20th Amendment

March 4 In Presidential History

March 4 is part of Presidential history from 1789 through 1933, as the 20th Amendment, ratified later that year, changed Inauguration Day to January 20, starting in 1937.

March 4, 1789 was the day that the newly ratified Constitution went into effect, but George Washington was not in New York City on that day to be inaugurated the first President, only arriving 57 days late and being inaugurated at Federal Hall in lower Manhattan on April 30, 1789, so therefore did not serve a full eight years, as his second term ended on March 4, 1797.

March 4, 1801 saw the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, and the world witnessed the first peaceful transition of power from one political party to another, and the losing party and candidate gracefully exiting.

March 4, 1829 saw the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, “the people’s President”, first born as NOT part of the aristocracy, and seen as representing the “common man”.

March 4, 1841, saw the inauguration of the first Whig President, William Henry Harrison, who gave the longest inauguration speech without a topcoat in cold, rainy conditions in Washington, DC, and proceeded to fall into illness, believed to be pneumonia, confined to bed and at times in a coma, until he died exactly one month later, April 4, 1841.

March 4, 1857, President James Buchanan was so sick that he considered bypassing a public ceremony of inauguration, but went through the motions, and then was in bed recovering for two weeks, before being able to lead the nation.

March 4, 1861, after a dangerous trek from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC, and surviving a potential plot on his life (Baltimore Plot), Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the first Republican President, in the midst of seven states having declared their secession from the Union, and only six weeks to the outbreak of the Civil War.

March 4, 1865, the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, and the giving of the most famous Inaugural Address, “With Malice toward none, with Charity for all”, Lincoln did not know that his future assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was in the inauguration crowd, and was moving toward the Inauguration stand as Lincoln spoke.

March 4, 1885, Grover Cleveland was sworn in as the first Democratic President since before the Civil War.

March 4, 1913, Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as the first Democratic President in a generation, and only the second since the Civil War.

March 4, 1933, the last such inauguration date, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as the nation was in the worst moments of the Great Depression, and he gave the second most remembered Inauguration speech, “Let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, and rallied the nation around what came to be known as the New Deal.

January 20 Presidential Inauguration Days

Since 1937, as a result of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, we have had the President of the United States inaugurated every fourth year, so there have been 21 such inaugurations from 1937 to 2017.

Every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the exception of Gerald Ford, has been inaugurated on January 20 since 1937. So 13 Presidents have had the excitement of inauguration at the US Capitol before crowds of varying sizes.

The greatest inauguration crowd was in 2009, when Barack Obama took the oath of office for the first time, and this author and blogger was fortunate enough to have been at his inauguration with his older son, and a video of that experience is on the right side of this blog.

The electricity in the crowd in 2009 was special, as it was in 1961, when the youngest elected President, John F. Kennedy, was inaugurated, and gave one of the top three inaugural addresses in American history, after Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, both on the original Inauguration Day of March 4.

In 1941, FDR was sworn in to an unprecedented third term in the Presidency, and in 1949, Harry Truman was sworn in after shocking America with his surprise victory over Thomas E. Dewey, something no one other than Truman himself, expected to occur.

In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in after the greatest popular vote percentage victory in all of American history.

In 1973, Richard Nixon was sworn in for his second term, with no former President present, as Lyndon B. Johnson was not feeling well enough to attend, and then his passing two days later, at age 64.

And in 1977, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were sworn in as President and Vice President, with no one able to know that 41 years later, today, that they were both alive and in their 90s, and flourishing.

And in 1981, former movie actor and California Governor Ronald Reagan was sworn in, and at the same time, 52 Americans who had been held hostage in Iran were freed.

So January 20 has had its historic moments, including Donald Trump taking the oath exactly a year ago, after a much smaller crowd to witness, and followed by a Woman’s March the next day.

March 4th: A Day Which Will Live In Presidential History!

March 4th is an historic day, the day every fourth year was the Presidential inauguration date through the inauguration of 1933, and then superseded by the 20th Amendment, which changed the inauguration ceremonies every fourth year to January 20, beginning in 1937.

So March 4, 1789, was the inception of our Constitution, but George Washington was not present in New York City, and was not to arrive until April 30, 57 days late, therefore making his two terms in office short of eight years, being approximately two months less than that!

March 4, 1801, was the inauguration of our first opposition president, with Thomas Jefferson succeeding his election rival, John Adams, who he had served as Vice President, and the beginning of peaceful transition from an “in’ party to an “out” party.

March 4, 1829, was the inauguration of the “people’s President”, Andrew Jackson, who represented the voice of the “common man” of the times.

March 4, 1861, was the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln to his first term, in the midst of a crisis that soon led to the Civil War.

