The Constitution of the United States had established March 4 as Inauguration Day in order to allow enough time after Election Day for officials to gather election returns and for newly-elected candidates to travel to the capital. On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated in New York City as our first president. Washington was scheduled to be inaugurated on March 4, however, weather prevented Congress from being able to make quorum, and thus the beginning of our nation under the original Constitution was delayed almost two months. On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was the first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C., our new federal capital. After New York, Philadelphia had become our nation’s capital. Though, in order to appease Southern slave holders fearing a northern capital would be inordinately influenced by Northern Abolitionists, the nation’s capital was moved south to its current location. Inauguration was initially held inside the House and Senate chambers of the Federal Congress. James Monroe, the newly elected president in 1817, began the tradition of holding the inauguration outside, in front of Congress. The outdoor inauguration would prove fatal in 1841. With great hubris, the newly elected President William Harrison decided to ride on horseback, without a coat, to his inauguration – despite the winter weather. Harrison then delivered the longest inauguration speech in American history — a two-hour-long oration, which led to the shortest Presidency in American history as Harrison subsequently caught pneumonia and died 31 days later. The twentieth amendment of the Constitution, took effect before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term began. The twentieth amendment specified that the elected president would become president through inauguration at noon on Jan. 20, two months, instead of four, after the presidential election. The twentieth amendment also clarified the presidential secession plan. The first inauguration held on the new date of January 20, 1937 turned out to be the wettest inauguration ever with 1.77" rain in 24 hours. It was quite windy with temperatures just above freezing.
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