The Our White House Inauguration Celebration Kit for Kids!


The Our White House Inauguration Celebration Kit for Kids!

For parents, family members, teachers, librarians, and community leaders.

Inaugural Morning(c) 2010 by A. G. Ford The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance has created this Inauguration Celebration Kit to augment the resources provided in our anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and this companion website, OurWhiteHouse.org. Both the Our White House book and website overflow with stories, poetry, articles, and art about our presidents, our White House, and our history that will enhance any inaugural celebration you plan for the young people in your life. Our objective for this Kit is to assist all adults who live and work with young people to engage with our kids in informed discussions about the presidency and American government, teach them to think critically, and energize them to learn more about the political process in America—using the presidency and this year's inauguration as the focus.

This Inauguration Celebration Kit includes:

Exclusive articles covering such topics as why President Obama will be sworn in twice, presidential speech writing, the oath of office, inaugural parades, how Thomas Jefferson's first inauguration helped unite the country following a bitter election battle, and how technology has transformed participation in Inauguration Day.

Hands-on activities to use with young people in the classroom or at home, such as ideas for designing a parade float, hosting an inaugural ball for kids, writing poetry, understanding the inaugural speech, and illustrating political cartoons.

Games to engage kids in this year’s inauguration, such as “Inaugural I Spy” and “Pin the President on the Presidential Timeline.”

Discussion questions you can share during class, around the dinner table, and at a Scout or club meeting.

So much more! 

We want young people to think critically and creatively, to learn by trial and error, so we have designed our activity suggestions to be as open ended as possible. When kids make projects—when they write, paint, build, and create—they will inevitably make mistakes and messes, and their results may not be “picture perfect.” We think that is great!

Some of the ideas and activities provided here coordinate with the content and illustrations in Our White House, but most of them can be used independently of the book. We believe you know the kids with whom you live and work far better than we do, so we leave to your judgment the articles and activities that best serve the needs and ages of the young people in your life. We invite you to print content from this site as needed or to browse these pages using your smart phone, tablet computer, or laptop while on the go.

Although the inauguration is a January event, variations on our ideas and activities can be used throughout Presidents month in February and to complement other American history lessons, celebrations, and anniversaries throughout the year.

To download an easy-to-print PDF version of this Kit, click here.



Why is President Obama Having Two Swearing-In Ceremonies for the
       2013 Presidential Inauguration?

The Inaugural Address; Speeches and Writing:
       An Interview with Thomas LaFauci, former speech writer
       to Senator and Vice President Joseph Biden

The Presidential Oath of Office
       America Celebrates Its First Presidential Inauguration
       The Oath of Office Signals the Transfer of Power
       Washington’s Inauguration Established Long-lasting Traditions
       To Swear or to Affirm?
       Modern Inaugural Ceremony Highlights
       Historical Moments
       Tragedy Necessitates Speed and Improvisation
       Reference Sources

Americans Love a Parade
       President Washington Parades to the First Inauguration
       Spontaneous Parades Make Way for Officially Planned Processions
       Modern Traditions
       Historic Moments Along the Parade Route
       Reference Sources

United by Voice and Vision:
      Thomas Jefferson's First Inauguration, March 4, 1801

       Inauguration Day Starts with a Bang
       Jefferson Models "Republican Simplicity"
       Throngs Visit the Capitol to Hear Jefferson's Address
       Jefferson Asks the Nation to Unite
       Inauguration Day Ends...With the People
       Discussion Questions for Young People at Home and in the Classroom
       Activities for Young People at Home and in the Classroom
       Reference Sources

Come One, Come All!
       How Technology Transformed Inauguration Day

       Early Public Participation in Inauguration Day
       Read All About It!
       Far and Wide
       Keeping Up with Technology
       Television and the Internet
       Activities and Discussion Questions for Young People at Home and in the Classroom
       Reference Sources

Inaugural Activities and Discussion Questions for Young People
       Play "Inaugural I Spy"
       Design a Parade Float
       Inaugural Themes and Art
       Host an Inauguration Poetry Reading
       Write Poems Celebrating Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration
       Bibles and Relics: Connecting with Past Presidents
       In His Words: Listening to the Inaugural Speech
       Design the Oval Office
       Host a Kids' Inaugural Ball! Ideas and Activities
       Create a Political Cartoon
       Visit a Presidential Historic Site, Library, or Website

 Presidential Fact Files

 First Lady Fact Files

 Presidents, the President’s House, and More:
      A Select List of Books (and a Few Web Sources) for Children and Young Adults

 Great Presidential Inauguration Websites

Learn More About the Presidents and Inaugurations


Why is President Obama Having Two Swearing-In Ceremonies for the
       2013 Presidential Inauguration? 

by Mary Brigid Barrett

Barack Obama (c) 2010 by Bob KolarGeorge Washington’s first inauguration took place on April 30, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City. Throngs of well wishers lined Queen Street, Great Dock, and Broad Street—now the foot of Wall Street in southern Manhattan—cheering the new president after the oath was administered. But it was Washington’s second inauguration—held in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a date determined by the Continental Congress—that established March 4, 1793 as the official inauguration date. In the future, if March 4th fell on a Sunday the inauguration was then held on the following Monday, March 5th, out of respect for the Sabbath, and because most public government offices were closed on Sundays. James Monroe, Zachary Taylor, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Woodrow Wilson all delivered their inaugural addresses on March 5th.

Presidents need time between the presidential election and their inauguration to organize their cabinet and make plans for their government. By 1932, Congress realized that the length of time between election day and the March 4th inauguration date was too long, often keeping the incoming president from addressing national problems that needed urgent attention. President Franklin Roosevelt’s first inauguration illustrated that dilemma; an urgent need existed for the incoming president to confront with immediacy the serious challenges facing the nation during the Great Depression. In response to this need, Congress passed and on January 23, 1933 ratified, the Twentieth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Section One of the Twentieth Amendment stipulates that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January,” meaning the incoming President and Vice President must take their oaths of office as close to noon on January 20th as possible so that the nation has continuous leadership. As established with the previous inaugural date of March 4th, when the January 20th date falls on a Sunday, the inauguration then takes place on Monday, January 21st. Since 1933, two presidents have held their public inaugural ceremonies on January 21st—Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

This year January 20th falls once again on a Sunday, and consequently the public inaugural ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21st. This one-day delay creates a remarkable historical coincidence, for our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day this year on January 21st. Our nation’s first African-American president will publically take the oath of office for his second term on the day we honor the service and sacrifice of an African-American national hero, Martin Luther King Jr.

Since the Constitution stipulates January 20th as the official presidential transition date, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to President Obama in the White House on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in a private, simple ceremony. The press and the media will cover the private ceremony so that the public can “witness” the swearing-in. The public inauguration, parade, and celebratory balls will take place the next day.

On January 20, 2009 when Chief Justice Roberts administered the presidential oath to President Obama at his first inauguration in a public ceremony on the west front of the Capitol building, Justice Roberts misspoke the oath. “Out of an abundance of caution," according to the White House, the Chief Justice then enacted a second oath-taking for the president, privately, in the Map Room of the White House. Although the circumstances are different in his second term, President Obama will be once again taking the oath twice in both a public and private ceremony. He will then have taken the presidential oath a total of four times. The only other president who has taken the oath of office four times is President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served four terms in office—another remarkable historical coincidence given that both President Obama’s supporters and detractors have compared his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, to the achievements of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal accomplishments.

Read the complete text of the Twentieth Amendment at:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html.

Learn more about the Twentieth Amendment at:
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/inaugurationconstit.html.

Read a USA Today article about the 2013 inauguration at:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/03/2013-inaugural-ceremony-to-be-pushed-back-a-day/1#.UNyNq2cpNRE.

©2013 Mary Brigid Barrett; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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The Inaugural Address; Speeches and Writing:
An Interview with Thomas LaFauci, former speech writer to Senator
and Vice President Joseph Biden 

Thomas LaFauci has been a speechwriter and communications advisor for over twenty years. He has served on the staff of United States Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. He has also served as a speechwriter on the staffs of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Thomas S. Foley. Mr. LaFauci has been a consulting speechwriter to nationally recognized leaders in both the public and private sectors.

In 1990, during the First Gulf War, Mr. LaFauci served as a media advisor and communications consultant to the Kuwaiti Government in Exile. Based at the Dhahran International Hotel in Saudi Arabia, Mr. LaFauci assisted the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information in responding to the wartime demands of the international press corps, represented Kuwaiti officials to members of the press, and drafted speeches and other written materials for government officials, including the Minister of Information and the Crown Prince of Kuwait.

Mr. LaFauci received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Fordham University in New York City in 1971 and a Master of Arts in English Literature from New York University in 1974. In 1976 he joined the staff of the Governor of Rhode Island as a legislative assistant, and in 1984 he became Rhode Island State Campaign Director for the Presidential campaign of Senator Gary Hart. He was elected delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. He has written for the American University in Cairo, Brown University, The American Academy in Rome, and private corporations.

Mr. LaFauci is currently the chief speechwriter to Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey in Washington, D.C. He is working on two novels and is married to Elizabeth Rock, an editorial illustrator and designer. He responded to questions posed by NCBLA president Mary Brigid Barrett by email in 2009 before President Obama's first inauguration.

