Snowy Inauguration Days

January 21, 2013

While the Inauguration Days for William Howard Taft in 1909 and John F. Kennedy in 1961 were each characterized by significant snowfalls [“Cold facts for Monday,” Metro, Jan. 18], those swearing-in ceremonies have not been the only ones that had to contend with that sort of weather. 

The first case of snow on an Inauguration Day took place in 1821, when James Monroe was sworn in for his second term as president. Since March 4 was on a Sunday that year, the inauguration was scheduled for the following day. Snow had started falling in the nation’s capital on Saturday evening and continued to come down that Monday morning, forcing the inaugural ceremony to be held indoors in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. 

Other 19th-century inauguration days that likewise involved major snowfalls were those for Franklin Pierce in 1853 and Grover Cleveland in 1893. In both those cases, the swearing-in ceremonies took place as scheduled outside, but the inclement weather forced the cancellation of key post-inaugural events. 

Bob Cullen, Baltimore

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