Inauguration Day Events

Tradition calls for the president-elect and vice president-elect to participate in a slew of activities surrounding their swearing-in ceremonies. Below, you'll find a chronology and brief history of these events. The Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has set protocol since 1901.


The trivia below is based on archived information posted on the Committee's Inaugural History Web site.


Event Description Year Tradition Began Noteworthy Story
Morning Worship Service President-elect attends a church service. 1933 - Franklin D. Roosevelt George Washington attended a service at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, but no one followed his precedent until Roosevelt. The Roosevelts worshipped at St. John's Episcopal Church next to the White House.
Procession to the Capitol After meeting at the White House, the president and the president-elect walk together to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremonies. 1837 - Andrew JacksonThomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were the only two president-elects to walk.
Swearing-in of the Vice President The vice president-elect takes the oath of office. 1789 - John Adams The Senate president pro tempore administered the oath to the first three vice presidents. Other officials play this role today.
Swearing-in of the President The oath affirms a president-elect's dedication to protecting the rights of Americans stated in the Constitution. 1789 - George Washington Thomas Jefferson was the first to take the oath in Washington, D.C.
Inaugural Address The speech typically highlights an incoming president's goals and vision for the nation. 1789 - George Washington William Henry Harrison gave the longest, lasting nearly two hours on a dreary winter day. He died of pneumonia one month later.
Inaugural Parade The president and vice-president head down Pennsylvania Avenue, accompanied by marching bands, floats and members of the military. 1789 - George Washington Although Washington enjoyed escorts in his day, his procession was ad hoc. The first organized parade occurred in honor of James Madison in 1809.
Inaugural Luncheon During the luncheon, speeches, gifts, and toasts are given to the new administration. 1897 - the Senate Committee on Arrangements hosted a luncheon for President William McKinley In 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies became the host, a role it still plays today.
Inaugural Ball Thousands of people attend inaugural balls -- events thrown around D.C. to honor the next president. 1809 - James Madison Before Dwight D. Eisenhower, presidents attended just one inaugural ball. Citing high ticket demand, Eisenhower appeared at two.

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