MBB: Is the inaugural address high stakes? What is its historical significance and how does it differ from a state of the union address?

TSL: An inaugural address is a thematic speech setting the tone and tenor of an administration. It should blend poetry and political philosophy with a smattering of generalized policy without the weight of time limited statistics and detail. It should categorize challenges and opportunities and move the nation to reach for the stars. Inaugural addresses are, by nature, timeless and should be drafted with a sense of history in mind. A state of the union address, on the other hand, is a much more programmatic speech promoting specific policies and legislative goals that are time limited. An inaugural address speaks to generations while a state of the union address speaks to 535 members of Congress. Both are important speeches for any president, but state of the union messages tend to die a slow death in the Congressional Record; inaugural addresses, on the other hand, are remembered long after they are delivered. When read together, from George Washington’s first inaugural address to Barack Obama’s inaugural, we are given a unique glimpse into history through the hopes and aspirations of the forty-four presidents who have shaped this nation’s history.

MBB: Would a speech writer approach an inaugural speech with different goals in mind than a campaign stump speech?

TSL: The speechwriter’s task in an inaugural address is to tap into the true language of leadership, language that does makes us feel something in our gut and inspires us to follow. It is language that can make us see ourselves in a new, more focused light; language that reveals something about who we are and what we stand for as a people; language that unmasks a mystery or consoles us in times of tragedy or trouble. A great inaugural speech should reach into our collective soul to touch what is most human in the human spirit. Other speeches are more limited in scope, more issue oriented, demanding a more analytical presentation of facts and figures.

As I said above, the speechwriter’s fundamental task in drafting an inaugural message is to understand the difference between a timeless speech and a more specific time-limited speech like a state of the union message or political speech that might be more poll driven and focuses on issues of the moment.

MBB: How is writing a speech different from writing a lecture, or a short story? Do speeches have a narrative arc, a climax and a dénouement, like, say, great works of fiction?

TSL: A speech is not bound by the rigid grammatical rules we associate with the written word. A speech is dialogue, a long monologue. What may appear, on the page, to be an incomplete or run-on sentence might achieve a compelling cadence or rhythm that works well when spoken. We do not always speak as logically as we write. And those listening to a speech are not following the logic of the speaker, but reacting emotionally to the words. That’s why a well-written paper on a particular topic does not a great speech make, though too often politicians and businessmen believe that their most talented policy personnel are perfectly capable of writing their next keynote address. Not true! Speechwriting is a specific talent, an art unto itself. It requires an appreciation of the sound of words and an understanding that a good speech depends on the sound the words make, and the story they tell.

MBB: What do you consider to be your best speech? Did you feel the speech accomplished what you set out to do?

TSL: I wouldn’t say I have a best speech, but one of the most challenging to write was a eulogy for Senator Joe Biden to deliver at the funeral of Senator Strom Thurmond. Neither Senator Biden nor I agreed with Strom’s politics, but, for many years, Senator Biden had served closely with Strom on the Judiciary Committee and they became friends. Strom occupied the offices adjacent to Biden’s in the Russell Senate Office Building, the oldest Senate office building just north of the Capitol on Constitution Avenue. In fact, Strom’s personal office was directly adjacent to mine. He had been a staunch segregationist early in his career and ran for president in 1948 as a Dixiecrat. He was a drafter of the 1956 Southern Manifesto against Brown vs. Board of Education. In 1957 he filibustered against the Civil Rights Act for twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes, the longest filibuster in Senate history. But over the years, Strom’s views had mellowed. When Senator Biden was asked to deliver the eulogy, he called me into his office and we looked at each other and wondered exactly how he could fashion a fitting tribute to a good friend with whom he so fundamentally disagreed. The final result was one of our best collaborative efforts. The theme was redemption, based on a story I will tell you later. Senator Biden spoke movingly about redemption and the power of one man to change.

MBB: As a speech writer, you do all the leg work, the creative work, then the person who delivers the speech gets all the credit. Is it hard writing something for which someone else gets the credit?

TSL: It is true that speechwriters are the most invisible staff members in Washington. They are often introduced merely as aides or special assistants. But, recognition aside, it has been an honor to work with some of the most extraordinary leaders in our nation on issues that have changed the course of history, an honor to have played even a small role in the great debates of our time. The personal satisfaction of being present for history is the speechwriter’s reward.

MBB: Would you like to share a great memory or anecdote related to your work as a speechwriter?

TSL: There was a moving story Senator Biden told which, as I mentioned earlier, we worked into Strom Thurmond’s eulogy. It was a moving story of redemption that Senator Biden delivered at Strom’s funeral and it went like this:

“When I first arrived in the Senate in 1972 I met with John Stennis, an old southern senator who became my friend. We sat on the other end of this gigantic, grand mahogany table he used as his desk that had been the desk of Senator Richard Russell. It was the table upon which the Southern Manifesto was signed.

“Senator Stennis patted the leather chair next to him when I walked in to pay my respects as a new young senator, which was the order of the day. And he said, ‘Sit down. Sit down here son.’

“And he looked at me and he said, ‘Son, what made you run for the Senate?’

“And like a darn fool I told him the truth . . . I said, ‘Civil rights, sir.’ And as soon as I did I could feel the beads of perspiration pop out of my head. And he looked at me and said, ‘Good, good, good.’ And that was the end of the conversation.

“Well, eighteen years later . . . we had become friends. I saw him sitting behind the same table eighteen years later, only this time in a wheelchair. His leg had been amputated because of cancer. And I was going to look at offices, because in my seniority, his office had become available as he was about to leave.

“I went in and sat down and he looked at me as if it were yesterday and he said, ‘Sit down Joe, sit down,’ and tapped the chair next to him. And he said something that startled me. He said, ‘Remember the first time you came to see me, Joe?’ And I shook my head. I didn’t remember. And he leaned forward and recited the story.

“I said to him, ‘I was a pretty smart young fellow, wasn’t I, Mr. Chairman?’ He said, ‘Joe, I wanted to tell you something then that I’m going to tell you now. You’re going to take my office aren’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Chairman.’

“And he ran his hand back and forth across the mahogany table in a loving way and he said, ‘You see this table, Joe?’

“And I said, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Chairman.’ He said, ‘This table was the flagship of the Confederacy from 1954 to 1968.’ He said, ‘We sat here, most of us from the deep South, the old Confederacy, and we planned the demise of the Civil Rights movement.’

“Then he looked at me and said, ‘And now it’s time; it’s time that this table go from the possession of a man against civil rights to a man who is for civil rights.’

“And I was stunned. And he said, ‘One more thing, Joe,’ he said. ‘The Civil Rights movement did more to free the white man than the black man.’

“And I looked at him and I didn’t know what he meant, and in only John Stennis fashion, he said, ‘It freed my soul; it freed my soul.’”

When Senator Biden told me that story, I knew it had to be in the eulogy for Senator Thurmond. I took that story, and ended it as follows:

“Strom Thurmond’s soul is free today. His soul is free. The Bible says: Learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow, come now and let us reason together, though your sins may be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

After hearing that story, I sat at that old mahogany table many times, through many meetings. Each time I would quietly open a drawer just enough to peek inside, hoping a small piece of history might roll out, left behind by men like Stennis and Thurmond, a note from a conversation they had, an old fountain pen used to scribble the Southern Manifesto. Now, I can't help but think of the first African-American elected President of the United States and the man to whom that table was entrusted, about to be inaugurated as his Vice President. Times have changed, but that table remains as it was, tucked away somewhere in the Senate, holding a unique place in American political history. I wonder who will sit at it tomorrow.

MBB: Do you have favorite inaugural addresses—favorite presidential speeches?

TSL: I have many favorite presidential speeches, but one that is most pertinent today is Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural address, which I’m sure President-elect Obama and Jon Favreau, his speechwriter, are reading and re-reading as we speak.

On March 4, 1933 Franklin Roosevelt stood on the East Front of the United States Capitol and said, “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

(For a primary source account of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first inauguration and first inaugural address go to: www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,745290,00.html)

MBB: If a young person wanted to grow up and become a political or presidential speechwriter, what would you recommend that they do right now?

TSL: Read. Write. Read poetry. Read history. Keep a broad perspective on how things work, how the political process works, how it affects the lives of people. See how the pieces fit together. Work in city government, town government, county government, state government to appreciate just how local politics really is. Learn the issues, all the issues, a little bit about everything, but not enough to get so lost in the weeds of any one issue that you lose sight of the human side, those things that touch the human spirit and warm the human heart. The best speechwriters are generalists who understand the issues, appreciate their historic significance, poets-at-heart who always see the big picture and can bring a particular vision to the policies and programs of a candidate.

Read. Write. You can’t do those things enough.


The NCBLA wishes to thank Mr. LaFauci for taking time in his busy schedule to answer our questions.

