Inauguration Day trivia, most memorable moments and more
For better or for worse, Jan. 20 is fast approaching, which means new opportunities for inaugural history to be made. Here are some things to know about the American tradition.
The Smithsonian lists some notable inaugural firsts, including:
First in Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson, 1801
First on the Capitol steps: Andrew Jackson, 1829
First on the Capitol's West Terrace: Ronald Reagan, 1981
First on Jan. 20: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937
First broadcast via radio: Calvin Coolidge, 1925
First broadcast via TV: Harry S. Truman, 1949
First livestreamed: Bill Clinton, 1997
Biggest and best
Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009 holds the record for the hottest ticket. An estimated 1.8 million people showed up on the National Mall to watch the first black president take the Oath. While Obama's second had just over half the attendance of 2009, both rank among the top-attended inaugurations. Obama also had the most expensive inauguration in history, according to the Daily Beast, with his 2009 inauguration costing more than $150 million. However, about two-thirds of this was funded by private donors.
A historic day
As stated by the National Archives, George H. W. Bush's Inauguration in 1989 took place 200 years after George Washington's Inauguration. That made Bush's Inauguration Day the Bicentennial Inauguration.
George Washington actually gave the shortest Inaugural speech on record. It was a mere 135 words long.
When William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, gave his inaugural address in 1841, his speech contained a mind-numbing 10,000 words. Harrison gave the speech, which still holds the record for the longest inaugural address in U.S. history, in the middle of a snowstorm without wearing a hat, gloves or a coat. History.com explains that Harrison's verbosity was an attempt to prove his strength and virility to those who had dubbed him "an intellectual lightweight." Ironically, it only succeeded in helping him develop pneumonia, which led to his death a month after his swearing in.
According to the National Archives, Theodore Roosevelt wore a ring to his Inauguration that contained a lock of Abraham Lincoln's hair.
A hundred canaries were brought to liven up the cold day of Ulysses S. Grant's Inauguration in March of 1873. Unfortunately, it was so cold that most of them froze to death.
Richard Nixon took the Oath of Office on two separate Bibles. Apparently, they were family heirlooms.
In 1849, Zachary Taylor was sworn in on March 5 because March 4 was a Sunday. This has prompted some people to say that the country was without a president for a day in the year of 1849.