A New President takes Office – Inauguration Day in the United States

A New President takes Office – Inauguration Day in the United States

Inauguration Day is one of the premier events on the United States calendar, a formal ceremony that marks the beginning of the four-year term of the newly elected President. The term of the new President officially begins at noon on that day- a day that has been celebrated on 20 January since 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed office. Before then Inauguration Day was held on 4 March.

The incoming President gives a formal Inauguration Address to mark the beginning of the new term. On his second inauguration on 4 March 1793 George Washington delivered the shortest Inaugural Address to date – only 135 words.

Weather turned out to be a major factor on Inauguration Day on 4 March 1841 when a snowstorm descended on ceremonies, producing freezing conditions for the 9th President of the United States, William Harrison. He ignored the temperatures and delivered the longest Inaugural Address on record that lasted for nearly two hours, while standing outside with no overcoat or scarf. Pneumonia resulted and he died on 4 April after serving only 31 days as President.

On Inauguration Day In 1865 vice President Andrew Johnson rose to give a short speech, an occasion marred by the fact he was drunk at the time. He finally stepped off the podium after his coat was tugged by someone in the official party behind him.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath of Office to the incoming President. There has only been one occasion when a woman has performed this function – US District Court Judge Sarah Hughes who swore in Lyndon B Johnson aboard Air Force One following the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy in November 1963.

The tradition of the outgoing President and the President-elect travelling together to the Capitol on Inauguration Day goes all the way back to 1837, when Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren rode together in a carriage.


Image: The 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.