In case you missed it, this past Monday–in addition to being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day–was also the 57th Presidential Inauguration, as Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term. Prior to the passing of the 20th Amendment, Inauguration Day always fell on March 4th in the year following a presidential election. But beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s second term in 1937, the date is now designated as January 20th, unless this day falls on a Sunday. Because of Ohio’s high number of native sons who became president, Ohio Memory has a large collection of historic images related to presidential inaugurations that we wanted to highlight for you today!
The photograph above shows William H. Taft and his wife Helen on March 4, 1909. Helen is notably the first First Lady to ride with her husband from his inauguration, which had to be held in Senate chambers because of an unexpected blizzard!
This illustration shows a street scene at William Henry Harrison’s inauguration on March 4, 1841. Many remember Harrison for giving the longest inaugural speech in history, at almost 8,500 words, against a backdrop of cold weather and overcast skies (and no overcoat, hat or gloves!). This exposure is believed to have led to the pneumonia which killed Harrison only a month later.
Below is a photograph from the first inauguration of William McKinley, on March 4, 1897. This ceremony marked a number of firsts, including the first Presidential Inauguration to be recorded on motion picture film, and the first to be followed by a formal luncheon for the President, Vice President and guests. A great resource for information on presidential inauguration history is put together by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Explore this website, as well as the collections on Ohio Memory, to find out more!
Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!