March 4, 1865, was the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, about a month before the Civil War ended, and this was the greatest inauguration speech yet devised. And today marks exactly 150 years since that fantastic speech of reconciliation.

March 4, 1905, was the inauguration to an elected term of Theodore Roosevelt, who had succeeded the assassinated William McKinley, and was the first Vice President succeeding to the Presidency who was elected to his own term, and had the greatest popular vote percentage in election history up to that date.

March 4, 1913, was the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, who would accomplish more domestic reform in his first term than any President before him, and only surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson after him.

March 4, 1933, saw the last inauguration on that date, and it was the coming to power of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the worst days of the Great Depression, and his inauguration speech was the greatest since Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865.

Conservative Right Wing Attack On The Constitution: The Threat Of Another Constitutional Convention Wiping Out Constitutional Amendments!

The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution, admitting in the process that there would always be room for improvements, so made clear that amendments were appropriate over time.

So we have had 27 Amendments, including the first ten that make up the Bill of Rights.

When one looks at the amendments, particularly those that came after the Bill of Rights, one realizes that the vast majority of them were “progressive” in tone, designed to expand democracy in America, or else, amendments dealing with the office of the Presidency.

So the “progressive” amendments included the 13th (ending slavery and involuntary servitude); the 14th (promoting due process and equal protection and making African Americans citizens); the 15th (guaranteeing the right to vote for African Americans and others which had been denied that right); the 16th (providing for a federal income tax to raise revenue to deal with mounting social and economic issues); the 17th (granting the people the right to elect their two United States Senators by popular vote); the 19th (guaranteeing women the right to vote); the 23rd (guaranteeing residents of Washington, DC the right to vote); the 24th (preventing a poll tax for voting); and the 26th (guaranteeing young people 18-21 the right to vote).

So nine of the seventeen amendments after the first ten of the Bill of Rights promote progressive change, while the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 25th deal with the office of the Presidency.

The only amendment that was ever passed to limit the freedom of Americans was the 18th (prohibition of liquor), but later repealed by the 21st Amendment.

Now we have the real threat by right wing conservatives, including the Tea Party Movement, who want a new Constitutional Convention to wipe out these “progressive” amendments!

They do not like voting rights for African Americans, other minorities, women, residents of Washington DC (mostly African Americans) and young people; and they are unhappy that African Americans are considered equal under the law, and if they had the ability to do so, they would love to re-enslave poor people, which by corporate power is occurring in an informal way for many minorities, as well as white lower class people struggling every day to survive!

And they wish they could restore the US Senate elections to the corrupt state legislatures, taking away the popular vote. Finally, they hate the federal income tax, even though many of them avoid substantial taxation by having investments, rather than working for a living like most of us do. So they would prefer a sales tax, which is regressive, and would hurt the middle class and the poor much more than the wealthy elite!

But that is exactly the extremist right wing intention—to restore the “good old days” when they were in charge, and everyone had to kowtow to them!

We must not allow such a threat to develop, so the battle for progressivism is never ending, as a result!

225 Years Of The Constitution: Something To Celebrate!

On this day in 1789, 225 years ago, the United States Constitution was declared in effect, although George Washington was not to be inaugurated at Federal Hall in New York City for another 57 days, until April 30, the only President not inaugurated on time in our history.

March 4 became Inauguration Day until the 20th Amendment changed that date to January 20 for the President, beginning with the second inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.

So 28 Presidents were inaugurated on March 4, including George Washington in his second term; Thomas Jefferson; Andrew Jackson; Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt; Woodrow Wilson; and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

March 4 was a crisis time, particularly when Lincoln was inaugurated in 1861 and FDR in 1933.

This is a day to celebrate, as the Founding Fathers gave us the symbol of what a constitutional government is, a model for a world that has too few democracies!

Memories Of January 20 Inauguration Days

As Inauguration Day comes around, it brings back memories of special moments on Inauguration Days of January 20, which began in 1937, the second inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1933, mandating a change from March 4, the previous Inauguration Day.

Here are the memories that stick out:

1961—A blizzard had hit Washington, DC, and John F. Kennedy gave the most inspiring Inauguration Address of all January 20 addresses—only surpassed in reputation by two March 4 addresses—Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

1977—Jimmy Carter took the oath of office and walked to his inauguration, a first.

1981—Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, and the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran were freed at the time of his Inaugural speech, ending the nightmare that had begun 444 days earlier during the Carter Administration, effectively ending Carter’s Presidency.

1985—Ronald Reagan took the oath of office on the coldest Inauguration Day in history, leading to the cancellation of the parades, and the taking of the oath inside the US Capitol, instead of outside, as is traditional. This was partially done due to the fact that Reagan was the oldest inaugurated President in history, at age 73, but only weeks away from 74.

