Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #24 - "SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!"

Only 6 Inauguration Days have fallen on a Sunday since 1789, Barack Obama's next and last as a president-elect will be the 7th. Only 2 were first terms, Zachary Taylor and Rutherford B. Hayes, while the other 5 were being sworn in for a second term. The first Inauguration Day to land on a Sunday was March 4, 1821, the start of James Monroe's 2nd term. After consulting the Supreme Court, Monroe waited until Monday, March 5, to be sworn in. Taylor continued the practice in 1849.

James Monroe was the first president to have Inauguration Day land on a Sunday in 1821.

James K. Polk left office at noon on March THIRD 1849 and since Taylor followed the precedent established by Monroe, the country did not have a chief executive or vice president since the Polk-George M. Dallas administration came to an official end Sunday the 4th at noon. Taylor wouldn't be administered the oath until Monday the 5th. It is believed that David Atchison, a senator and president pro tempore and thus next in line of succession after the vice president as it was back in the day, was acting president. It of course can't be true since technically his term as president pro tempore of the Senate would've expired the same as Polk's and Dallas and the rest of the government and wouldn't be sworn-in again as president pro tempore until minutes before Taylor and his vice president Millard Fillmore. Whereas Monroe was simply succeeding himself, in 1849 one president was leaving office while the other was entering all on a Sunday. That has only happened one other time, so far.

Zachary Taylor's one and only swearing-in ceremony was on Monday, March 5, 1849.

After the election of 1876 produced an unclear victor in various States, the Compromise of 1877 decided which candidate would receive the contested electoral votes needed to win, and just by one vote and just days before the Inauguration. While the popular vote winner, Democrat Samuel Tilden, governor of New York, didn't become president, Reconstruction of the South ended. Federal troops were removed. Just 12 years after the end of the Civil War, fear of a disrupted inaugural in light of the popular vote winner not becoming president. So Republican Governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, the president-elect, had a private swearing-in ceremony in the Red Room at the Executive Mansion with outgoing president, Ulysses S. Grant by his side. Since March 4th was on a Sunday, a private ceremony was held on the 3rd and the public one on Monday the 5th. Hayes promised to serve one term.

Rutherford B. Hayes' second swearing-in for his first and only term as POTUS.

It would be 40 years until the next Inauguration Day fell on a Sunday, which was the start of Woodrow Wilson's second term in 1917. It would be the last March 4th Sunday and the first time a president had a private swearing-in ceremony on the Sunday, instead of simply waiting until Monday the 5th. Wilson was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in the President's Room by Chief Justice Edward White and then again in a public ceremony on the 5th on the East Portico of the Capitol.

Woodrow Wilson's second second inaugural.

Another 40 years would pass for a Sunday inaugural, it's usually 28 to 40 years between Sunday inaugurals, until 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower's second inaugural. He was the first to have a January 20th Sunday, but continued the precedent established by Wilson and had a private ceremony. But instead of having it at the Capitol, Eisenhower had the Sunday swearing-in in the White House and the public ceremony on January 21st, a Monday.

Dwight D. Eisenhower being sworn-in for a 2nd term in the White House East Room on Sunday, January 20, 1957. The first January 20th Sunday inaugural.

Ike's public swearing-in ceremony the next day in 1957.

28 years after Ike, Ronald Reagan and the 50th Inauguration of a President would land on a Sunday. So Reagan the same as Ike, private Sunday ceremony at the White House and the usual public event on Monday. January 21, 1985 would be the coldest Inauguration Day on record, so cold that public ceremony was held in the Capitol Rotunda instead of outdoors.

Ronald Reagan being sworn-in on Sunday, January 20th, in a private White House ceremony.

The indoor public ceremony on the coldest recorded inaugural day, January 21, 1985. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath both times.

Unless January 21, 2013 is less than 7 degrees. Barack Obama will follow in the footsteps of the other Sunday inaugural presidents, but will probably follow the precedent established by Wilson and Ike. There will be a private swearing-in at the White House on Sunday and a public event the following day. Obama will have taken the oath of office four times by January 21, 2013. In 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts, due to nerves, his first swearing-in, stumbled the oath of office which then made Obama stumble through it. Later that night, back at the White House, the two redid the oath of office. But it will be Obama's last time to say the oath.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts readministers the oath of office to President Barack Obama at the White House in the Map Room on January 20, 2009.

Three more times this century, an inauguration day will fall on a Sunday, each 28 years apart...and then after that last one in the 21st Century it will be another 40 years until the next Sunday inaugural. USA! USA! USA!

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