Monday, January 19, 2009

The LuLac Edition #699, Jan. 19th, 2009


THEY SWORE........

Some little known facts on Inauguration Day. The inauguration ceremony during which Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States will be the 55th inauguration ceremony in this country's history, and the 19th held since inauguration day was switched from March 4th to January 20th.
Inauguration Day was originally set for March 4th in order to give members of the Electoral College from each State four months from election day to cast their ballots for president. Weather's greatest impact on inauguration day came in 1841 when William Henry Harrison decided to brave the elements and deliver the longest inauguration speech ever, an oration lasting an hour,40 minutes. It was a cloudy, cold and blustery day, and Harrison, who wore neither hat nor overcoat, rode a horse to and from the Capitol ceremony. He subsequently caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. A month later, Harrison died. The warmest January 20th inauguration day came in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was sworn into office under mostly cloudy skies. The temperature at noon on this inauguration day was 55 degrees. The shortest inauguration speech was delivered by George Washington at his second inauguration on March 4, 1793. The speech totaled 135 words. In 1909, William H. Taft was sworn into office on a day nearly 10 inches of snow fell, a record for an inauguration day. The snow and wind actually began the day before, with strong winds toppling trees and telephone poles. Trains were stalled and city streets clogged. All activity was brought to a standstill. Sanitation workers shoveled sand and snow through half the night. It took 6,000 men and 500 wagons to clear 58,000 tons of snow and slush from the parade route. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to complete his inauguration with a parade. Since Jefferson's second inauguration on March 4, 1805, it has become tradition for the president to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.
In 1853, President Franklin Pierce was sworn into office on a cold and snowy day. Pierce awoke to heavy snow in the morning which continued until about a half an hour prior to the ceremony. Skies looked to be brightening by noon. However, shortly after Pierce took his oath of office snow began again. The heavy snow dispersed much of the crowd and ruined plans for the parade. Abigail Fillmore, First Lady to the outgoing President Millard Fillmore, caught a cold as she sat on the cold, wet, exposed platform during Franklin's swearing-in ceremony. The cold developed into pneumonia and she died at the end of the month. The first inauguration to be held on January 20th - Franklin D. Roosevelt's second in 1937 - was also a record-setting day. Some 200,000 visitors came to Washington for the event, though several thousand never got farther than Union Station. It was a cold and rainy day. Some sleet and freezing rain was reported in the morning. Between 11 am and 1 pm, nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain fell. The ceremony began at 12:23 pm with a temperature just over the freezing mark. At the president's insistence, Roosevelt rode back to the White House in an open car with a half an inch of water on the floor. Later, he stood for an hour and a half in an exposed viewing stand watching the inaugural parade splash by in the deluge. Total rainfall for the day was 1.77 inches and this amount remains as the record rainfall for January 20th. There have been nine presidents sworn in on days other than inauguration day - eight following eight presidential deaths and one after Richard Nixon's resignation. On the eve of John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, 8 inches of snow fell causing the most crippling traffic jam of its time. Hundreds of cars were marooned, thousands others abandoned. The president-elect had to cancel dinner plans and, in a struggle to keep other commitments, is reported to have had only 4 hours of sleep. Former President Herbert Hoover was unable to fly into Washington National Airport due to the weather and missed the swearing-in ceremony. By sunrise, the snowfall had ended and the skies cleared but the day remained bitterly cold. An army of men worked all night to clear Pennsylvania Avenue and despite the cold, a large crowd turned out for the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade. At noon, the temperature was only 22 degrees with the wind blowing from the northwest at 19 mph making it feel like the temperature was just 7 degrees. Though anyone legally authorized to administer an oath could swear in the President of the United States, to date there has been one person to do so who was not a judge. In 1923, John C. Coolidge, Calvin Coolidge's father (a notary public), swore in his son after the death of President Warren G. Harding. Fourteen of the 20 judges to have administered the oath were Chief Justices, dating back to when Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth swore in John Adams in 1797. James Madison was the first President to take the oath of office outdoors on March 4, 1817, a day described as warm and sunny with a temperature at noon estimated to be 50 degrees. Grover Cleveland is the only American president to attend two inaugurations as the outgoing president, enjoying the claim of being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.
After four years as the nation's 22nd president, Cleveland was beaten in the election of 1888 by Benjamin Harrison, and attended Harrison's inauguration in March of 1889. Upon leaving the White House, Frances Cleveland told a staff member to "take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again." When asked when she planned to return, she said, "We are coming back four years from today." And she was right. In the election of 1892, Cleveland was re-elected in a rematch against Harrison, and after four more years in office he attended the 1897 inauguration of William McKinley, who had defeated Williams Jennings Bryan. On Inauguration Day in 1845, a thunderstorm struck Washington, D.C., during the early morning hours. Rain continued throughout the day. Total rainfall was 0.40 inches. President James K. Polk took his oath of office under an umbrella in heavy rain. The crowd witnessing the ceremony was a sea of umbrellas with people standing ankle deep in mud.


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