2009—This author and blogger was present, freezing to death, at the inauguration of the first African American President, Barack Obama, but felt it was all worth it, and there is a video on this blog, which was taken by his son, from the perspective we had at the event.

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.

March 4: The Ultimate Day In The History Of The Presidency!

Today, March 4, is indeed the ultimate day for political junkies about the American Presidency!

March 4 was the Inauguration Day for all but 5 of the first 32 Presidents of the United States. Only George Washington (first term delayed inauguration to April 30), and the four Presidents (John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Alan Arthur) never elected President before 1937 were NOT inaugurated on March 4, and since Washington WAS inaugurated for his second term on March 4, you could say four and a half Presidents were NOT inaugurated on March 4!

Of course, Inauguration Day was changed to January 20, via the 20th Amendment in 1933, making that the day of the inauguration, beginning every fourth year in 1937.

Not only was March 4 the Inauguration Day, but also it has been historic several times beyond just the simple fact of the date itself!

Today, 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated President in the midst of a national crisis which would lead to the outbreak of the undeclared Civil War six weeks later!

Also, 78 years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated President in the midst of the greatest economic collapse in American history, the Great Depression!

Despite the generally acknowledged greatness of both Lincoln and FDR, there are still heated debates today by those who would condemn the actions these two Presidents took to save the nation!

But March 4 is more than just the historic inaugurations of our two greatest Presidents in 1861 and 1933.

It is also the 210th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson, the first opposition party candidate to be inaugurated peacefully, a marvel in world history.

It is also the 182nd anniversary of the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, the first President truly elected by popular vote of the masses, introducing the concept of democracy!

It is also the 146th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, often regarded as the best ever delivered!

It is also the 110th anniversary of the second inauguration of William McKinley with a new Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who within six months and ten days would suddenly succeed to the office of the Presidency, and have a massive impact on the institution and the country that no one could have imagined!

So March 4 is indeed an historic day, clearly the single most significant day of the year in the history of the American Presidency!

January 20: Historic Day Over And Over Again! :)

Today is January 20, which has been Inauguration Day for the President of the United States every fourth year since 1937, due to the 20th Amendment which was added to the Constitution in 1933 in record time, after the horrors of waiting four months until March 4, 1933, to see the transition between defeated President Herbert Hoover to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the worst days of the Great Depression.

So every President since then has been inaugurated on January 20, with the exception of Harry Truman in 1945 (upon the death of FDR), Lyndon Johnson in 1963 (upon the death of John F. Kennedy), and Gerald Ford ni 1974 (upon the resignation of Richard Nixon). But Truman and Johnson were later inaugurated for a full term on January 20, with only Gerald Ford never experiencing the pomp and circumstance of Presidential Inauguration Day, as a result of his defeat for a full term of office in the 1976 Presidential Election to Jimmy Carter.

Round numbers tend to carry more weight, somehow, so today it is 50 years since John F. Kennedy took the oath and 30 years since Ronald Reagan uttered the oath.

It is also 30 years since Jimmy Carter left the White House, and 10 years since Bill Clinton left the Oval Office.

Kennedy and Reagan have become the favorite Presidents of the poorly informed general public, based on public opinion polls every year to commemorate President’s Day every February.

But it is worth some consideration to think about the contributions of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton AFTER they left the White House!

Carter has already had the second longest retirement of any President, and in mid September 2012, he will surpass Herbert Hoover as the longest retired President ever, and since he is seemingly in tip top shape physically and mentally at age 86, it seems likely he will beat the Hoover record.

Often called the best former President in American history, while far from the best President in office, Carter has stirred some outrage and animosity for some of his views and statements in the past thirty years, particularly regarding Israel and the Arabs.

But despite this, he has been engaged in many good deeds, including Habitat for Humanity and promotion of democracy and free and fair monitored elections all over the world through the Carter Center in Atlanta, and he has great acceptance as an outstanding man promoting peace and diplomacy and the fight against poverty and hunger in the world community.

His stature has risen, and he is the author of about ten books, the most prolific author ever, even surpassing Richard Nixon.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton in ten years time has pursued a similar commitment to peace, diplomacy, and the fighting of hunger and poverty through the Clinton Initiative. He has a great international image and is seen, much like Carter, as a man of wisdom and principle. He has written his memoirs and has given advice to President Obama, and has stood by very proudly as his wife has become an exceptional Secretary of State after being a Senator from New York for eight years.

Both men have their definite faults and shortcomings, as all of us do, but both have gone the extra mile and done the office of the Presidency proud, setting a distinct image and imprint on the potential of a former President to have a major impact even beyond his years in the Oval Office!

So there is a lot to celebrate on January 20 this year!