Preparations for the inauguration of the US President
Preparations for the inauguration of the US President

Donald Trump will not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, something that has not happened since 1869 when an outgoing president refused to abide by this American tradition that comes with surprises.

Here is a reminder of memorable moments during the inauguration of US presidents:

Four times without an outgoing president

In 1801, the second US President John Adams ignored the inauguration of his successor, Thomas Jefferson. After his defeat, he undermined the reputation of the former vice president and left the White House at dawn on March 4, inauguration day.

His son John Quincy Adams won the 1824 election, under circumstances protested in the face of Andrew Jackson, who had denounced election stealing.

Four years later, after a violent campaign, Jackson was able to take revenge. The two men did not meet and Adams left on the eve of the ceremony.

In 1841, for some mysterious reasons, Democrat Martin Van Buren missed the inauguration of William Henry Harrison.

On March 4, 1869, Andrew Johnson remained in the White House during the inauguration of his successor, Ulysses Grant, who refused to share his carriage with him to head to the Capitol.

Lincoln and his killer

On March 4, 1865, Lincoln, who was heading to Washington for his inauguration, escaped an assault.

Hours later, as he was swearing-in for his second term, he did not know that John Wilkes Booth, the man to assassinate him 41 days later, was next to him on the steps of the Capitol. Booth admitted after his arrest that he regretted not carrying a pistol that day, saying “I had an excellent chance to kill the president if I wanted to.”

Fire on the stage during the Kennedy party

A short circuit in an engine ignited the platform on which President Kennedy was to be sworn in on January 20, 1961.

Security personnel thought it was the result of an attack and took the stage while President Kennedy remained calm.

Johnson inaugurated in an airplane

Hours after the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, his deputy, Lyndon Johnson, was urgently installed as president on Air Force One during its stopover at the airport.

Obama was sworn in twice

In 2009, a mistake happened while Obama was sworn in at a party with nearly two million people watching. Responsibility rests with the chief justice who misconstrued the words of the constitutional oath.

As a precaution, the 44th President of the United States has sworn in again the next day at the White House.

A similar thing happened with Herbert Hoover in 1929 when the Chief Justice acted on the constitutional text.

Cold wave

Starting in 1937, Inauguration Day was pushed back to January 20 in the height of winter.

In January 1961, the Army melted a 20-centimeter-thick layer of snow on the avenue where the traditional parade takes place between the Capitol and the White House. Kennedy gave his speech while the temperature was five below zero.

In 1985 Ronald Reagan, 73, took refuge inside the Capitol to take the oath, leaving the crowd and about 140,000 invitees waiting outside as the temperature was 13 degrees below zero.

Words in memory

Some great phrases from inaugural speeches have remained in history books. Franklin Roosevelt said on March 4, 1933, in the midst of the Depression, “The only thing we should be afraid of, is fear itself.”

On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy told his countrymen, “Do not ask yourselves what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.”

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump pledged to return to the “people” the power that was “stolen from him” by the institutions in Washington, saying that this matter “stops here and now.”

“What weird nonsense!” Said President George W. Bush, heading to Hillary Clinton.

At his second inauguration in 1793, George Washington gave the shortest speech: only 135 words compared to a more than a two-hour speech by President William H. Harrison in 1941. The latter, who arrived on a horse without a coat or hat in frost, died a month later of pneumonia.


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