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Most memorable inaugural moments

Cheers, jeers, and tears over presidential oaths.

By Rich_Maloof Jan 16, 2013 7:01PM

The 20th Amendment mandates that a U.S. president’s term in office turns over at noon on Jan. 20. Because that date falls on a Sunday this year, though, President Obama will be sworn into his second term in a private ceremony over the weekend, with the public ceremony, parade, and inaugural balls to follow on Monday — despite a Ticketmaster error that released tickets a day early, to the frustration of untold thousands. But compared to other moments in our inaugural past, that doesn’t even qualify for a footnote in the history books.

Photo: REX Features

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• The shortest inaugural address, at 135 words, was delivered by George Washington at his second inauguration (March 4, 1793). It was four sentences long.

• The longest inaugural address, at 8,445 words, was delivered by William H. Harrison (March 4, 1841). Determined to demonstrate his fortitude, Harrison refused to move the ceremony indoors in the face of a snowstorm. It took him nearly two hours to read his address, which he did without wearing a coat, hat, or scarf. Thirty-one days later he was dead of pneumonia.

• John Wilkes Booth was just a few feet away from Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural address (March 4, 1865). In the only known photo of the event, Booth is visible overlooking Lincoln from a platform on the east portico of the Capitol (in front of the pillar, aligned with the platform’s railing post).

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Lincoln’s second inaugural, considered by some historians to be his finest speech, is inscribed in the Lincoln Memorial along with the Gettysburg Address.

Theodore Roosevelt (Sept. 14, 1901), sworn in to his first term after the assassination of William McKinley, is the only president not to have taken the oath of office on a Bible.

Richard Nixon (Jan. 20, 1969) was sworn in on two bibles.

• After Nixon’s second inauguration (Jan. 20, 1973), the president to draw the most protestors for an inaugural parade was George W. Bush (Jan. 20, 2001). Thousands of demonstrators lined the parade route, including one who lobbed an egg at the motorcade.

• Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only U.S. president to have been sworn in for a fourth term, used the same ancient Bible for all four of his inaugurations. His Bible was printed in 1686, but FDR couldn’t read it — he was raised speaking English, French, and German, but the good book was in Dutch.

Bing: Inauguration Day in the news.

• President Obama’s first inauguration (Jan. 20, 2009) holds several records and distinctions: Largest attendance of any presidential inauguration — in fact, the largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington D.C. —  first woman (Senator Dianne Feinstein) to emcee the ceremony,  and of course first African American to hold the office. But after a verbal stumble from Chief Justice John Roberts caused Obama to botch the oath, he was re-sworn in the following evening (without a bible).

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Sources: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Bartleby, New York Times, The Atlantic, MSNBC

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Photo: REX Features

Jan 17, 2013 9:52PM

Some of you have to be the most ignorant....at any rate.  Congratulations to the President.  I will continue to pray for him and his family, as well as this nation...I might throw a few words in for some people on this board....


Get over it....there is a reason why the American people dont vote along your platform..think about it....better yet, don't think about it....I'll simply say THANK YOU!

Jan 17, 2013 9:42PM
How much are these tickets to be able to hang out in the same giant arena with the President that night?  Last I heard they were selling for $1M a pop.  Wow.... how many playmates would that buy Maher with them even telling him how handsome and charming he is tossed in?
Jan 17, 2013 9:25PM
Why the hell do they have inagural balls? He's already president. I think that money could be better spent going out in the streets and helping the homeless to find shelter and a hot meal. While these party goers are basking in champagne and hors d'oeuvres and dancing the night away there are poor people freezing and starving to death. Shame on you people.Just because you have money and power you think you are better than anyone else. Remember, when they  close the lid on your box, you aren't any different than me or those poor people struggling to survive. Think about it when you are choking down your caviar. 
Jan 17, 2013 9:15PM
You only have to look at the extreme comments posted here to understand why we have extremes in congress.  Blame the smegheads in Washington all you want - smegheads voted them in.  It doesn't matter who the president it, the nation is splintered and is fast becoming ungovernable.
Jan 17, 2013 9:12PM

To walter e. hickman jr,

The office of president of the 'u'nited States has been disgraced ever since Woodrow Wilson signed the federal reserve act.....................

Jan 17, 2013 8:55PM
Will you get over it.  The American people reelected President Barack Obama and he diserves the respect just like any other president. 
Jan 17, 2013 8:48PM

As I recall the country was financially screwed before President Obama was sworn in for the first time. It amazing the selective memories and the fact-less banter the commenter’s has puke out.  If you don’t like the President that is one thing but don’t disrespect the office of which he holds. I was not a big fan of President Bush but when the Middle-eastern guy threw his shoes at him, he should have been shot at least in the leg. For the simple fact he disrespect the office of the country I love.  

Jan 17, 2013 8:39PM
Regardless how long he speaks or how many words he uses, it will all be fiction.
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