We are facing a new inauguration this week.The only inauguration element mandated by the United States Constitution is that the president make an oath or affirmation before that person can “enter on the Execution” of the office of the presidency. However, over the years, various traditions have arisen that have expanded the inauguration from a simple oath-taking ceremony to a day-long event, including parades, speeches, and balls.
Here are seven odd facts that I found interesting.
- JFK’s inauguration almost went up in flames when the podium caught fire as Cardinal Richard Cushing was delivering the invocation. Thank goodness his robes didn’t light up, and Kennedy even managed a smile.
- The most botched oath goes to Lyndon B. Johnson, who took the vice-presidential oath during JFK’s inauguration “without any mental reservation whatever,” instead of “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”
- Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration was so wild, the police had to be called in.
- Bill Clinton’s second inauguration was the first to be live-streamed on the Internet.
- James Madison’s celebration tickets went for $4 apiece.
- George Washington ad libbed his oath, ending it with the words “so help me God” and setting a precedent for future presidents
- William H. Taft was sworn into office as nearly 10 inches of snow fell in D.C in 1909.
Since 1937, Inauguration Day takes place on January 20 following a presidential election. The term of a president commences at noon (ET) on that day, when the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president. However, when January 20 falls on a Sunday, the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president on that day privately and then again in a public ceremony the next day, on Monday, January 21.