The first inauguration in Washington as the nation's capital was that of Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president, in 1801. John Adams, his predecessor, was the first to live in Washington, moving here not long before the election in which Jefferson beat him.

The two were political enemies, reconciled -- as Reagan related yesterday -- in their final years. But on Jefferson's inaugural morning, Adams left for his home in Massachusetts.

Now we steal from "Washington, a Not Too Serious History," a 1930 book by the late longtime Washington journalist, George Rothwell Brown:

"Jefferson's lodgings . . . on the occasion of his arrival in the city, were . . . within easy distance of the Capitol, at the northwest corner of New Jersey Avenue and C Street SE [the present site of the Longworth House Office Building]. It is evident from contemporary accounts that Jefferson walked to the Capitol, about a block away, as any sensible man would have done then, or would do now, in fair weather [lacking, Metro Scene observes here in 1985, current security imperatives]. . . .

"Also on foot he returned [after his inauguration] to his boarding house . . . and at dinner that evening . . . took his accustomed place at the bottom of the table, his exalted station not exciting . . . any new attention or courtesy.

"A gentleman from Baltimore . . . asked permission to wish him joy.

" 'I would advise you,' answered Mr. Jefferson, 'to follow my example on nuptial occasions, when I always tell the bridegroom I will wait till the end of the year before offering my congratulations.' And this was the solitary instance of any notice being taken of the event of the morning."