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Presidential Inauguration Day Special

31 fascinating facts about the Presidential Inauguration

Images: Library of Congress

The time has come once again for our nation to witness a peaceful transfer of power. The presidential inaugurations of the past have delivered some timeless speeches, glamorous balls, historic moments and touching images. There were also many fascinating firsts. 

On January 19 and 20, Decades proudly presents 14 presidential inaugurations, from JFK to Obama. Tune in to watch eight hours of stirring American history. You can find the full schedule for the two-day event here.

Let's take a look back at some Inauguration trivia that just might surprise you.

1961 — John F. Kennedy

1) Robert Frost was the first poet to participate in an inauguration.

2) This was the first color televised inaugural ceremony.

3) JFK was the first and only Catholic president.

4) First time both parents of the PEOTUS attended their son’s inauguration.

5) JFK was the last President to wear the traditional stovepipe hat to the inauguration.


1965 — Lyndon B. Johnson

6) First use of a bulletproof limousine


1969 — Richard Nixon

7) Nixon took his oath on two Bibles.

8) Additionally, there was a three-faith prayer service.


1977 — Jimmy Carter

9)  First president to exit his limousine just outside the Capitol grounds and walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House with his family after the ceremony.

10) Carter recited the oath of office on his family Bible. The second Bible used by George Washington was on the podium.

11) Carter requested that the inaugural luncheon, hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, be canceled.


1981 — Ronald Reagan

12) First inauguration held on the west front of the U.S. Capitol.

13) Warmest inauguration on record. The mercury reached 55 degrees at noon.


1985 — Ronald Reagan

14) Reagan also experienced the coldest inauguration on record. It was 7 degrees at noon.

15) January 20th fell on a Sunday, so Reagan was privately sworn in that day at the White House. The public inauguration on January 21st took place in the Capitol Rotunda, due to freezing weather.


1997 — Bill Clinton

16) First inauguration made available live over the internet


2001 — George W. Bush

17) W. had wished to use the Masonic Bible that had formerly been used by both George Washington in 1789 and his father in 1989. This treasured Bible had been transported, under guard, from NYC to D.C. for the inauguration. However, due to inclement weather, a family Bible was used instead.


2005 — George W. Bush

18) First live webcam of inaugural platform construction

19) First inauguration with secure inaugural credentials

20) First anti-counterfeiting security designed into the tickets

21) Largest inaugural platform to date


2009 — Barack Obama

22) First African American President

23) First citizen born in Hawaii to hold office

24) Sworn in on the inaugural Bible used for Lincoln’s first inauguration

25) Largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, D.C.

26) Largest attendance of any presidential inauguration in U.S. history

27) Highest viewership of the swearing-in ceremonies on the internet

28) Senator Diane Feinstein became the first woman to emcee the ceremony

30) First inaugural webcast to include captioning


2013 — Barack Obama

31) For his second term, Obama was sworn in on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Bible

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