Presidential Elections

Inaugurations and the First One Hundred Days

What are some Inauguration Day firsts and little-known facts?

George Washington delivered the shortest inaugural address in history—just 135 words—during his second inauguration in 1793. John Adams began the tradition of having the oath of office administered by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. During his first inauguration in 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first, and probably only, president to walk to and from his inaugural. In 1828, Andrew Jackson became the first president to take the oath of office on the East Portico of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a tradition many presidents have since followed. While most presidents have read their inaugural addresses from written notes, Franklin Pierce broke tradition in 1853 when he recited his address. In 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the presidential oath on the White House South Portico to spare himself an exhausting day, as America was engaged in World War II. In 1977, Jimmy Carter was the first president to walk from the Capitol to the White House with his family after the ceremony. In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first president to take the presidential oath on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol (facing west in honor of his tenure as California’s governor), and every president after him has followed suit. In 1985, Reagan participated in two inaugural addresses—a private ceremony on January 20 and a public ceremony the next day—so as not to conflict with the festivities of Super Bowl Sunday.


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