At Andrew Jackson's inauguration in 1828, visitors to Washington slept five to a bed and on pool tables after the hotel rooms ran out. At Martin Van Buren's, they rented bales of hay from local stables to sleep on and took turns snoozing in barbershop chairs.
At Zachary Taylor's bash, the Grand Inauguration Ball lasted until 4 a.m. When the revelers were ready to leave they found the servants had gone, leaving a great mound of coats and hats in the lobby. Fistfights broke out, and Abraham Lincoln, then a freshman congressman, lost his hat.
At Lincoln's own inauguration reception, guests were expected to arrive in groups of 400 at the Patent Office Building. Instead, 4,000 came at once and the Lincolns had to escape out the back door.
Now comes Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer and ex-Navy officer from Plains, Ga., who cheerfully invited the entire to his inauguration. He also announced that hthis Southern hospitality was to be accomplished with less money than has previously been spent accommodating fewer people, and that there should be something to do for the people who can't get into the exclusive, expensive events.
What we're going to get, according to the Carter inaugural committee's plans, is an unprecedented five-day festival that appears to be a combination of the July 4 Bicentennial celebration, a country fair, the 1969 Woodstock rock and people festival, the Democratic National Convention, and the world's biggest Battle of the Bands.
The number of things to do, hear and see in Washington between Jan. 18 and 22 is so staggering that it is impossible to arrive on an exact count. A right count shows 48 classical music concerts, 25 jazz, 57 folk, pop or gospel, 12 children's events, six sightseeing tours and exhibits.
There will be numerous special religious services, events of particular interest to senior citizens, receptions that are open to the public and receptions that are closed to the public, six official inaugural calls, countless state society receptions, brunches, cocktail parties and get-togethers.
The handicapped citizens lobby has insured that for the first time special provisions for the handicapped have been incorporated into the parade viewing plans. The ethnic group lobby has made sure that the committee included Ukranians, Hungarians, American Indians, Polish Americans, Japanese Americans, Serbian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Cajuns and others into the performance schedule.
Judging from the schedule of events, the only thing left out is a half-Jewish, half-Siberian Buddhist who tap dances and rides an elephant.
"I beg your pardon," said inaugural committee cochairperson Bradyl Tirana. "I am part Albanian, part Jewish, part Muslim and part WASP."
For the first time, there will be free transportation to take people to and from the swearing-in, the parade, and the official parties. For the first time, the President's wife will not be wearing a new dress at the inaugural parties. For the first time, people who have tickets to sit at the swearing-in (100,000 people will be standing) will be on folding chairs instead of benches because it's cheaper - and so over 16,000 rented chairs are on their way to Washington along with the floats, the bands, and the people.
Other first include:
The presidential reviewing stand is positioned on a slant from the White House instead of in front of it and will be solar-heated. There will be a public prayer service at the Lincoln Memorial three hours before the swearing-in and officials at Washington National Airport have agreed to limit air traffic over the area as much as possible during it. The gala concert will be televised by CBS (WTOP-TV Channel 9). And for the first time since he got involve in politics in 1929, Baltimore City Councilman Dominic (Mimi) Dipietro, 71, has been invited to an inauguration.
More importantly, for the first time in eight years, there are no antiwar demonstrations planned, no counter-inaugurals, no protesters other than a small group of Yippies who plan to good maturedly install "nobody" as President, during an all-day rally at the Washington Monument. They'll have speeches demanding the "liberation of marijuana," amnesty for Vietnam war registers, "reparations" for the political prisoners and various other causes - but, as social scientists have observed, many of the anti-establishmentarians of the past have now became part of the establishment and will be participating in the regular inaugural.
Indeed, one of the top inaugural committee planners was a participant in the counter-inaugural four years ago. "Sometimes I wonder if we're doing the right thing with all this fuss," he mused one day. "Maybe we should all just go over and camp out at the Pentagon again, but then I think - it's kind of fun."
Given the budget ($3million for the officials events, about $350,000 for the public events), the few months in which to plan, and the relative youth and inexperience of the inaugural committee staff, there are, inevitably, a lot of people who are angry at either not being invited to something, not being allowed to perform, not having their religion represented on the swearing-in platform, or not having their letters answered.
The Democrats have not had to put on an inaugural for 12 years. Most of the paid staffers at the committee are left over from the campaign and new to Washington - many were advance people in their early 20s who are apparently not slated for jobs in the new administration.
They have had to cope with thousands of requests for invitations, boxes full of offers to perform, and the countless little details that will make up this vast theatrical production. Where will the 340 horses stay? Where will the stars be playing in the gala stay? (One demanded a townhouse all to himself.)
