WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSYR-TV) — Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States Wednesday at a ceremony very different from recent past inaugurations in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on crowds, and the intense security following the attack on the Capital two weeks ago.
We take a look back on some interesting facts from inauguration days past.
John Adams was America’s first Vice President, serving under George Washington. He became the nation’s second president, but lost a second term to a man who had once been a close friend, turned bitter rival, Thomas Jefferson.
Adams became the first president not to attend the inauguration of his successor, skipping the swearing-in of Jefferson to return to his farm in Braintree, Massachusetts.
The Library of Congress says both men later reconciled, and over the last fifteen years of their lives, exchanged more than 150 letters.
They died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826.
Because of COVID-19, there will be no inaugural ball in honor of President Biden.
That tradition first started with the inauguration of our fourth President, James Madison.
Madison, and First Lady Dolley Madison, were the guests of honor at an event held at a local hotel that featured dancing and music. It wasn’t an event for the average person in 1809. Tickets cost $4.
In 1849, inauguration day fell on a Sunday. That was a problem for President-elect Zachary Taylor. Taylor strongly believed in “keeping the Sabbath holy” and refused to be sworn in on a Sunday.
The U.S. could not go for a whole day without a president, so the President Pro Tempore of the Senate was sworn in.
On the gravestone of David Rice Atchison, it says “President of the United States for One Day.”
President William Howard Taft, seen here with his successor, Woodrow Wilson, is the only person to have taken the oath of office, and then to have administered the oath.
Taft served as President from 1909 to 1913.
Eight years after leaving the White House, Taft was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In that role, he administered the oath of office to Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.
John F. Kennedy was the last President to wear a top hat to his inauguration.
Seen here with the outgoing President, Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy and Eisenhower were carrying on a tradition that began in 1881 by President James Garfield.
When Lyndon Johnson was sworn in for his own term in 1965, he skipped the top hat, and so have presidents from Nixon through Biden.
President Ronald Reagan has a distinction that might be of interest to the NewsChannel 9 Storm Team. His first inauguration in 1981 was the warmest inauguration on January 20 on record.
The National Weather Service reported the temperature hit 55 degrees during the inaugural ceremony.
Four years later, President Reagan took the oath of office inside the Capitol, and the traditional parade was cancelled because of the cold. Temperatures dipped to seven degrees in Washington, D.C.
One other note on Reagan’s inauguration. Some three tons of red, white, and blue jelly beans were part of the festivities. The candy became a staple of the oval office. Reagan first took a liking to jelly beans while quitting smoking while he was Governor of California.
Source: Library of Congress, History.com. All photos courtesy Getty Images.