Ginnie Graham: Inauguration fun facts and traditions
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
1/22/13 at 6:51 AM
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Original Print Headline: Inaugural speech: George started it
With celebrations for President Barack Obama's inauguration, it probably hasn't resulted in him jumping out a window, dealing with dead birds or hushing a drunk vice president.
Here are a few historical inauguration facts, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the Senate Historical Office, online White House archives and About.com 20th Century History:
As he rode, music played and mechanics from a nearby naval yard spontaneously gathered.
- President George Washington added the words "So help me God" after he took the official oath for the first time. It has been a tradition ever since.
- President Washington also started the tradition of the inaugural address by giving a speech after the first presidential swearing-in.
- After Thomas Jefferson's second inauguration, he rode on horseback from the Capitol to the White House.
The procession grew into the tradition of the inaugural parade.
This grew so popular that President Andrew Jackson was nearly mobbed and fled out a window after people ruined furniture and broke dishes trying to reach him.
- The first official inaugural ball started with one being thrown for President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, at Long's Hotel. Tickets were $4.
- President Jefferson's second inauguration started a tradition of the inaugural open house, which opened the White House to the public to greet the president.
This tradition ceased under President Grover Cleveland, who decided the mansion could not accommodate the crowds.
Monroe's second inauguration was supposed to be in a chamber of the temporary Capitol, but the Senate and House of Representatives fought over what chairs to use.
- James Monroe was the first to take the oath and deliver an address outside.
So, it was moved to an outdoor platform in front of the building.
He died of pneumonia about a month later, believed to have been caused by prolonged exposure to bad weather during that inauguration.
- John Quincy Adams was the first to wear long pants instead of breeches.
- Martin Van Buren was the first president not born a British subject.
- William Harrison gave the longest inaugural address at 8,445 words, taking about one hour and 40 minutes to recite.
When Johnson got up for the oath and to give a speech, he rambled incoherently until someone pulled on his coattails to sit down.
- The temperatures were so cold at the Ulysses S. Grant inauguration that the canaries released during the ball froze to death.
- In 1865, Vice President Andrew Johnson drank a few glasses of whiskey before the inauguration, citing a remedy for an ongoing illness.
- Black Americans first participated in the inauguration parade after the second inauguration for President Abraham Lincoln.