On Friday a man walked in carrying a banjo, sat down in the invitation office, and started to sing a song he had written especially for Carter's inauguration. "Hurrah! Hurrah! It's Jimmy Carter's Day!" he boomed out as staffers talking on the telephones clapped their hands over their ears and shrieked, but a lot of workers didn't even notice.
No one is quite sure how many people is going to show up . "At least 8,000 are coming from Georgia," said state Democratic party associate director Tommy Dortch. The Maryland Inaugural Committee has rented a train seating 2,500, and at least 600 are coming fron Iowa. There will be 15,000 people in the inaugural parade alone.
The tens of thousands of Americans who are expected to converge on Washington for the week of inaugural ceremonies will find Washington hotels jammed.
Southern Railway's 18-car "Jimmy Carter Georgia Inaugural Special" will leave Atlanta Tuesday evening for it's 15-hour trip to Washington, carrying 380 Georgia politicians, government officials and other Carter supporters. They will sing "Peanuts and Presidents," a tune written for the inauguration. The flavor of the ice cream served during the train ride, a railway spokesman said, will be peanut butter and jelly.
"It's going to be loads of fun on the train," said Bill Hardman, the Atlanta travel agent who help arranged the train trip. Will the passengers get any sleep? "I doubt it," Hardman said.
Amtrak is running three special trains to Washington, including it's 18-car "Peanut Special" from Plains, Ga., which will have nearly as many reporters aboard as Plains residents. There is also a six-car train coming from Hartford, Conn. to transport the 1st and 2nd companies of the Governor's House Guard and the 1st and 2nd companies of the Government's Foot-Guard, who are all marching in the parade.
Amtrak and Southern Railways are both attaching extra cars to their regular trains to Washington to absorb an anticipation surge of inauguration visitors, spokesmen for the two companies said.
At least 11 planes - some of them charter flights - have been added to regular air service to Washington because of the inauguration, a survey of nine airlines showed. Some airlines reported that their regular Washington-bound flights were, also heavily booked, especially from Georgia.
Spokesmen for Eastern and Delta Airlines, the two major carriers between Atlanta and Washington, said last week that they were already nearly sold out on Atlanta-to-Washington flights leaving next Wednesday.
Greyhound Lines and Continental Trailways are both offering special half-price, round trip fares for bus rides to Washington from anywhere in the United States during the week of the inauguration. In addition, spokesmen for the two bus lines said, a total of about 150 buses have been chartered for trips to the inauguration, many of them by high school groups.
"We are sold out," said Helmut Knipp, general manager of the newly renamed Capital Hilton Hotel, formerly the Statler Hilton here. It is a refrain repeated at hotels and motels throughout the Washington area. Also sold out are the Shoreham Americana, four local Marriott hotels and such low-price motels as the Cherry Blossom Motor Inn in Arlington.
Marie Brookter, housing chairman for Carter's inaugural committee, said last week that hotels and motels in the city were already 98 per cent booked for the inauguration and suburban hotels were 85 per cent full. "There are thousands, literally thousands, that we've referred." she said.
The National 4H Center in Chevy Chase, Md., is expected to be packed "to overflowing," said Margo Tyler, the center's information manager. More than 650 inauguration visitors will sleep in the center's low-priced rooms and dormitories, on cots and in sleeping bags. Among those staying at the 4H Center, she said, will be members of the band from Elmore (Minn.) High School, from which Vice President-elect Walter F. Mondale graduated in 1946.
The Rev. Benjamin Lewis, pastor of Lincoln Temple United Church of Christ on 11th Street NW, has thrown open the church to inauguration visitors who need sleeping quarters. He already expects a group of 50 youngsters from Oregon.
"They're bringing their sleeping bags," Lewis said. "They'll start in the lower auditorium. They may end up in front of my office. My study is on the third floor."
Other people reported sudden renewals of acquaintanceships with people they haven't seen or heard from in years. One man, when refused lodging at an "old friend's" home, asked if he could sleep in his office. Another person showed up in Washington and asked for a place to stay from a man he has never met but has only talked to on the phone over the years.
Many of the visitors will undoubtedly be recipients of the large souvenir invitation that was sent out by the inaugural committee to 300,000 people. Although the envelope contains a disclaimer pointing out that the invitation does not entitle the holder to get into anything special, a lot of people think it does.
"My mother is coming all the way to Washington thinking she's going to get into everything," a woman who called The Washington Post said. "Jimmy wants me to come, so I'm coming," said a man from Kentucky.