The Most Notable Moments from Past Inaugurations
From unexpected oaths to record-breaking crowds, here are the most groundbreaking moments that have impacted presidential ceremonies in the past
The First Inauguration
The very first inauguration was on April 30, 1789, for President George Washington. It was held at the Federal Hall in New York City, and Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of New York state, administered the oath of office with Arthur St. Clair, Samuel A. Otis, General Henry Knox, Roger Sherman, Baron Friedrich von Steuben and John Adams present.
The Start of a One-Month Term
President William Henry Harrison insisted on giving a lengthy inauguration speech on a particularly frigid day in 1841, during which he refused to wear proper warm clothing. The risky moved led to a fatal case of pneumonia 31 days into his presidency. Harrison died on April 4, 1841, making his month in office the shortest in U.S. history. He was the first president to die while in office.
The People's President
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter ditched his presidential limousine to walk the streets of Washington, D.C., with First Lady Rosalynn and daughter Amy by his side during his inauguration parade. The move marked the first time a president decided to walk from the Capitol to the White House, which helped fortify the idea that Carter was a man of the people.
In 1913, thousands of women gathered in Washington, D.C., to fight for the right to vote, as part of the Women's Suffrage Parade. It was the first major national event for the Women's Suffrage Movement, and organizers wanted to maximize attention by hosting their rally one day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration.
Here, a group of women at the event, which was meant as an "expression to the nation-wide demand for an amendment to the United States Constitution enfranchising women,” according to the official parade pamphlet.
On Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote, took effect.
Words to Heal a Nation
President Abraham Lincoln made his second inauguration speech on March 4, 1865. The event took place following the Civil War, and his words were meant to heal a divided nation. His famous address, which took place 41 days before his assassination, is engraved on the north interior wall of the Lincoln Memorial.
Cowboy Monte Montana successfully landed his lasso on President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his inaugural parade in 1953.
Words to Live By
President John F. Kennedy gave his inauguration speech from the balcony of the White House in Washington, D.C., in 1961, delivering the iconic line, "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Stepping Up in the Wake of Tragedy
President Lyndon B. Johnson is seen during his 1963 inauguration, which took place immediately after John F. Kennedy's assassination, with former First Lady Jackie Kennedy by his side.
Father & Son Moment
President George W. Bush was joined by his father, former President George H.W. Bush, as they shared a laugh during his 2001 Inaugural ceremonies. George W. Bush became the second presidential son to take the Oval Office; the first was John Quincy Adams, son of the second president of the United States, John Adams.
Children Against the War
A large group of children took part of the Vietnam Protests held on the day of President Richard Nixon's inauguration in 1973.
A Historic First
President Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States in 2008. Supporters were purchasing front page copies of The Washington Post as souvenirs ahead of the president's inauguration to commemorate the historic day.
President Barack Obama's inauguration brought out a massive crowd of nearly 2 million people at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2009. The number of people viewing the event online also broke a record, as people watched, read and commented on the inauguration in real time, according to the New York Times.
Creating New Traditions
Jenna Bush Hager, granddaughter of President George H.W. Bush, shared that it was her grandfather who started the inaugural tradition of presidents leaving letters for their successors when he lost his re-election to President Bill Clinton in 1993.
"Our grandfather had left a note for President Clinton when he lost—and it was my grandfather that actually started that tradition," Bush Hager said in an interview for Maria Shriver's The Sunday Paper.
"We also knew how sad he was that he'd lost. We were sitting there with him on election night and there was a point when all the adults became quieter and there was a shift that even children (we were 11, maybe) could feel. We knew how disappointed he was because he wanted to finish the job that he had started, and he felt crushed. But at the same time, he felt a huge responsibility to help Bill Clinton and his staff transition," she shared.
President George W. Bush continued his father's tradition of keeping a peaceful transition of power by welcoming newly minted President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama into the White House.
Here, the presidential couples pose for photos ahead of Obama's inauguration in 2009.