Which presidents haven’t attended the inauguration of their successor?

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(ABC4) — For over 230 years, Americans have witnessed notable inauguration ceremonies for presidents and vice presidents

From the first Inauguration Ceremony of George Washington in 1789 to today, as the nation prepares for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies, each inauguration is filled with history and significance.

Current United States President Donald J. Trump announced he will not not be attending the inaugural ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Many say he is ending his time in office in an untraditional way by not attending his successor’s inauguration. According to President Trump, you don’t attend your rival’s inauguration.

Instead of attending the ceremony, as many presidents throughout the United States history have done, President Trump says he will fly home to Florida before President-elect Biden is sworn in with an Air Force One departure possibly featuring a ceremonial send-off.

There also won’t be the traditional private tour of the White House living quarters by First Lady Melania Trump for upcoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. The first lady offered a farewell address of her own Monday, with talk of President Trump expected to release his farewell video Tuesday.

Though many feel it is out of the ordinary for President Trump to skip his successor’s inaugural activates, it has actually happened many times before.

On March 4, 1797, John Adams was sworn-in as the 2nd President of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson was sworn-in as his Vice President. Years later in 1801, Adams did not attend the inauguration ceremony of Jefferson.

According to the White House Historical Association, Adams left the White House at 4 a.m. the morning of his successor’s inauguration.

It’s unclear exactly why he didn’t attend. Some believe it was to avoid provoking violence between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, as the election was the first time the presidency was transferred to an opposing party. Records say he was also never formally invited by Jefferson to the ceremony.

Like father like son, John Quincy Adams did not attend the inauguration ceremony of his successor, Andrew Jackson in 1829.  

In 1869, Andrew Johnson did not attend the inauguration ceremony of his successor, Ulysses S. Grant. The National Archives state the two shared a mutual dislike. According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, JCCIC, during the inaugural activities, Johnson remained at the White House signing last-minute legislation.

The White House Historical Association says two other presidents Martin Van Buren, 1841, and Woodrow Wilson, 1921, were inside the U.S. Capitol signing last-minute legislation during the public inauguration ceremonies. Records show it is unknown why Van Buren did not participate, as he and his successor William Henry Harrison were cordial.

Van Buren even hosted Harrison for dinner at the White House before the inauguration, the White House Historical Association shares.

Wilson accompanied his successor, Warren G. Harding, to the Capitol, but didn’t stay for the ceremony due to poor health.

According to the White House Historical Association shares, in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from office, saying he didn’t care to witness his successor, Gerald R. Ford take the Oath of Office in the White House East Room. While the sitting president was not there, the swearing-in was considered a presidential succession and not a traditional inauguration.

The JCCIC states Nixon was impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.

The global coronavirus pandemic has severely altered many traditional inaugural activities for the 2021 Presidental Inauguration. The president and vice president will still be sworn into office at the United States Capitol, but the pandemic has changed many traditions. Health officials say vigorous COIVD-19 health and safety precautions will be in place, including social distancing and maks wearing. 

Learn what you need to know about the 2021 Inauguration Ceremony and where to watch the 59th inaugural activities.

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