursday, January 19, 2012

Inauguration Firsts

First presidential inauguration: George Washington, April 30, 1789, later than March 4 because of the time it took for the First Congress to assembly in the temporary capital, New York City.

First time the Chief Justice of the United States gave the oath of office to the incoming president: John Adams, March 4, 1797.

First president to be inaugurated in Washington City (the District of Columbia): Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801.

First time the United States Marine Band played for an inaugural ball: that of James Madison, March 4, 1809.

First president inaugurated wearing long trousers instead of knee breeches: John Quincy Adams, March 4, 1824. Such fashion belonged to his father's generation. JQA is also the first president to not wear a powdered wig for formal occasions.

First president to be sworn in on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol: Andrew Jackson, March 4, 1829. The move allowed more members of the public to attend, as befitting a president who had run as the champion of the common man. Previously, the ceremonies were held in the House or Senate chambers (except for Washington, on a balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street, and Monroe in 1817, in front of the temporary capitol, because the U.S. Capitol had been destroyed in 1814 and was still being rebuilt).

First president-elect to arrive in Washington City for his inauguration by railroad: William Henry Harrison in 1841, for all the good it did him.

First inauguration thought to be photographed: that of James Buchanan, March 4, 1857.

First president to review an inaugural parade: James Garfield, March 4, 1881.

First inauguration recorded by a motion picture camera: that of William McKinley, March 4, 1897.

First president to use an automobile to arrive and depart from his inauguration: Warren G. Harding, March 4, 1921.

First inauguration broadcast on the radio: that of Calvin Coolidge, March 4, 1925.

First January 20th inauguration: for the second term of Franklin Roosevelt, 1937.

First televised inauguration: that of Harry Truman, January 20, 1949.

First time a poet participated in the inaugural program: at the ceremony for John Kennedy, January 20, 1961. Robert Frost, 86, read "The Gift Outright" by memory, when he was unable to read the poem he had written for the occasion, "Dedication."

First president to be sworn in on the west side of the U.S. Capitol: Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981.

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