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The Pleasure of Your Company is Requested: Presidential Inaugurals

by Charlie Collie
January 2, 2014

Before the long hours of hard work on behalf of the President begin, the first priority is to celebrate the transition of power in Washington, D.C. One good way to snag an invitation to the President's soiree is to join a Presidential campaign and work tirelessly for the candidate. As long as you are in good standing with the state chairman or chairwoman at the end of the campaign and are also able to physically stand, you've greatly increased you chances of receiving a formal invite to party with the President and First Lady.


The first inaugural ball was held for our fourth President, James Madison in 1809.
There were only 400 tickets issued at $4.00 a piece for Dolly Madison’s first gala.
Since that time, the inaugural festivities of our Presidents has grown 

There are no guide lines in the U.S. Constitution about inaugurations. The
Constitution only mandates that the President make an oath of affirmation before
he or she can begin executing the vast powers of the Presidency. It doesn’t
mention how lavish the events surrounding the swearing-in should be.

In 1992, with 14 official balls, the Clintons could have danced until they dropped.
President Obama held 10 official balls, with 120 unofficial balls held in Washington in 2008.  Three Presidents, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, Warren G. Harding of Ohio, Woodrow Wilson of Virginia declined to have inaugural balls. Wilson thought
that they were too expensive.

After the oath of office, the President gives his speech at the Capitol in Washington.
That is followed by a parade to the White House led by the President and the First Lady. Jimmy Carter took his Inauguration in stride walking from the Capitol to the White House in the ceremonial parade. Thomas Jefferson was the only other President at the time to walk to the White House.

More Fun Facts about the Inaugurals:

In 1953, a cowboy rode up to Texas-born Dwight D. Eisenhower and lassoed the newly sworn-in President in the reviewing stand.  Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural party was so wild the police had to be called in. The very first President to officially be sworn in in Washington, DC, was the Sage of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson. George Washington was sworn in in New York City.  Theodore Roosevelt, not the dashing John F. Kennedy was the youngest man inaugurated at age 42. Ronald Reagan was the oldest man, inaugurated just 17 days before his 70th birthday.

George Washington’s inauguration speech was the shortest at just 135 words. At 8,495 words, William Henry Harrison delivered the longest speech which took two hours to read. Harrison delivered the speech in a snow storm with no hat or overcoat. He died a month later of pneumonia probably due to the inclement weather on inauguration day.

Andrew Jackson’s party was so wild that parts of the White House were damaged. The courageous battle-tested Jackson fled the raucous White House crowd through a back door, then managed to wrangle 50 thousand dollars from Congress to renovate the place.

Inauguration Flubs:

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts of Port Clyde, Maine, made a mistake when he swore in Barack Obama in 2009 and had to re-administer the oath later in the evening to ensure it was constitutionally accurate.  

Oh, the weather outside is frightful:

The snowiest inauguration took place in 1909; it snowed nearly 10 inches on William Taft’s inauguration day.  The warmest day was for Ronald Reagan in 1981; temperatures reached a balmy 55 degrees. Reagan was also sworn in on the coldest day in 1985; the temperature was 7 degrees. The rainiest day was when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took his second oath in 1937; 1.77 inches of rain fell during the ceremony and parade. The diminutive James Madison at 5 feet 4 inches tall gets the credit for introducing the fun of dancing at the inaugurations.

I received my first invitation to a Presidential Inaugural for organizing five counties in western Massachusetts for a candidate who became Vice-President and then President.
When I received my second invitation to an inaugural, I didn’t organize five counties; I didn’t drive the press van when the candidate came in to campaign (all candidates hope the press van gets a flat tire or somehow gets lost while following them); and I didn’t meet with the future First Lady before she campaigned for the day.


I received the second invite because a Massachusetts State Senator submitted my name to receive one which just told me one thing about this state senator -- that he was a stand-up guy, a good and loyal friend.



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Comments (1)

Once again Charlie I so enjoyed your article. You gave us so much information on the different Presidents which I found so informative. I am looking forward to your next gem.

Happy New Year!!

- mary patch | 1/4/14 6:32 PM



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