Presidential Inaugurations

235 Years Since The Inauguration Of George Washington!

On this day in 1789, George Washington was inaugurated, 57 days late, as the first President of the United States, in the downtown Wall Street area of New York City.

Washington was the right person to start the Presidency of a new Republic, and he knew that it was essential that he give up power, in order to insure the survival and stability of the nation in the long term future.

We cannot thank Washington enough, or all of the later Presidents who knew when to leave!

And we can also be thankful that even in hotly contested elections in the future, Presidents who lost reelection—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush–followed the tradition Washington had set by leaving office.

Also, we have to be thankful that in close elections, such candidates as Samuel Tilden in 1876, Al Gore in 2000, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 were gracious in defeat, and that Vice Presidents who lost the succession to their President—Richard Nixon in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968—also were gracious in defeat, as was Gore in 2000.

Sadly, the crisis today is due to the reality that Donald Trump would not accept defeat graciously, and provoked a violent mob on January 6, 2021, for which he must be held accountable!

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.

Two Historic Anniversaries And The Presidential Inauguration

150 years ago on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

50 years ago, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech.

50 years later, on January 20 privately, and January 21 publicly, Barack Obama is taking the oath of office for his second term as President, the product of what Lincoln and King did!

This is, indeed, a very historic time in so many ways!

Public Inauguration Of President Obama On Martin Luther King Jr. Day On Monday

The public inauguration of President Obama will be held at 12 Noon on Monday, January 21, which is also the day we celebrate the life and heritage of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A King Bible and an Abraham Lincoln Bible will be used to bring together the strands of the American past, connecting what Lincoln did–issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and working for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which freed the slaves; and King’s leadership of the civil rights movement—both events the forerunner of the election and reelection of our first African American President of the United States, a major plus for the American image in the world.

It is expected that those who have come to celebrate the inauguration will number about half of the 1.8 million people, including this author, who attended in 2009.

This time, the author is watching on television from the comfort of his family room!

Second Obama Term More An Accomplishment Than First Term Election

As great an accomplishment as the first term victory of Barack Obama was, the election of the first African American President, one could always have naysayers who would claim that it was a mistake, an emotional action, a reaction to difficult times, an experiment, a fluke.

But the fact that Barack Obama has now won a second term, and both times by a majority of the popular vote, and in the midst of the highest unemployment for a sitting President running for reelection since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, and with the tremendous polarization that sadly exists in America as the second inauguration looms, it cannot be said that Obama being President fits any of the descriptions listed above.

America is indeed divided, the most since 1879 in Congress, it has been stated, but again, Obama has won the majority of the popular vote twice now, and has won a majority of states twice, and has won most of the heavily populated states as well, with the major exception of Texas.

So this inauguration is something to celebrate more than even the first one, and while many will be unhappy, that is actually not all that uncommon, particularly considering how many times a President has been elected by fewer than a majority of popular votes, including in the past half century, the following: John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and George W. Bush in 2000–five times out of 13 elections.

So it is time to celebrate American democracy!