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15 Most Memorable Moments from Presidential Inaugurations

Carter's Walk to the White House

Carter's Walk to the White House

President Jimmy Carter was a man of the people, and he wanted to show that by walking to the White House after the inauguration in 1977—as opposed to being driven in a motorcade. Millions felt that this was an extraordinary moment, particularly because it was such a stark contrast to President Nixon’s administration.

(image via Daily Finance

"Ask not what your country can do for you..."

"Ask not what your country can do for you..."

In 1961, John F. Kennedy spoke the famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” He was attempting to bring the divided country together, and these famous words played a big part in ushering in a new political era. 

(image via Wikipedia

Our First Black President

Our First Black President

Barack Obama made history in 2009 when he officially became the first African American President of the United States. What made this day even more memorable was when Chief Justice John Roberts recited the oath incorrectly—which forced President Obama to redo the oath in private the next day.

(image via Wikipedia

Swearing In Switcheroo

Swearing In Switcheroo

In 1825, President John Quincy Adams became one of only three presidents in history to forgo swearing in on the Bible—instead choosing a book of constitutional law. This move showed his desire to demonstrate his support for the separation of church and state. 

(image via Wikipedia

"The only thing we have to fear..."

"The only thing we have to fear..."

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke one of the most famous lines of the 20th century: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” His words resonated for decades and kept up morale in the country, even during the war that shortly followed. 

(image via IAC Publishing Labs

FDR's Low-Key Ceremony

FDR's Low-Key Ceremony

In 1945, the country was still in the throes of war, so FDR made the choice to forgo the inaugural parade and other festivities that typically come with this day. He was also suffering from heart failure at the time, so he decided on a simple ceremony and a five minute speech at the White House. 

(image via CNN)

Eisenhower Gets Lassoed

Eisenhower Gets Lassoed

President Dwight. D. Eisenhower made headlines in 1953 when he was lassoed by a cowboy, Montie Montana, during the inaugural parade. Thankfully, the cowboy first obtained permission from the secret service, or it could have been an incident! 

(image via Slate

Popular Vote Protests

Popular Vote Protests

In 2001, George W. Bush became president, even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore. This upset resulted in the largest protests at a presidential inauguration in over 30 years—but it looks like that record might be broken pretty soon! 

(image via Common Dreams

Teddy Roosevelt's Parade

Teddy Roosevelt's Parade

President Theodore Roosevelt was known for having a wide variety of interests, which was reflected during his inaugural parade in 1905. The parade was filled with Harvard alums, cowboys, Indians—all marching alongside each other—which led to one of the most eclectic parades in history. 

(image via Smithsonian Magazine

Lincoln's Crazy Inauguration Party

Lincoln's Crazy Inauguration Party

This may surprise you to hear, but Abraham Lincoln went down in history as having one of the most raucous inaugurations ever in 1861. The party got so wild that the police had to be called in to break it up! 

(image via Boys' Life

 

Lincoln's Call for Unity

Lincoln's Call for Unity

In 1865, the Civil War was coming to a close, so President Abraham Lincoln had the enormous task of uniting an extremely divided nation. His powerful words, calling for peace, justice, and righteousness, resonated long after his assassination, which occurred less than a month later. 

(image via Wikipedia

William Henry Harrison's Monumental Speech

William Henry Harrison's Monumental Speech

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison broke a record for the longest inaugural address—8,000 words over the course of two hours!

(image via Ohio History Host

Reagan's Optimism

Reagan's Optimism

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan lived up to his legacy as one of the most popular presidents in modern history by giving America a feeling of optimism again after the country felt it was on the decline. Reagan also made the day all the more spectacular by moving the ceremony to the West Front of the Capitol. 

(image via Wikipedia

George Washington's Precedent

George Washington's Precedent

As the first president of the United States, George Washington had the ability to set many precedents. In 1789, he decided that he would not be called “Your Highness” as some suggested—instead he simply wanted to be called “Mr. President.” 

(image via Gold Country

The First Online Inauguration

The First Online Inauguration

President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997 made history because it was the first to be live-streamed on the internet. The Clintons also made headlines at this inauguration for attending a record-breaking 14 inaugural balls! 

(image via Wikipedia