March 4: Traditional Presidential Inauguration Day Through 1933

March 4 was set up in the Constitution as Inauguration Day every four years, and every inauguration through 1933, except for the first, was held on that day.

George Washington was delayed in reaching the then capital of New York City in 1789, and did not arrive for the inauguration until April 30, but every other elected President from John Adams to Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4.

Then, the 20th Amendment in 1933 changed the inauguration date to January 20, beginning in 1937 and every fourth year since.

So March 4 was historic, particularly with the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, at the two most delicate and dangerous moments in our history, the oncoming Civil War, and the worst moments of the Great Depression.

Other March 4 inaugurations which stood out historically include 1829, 1841, 1865, and 1877.

In 1829, the newly inaugurated Andrew Jackson invited the crowd to come back to the White House and celebrate, and a mob descended on the White House, and proceeded to break the windows, and commit other destruction since many were drunk!

In 1841, newly elected President William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in American history on a cold, rainy day, and contracted pneumonia, and died exactly a month later.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address became the most memorable such speech in American history, at least until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address in 1933.

And in 1877, President Rutherford Hayes was inaugurated, after only learning of his selection by the specially constituted Electoral Commission two days earlier, in a political compromise agreement known as the Compromise of 1877. Many had wondered whether a new civil war was in the offing because of the dispute over the Presidential election results.

So March 4 will always remain a particularly historic day in American history.