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VERIFY: Inauguration Day history fact-check


Present Inauguration Day precedent is not as… precedented as chances are you’ll assume.

Joe Biden was inaugurated because the 46th president of the US earlier Wednesday, assuming the workplace held by now-former President Donald Trump.

Inauguration Day is a long-held custom in the US, and infrequently turns into the subject of numerous enjoyable details and precedents folks generally wish to recall.

However which enjoyable details are confirmed? What’s the historical past behind Inauguration Day? 

The VERIFY workforce checked out numerous frequent Inauguration Day questions so you possibly can know what’s true behind the day’s historical past.

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Have all presidential inaugurations been on the Capitol?

No. There have been 17 inaugurations that weren’t held on Capitol grounds.

The Architect of the Capitol, who erects the inaugural platform and coordinates a lot of the occasion’s bodily preparations, says the presidential oath of workplace has been taken on the U.S. Capitol 55 instances in 72 inaugurations. They haven’t up to date the web page for Wednesday’s inauguration but, so now it’s 56 instances in 73 inaugurations.

Of the 17 instances the inauguration has taken place exterior of the Capitol, the White Home has been host to it six instances. It has been on the Previous Brick Capitol the place the Supreme Court docket now stands as soon as, it’s taken place elsewhere in Washington twice and it’s occurred exterior the nation’s capital metropolis seven instances.

These seven instances it’s been exterior of Washington, D.C., embody the very first inauguration when George Washington took the oath of workplace in New York Metropolis, earlier than Washington was the capital, and when Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of workplace on a aircraft in Texas following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The primary president to be inaugurated on the Capitol in Washington was Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president.

Has the inauguration at all times been on January 20?

No, that’s not at all times been the case both. It used to happen later within the yr.

Each the Library of Congress and the White Home present Washington was sworn in as the primary U.S. president on April 30, 1789. He was inaugurated for his second time period on March 4, 1793, which the library says was the official date of inauguration on the time. Positive sufficient, its index of inaugurations exhibits most presidents for greater than 100 years have been inaugurated on March 4.

March Four was established as Inauguration Day in an effort to permit sufficient time after Election Day for officers to collect election returns and for newly elected candidates to journey to the capital. It was established earlier than the Structure was written, when the Confederation Congress that operated below the Articles of Confederation selected March 4, 1789, because the date it could hand off powers to the brand new authorities established by the Structure and thus the date the Structure would take impact.

However there was a possibility to chop down the size of the lame duck interval with the development of expertise in journey and counting. The 20th Modification moved the date to January 20 in 1933. Franklin Roosevelt was the primary president sworn in on that date in 1937, his second of 4 inaugurations.

The usual date for inaugurations has remained January 20 ever since.

Have there been different situations the place an inauguration lacked a crowd? And even lacked a ceremony?

Sure, the VERIFY workforce was capable of finding at the very least 10 such situations. All of which have been below fairly extraordinary circumstances.

Eight of these instances have been within the case a vp took the oath of workplace after the president died. A few of these occurred throughout the White Home, some have been in different elements of Washington, D.C., or nonetheless others befell exterior of the nation’s capital.

One of many remaining two instances was when Gerald Ford took the oath of workplace following Richard Nixon’s resignation. Ford took the oath within the East Room of the White Home following the Watergate scandal.

The final occasion might be most just like Biden’s inauguration in why it’s a rare swearing-in. Roosevelt’s fourth and ultimate inauguration, in 1945 whereas the nation was nonetheless within the midst of World Warfare II, lasted simply 15 minutes. The parade and festivities have been cancelled as a result of Roosevelt wished to preserve cash and manpower for battle (he spent about $2,000 of the $25,000 budgeted for inauguration). Roosevelt additionally wished to maintain it brief as a result of he was affected by coronary heart failure.

Whereas Biden isn’t seeking to preserve cash or manpower, he did wish to maintain crowds away due to the pandemic, and the inauguration was additional locked down by the specter of violence.

What powers do presidents have on Inauguration Day?

As soon as they’re sworn in, presidents have entry to all of the powers of the workplace. And sometimes, they do use it.

The White Home press secretary’s Twitter account introduced on January 20, 2017, that Trump had signed on his first day a waiver so James Mattis might function secretary of protection, two formal Cupboard nominations to ship to the Senate and a proclamation for a nationwide day of patriotism.

Moreover, a White Home press launch cataloging the primary week of Trump’s presidency talked about that he signed an government order on Reasonably priced Care Act laws and froze businesses from making new laws earlier than his Cupboard nominations might take their posts.

That final one is definitely a typical transfer for presidents of their first day in workplace. Related memorandums have been made by Barack Obama and Invoice Clinton to start their presidencies.

A web page from Obama’s White Home additionally talked about he signed government orders and memoranda on his first day in workplace.

However since Inauguration Day is often crammed with pageantry, normally the president doesn’t have time to do every little thing they wish to on the outset of their time period. Because the White Home press launch suggests, lots of the president’s Day One actions actually change into actions they take within the first week.

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