As the first President, Washington set many inaugural precedents, but his inaugurations were also very different in ways that would not be repeated. The oath of office is usually administered the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the ceremony. The first President had not yet appointed any Supreme Court Justices, and so he was sworn in by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York. For his second inauguration, Washington was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice William Cushing. Washington is the only President whose inauguration was held in two different cities: New York and Philadelphia. Washington also set the precedent of swearing on a Bible, a tradition followed by succeeding Presidents.
The Constitution does not dictate where the inauguration should happen, and so the actual location has varied from city to building to room. Washington’s first inauguration took place in New York on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, with a crowd assembled in the streets below. Washington’s second inauguration and John Adams’s only inauguration were held in Philadelphia. Even when the ceremony was held in the new capital city, the location still varied. Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, DC, took the oath twice in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol. James Monroe caused a political firestorm in 1817 when he offered to take the … [ Read all ]