It was April 30, 1789, when George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States of America. New York Chancellor Robert Livingston read the oath, and George Washington repeated it with one hand on the Bible: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”.
He also added the words, “So help me God”, a custom followed by every President since.The presidential inauguration ceremony is one of America’s most significant events, however, there are many bizarre and interesting inaugurations throughout history. Here are some of them:
1. 1793: George Washington’s second inauguration
President Washington’s second oath of office was taken in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793. His second inaugural address is the shortest ever delivered, in just 135 words.
I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.
Previous to the execution of any official act of the President, the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government, I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment), be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.
2. 1829: Andrew Jackson’s inauguration
The inauguration of Andrew Jackson as the seventh President of the United States was held to the East Portico of the Capitol on March 4, 1829. More than 20,000 people came to see the swearing-in, so he had to enter the building through the west front basement door.
A ship’s cable had been stretched across the east front stairs to prevent the crowd from advancing, but when the cable broke and people surged forward, President Jackson was forced to retreat back into the Capitol and leave by the west door.
3. 1841: William Henry Harrison’s inauguration
The inauguration of the ninth President of the United States was held on March 4, 1841, on the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
It is said that President Harrison delivered the longest ever acceptance speech given at an inauguration. Hoping that he would show that he was strong enough to serve as president, he delivered a speech that lasted one hour and 45 minutes. He also refused to wear a hat or a scarf during the event. One month later, Harrison died of pneumonia.
4. 1857: James Buchanan’s inauguration
The inauguration of James Buchanan as the 15th President of the United States was held on Wednesday, March 4, 1857.
President James Buchanan was staying at the National Hotel in Washington, D.C. while prepping for his upcoming inauguration when unfortunately he became ill from dysentery. Buchanan had diarrhea on his Inauguration Day and he had a doctor nearby during the ceremony.
5. 1873: Ulysses S. Grant’s second inauguration
Ulysses S. Grant’s second inauguration was held on March 4, 1873, and was the coldest of those ever held. One hundred canaries had been brought in to sing for the festivities and add a cheery atmosphere with their song.
All of the 100 canaries froze to death during Grant’s inauguration.