Presidential Inaugural Speeches Internet Resources

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Inaugural Addresses of presidents from Washington to Bush.
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/inaug.asp

The American Presidency Project
Contains inaugural address texts and audio and video tapes of a number of inaugural addresses.
www.presidency.ucsb.edu/inaugurals.php
www.presidency.ucsb.edu/media.php

Online Articles of Interest

Read more about presidential inaugural addresses in the January 9, 2009 issue of The New Yorker in an article titled “The Speech” by Jill Lepore. The article is available online to subscribers only.

www.nytimes.com/1989/01/21/politics/1989inaug-history.html?printpage=yes

“George Washington, First Inauguration, April 30, 1789.”
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/piwi01.html

“Can Political Speeches Make a Difference?”
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/01/11/just_words/

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The Presidential Oath of Office

by Geri Zabela Eddins

 “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute
the Office of President of the United States,
and will to the best of my Ability,
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

- The Constitution of the United States. Article II, Section 1.

America Celebrates Its First Presidential Inauguration

With the United States finally at peace and a bold new Constitution leading the road to a democratic future, the American people were ready for a celebration. The inauguration of the new country’s first president provided the perfect incentive for a large-scale celebration that lasted over two weeks and spanned nearly three hundred miles from the coast of Virginia to America’s first capital, New York City. The festivities culminated with the inaugural ceremony on April 30, 1789, when the nation’s beloved General George Washington arrived in a carriage to the steps of Federal Hall. On this crisp, sunny day, banners and flags rippled across the city, while more than ten thousand cheering citizens crammed into the streets, peered through the windows of neighboring buildings, and gathered on rooftops to welcome Washington and witness his inauguration.

George Washington at his first inauguration at Federal Hall, NYC; April 30, 1789. Engraving (c) National Archives The tall, stately Washington wore an American-made brown suit fastened with metal buttons emblazoned with eagles. He carried a ceremonial sword at his side. Washington strode up the stairs to the second-floor balcony that overlooked the city. From there he could see the thousands of spectators, which included the entirety of Congress assembled on a platform facing the hall. A table covered in red velvet was situated in the middle of the balcony, and on it rested a Bible. With Vice President John Adams at his side, Washington placed one hand on the Bible and the other over his heart. Prompted by New York Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, Washington repeated the oath of office as required by the Constitution. Upon finishing the thirty-five word oath, legend states that Washington added, “I swear, so help me God” and kissed the Bible. Livingston then proclaimed, “It is done. Long live George Washington, President of the United States.” The crowds erupted into thunderous cheers and bells tolled throughout the city.

Shortly after swearing the oath of office, Washington addressed both the Senate and the House of Representatives in the Senate chamber, then walked up Broadway with a group of legislators and local political leaders to pray at St. Paul’s Chapel. Washington’s inaugural day festivities concluded with fireworks exploding over the city.

The Oath of Office Signals the Transfer of Power

Most inauguration days continue to be festive events celebrated by traditional ceremonies, parades, and balls, but it is the oath of office that reigns as the highlight. The oath is in fact the only part of our elaborate inaugural ceremonies and celebrations that is required by the Constitution. Article II, Section 1 provides the short—but imperative—oath that every president beginning with George Washington has sworn to: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Every single president has stated these same words to swear his duty to the country and the Constitution, whether he was elected or required to assume the presidency following a president’s death or resignation.

The exact moment when a president-elect concludes the oath signals that he or she is now officially president and commander in chief. Regarding the remarkable significance of this uniquely peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next, historian Jim Bendat writes in Democracy’s Big Day, “Our Inauguration Day is one that demonstrates the continuity of our country and the renewal of the democratic process, as well as the healing that is sometimes needed after an election battle.”

Washington’s Inauguration Established Long-lasting Traditions

Soon after his inauguration, Washington wrote, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.” With no guidelines having been prescribed in the Constitution for a presidential inauguration, many of Washington’s inaugural actions have served as precedents that continue to be followed by most of his successors. Although the Constitution does not dictate that the oath be concluded by the words “so help me God,” Washington’s spontaneous addition of this phrase has prompted most other presidents to also end their oaths in the same fashion. In fact, today the chief justice almost always prompts the president to say “so help me God” following the oath. Washington also set other precedents that most of his successors have followed: he took the oath of office in the open overlooking a crowd, he spontaneously kissed the Bible after swearing the oath, and he delivered his inaugural address immediately after the oath ceremony. Those presidents who chose not to deliver an inaugural address—John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, and Gerald Ford—all assumed the presidency following his predecessor’s death or resignation and so decided that it would be inappropriate to give an inaugural address.

To Swear or to Affirm?

The Constitution does allow a president the choice of swearing or affirming the oath of office, but only one president—Franklin Pierce—chose to affirm his oath. Soon after Pierce was elected he was traveling with his wife and young son in a train from Boston when it suddenly derailed and crashed into a field below the tracks. The Pierce’s son was tragically killed in the accident. Pierce interpreted his son’s horrific death as punishment for his own sins. As a result, he refused to swear on the Bible at his 1853 inauguration. Instead, he raised his right hand and “affirmed” his loyalty to the Constitution.

Modern Inaugural Ceremony Highlights

Presidential inaugurations used to be celebrated on March 4, but Congress moved the date to January 20 when they ratified the Twentieth Amendment in 1933. The four-month delay between election and inauguration was needed in the early years of our country, but modern communication and transportation enabled newly elected administrations to assume power in a more timely manner. Following the passage of the Twentieth Amendment, Franklin Roosevelt became the first president to be inaugurated on January 20 in 1937.

Today inaugurations take place in Washington, D.C., on January 20 at the west front of the U.S. Capitol according to a schedule very similar to Washington’s. Though inaugural celebrations may last way past midnight, the swearing-in ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. sharp. Following introductory band music, an invocation, and on occasion a poetry reading, the vice president-elect is sworn in first. At noon the president-elect is sworn in and then addresses the crowds and nation in his or her inaugural speech. The ceremony ends with a benediction and the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The new president and his or her family then join guests inside the Capitol’s Statuary Hall for lunch before parading back to the White House.

Historical Moments

Though tradition plays a dominant role in presidential inaugural ceremonies, special circumstances and personal preferences sometimes compel changes.

John Adams was the first president to receive the oath of office from the chief justice. Washington is the only elected president who was not sworn in by the chief justice because the Supreme Court had not yet been established.

James Monroe was the first president to take the oath of office outdoors in Washington, D.C. After Washington swore his first oath of office before the city of New York from the balcony of Federal Hall in 1789, all subsequent inaugural oaths were sworn indoors until 1817. Washington swore his second oath of office in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia. John Adams swore the oath of office in the Hall of the House of Representatives in Philadelphia’s Federal Hall before a joint session of Congress. For both of his inaugurations Thomas Jefferson swore his oath in the new Senate Chamber of the partially built Capitol building in Washington, D.C. And James Madison was administered the oath of office in the Hall of the House of Representatives in the Capitol.

The inauguration of Martin Van Buren in 1837 marked the first time both the incumbent and president-elect rode together to the Capitol for the inaugural ceremony.

In 1853 Franklin Pierce affirmed his oath, instead of swearing it. He also chose not to kiss the Bible, but to place his hand on it instead.

Because inauguration day was a Sunday in 1877, Rutherford Hayes was sworn in before the actual inauguration day, and for the first time, a president swore the oath privately in the White House on Saturday. He then swore the oath in public that Monday.

In 1917 Woodrow Wilson became the first president to swear the oath on a Sunday. He also was the first to swear the oath in the President’s Room at the Capitol in private.

In 1953 Dwight Eisenhower chose not to kiss the Bible, but to recite a personal prayer following the oath.

President Lyndon Johnson was the first to ask his wife to actively participate in the inaugural ceremony. In previous years, the clerk of the Supreme Court would be asked to hold the Bible for the oath. However, Johnson asked his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, to hold the Bible. First Lady Johnson wrote about the experience, “I was touched that Lyndon wanted me to hold the Bible for the swearing-in. We used the Bible Lyndon’s mother had given us . . . and I stood facing the throng between the Chief Justice and Lyndon while he took the oath.” A new tradition was born. Since Johnson’s inauguration in 1965, every subsequent first lady has held the Bible for her husband’s oath.

Tragedy Necessitates Speed and Improvisation

Following the death of a president, it is critical that power be transferred immediately to the successor. Many vice presidents have therefore been sworn in as president under unusual circumstances.

President William Henry Harrison died just thirty-one days after his inauguration, thrusting Vice President John Tyler into the presidency. Tyler swore the oath of office two days after Harrison’s death at Brown's Indian Queen Hotel in Washington, D.C. Chief Judge William Cranch of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia administered the oath.

Expediency in the wake of the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881 forced Vice President Chester Arthur to be sworn in at his own home in New York. He had no Bible in his house, so he swore the oath without one.

Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in quickly following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. He swore the oath at a friend’s house—with no Bible, but with his hand raised.

Calvin Coolidge became president when President Warren Harding died unexpectedly. Coolidge was visiting his family farm in Vermont and sleeping when messengers arrived with the news. His father happened to be a notary public, and so he administered the oath of office. Although a family Bible was available, Coolidge did not use it for the ceremony. His father also had the privilege of being the first to address him as “Mr. President.”

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in on an airplane. He swore the oath on the presidential jet Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. This was also the first time a president was sworn in by a woman, Sarah T. Hughes, who was the U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Texas.

