To get ready for the inauguration trip, I plan to write some posts about different aspects of the whole event. The first one being oddities about the different inaugurations. Not all of them are worth mentioning and some of them are packed with the weird. So, let’s get started.
Did you know a president-elect only has to take an oath of 35 words to become president? None of the other stuff is necessary.
Starting with Washington, no less than five presidents used the word, “pecuniary” in their inaugural address. What is that word? What does it have to do with and why do we not use it with prevalence anymore? Know what it means???? It has to do with money. Why not just say money??
The original GW ad libbed the words, “so help me God.” Thanks G. He also kissed the Bible, and gave the shortest speech his second time around at 135 words. Basically, he said, “Yeah, let’s do this thing.”
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson said, “we are all republicans, we are all federalists.” Was he the first one to just want us all to get along? He was the first person to be inaugurated in DC.
In 1809, James Madison’s ball tickets went for $4. Today the Creative Coalition’s Inaugural Ball tickets are $10,000 a pair. Yikes! In his second address, he called the American Indians who sided with the British during the War of 1812, “savages.” Guess Merica wasn’t PC yet.
In 1821, James Monroe had the first inauguration outdoors. It was going to be inside the House chambers but a feud erupted between the House and Senate about whose chairs were going to be used. They fought over chairs.
In 1825, John Quincy Adams was the first to wear long pants at the ceremony. He also didn’t use a Bible to be sworn in as president. He used a Constitutional Law volume. I’m still stuck on the pants thing. Before Adams, men wore the knee breeches. Like little Lord Fauntleroy.
In 1829, Andrew Jackson was the first president to open the ceremony up to the public. Adams did not show up however. The mud slinging had reached all-time lows during the campaign. Jackson blamed Adams’ tactics for his wife’s death. Dang.
In 1837, Martin Van Buren took office 50 years after the nation’s founding. He assured the public he would preserve the sanctity of “existing institutions.” It would be another 25 years before slavery was abolished. But on a brighter note, he was the first president not born a British subject.
This one everyone should know. In 1841, William Henry Harrison gave the longest speech, 8,000 words, and served as president the shortest, 31 days. What you might not know is John Tyler assumed the presidency being the first vice president to do so.
In 1853, Franklin Pierce recited his speech from memory and canceled the ball. Was he cheap? A party pooper? Two months before he was to take office, the Pierce family was in a train wreck. It killed their 11-year-old son, Bennie. He was the third son to die before reaching adulthood. His wife, Jane, who was somber and pious already, never seemed to get over it. She wanted nothing to do with his candidacy or presidency. I wouldn’t have a ball either.
In 1857, James Buchanan became the first president to have his picture taken.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln’s ball got so rowdy the police were called. His vice president, Andrew Johnson, got so drunk he rambled his own speech and became too confused to swear in the senators. The parade of 1865 was the first to have African-Americans participate.
In 1873, Ulysses S. Grant, (did you know the S didn’t stand for anything) discussed wanting to unite the country through the latest technological advancement… the telegraph. It’s also on the “20 things millennials will grow up not knowing about.” Go ask one about it…
That takes care of the first century of presidents. In my next post, I will discuss the presidents of the 20th and 21st centuries. The weird and the what continues…