[00:00.00]The first U.S. president, George Washington, was inaugurated in New York City.
[00:08.42]At the time, New York was the temporary capital of the country.
[00:15.14]Because Americans had never had a president before,
[00:20.97]George Washington had to wait a week before lawmakers could agree on what an inauguration ceremony should look like.
[00:32.30]Finally, on April 30, the president- and vice president-to-be, along with other lawmakers, gathered at the senate building.
[00:44.28]They walked to the balcony and waved at the crowd.
[00:49.49]Then, a judge asked Washington to swear to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.”
[01:02.71]Those are the words the U.S. Constitution requires.
[01:08.74]The judge wanted Washington to swear on a Bible.
[01:14.51]But at the last minute, the judge realized he did not have one.
[01:20.94]A messenger had to find and borrow one quickly.
[01:26.31]After the oath, Washington read a speech to the senators.
[01:31.98]One of those senators described the scene in his diary.
[01:37.31]William Maclay wrote that Washington appeared nervous and uncomfortable.
[01:46.10]Washington trembled and had difficulty reading his speech.
[01:52.54]The ceremony was short, sweet, and – according to Maclay – awkward.
[02:00.43]Thomas Jefferson, the third president, had an inauguration that was reportedly even simpler.
[02:10.30]He walked to the ceremony instead being driven in a carriage, as the first two presidents had done.
[02:19.00]When Jefferson arrived at the Capitol, a large crowd met him.
[02:24.50]The president-elect had prepared a speech.
[02:28.40]But when Jefferson gave it, his voice was so soft that few people heard him.
[02:36.34]Today, Jefferson’s first inaugural speech is well-known among Americans.
[02:44.17]It is famous for trying to ease the ugly dispute between political parties during the campaign.
[02:53.24]But apparently the bitter taste of the election remained.
[02:59.34]Jefferson’s rival in the election – former president John Adams – did not attend the inauguration.
[03:08.90]In the dark hours just before the ceremony, Adams packed his bags, quit the White House, and took a coach back to Boston.
[03:20.65]No history of presidential inaugurations would be complete without noting William Henry Harrison, the country’s ninth president.
[03:34.76]At 68, Harrison was the oldest person to take office at the time.
[03:42.31]On his Inauguration Day, he reportedly wanted to show that he was strong enough to serve as president by delivering a very, very long speech.
[03:58.56]It was a cold day, and Harrison did not wear a coat or hat.
[04:06.36]One month later, Harrison died – the first president to die in office.
[04:14.23]His doctor recorded that Harrison died of pneumonia.
[04:19.16]The usual story is that his long speech killed him.
[04:25.45]But researchers reviewed Harrison’s case and in 2014 proposed a different reason for his death.
[04:36.41]Jane McHugh and Philip Mackowiak say Harrison did not get sick until three weeks after his inauguration.
[04:47.90]And he complained of being tired and anxious, not of pain in his lungs.
[04:56.76]The researchers point out that, at the time, Washington, DC did not have a good sewer system.
[05:07.49]Human waste “simply flowed onto public grounds a short distance from the White House,” they wrote in the New York Times.
[05:19.27]Some of the bacteria probably entered the president’s pipes – so to speak.
[05:26.78]The researchers conclude that Harrison probably died from drinking dirty water.
[05:35.12]Not all presidents have memorable inaugurations.
[05:39.65]But the inauguration of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, is notable for being the least memorable.
[05:49.12]In August of 1923, Coolidge was the vice president.
[05:54.78]He did not have many duties and went on vacation at his family’s house in Vermont.
[06:02.19]In the middle of the night, his father woke him up with a telegram.
[06:07.41]It said that the president, Warren Harding, had died.
[06:12.54]Coolidge was now president.
[06:15.11]Coolidge wrote in his diary that his first act was to stop and pray.
[06:22.09]Then he found the text of the inaugural oath from the Constitution.
[06:27.03]He gave it to his father.
[06:29.38]Mr. Coolidge Senior administered the oath in the family’s living room,
[06:34.90]by the light of a kerosene lamp.
[06:37.28]Within half an hour, the new president was back in bed.
[06:43.57]In contrast, most American’s can call to mind the dramatic, emotional inauguration of Lyndon Johnson,
[06:54.38]the 36th president, an hour and a half after John F. Kennedy’s death.
[07:01.51]The event is captured in an iconic image of Johnson on the president’s plane, Air Force One.
[07:11.54]Johnson is raising his hand as he takes the oath of office.
[07:18.37]His wife is on one side. Jackie Kennedy, the former president’s widow, stands at his other.
[07:28.29]The judge administering the oath is also a woman – she is the first and only female judge to swear in a U.S. president.
[07:42.09]The image is famous because it shows the shock on Mrs. Kennedy’s face.
[07:49.98]She still has on the suit she was wearing when her husband was shot.
[07:56.48]The image also provided proof to the American people that a new president had been sworn in.
[08:06.05]It promised that even in moments of chaos, the U.S. government continued.
[08:14.32]But that is not to say that the U.S. government always operates smoothly. Many inaugurations go wrong.
[08:24.86]After Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829,
[08:30.49]supporters at the White House were so eager to shake the new president’s hand that they almost crushed him against a wall.
[08:41.07]Jackson had to leave his own party by escaping out a window.
[08:47.03]In 1865, another Andrew, Andrew Johnson, delivered his vice presidential speech drunk.
[08:56.41]In his defense, he was sick; he had been using whiskey as medicine.
[09:03.42]Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 wanted live birds at his inaugural ball.
[09:11.11]Unfortunately, the day was very cold.
[09:14.90]The birds froze to death.
[09:17.96]Similarly, in 1973, Richard Nixon aimed to clear pigeons from the path of the inaugural parade by spraying chemicals.
[09:29.82]He succeeded … sort of.
[09:32.75]On Inauguration Day, the crowd had to step over the bodies of the dead birds all along Pennsylvania Avenue.
[09:41.72]I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
[09:44.31]And I'm Anne Ball.