Read the original text of the Constitution, including the presidential oath of office in Article II at: www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/freedom/constitution/text.html.

Review the dates and locations at which each president swore the oath of office at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pioaths.html.

Read an expanded list of precedents and historic events at inaugurations at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pinotable.html.

And read the story of presidential and vice presidential succession in this article:
A Heartbeat Away: The Story of Presidential and Vice Presidential Succession

Reference Sources: The Presidential Oath of Office

Books

Bendat, Jim. Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of our President 1789-2009. New York: iUniverse Star, 2008.

Hess, Stephen. What Do We Do Now? A Workbook for the President-Elect. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2008.

Santella, Andrew. U.S. Presidential Inaugurations. New York: Children’s Press, 2002.

Wagner, Heather Lehr. The Presidency. New York: Chelsea House, 2007.

Internet

“Bibles and Scripture Passages Used by Presidents in Taking the Oath of Office.” 1 December 2008. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pibible.html

“From George Washington to George Bush, Speeches and Parades, Dances and Tradition.” 19 December 2008. www.nytimes.com.

“George Washington, First Inauguration, April 30, 1789.” 1 December 2008. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/piwi01.html

“George Washington gives first presidential inaugural address.” 19 December 2008.
www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=511.

“George Washington Inaugural Bible.” 19 December 2008. www.stjohns1.org/bible.htm.

“Inaugural History.” 13 November 2008. www.pbs.org/newshour/inauguration/history.html

“Inaugurals of Presidents of the United States: Some Precedents and Notable Events.” 13 November 2008. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pinotable.html

“The Inauguration of George Washington, 1789.” 3 January 2009. www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtoninaug.htm

“John Tyler, Tenth Vice President (1841).” 4 December 2008. www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_John_Tyler.htm

“Presidential Oaths of Office.” 1 December 2008. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pioaths.html  

©2013 Geri Zabela Eddins; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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Americans Love a Parade

by Geri Zabela Eddins

President Washington Parades to the First Inauguration

Upon learning that his election as president was official, George Washington traveled leisurely over a period of seven days from his home at Mount Vernon to the country’s temporary capital in New York City, riding on horseback through Alexandria, Georgetown, Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Throngs of enthusiastic crowds cheered Washington along the many miles of his journey and treated him like royalty, crowning him with laurel wreaths, hosting banquets in his honor, and saluting him with cannon fire. Loyal members of local militias joined Washington’s procession to New York in increasing numbers as if they were following an irresistible piper. Members of the Continental Army, legislators, political leaders, and ordinary American citizens who were gathered in New York for the inauguration on April 30, 1789, also joined Washington’s “parade” as he left in a carriage from the home of Governor George Clinton, where he had stayed, to the steps of Federal Hall for the ceremony. The admiring crowds swarmed Washington a third time after he finished his inaugural address and accompanied him as he walked to a prayer service at St. Paul’s Chapel. In subsequent years impromptu parades of supporters also escorted John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to their inaugurations.

East view of Gray's Ferry, near Philadelphia, with the triumphal arches erected for the reception of General Washington, April 20, 1789(c) Library of Congress Etching

Spontaneous Parades Make Way for Officially Planned Processions

Although Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in the new capital of Washington, D.C., he preferred a more subdued atmosphere for his ceremony than the pageantry and splendor of Washington’s inauguration. He therefore chose to walk with a few friends from his hotel to the Capitol. After swearing the oath and delivering his inaugural address, Jefferson walked back to his hotel and ate dinner. Following his second inaugural ceremony in 1805, Jefferson rode from the Capitol to the White House on horseback and was accompanied by several hundred well wishers that included mechanics from the nearby navy yard, Congressmen, and diplomats. The Marine Band also joined the parade and played patriotic music as they marched.

Inaugural parades continued to be spontaneous, unplanned events until the inauguration of James Madison in 1809. An official parade that included a cavalry unit from Georgetown was organized to escort Madison to the Capitol. The officially planned inaugural parades continued to precede the inaugural ceremony until 1873. In the waning years of the nineteenth century, however, the inaugural parade had transformed into a much grander and more time-consuming event involving thousands of participants. So it was decided that the parade would no longer precede the inaugural ceremony, but follow it as a grand-scale public celebration.

Modern Traditions

Today’s inaugural parade continues to follow the inaugural ceremony and serves as a two-hour celebration that is not only enjoyed by the thousands of people lining the streets of Washington, but also the millions watching on television. After the newly sworn-in administration enjoys lunch in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the parade begins! The president and his or her spouse lead the way down Pennsylvania Avenue, followed by the Vice President and his or her spouse, all the way to the White House. Most presidents choose to ride in a limousine but may stop at certain points along the way, leave the car, and greet the cheering supporters. Once the president and vice president arrive at the White House, they and their spouses join special guests in the reviewing stand, a special viewing section constructed specifically for each inaugural parade and designed for both comfort and safety. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, each reviewing stand has been encased in bullet-proof glass to ensure the president is safe.

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower wave to the crowds during the 1953 inaugural parade. Photograph from the National Park Service. From the reviewing stand, the country’s new administration enjoys the remainder of the parade—a grand, festive spectacle that features thousands of marchers—military and high school marching bands playing patriotic music, tumbling cheerleaders, proud citizens’ groups, and military regiments representing all branches of the armed forces. Elaborately decorated floats celebrating American life in all fifty states also delight the crowds. The record for the most number of marchers in an inaugural parade was set in 1913 for the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. Over 40,000 people participated in that parade. The parade celebrating Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration, however, holds the record for the longest. Those who watched the entirety of Eisenhower’s parade stood for four hours and thirty-nine minutes!

Historic Moments Along the Parade Route

From the moment Washington journeyed from his home at Mount Vernon escorted by enthusiastic supporters to his inauguration, the American people have honored their new presidents with festive parades. Many parades have included marchers and floats that revealed significant aspects of the new president’s life or issues of concern for the time.

Thomas Jefferson walked to and from his first inaugural ceremony in 1801, but chose to ride on horseback from the Capitol to the White House after being sworn in for his second inauguration in 1805. Jefferson was the only president who ever walked to and from an inaugural ceremony.

The first full-scale parade accompanied Andrew Jackson from the Capitol to the White House in 1829. Jackson’s parade was followed by a public reception at the White House, which was celebrated by a famously rowdy crowd of thousands that destroyed many of the interior furnishings. In later years the parade replaced public receptions as the primary public celebration.

Floats were used for the first time in Martin Van Buren’s inaugural parade in 1837.

Over the years parades became increasingly longer, and the parade that celebrated Zachary Taylor’s inauguration in 1849 was so long that it took one hour to pass any one point along the parade route.

A reproduction of the U.S.S. Constitution was crafted as a float for James Buchanan’s 1857 inaugural parade. 

In 1861 the parade for Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration included a number of floats, including one decorated in red, white, and blue that transported thirty-four young girls who represented each of the current states. All thirty-four of the girls attended a reception later that day and surrounded Lincoln, who picked up and kissed every single one of them!

Native Americans and African Americans participated in the inaugural parade for the first time in 1865 for Lincoln’s second inauguration. The African Americans who marched represented civilian organizations, as well as a military battalion.

In 1869 the inaugural parade for Ulysses S. Grant included eight military divisions.

Prior to 1873 the inaugural parade and the president-elect’s procession to the Capitol were the same event. However, that changed for Grant’s second inauguration when the official inaugural parade became a new event that followed the inaugural ceremony.

The year 1877 witnessed the country’s first hotly disputed election. Rutherford Hayes was declared the presidential winner just two days before the scheduled inauguration. Hayes was sworn in as president in a secret ceremony held in the White House that evening, just two days before the official inauguration at the Capitol. Because there was no time for advance planning, Hayes was escorted to the White House in a last-minute torchlight parade.

The first parade reviewing stand in front of the White House was built for James Garfield’s inaugural parade in 1881. 

In 1897 William McKinley sat in the first glass-enclosed reviewing stand.

Theodore Roosevelt set a new standard for inaugural parades in 1905. Nearly 35,000 people marched, including cowboys, Pennsylvania coal miners, and his Rough Riders (members of Roosevelt’s cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War) on horseback.

William Taft was the first president whose wife rode with him from the Capitol to the White House.

Women participated in the inaugural parade for the first time at Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in 1917.

Warren Harding was the first president to ride to and from the Capitol in a car.

Airplanes first made a parade appearance in Herbert Hoover’s 1929 inaugural parade.

The 1953 inaugural parade for Dwight Eisenhower was the longest parade ever held. The procession went on for ten miles, and the approximately 750,000 bystanders who witnessed the whole parade had to stand four hours and thirty-nine minutes to see its entirety. The parade featured numerous floats portraying scenes from Eisenhower's life and a live turtle waving the American flag with its front legs. Eisenhower had even agreed to be lassoed by the television cowboy Monte Montana, a stunt which did not endear him to the Secret Service.

Because snow blanketed the ground for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961, army flame throwers were used to melt the snow off Pennsylvania Avenue so the parade could be held. Over 32,000 people marched in this parade. The parade included a PT (patrol torpedo) boat in honor of Kennedy’s war service, as well as nuclear missiles transported atop trucks.

