A History of US Inauguration Day ; White House Staff Changes Furniture

By Blevins, Ernest | Charleston Gazette Mail, January 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

A History of US Inauguration Day ; White House Staff Changes Furniture


Blevins, Ernest, Charleston Gazette Mail


Today at noon, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as our nations 45th president. Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution, the president is sworn with 35 words: I do solemnly swear 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.

Frequently, the president adds So help me God, believed to be first used by George Washington at the first inauguration.

Inauguration Day every four years on Jan. 20 is now a tradition, but it was not always the date. The first Inauguration Day occurred on April 30, 1789. Washingtons second term began on the Constitutional mandated March 4.

That date allowed time for notification of the new president and for him to move to Washington. Improvements in transportation and communication in the late 19th century meant there was no longer the need to wait four months.

The 20th Amendment changed the date and added the specific time of noon. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the last to be inaugurated on March 4 for his first term and the first to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 for his second term.

When the Constitutional date and time fall on a Sunday, a private ceremony is held. Rutherford B. Hayes, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama (2nd term) were each sworn in this way, then again in a public ceremony the next day.

While it is traditional that the Supreme Court Chief Justice administers the oath of office, there was not a Supreme Court on the bench for Washingtons first term. Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, presided over Washingtons first inauguration. Livingston was one of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson was first to have the Marine Band play and first to have his inaugural address printed in the newspaper the morning of the inauguration. Jeffersons was the first of nine inaugurations of five presidents that Chief Justice John Marshall, Marshall Universitys namesake, administered the oath of office.

Franklin Roosevelt is the only president to have four inaugurations. His last address is the second shortest in history at 558 words. Washingtons first was the shortest at 135 words.

The longest address was presented by William Henry Harrison who delivered a two-hour 8,445-word inaugural address in 1841, possibly exposing him to the elements that lead to his death from pneumonia a month later resulting in the shortest presidency. …

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