A Historical Recap of Inauguration Day and All Its Twists and Turns


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Inauguration Day has always been a day full of joy and cheer as Americans across the nation welcome the new President into the White House. As we progress in history, technological advances, new beliefs, and historical circumstances have brought new traditions and broken old ones. Each inauguration in American history has been unique as each president adds a bit of their personality into their celebration. The 2021 was especially unique with the first ever virtual parade and performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez at the actual inauguration. The highlight of this year’s inauguration was the fashion as everyone showcased their best looks, making the inauguration resemble the Met Gala. For a look into the past quirks of inauguration day, join me as we blast into the past.

Photo courtesy of Town and Country Magazine.

Contrary to public belief, inauguration day hasn’t always been on January 20th. Our first ever inauguration day for George Washington was actually on April 30th, 1789. Washington’s second term began on March 4th, which later became the official date for inauguration until the 20th amendment, which moved up inauguration day to January 20th in order to shorten the “lame duck” period. Fun fact: People are trying to move the date up even earlier in order to create greater efficiency, so we might get to see a revolutionary change in our lifetime if this switch occurs.

One of the most loved inauguration day traditions is, of course, the presidential parade. The parade creates a connection between the people and the newly elected president as everyone celebrates the arrival of the presidential family. This tradition was created by Jimmy Carter, as he walked down Pennsylvania Avenue with his family. His little girl even skipped part of the way, squeezing everyone’s hearts. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Joe Biden and his team put together a virtual parade with incredible performances and speakers from across the nation. The virtual parade was broadcasted on television, allowing everyone to be a part of the celebration. The broadcasting of inaugurations on television has been unifying America since Harry S. Truman’s second inauguration.

Photo courtesy of NPR. (AP)

Another beloved part of the celebration are the balls and parties that continue the celebration into the evening. The tradition, formerly known as the White House reception and inaugural ball, was started by the Madisons in 1809. The general public could purchase tickets for four dollars at the time, which would be around 85 dollars now. Some of these parties have became a bit too rowdy, like Andrew Jackson’s, which he had to escape from by jumping through a window in the White House, and Richard Nixon’s, where a rooster got loose at the American History Museum, the venue of the ball, and joined the partygoer’s celebrations, until it was sadly returned to its exhibit.

Lastly, as history progresses and equality strengths, we all get to celebrate and partake in these historic moments. African Americans got to join the country in the celebration parade for the first time in 1865, or Lincoln’s second inauguration. Women participated in the parade a few decades afterwards in 1917 with Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration. A woman has even had the honor of administering the sacred oath for a President, with Judge Sarah T. Hughes being the first during the inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson. As time goes on, hopefully we will get to see greater equality in the inauguration process and reach higher milestones.

One of my personal favorite inauguration moments was the lassoing of Dwight D. Eisenhower by Montie Montana, a cowboy and trick roper. Another would be John F. Kennedy’s entire inauguration, because where else would you see a podium catch on fire and Robert Frost complain greatly about the glare from the sun? I am excited to see what future inaugurals have in place for you: you never know, there might soon be an addition to my favorite moments list! Until then Knights, don’t forget to strive for the impossible and be extraordinary.