Protestors first appeared at an inaugural parade in 1969. Hundreds of citizens who condemned the Vietnam War burned small American flags and chanted protests such as “Four more years of death” at Richard Nixon’s inaugural parade.

Following the inaugural luncheon in 1977, Jimmy Carter and his wife entered the limousine for the parade, but then decided they would walk instead. Carter and his wife thus became the only president and first lady to walk the entire one and a half miles from the Capitol to the White House. However, in subsequent years George and Barbara Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. and Laura Bush, and Barack and Michelle Obama all chose to walk part of the parade route from the Capitol.

Protestors were granted permits and allocated space along the parade route for the first time during George W. Bush’s 2001 inaugural parade. Bush had won the Electoral College but not the popular vote in a hotly contested election, leaving many Americans furious over the election results. Thousands chose to assert their displeasure by hoisting posters at the parade proclaiming “Hail to the Thief” and “Supreme Injustice.”

Read an expanded list of precedents and historic inaugural events at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pinotable.html.

Read a history of the inaugural parade and other inaugural events on the U.S. Senate website at: http://inaugural.senate.gov/history/daysevents/inauguralparade.cfm

Reference Sources: Americans Love a Parade

Books

Angelo, Bonnie. First Families: The Impact of the White House on Their Lives. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

Bendat, Jim. Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of our President 1789-2009. New York: iUniverse Star, 2008.

Hess, Stephen. What Do We Do Now? A Workbook for the President-Elect. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2008.

Santella, Andrew. U.S. Presidential Inaugurations. New York: Children’s Press, 2002.

Wagner, Heather Lehr. The Presidency. New York: Chelsea House, 2007.

Internet

“From George Washington to George Bush, Speeches and Parades, Dances and Tradition.” 19 December 2008. www.nytimes.com/1989/01/21/politics/1989inaug-history.html

“Ike Takes Helm in a 'Time of Tempest'; Says 'We Are Linked to All Free Peoples'.” 2 January 2009. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/inaug/history/stories/ike53.htm

“Inaugural History.” 13 November 2008. www.pbs.org/newshour/inauguration/history.html

“Inaugural Parade.” 2 January 2009. http://inaugural.senate.gov/history/daysevents/inauguralparade.cfm

“Inaugurals of Presidents of the United States: Some Precedents and Notable Events.” 13 November 2008. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pinotable.html

“Inauguration Day.” Encyclopedia Americana Online. 2 January 2009.
ea.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0213430-00

“The Inauguration of George Washington, 1789.” 3 January 2009.
www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtoninaug.htm

“Truman and Eisenhower: When the Man Who Loved Roads Met the Man Who Changed America.” 2 January 2009.
www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/met.htm

©2013 Geri Zabela Eddins; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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United by Voice and Vision:
Thomas Jefferson's First Inauguration, March 4, 1801

by Renee' Critcher Lyons

Inauguration Day Starts with a Bang

Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States, holding and pointing to the Declaration of Independence. 1801. (c) Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural address was delivered in “so low a tone that few heard it,” but the volume of the day proved explosive otherwise. On an early spring morning described as “mild and beautiful,” the city of Washington’s artillery cannon boomed and banged in celebration of the inauguration, scheduled for noon. Parading down the muddy, swamp grass-lined streets of a capital city still under construction, and joined by an Alexandria, Virginia group of militiamen, the unit fired again at 10:00 a.m. in front of Mr. Jefferson’s boarding house, Conrad and McMunn. Another volley bellowed after Jefferson entered the Capitol building at midday to take his oath. The Marine Band, which Jefferson affectionately nicknamed “The President’s Own,” performed for the first time at a presidential inauguration and played a new composition for the occasion entitled “Jefferson’s March.” Sixteen rounds were fired by the Alexandria unit upon Jefferson finishing the oath of office to represent the number of states comprising the Union that day, March 4, 1801. A final display of firepower ended the evening, the din of the day subsiding only as the Alexandria Company crossed the Potomac to return home.

Jefferson Models "Republican Simplicity"

Jefferson abhorred pomp and spectacle, as it intimated the arrogance of monarchy, and he believed the American president should not distinguish himself from the people. Though he could not stop the noise of the cannons, the 6’2” Jefferson did in fact wish to stand firm in his depiction of the political principles and philosophies of the American Revolution. Breaking the precedent of George Washington and John Adams, he refused to take a carriage ride to his swearing-in, instead choosing to walk up Capitol Hill via what is today known as Pennsylvania Avenue. In fact, Jefferson became the only president in U.S. history who walked both to and from his own inauguration. He also refused to wear suit or ceremonial sword, as had Washington and Adams, and instead dressed as “a plain citizen, without any distinctive badge of office.” Five or six of his fellow boarders, most of whom were congressmen, joined Jefferson on his walk. In striking contrast, the Alexandria militia detachment reveled in the pageantry and chose to walk before Jefferson with swords drawn, held high in the air.

Throngs Visit the Capitol to Hear Jefferson's Address

The turnout for Jefferson’s inauguration was described as “immense, the largest concourse of citizens ever assembled here” according to Philadelphia’s Aurora, which estimated a crowd of 1,140, including 154 ladies. The lady Margaret Bayard Smith, the author who penned The First Forty Years of Washington Society, later described the Senate chamber as “so crowded that I believe not another creature could enter.” Bystanders on the Capitol steps applauded as Jefferson entered the building, and despite tight quarters, members of the Senate and House rose to their feet as Jefferson entered the room to deliver his speech.

Jefferson Asks the Nation to Unite

Chosen by Congress to write the Declaration of Independence due to his elegant writing style, not his oratorical skills, Jefferson’s call within the Inaugural Address for a “wise and frugal Government which shall restrain men from injuring one another” resounded fervently after this particular election, which was described as “one of the ugliest in American history.” Jefferson needed to repair a fractured electorate and mend the division between the political parties of the time: the Federalists, the party of George Washington and John Adams, and the Democrat-Republicans, headed by Jefferson. During the election, Federalists had referred to Jefferson and his supporters as “dangerous radicals,” “mad men,” who, if elected, would usher in a “reign of terror.” Democrat-Republicans accused Adams of wishing to restore the monarchy and make himself king, his followers as those “plotting to subvert human liberty and impose slavery on the people.” Unequivocally, Jefferson was charged with unifying the nation, as he became the first president to be sworn into office upon a change in party.

Jefferson asked the nation to be “united with one heart and one mind.” He noted, “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle,” as in truth Americans were all "brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” He asserted that America’s future depended upon “the preservation of the Central Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad.”

Despite the rift in political opinion of the time, and the uncertainty as to whether the nation could withstand a change in party at so young an age, Jefferson’s first inaugural address moved both the audience and voters nationwide. Applause erupted throughout the Senate chamber as Jefferson finished, and one spectator commented that “tears bedewed many manly cheeks.” The address also touched the general citizenry, for it became the first inaugural address published in a newspaper, printed that same day in the pages of the Washington D.C. National Intelligencer. Margaret Bayard Smith described the elation: “I have this morning witnessed one of the most interesting scenes a free people can ever witness. The change of administrations, which in every government and in every age have most generally been epochs of confusion, villainy and bloodshed, in this our happy country take place without any species of distraction, or disorder. This day one of the most amiable and worthy men has taken that seat to which he was called by the voice of his country.”

Inauguration Day Ends...With the People

Jefferson did not end his day at an elaborate inaugural ball, a tradition begun by James Madison in 1809. Instead, Jefferson returned to his boarding house for dinner, taking the lowest seat at the long table, far from the fire. Offered a more distinguished seat by one Mrs. Brown, Jefferson declined with a smile. When a gentleman from Baltimore asked Jefferson’s permission to wish him joy, Jefferson replied, “I would advise you to follow my example on nuptial occasions, when I always tell the bridegroom I will wait until the end of the year before offering my congratulations.” Clearly, Jefferson’s deliberate reliance on modesty and restraint, in an attempt to reunite America’s voters, indeed her people, set the tone for our nation’s first transition of political parties, ensuring the preservation of our Union.

Learn more about Thomas Jefferson in the NCBLA's Presidential Fact Files.

Read Milton Meltzer’s explanation as to the factor which “helped raise Jefferson to the presidency,” in “Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826,” found in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

Discover Jefferson’s fascination with fossils within the pages of Barbara Kerley’s “Jefferson’s Monstrous Bones,” an article in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Marvel at Brian Selznick’s accompanying illustration, “Bones on the Floor.”

View Mike Reagan’s illustration of the initial layout of Washington, D.C., entitled “The Capital City in 1800,” within Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

Find out more about the rise of party politics in "Choosing Sides: The Rise of Party Politics," a web exclusive for Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

Read about the dirty tactics used in the early presidential campaigns of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in “Persuading the People: Presidential Campaigns."

Read Jefferson’s ideas for the planning of the new capital city of Washington, D.C. in "Primary Sources: The New Federal City."

Discussion Questions for Young People at Home and in the Classroom

Differing opinions as to the degree of power our Constitution granted to what Jefferson described as the “Central Government” led to the rise of political parties in the United States. Have you ever differed in opinion from a close family member or friend? How did the difference affect your relationship? How did you remain close despite differences?

