So, today’s the day, the day that President-Elect Biden is going to be sworn in as the forth-sixth president of the United States. In light of this rather monumental happening, I figured I’d give y’all a little overview of Inauguration Day.
One: Inauguration Day Used to Be March 4
For over 100 years, incoming presidents were officially inaugurated on March 4 of the year following their election. Congress officially established this date in 1789 after George Washington was delayed for eight weeks because of a winter storm. However, Congress began to rethink this date after the chaos of the 1860 election. Abraham Lincoln’s election was met with dramatic opposition and during the four months between his election and inauguration, seven states seceded from the Union. Sitting president James Buchanan did nothing in response to the secessions, leaving the dire situation to Lincoln.
Two: The 20th Amendment Established January 20th as the New Inauguration Day
The 20th Amendment, ratified on January 23, 1933, moved Inauguration Day up to January 20th and the first meeting of the new Congress to January 3rd. Inauguration Day always falls on January 20th unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case, the public swearing in falls on the 21st. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be inaugurated on the new date, on January 20, 1937.
Three: The President’s Oath Comes Directly From the Constitution
The president is required to repeat the following oath:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This quote comes directly from the Constitution itself. Notice the key point of this oath? To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It doesn’t say “to preserve, protect, and defend the United States” or the “citizens of the United States” or the “laws of the United States”. No, it says to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The founders knew that the Constitution, the one thing protecting the people from government itself, was the most important aspect of the new government. Those in government should be allegiant to it first before anything else.
Four: John Adams Was the First President to Boycott His Successors’ Inauguration
Though John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been friends, by the time Jefferson was elected as the third president of the United States, the two had become political rivals. Thus, Adams decided to leave Washington hours before the event and head home to Massachusetts. John Quincy Adams did the same twenty-eight years later when he boycotted Andrew Jackson’s inauguration.
Hence, Donald Trump is not the only president who has chosen to boycott his predecessors inauguration.
Five: George Washington’s Inaugural Address Was Just 135 Words Long
Washington was always known as a man of few words (something our politicians could learn from) and said only 135 words when he accepted the role as the United States’ first president. The role of president was a much smaller role at the time and required less pomp and circumstance.
Six: Inauguration Means “Inducting Into Office With Solemnity”
The word “inauguration” means: “The act of inducting into office with solemnity; investiture with office by appropriate ceremonies.” Being inaugurated is indeed a solemn occasion as is the responsibility of the position being sworn into. No matter the position or role, any public office position is of upmost importance and gravity.
Today Joe Biden is supposed to be inaugurated into office. Our country is going to change. There’s no denying that. I’m not going to write here all that I think could or may change as this new administration takes the reins of this government, but I will say, without a doubt, that this country will change.
It is a solemn occasion indeed.
The Liberty Belle