Fascinating facts you might not know about Inauguration Day’s past

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1/20/1985 President Reagan being sworn in for second term by Warren Burger as Nancy Reagan looks on in the rotunda at the United States Capitol

(ABC4 News) — For over 230 years, Americans have witnessed 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 for President of the United States, the honorable swearing-in of the president represents America’s future.

With President-elect Joe Biden’s Inaguartion Day rounding the corner, ABC4 News is highlighting some of the record-breaking, history-making inauguration ceremonies throughout United States history.

The first United States Presidental Inauguration Day was on April 30, 1789, when Geroge Washington was sworn into office. According to the National Archives, Washington is the only elected U.S. president to be inaugurated in two different cities – New York in 1789 and Pennsylvania in 1793. 

In 1801 President John Adams did not attend the inauguration ceremony of Thomas Jefferson. According to records, this was also the first time the presidency transferred to the opposing party. Like father like son, John Quincy Adam did not attend the inauguration ceremony of his successor, Andrew Jackon in 1829.  

Dolley Madison, First Lady to James Madison, became the first First Lady to attend an inauguration ceremony in 1809, according to the National Archives. Years later, 1965 was the first year the First Lady was given an active role in the inauguration ceremony when Lady Bird Johnson held the family bible during Lyndon B. Johnson’s swearing-in. 

Courtesy: JCCIC

When Andrew Jackson was inaugurated in 1829, he welcomed 20,000 people to celebrate with him at the White House after he took office. According to History.com, the celebration turned rowdy as guests broke furniture and smashed valuables. Jackson escaped the chaos by jumping through a window. 

Your mom wasn’t kidding when she warned you “you’ll catch your death” when leaving the house without grabbing a coat. The day Willian Henry Harrison was inaugurated in 1841 was a cold one. According to History.com, the incoming president refused to wear a coat or hat. After his ceremony, he insisted on riding back to the White House on horseback instead of the traditional horse and carriage. Thiry-one days after Harrison took office, he caught a cold and died. 

The 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk, was sworn-in on March 4, 1845. His was the first inauguration covered by the telegraph and was the first known inauguration featured in a newspaper illustration.

Courtesy: JCCIC

On March 4, 1865, the first African Americans participated in the Inaugural parade as Abraham Lincoln was sworn into office for his second term, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, JCCIC

Courtesy: JCCIC

Traditionally, past presidents would attend the inauguration ceremonies of their successors. In 1869, Andrew Johnson did not attend the inauguration ceremony of Ulysses S. Grant. The national archives state the two shared a mutual dislike. 

Did you know Grover Cleveland is the only president in the United States history to have served two non-consecutive terms? According to the JCCIC, he served for the first time in 1885 and then again in 1893. 

Even though the Ford Model T was introduced to the world in 1908, president-elects preferred the traditional ride to their inauguration ceremony by horse and carriage. According to the National Archives, Warren G. Harding, the United States’ 29th president, broke the tradition in 1921 when he chose to arrive at his ceremony in an automobile. 

Courtesy: JCCIC

Prior to Washington’s second inauguration, the Continental Congress named March 4 as the official Inauguration Day. It remained March 4 until the enactment of the 20th Amendment in 1933, naming January 20 at 12 p.m. EST the new official Inauguration Day. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to be inaugurated in January in his second inauguration in 1937, according to the National Archives. President Roosevelt served three full terms as president and was elected for a fourth when he suddenly died on April 12, 1945. After his death, the 22nd Amendment was passed, limiting the number of terms a president can serve.

The first inauguration ceremony to be televised was President Harry Truman in 1949. 

In 1961, John F. Kennedy was elected the first and only Roman Catholic U.S. president, according to JCCIC. During Kennedy’s inauguration ceremony the podium caught fire due to an electrical shortage. 

The United States 40th president, Ronald Reagan, holds the record for both the warmest and the coldest inauguration days. On his first inauguration ceremony in 1981, it was 55 degrees Fahrenheit in D.C. During his second inauguration in 1989, it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Courtesy: JCCIC

Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997 was the first to be live-streamed on the Internet. 

Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony holds the record for the largest attended inauguration ceremony and any event in the history of Washington D.C., the JCCIC states. Obama was the first African American president in U.S. history and first born in Hawaii to hold office. 

Courtesy: JCCIC

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony was the first to be live-tweeted. According to JCCIC, the ceremony was the largest live stream on Twitter, ever. 

The nation’s 59th presidential inauguration ceremony will take place Wednesday, January 20, 2021, to swear in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is an award-winning, veteran journalist who delivers the news of the day every weeknight on ABC4 News at 5, 6, and 10. He also serves as Chief Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday morning at 8. He has won multiple awards for his reporting on political, military, and other issues. Before returning home to Utah, he spent more than 11 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Glen is a proud graduate of Jordan High School and the University of Utah where he majored in Mass Communication and minored in Business. He knew early on in life he wanted to be a journalist. Ask any of his friends and they will tell you as a kid he talked about one-day anchoring and reporting the news in Salt Lake City. Read More...

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