Jefferson earned a great degree of respect from the populace, much needed after a contentious election, as he deliberately portrayed a modest demeanor. How do you believe 21st century leaders should balance the need to both display modesty and earn respect? How do you personally balance giving and receiving within your own life?

Jefferson broke with the inaugural traditions of two great leaders, Washington and Adams, for a specific purpose. Discuss a time when you broke with tradition. Did it work for the better? Did others follow your lead?

The viewpoints of both the Federalists and the Democrat-Republicans contributed to the growth of our early nation. Discuss how the sacrifices of both Jefferson and Adams ensured the perpetuation of democracy.

Activities for Young People at Home and in the Classroom

Today’s students may use digital software for the purpose of reading and interpreting maps. Visiting the Library of Congress’ “I Do Solemnly Swear…” website, specifically "Presidential Oaths of Office," create a map which plots the settings for the oath of office since 1789. Follow the instructions for plotting Google maps on Google.com.

Complete a K-W-L graphic organizer to show how Jefferson contributed to the establishment of our Federal Republic. Use the Library of Congress’ "Establishing a Federal Republic" to learn about his contributions to “the strongest government on earth.” (The K-W-L organizer allows the student to discover what he or she already knows (K), what they need or want to learn (W), and what they actually learn (L) during the unit or lesson.)

Jefferson once said his passion was science, but his duty was politics. Using an interactive poster, discover some of Jefferson’s inventions that meet the credo: Necessity is the mother of invention. Next, look about your home and discover objects/items/mechanics which could be invented or improved upon. Create a VENN diagram that compares and contrasts Jefferson’s scientific inquiry with your own! (Within a Venn Diagram, the convergence of two circles, the student lists variable similarities within the point of convergence, and what is unique to each variable in the outside, non-converging circles).

Today’s media devotes an incredible amount of airtime to the fiscal concerns of our federal government. Visit the Monticello Classroom website, register to enter, and find the "Ask Mr. Jefferson" resource under "Activities." Be sure to read sample letters posted on the site. In your opinion, if today’s governmental leaders could ask President Jefferson just one question over this site about running a “wise and frugal government,” what should it be and why? Write the actual letter that should be sent to President Jefferson, using correct grammar and punctuation, of course!

Reference Sources: United by Voice and Vision

Books and Periodicals

Brodie, Fawn M. Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. New York: Bantam, 1974.

"Editor's Easy Chair," Harper's New Monthly Magazize. 76.453 (1888): 473-4.

Hayes, Kevin J. The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Knudson, Jerry W. Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006.

"The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, February to 30 April 1801," Princeton University Press. 33.17 (2006): 134-52.

Internet

“Address by Thomas Jefferson, 1801,” Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. U.S. Senate. 2012. 24. November 2012.

“First Inauguration,” Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. 2012. 24. November 2012.

Smith, Margaret Bayard. “The First Forty Years of Washington Society.” New York, Scribner, 1907. 12-13. Library of Congress. American Memory. 24 November 2012.

“The Inauguration of Thomas Jefferson: First Political Party Transition,” Presidential Transitions: “The Torch is Passed.” The White House Historical Association. 2012. 24. November 2012.

©2013 Renee' Critcher Lyons; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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Come One, Come All!
     How Technology Transformed Inauguration Day

by Heather Lang

On April 16, 1789, George Washington waved goodbye to Martha and began the long journey by horse and carriage from his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia to New York City, where he would be inaugurated. Our country was about to introduce its first president, but there were no telephones, no television broadcasts, and no email blasts to spread news about this momentous occasion.

From New York and Philadelphia and Baltimore, people spread word about the inauguration by letters that were delivered on horseback. But delivery could take days, weeks, or months depending on the distance, weather, and terrain. People also read news about the inauguration in newspapers; about 100 papers existed at that time. Sometimes mail carriers delivered newspapers by horseback to more remote villages, but most newspapers were primarily available in cities. Still the most common way to share important news was by word of mouth, especially in community settings like churches.

Even though our country only extended to the Mississippi River, without technology, word of George Washington’s Inauguration did not reach many of its four million citizens until well after the event. Communication was especially difficult to those settlers who had moved west of the Appalachian Mountains into unexplored lands.

Early Public Participation in Inauguration Day

On April 30, 1789, a large crowd gathered to witness George Washington being sworn into office on the balcony of Federal Hall, but only those who were within earshot heard him take his oath. And only the members of Congress had the privilege of hearing his address, which was held inside the building.

Without technology, Americans found other ways to participate in Inauguration Day. During General Washington’s seven-day journey, he made stops in Alexandria, Georgetown, Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Word had spread to these cities in time for the public to celebrate their new leader. In each city, the public greeted him with tremendous applause, banners, banquets, and receiving lines. Washington took this opportunity to connect with thousands of Americans, building excitement around his inauguration.

In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson began the tradition of inaugural open houses at the executive mansion. This gave the public an opportunity to meet and welcome the new president. But when Andrew Jackson became president, this civilized tradition sent the president fleeing for safety. A rowdy crowd of more than 20,000 descended on the executive mansion, trampling on the furniture, and breaking dishes in their celebration. Despite the obvious hazards, this tradition remained intact until 1885 when Grover Cleveland decided it was safer to greet the public outside the White House from a grandstand.

Read All About It!

Progress in technology was slow at first, but each improvement allowed Americans who could not be present at a presidential inauguration to gain a glimpse into the event. For Thomas Jefferson, Inauguration Day was not just a celebration. Jefferson viewed it as an opportunity to bring a divided nation together. He knew that his audience was not limited to the crowd of nearly a thousand that crammed in the Senate Chamber. On the morning of March 4, 1801, Jefferson gave an advance copy of his address to The National Intelligencer. The newspaper made it available to the public right after Jefferson delivered the address.

Far and Wide

On March 4, 1845, inventor Samuel Morse magically transmitted James Polk’s inaugural address from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore using his new invention: the telegraph. Unfortunately Polk delivered his thirty-minute speech from the Capitol steps through rain and umbrellas. Morse, sitting on a platform nearby, was one of the few to hear the speech. As Polk spoke, Morse tap-tap-tapped away on his telegraph. Using electrical pulses, the device transmitted his code through a wire all the way to Baltimore, where it was instantly received and then decoded. This was the beginning of live broadcasting.

The development of photography further transformed the public’s ability to participate in presidential inaugurations. It was one thing to read about or look at illustrations of an inaugural event, but seeing a photo made the inauguration even more tangible. Photography also allowed the public to see what the Capitol looked like. In 1857, John Wood took the first photograph at an inaugural ceremony when James Buchanan became president.

Another forty years passed before the motion picture camera emerged and captured some footage of William McKinley’s inauguration for the world to see. In 1925 Americans crowded around radios and listened to Calvin Coolidge taking his oath of office. Approximately twenty radio stations broadcast the ceremony to 23 million listeners, including children who listened in at their school auditoriums.

Keeping Up with Technology

Originally, the Constitution provided that Inauguration Day would be held on March 4th, four months after the election. In the late eighteenth century, it took this amount of time to gather election returns and for the new president to get his affairs in order and make the long journey to the Capitol. This transition became known as “the lame duck” period—when the old president became inactive and the president-elect had no power to act. The lame duck period sometimes caused serious problems for the country in times of crisis. For example, in 1861 after Lincoln was elected, southern states began to secede from the Union and President Buchanan failed to take action against them. Lincoln could not take any steps until he took office in March.

As technology and transportation improved, the long period of time between the election and taking office was not necessary. Finally in 1933, Congress ratified the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution making January 20th the date when the new president would take office.

Television and the Internet

Until television the world could not both watch and listen to a president’s inaugural ceremony. Television had a way of transporting the public to the event like no other technology could. In 1949 approximately ten million Americans watched and listened to Harry Truman’s inauguration ceremony on television.

Technology has developed so rapidly in the last sixty years that now almost anyone in the world can watch an inauguration live on television or on the Internet. Friends who are attending the inaugural events can send instant reports and photos. Thanks to technology, everyone is invited to join in the celebration!

Activities and Discussion Questions for Young People at Home and in the Classroom

Be a Reporter for the Day

Reporters play a critical role in educating the public by sharing facts and news with the world. Some reporters try to report in an unbiased manner. Many intentionally share their own perspectives. And some unintentionally reveal their viewpoints by the information they select to share.

When George Washington became our first president, it was difficult for the public to participate in his inauguration. Transportation was limited to horses and feet. Microphones, radios, and televisions had not been invented. As technology improved, so did the public’s access to Inauguration Day. Today we all are invited to the party!

Students can work alone or with a partner to produce a newspaper article, voice recording, or video recording that reports on an Inauguration Day event in history.

Write a newspaper article reporting on a current or historical Inauguration Day event. Remember to bring flavor to your article by including rich historical details, such as information about the setting or clothing. Be sure to include quotes. Visit your local library to do your research.

Pretend you are a radio broadcaster reporting live on an interesting inaugural event. Remember: you want to make your audience feel like they are there experiencing the event with you. You could include brief interviews with spectators or historical figures. Write your script first, and then record it.

