The history of Inauguration Day throughout the years

Wednesday's Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden looked and felt different than years in the past, but some things weren't new.

Posted: Jan 20, 2021 8:04 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Inauguration Day and the events leading up to it will no doubt go in history books. Some people have never experienced a transition of power like this one and for others, it's nothing new.

If we take a look back at the dozens of Inaugurations throughout the years, no two look exactly the same. The Constitution states what date the Inauguration has to happen on and what oath the president is supposed to take. Everything else is based on tradition, meaning the president elect can start a new one. The day is essentially known as a celebration for Americans. This year though, they have a global pandemic to be cautious of and security is on high alert after the chaos that took place on January 6th. However, that was a similar sight in the 1860's after the Civil War.

Abby Currier from the History Center of Olmsted County explained even though the event will look different, we can learn from it and have a better understanding of what to do in the future. "It's important to remember that while we may disagree on different policy things, it's still important to know that we live in a Democracy and that there was an election, one person won and it's important to maintain that and maintain the transition of power," she said. "And make sure that's done peacefully."

The parade and the Inaugural Ball are two traditions that have stuck throughout the years. Because of the pandemic though, they went virtual. Currier said the meaning behind the celebrations haven't changed. "While there's a lot of new things, there's also several things we've seen before and we've lived through," she explained. "So just being able to gather together and really doing what's right and what's supposed to protect our Democracy is what's going to get us through it."

Inauguration Day used to be on March 4th. But as technology grew, it reduced the time needed to count all the votes, so they didn't need four months between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Then the 20th Amendment passed, moving Inauguration Day up and Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be sworn in on the new date in 1937. The last U.S. President who refused to attend his successor's inauguration was Andrew Johnson, 152 years ago. Presidents Trump and Johnson also share something else as well, they are two of just three U.S. Presidents to be impeached.

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Goodhue489174
Douglas481781
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Woodbury15378230
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Story1092548
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Lee396958
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Page195722
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