Inaugural Firsts

When was the first inaugural parade? Who had the longest inaugural address? A look at presidential inaugurations through time

Inauguration of President Kennedy on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol. (Architect of the Capitol)

First Inauguration on January 20th
1937 – Franklin Roosevelt takes the oath of the Presidency for the second time, but for the first time on January 20th. The 20th Amendment changed the date from March 4 to January 20 when it was ratified in 1933.

First Inauguration in Washington, D.C.
1801 – Thomas Jefferson is the first to take the oath of office in the new capital city, Washington, D.C. His inaugural speech is also the first to be reprinted in a newspaper.

First President to Be Sworn in on the Steps of the Capitol
1829 – Andrew Jackson is the first president to be inaugurated on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol, facing the Library of Congress and Supreme Court. In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first President inaugurated on the West Terrace, in front of the National Mall.

Last to Wear a Hat
1961 – John F. Kennedy was the last president to wear the traditional stovetop hat to his inauguration.

First Inaugural Poet
1961 – Robert Frost recited his poem, The Gift Outright at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. He was 87 years old at the time.

First Parade
1805 – Thomas Jefferson's second inauguration hosted the first inaugural parade.

First Inaugural Ball
1809 – James and Dolly Madison attend the first inaugural ball held on the same day as the inauguration. Tickets were $4 each.

First Inauguration in Wartime
1813 – Only a few months after declaring war on the British in 1812, James Madison delivers an address criticizing Great Britain. One year later, the Capitol would be set ablaze by the British Army.

Longest Inaugural Address
1841 – Without a hat, coat, or gloves, William Henry Harrison famously gave the longest inaugural address ever at 10,000 words long in the midst of a snowstorm. He died one month later from pneumonia contracted on Inauguration Day.

First Broadcast
1925 - Calvin Coolidge's inauguration was the first to be broadcast nationally over radio waves. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman was the first to deliver his inaugural address to a televised audience; Kennedy would be the first to do so on color television in 1961. In 1997, Bill Clinton's second inauguration was the first to be streamed live over the Internet.

First Recorded for a Newsreel
1929 – Herbert Hoover's inauguration was the first recorded for a newsreel. In 1897, William McKinley's address was the first to be recorded by a motion picture camera.


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