Prepare a short video reporting on an interesting inaugural event. Perhaps it will be an interview with a historical figure, or maybe it will include part of an inaugural address. Remember to dress the part!

Illustrate a Futuristic Inauguration Day

Imagine what Inauguration Day might look like in the year 2050? How about 2222? How will technology have changed and shaped the event? What will people be wearing? What will the Capitol look like? Choose a date in the future and illustrate a specific event from Inauguration Day.

Reference Sources: Come One, Come All!

Books

Bendat, Jim. Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President 1789-2009. New York: iUniverse Star, 2008.

Internet

“The Constitution and the Inauguration of the President.” January 2013.
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/inaugurationconstit.html

“First Inauguration.” January 2013.
http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/first-inauguration

“The Inauguration of George Washington, 1789.” January 2013.
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtoninaug.htm

“Inauguration of William McKinley, 1897.” January 2013.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4uOmSEw5-U

“Presidential Inaugurations: The Capitol Connection.” January 2013.
http://www.uschs.org/exhibit/history-featured-articles/uschs_articles-09.htm

©2013 Heather Lang; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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Inaugural Activities and Discussion Questions for Young People  

by Mary Brigid Barrett, Geri Zabela Eddins, and Heather Lang

Play "Inaugural I Spy"

Inaugural The I Spy Presidential Inauguration Scorecard provides a great nonpartisan opportunity to explore American history, civic education, and current events with your kids!

Watch the inauguration January 21st, live on TV or the Internet, and have your kids identify, then check, the important "players" taking part in this year's inaugural ceremonies. Be sure to have young people look for and check off the historical sites, too!  If you are unable to watch the inaugural ceremonies live, then watch what you can later that evening on the news or on YouTube.

The three-page scorecard includes names, descriptions, and photographs of the president and his family, the vice president and his wife, the Chief Justice, and the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. We have also included photographs and descriptions of four significant Washington, D.C. landmarks, just for fun. See if you and your kids can find them all during the broadcast. Encourage kids to write down the names of other politicians, entertainers, and celebrities they see on the backside of their scorecard. See who can "spy" the most number of people!

To download and print the I Spy Presidential Inauguration Scorecard, click here.

Design a Parade Float

Months of design planning and hard labor go into the construction of the elaborate floats we see during the inaugural parade. Some floats reflect the theme of the inauguration, others show off the industries and resources of a particular state, and then there’s the president’s float—a float designed to celebrate the newly inaugurated president’s life. The float created for Eisenhower was a golf course putting green. For George Bush the president’s float was an aircraft carrier that hauled one of the planes Bush had flown during WWII. For President Obama's first inauguration in 2009, floats representing his home states of Hawaii and Illinois were created. Whatever is being fashioned for the 2013 inaugural parade will be a surprise until it glides down Pennsylvania Avenue on January 21!

Pose this question to your kids: If you could design a float for President Obama, what would it look like? Draw a picture of your design.

Your class or family might want to create your own inaugural parade of floats. Each person can choose a theme for his or her float. A larger class might consider having each student create a float for a certain state. Or, you might want to show off your school or community in your float design!

Young people can also find inspiration for parade and float themes from the articles and illustrations in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. For example, “Presidential Pets” might be a great theme for elementary and middle school students who will find  inspiration in Steven Kellogg’s article and double-page illustration of White House pets in Our White House.

There are many ways kids can create their own parade of floats. One way is to draw pictures on paper and then tape them in a long parade line on a classroom or hall wall. Or, they can make their floats using shoe boxes or tissue boxes. Cut pictures from magazines. Puff balls and pipe cleaners make great animals. Brightly colored construction paper, foam sheets, and even popsicle sticks can be used to create and build just about anything they might want to add to their floats. They may also want to make floats from wagons, or other wheeled toys or objects, and form an mini-inaugural parade in a neighborhood playground or recreation center or school hallway.

You can find pictures of past parades and floats at your local library. You can also find photographs online on the Library of Congress website, LOC.gov.

You can read about the inaugural parade at:
Americans Love a Parade, on this page, and at the Senate’s website at: http://inaugural.senate.gov/history/daysevents/inauguralparade.cfm

Inaugural Themes and Art

The inaugural luncheon is held in National Statuary Hall within the Capitol. A new tradition was started in 1985 for one or two paintings to be selected to serve as a backdrop for the head table. The painting is chosen to reflect the official theme of the inaugural ceremony. In 1997 portraits of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were selected to highlight the 200th anniversaries of their inauguration as president and vice president in 1797. In 2005 a gleaming portrait of Wyoming titled Wind River, Wyoming and painted by Albert Bierstadt in 1870 was borrowed from a collection in Colorado to commemorate the 1905 inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt, as well as the 1803-1806 Lewis and Clark expedition. The theme for President Obama’s first inauguration was “A New Birth of Freedom,” which was selected to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The committee selected a landscape titled View of the Yosemite Valley by Thomas Hill, having noted that “the painting reflects the majestic landscape of the American West and the dawn of a new era. The subject of the painting, Yosemite Valley, represents an important but often overlooked event from Lincoln's presidency—his signing of the 1864 Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a public reserve.”

The theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future,” which was selected to commemorate the United States’ perseverance and unity and to highlight the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has stated about the theme, “When the Civil War threatened to bring construction of the Dome to a halt, workers pressed onward, even without pay, until Congress approved additional funding to complete the Dome that would become a symbol of unity and democracy to the entire world. The official Inaugural Program, Luncheon, and other activities will reflect the theme.”

Have your kids consider paintings that reflect this year’s inaugural theme. Together, look at art books and catalogs of museum collections at your library. Also, most major museums provide pictures of their collections on their websites. A good place to start a search might be the National Gallery of Art. You can view its collection online at: www.nga.gov/collection/index.shtm

For both of Bill Clinton’s inaugurations, portraits of previous presidents were selected. In 1993 a portrait of Thomas Jefferson hung behind the head table. In 1997 portraits of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were featured. Do your kids think a portrait of Lincoln would be an appropriate choice for this year’s luncheon? You can view the portrait of Lincoln that hangs in the Capitol (painted by artist Freeman Thorp) at www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/artifact/Painting_31_00008.htm and the portrait of Lincoln that hangs above the mantel in the state dining room of the White House (painted by George P. A. Healy) at www.whitehousehistory.org/03/subs/images_e/art_05.html. Look at both portraits and compare them. Ask your kids which one would they would choose and why.

Your kids might also want to paint their own piece of art for the inaugural! They could paint a portrait of Lincoln or a landscape featuring the log cabin in which he was born. For links to homes and historic sites associated with Lincoln, check out: The President Lincoln Fact Page

And, ask your kids: If you were elected president what would you choose for your inaugural theme? Draw and/or paint a picture that symbolizes that theme! This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the concept of theme and symbols! There are many incredible illustrations in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out that you can show to your students to inspire them!

You can read more about the paintings displayed at past inaugural luncheons at: www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/common/collection_list/inaugural_luncheons.htm

Host an Inauguration Poetry Reading

Poet Elizabeth Alexander read a poem she wrote to celebrate President Obama’s first administration at the inaugural ceremony in 2009. And this year, Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will be delivering the inaugural poem. However, poetry reading has not been standard tradition at presidential inaugurations. In fact, only two previous presidents included a poetry reading. Robert Frost read for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961, and Bill Clinton included poets on the schedule for both of his inaugurations. Maya Angelou read a piece for the 1993 inauguration, and Miller Williams read a poem he wrote for the 1997 inauguration.

Read and share with your kids one or all four of the previous inaugural poems written by Frost, Angelou, Williams, and Alexander. Read them aloud or have the young people in your life read them aloud. Poems are meant to be heard!

Find both the poem that Frost recited from memory at Kennedy’s inauguration (“The Gift Outright”), as well as the poem he wrote for the occasion (“Dedication”) at: www.pbs.org/newshour/inauguration/frost_poem.html.

Find the poem written by Maya Angelou for Clinton’s first inauguration at: http://poetry.eserver.org/angelou.html.

Find Miller Williams’ poem, “Of History and Hope,” written for Clinton’s second inauguration at: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/inaug/mon/poem.htm.

Find poet Elizabeth Alexander’s biography, as well as some of her poems, at: www.elizabethalexander.net/home.html.

Find the poem “Praise Song for the Day,” written for Obama’s first inauguration at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/us/politics/20text-poem.html?_r=0.

To watch Alexander read her inaugural poem on YouTube, click here.

Learn more about this year's inaugural poet Richard Blanco, read some of his poems, and listen to him reading his poems on his website: http://www.richard-blanco.com/.

Ask young people: Why is it important to include a poetry reading at the presidential inauguration? And what poet would they invite to their own presidential inauguration?

Write Poems Celebrating Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is full of original poetry about presidents and the White House. The poems in Our White House range from poignant to humorous; read them aloud and share them with young people, for it will give them an idea of the wide emotional range that their own poetry can encompass.

In the paperback edition of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a poem written by Nikki Grimes titled "Inaugural Morning," which commemorates President Obama's first inauguration. Find a copy of the book at your local library or bookstore, then share this remarkably moving poem with the young people in your life.

