Presidential Inauguration History: From Grand to Fatal to Downright Awkward

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tags: inauguration, election 2016, Trump



HNN Editor This news story from 2008 seems more relevant than ever.


When George Washington journeyed from Mount Vernon to New York, the U.S. capital at the time, he had two advantages over his successors. First, his 280-mile trip may have been on horseback, but it was punctuated with lavish celebrations: Philadelphians crowned him with a laurel, women in Trenton, N.J., scattered flowers and sang sonatas, and New Yorkers fired a 13-gun salute.

Second, he didn't have to worry about riding with his predecessor, a tradition that would begin with close allies Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in 1837.

Some pairs executed the custom well. A gracious Millard Fillmore took his successor, Franklin Pierce, on a trip along the Potomac River. (Of course, he may have simply felt bad for Pierce, who had witnessed his 11-year-old son being crushed to death in a train wreck just two months earlier.)

Others, though, couldn't bear to abide by the precedent. Mutual dislike between President Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant caused Johnson to stay home from the 1869 inauguration. He was following in the footsteps of two pre-Jacksonian presidents, John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, who shared a lack of grace along with genes: Neither attended his successor's inauguration.




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