Encourage your kids at home and in the classroom to write a poem for President Obama’s second inauguration. You may want to have them read Nikki Grimes' poem for inspiration! The poem young people decide to write can rhyme or not rhyme. You can introduce kids to specific types and forms of poetry like haiku, sonnets, limericks, and free verse, or leave them to their own devices.  They can create a poem inspired by their own hopes for our nation, inspired by the president and his family, inspired by the day itself, or by an issue that is important to them. You can guide them in any direction you choose, in a more formal manner if you are a teacher, and informally if you are a parent or youth group leader. What is most important is that kids have an opportunity to hear a variety of poems read aloud, and have an opportunity to write poems themselves. They may also find inspiration in visuals, so if you can provide some historic and/or contemporary photographs and works of art as inspiration, that, too, could be useful. And a great place to start finding great visuals is to share the wonderful illustrations and photographs in Our White House with your kids. To find websites and books with more visual references that you can use, check out our History Resources page.

You can check out a lesson plan related to inaugural poetry at:
www.teachervision.fen.com/poetry/lesson-plan/4414.html?detoured=1&for_printing=1.

Bibles and Relics: Connecting with Past Presidents

For his first inauguration, President Barack Obama swore the oath of office on the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln. The president will again use the Lincoln Bible for his second inauguration, but will also be sworn in using a second Bible—a Bible owned by Martin Luther King, Jr., a gesture to recognize that this year's inauguration falls on the federal holiday that honors the civil rights leader. Journalist Nedra Pickler has written that the selection of the two Bibles, "is richly symbolic of the struggle for equality in America, beginning with Lincoln's emancipation of slaves 150 years ago this month, through King's leadership of the civil rights movement, and ultimately to Obama becoming the nation's first black president."

President George W. Bush had wanted to swear his oath in 2001 on the same Bible used by George Washington, but poor weather thwarted his plan. Four other presidents did swear their oaths on Washington’s Bible: Warren G. Harding in 1921, Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, Jimmy Carter in 1977, and George Bush in 1989. Most presidents choose to swear on a family Bible, but Carter chose to swear on both the Washington Bible and a family Bible. John Quincy Adams actually chose to swear his oath using a book of constitutional law that had been given to him by Chief Justice John Marshall. Although
Ulysses S. Grant and James Garfield did not swear on Washington’s Bible, they both chose to sit in the same chair Washington had used during his inauguration. Theodore Roosevelt chose one of the more unusual relics of a predecessor—he wore a ring that contained a lock of Lincoln’s hair!

Ask young people:

If you were being sworn in as president, would you choose to be sworn in using a Bible? If so, would you choose a family Bible or one used by a past president? Why?

Would you choose to honor a previous president by swearing on his Bible or using an object connected to him? Which president would you like to honor and remember during your own inauguration? What object of that president’s would you like to use?

Learn about the presidential oath of office at: The Presidential Oath of Office on this page.

Find more information about the oath in the following online articles:

“Bibles and Scripture Passages Used by Presidents in Taking the Oath of Office.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pibible.html

“Presidential Oaths of Office.” http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pioaths.html

In His Words: Listening to the Inaugural Speech

Almost every president has made a speech to the nation following his inauguration ceremony. Some presidents’ speeches have inspired generations. Franklin Roosevelt assured us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

If young people cannot watch President Obama’s inaugural ceremony and speech live, try to record it or watch it on YouTube. Tell young people that as they listen to the president’s speech, they should take note of any promises and plans he makes. Have them write these things down. They should think about what he said and consider what plans seem reasonable. Have them discuss what plans they think the president can accomplish in his second administration. Which plans or promises do they think are too “pie in the sky?”

Have kids focus on an idea or issue expressed in the speech that reflects their own interests—maybe it’s something they believe is very important to their family and interests, or maybe it’s something they believe should not be a priority right now. Encourage them to write a letter to President Obama and Vice President Biden expressing their feelings.

Encourage kids to read the editorial pages in the next few days after the inauguration. Have them compare their thoughts on the inaugural speech with the editorialists’ opinions. Who agrees with them and who does not? Did any editorial or column cause them to reconsider their thoughts? Also encourage kids to write a letter to the editor expressing their thoughts. They should include their age with their signatures because if their letter is well written and their opinions are expressed cogently, their age may be a positive factor in getting published either in traditional print or on the newspaper’s website.

Design the Oval Office

Each new president has a budget and staff to redecorate the Oval Office—the president’s main working space—to reflect personal tastes and interests. The Oval Office as designed for George W. Bush included ecru walls, antique gold draperies, light gold damask sofas, and several paintings of Texas by Texas artists. The Bush oval office also featured busts of three leaders he admired: Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Dwight Eisenhower. In 2010, President Obama remodeled the oval office to include new striped wallpaper, new and reupholstered furniture, and a new rug. The new oval-shaped rug is designed in wheat, cream, and blue and includes these five quotes around its perimeter:

"The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself," President Franklin D. Roosevelt

"The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice," Martin Luther King Jr.

"Government of the People, By the People, For the People," President Abraham Lincoln

"No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings," President John F. Kennedy

"The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us," President Theodore Roosevelt

President Obama's oval office also features an eclectic mixture of decorative objects and artwork. China that had previously adorned the Oval Office shelves has been replaced with technological models and patents (including Samuel Morse's 1849 patent for the first telegraph), Native American pottery, a framed program from the 1963 March on Washington, and many family portraits. Featured artwork includes Childe Hassam's "The Avenue in the Rain," Norman Rockwell's "Statue of Liberty," and a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr.

To see a picture of President Obama's oval office, click here.

Ask young people: What do you think the artwork and objects the president has selected for his office say about him? If you were president, how would you redesign the Oval Office?

Encourage kids to use crayons, colored pencils, markers, and/or watercolors to sketch their designs for the oval office. Would they like a patriotic scheme of red and blue like the colors used by Bill Clinton? Have them design the rug, which always includes the presidential seal in the middle. Would they like to change the furniture, perhaps adding more chairs? Also, have them think about the art they would like hung on the walls of the office and the sculpture they would like to include. Presidents have access to the entire Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art collections! Would they like to include paintings and sculptures that they love or pieces that symbolize their ideas, or both?

You can see a picture of George W. Bush’s oval office here:
www.whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/oval-office-bush2-early.jpg

Here’s a picture of Bill Clinton’s oval office: www.whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/oval-office-clinton.jpg

Read about the oval office at: www.whitehouse.gov/about/oval_office/

To view samples of the art and sculpture in the Smithsonian’s many collections, go to: www.si.edu

To view samples of the art and sculpture in the National Gallery of Art, go to: www.nga.gov

Discover the history of the president's desk in the article, "The Resolute Desk: A Gift of Peace" by Mary Rattray on this website.

Host a Kids' Inaugural Ball! Ideas and Activities

Host your own Kids' Inaugural Ball at home, in school, at your local library or bookstore, or at your local community center!

Have kids arrive in costume dressed as their favorite president or first lady—or dressed as a former presidential kid! Each young person can share a few facts about the person he or she is pretending to be and then have the rest of the kids guess who he or she is! The NCBLA’s book, Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, can inspire costume ideas and provide facts. And for more links and information about the presidents and first ladies check out the History Resources and Web Exclusives sections of the site.

You can always serve punch and cookies at the ball, but you might want to check out historic White House menus and food ideas at: www.ourwhitehouse.org/tasteofpast.html. This article contains some samples of recipes and past inaugural menus, as well as White House cookbook references. You may want to print out some historic White House menus and recipes to share with the kids, and even try out some of the recipes yourself! Pick a recipe from our web article or one of the White House cook books—which you can find at your local library—and with help from your kids, create one of the recipes to share at your inaugural ball!

Play “Pin President Obama on the Presidential Timeline!” Photocopy and blow up the double-page spread of the Our White House presidential timeline and trivia game that you will find on pages 224 and 225 of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.  Make it big enough to be used on the wall as a game board.  If you like, mount the Our White House presidential timeline on cardboard or foam core. Also, download the President Obama sticker page from this website at: www.ourwhitehouse.org/OWH_StickerSheet_Obama-2012.pdf
and photocopy and enlarge it to fit the size of the Our White House timeline and game. Photocopy the Obama figure enlargement so that each kid can have a copy. Cut out the Obama figure and back it with a small piece of sticky foam tape. At your ball, blindfold participants with red bandanas, give them a sticky-backed Obama figure, set them at a distance from the game board, and see if he or she can “pin” the Barack Obama figure to the appropriate spot on the game board timeline! If he or she lands the Obama figure on a board space occupied by a previous president, see if the participant can guess the identity of that president and the significance of the object that is presented with that president. (The answer guide to the timeline trivia game is on pages 226 - 227 of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.) If the young person guesses correctly he or she wins a prize! And if he or she gets President Obama in the right spot and can share one piece of information about President Obama, he or she also wins a prize!

Using paper, cardboard, string, glue, tape, markers, crayons, and sticks create White House Pet stick-puppets and masks! Show kids the illustration of White House pets done by Steven Kellogg (pages 167 - 169) and the illustration of Teddy Roosevelt’s children and pets by Chris van Dusen (pages 96-97) in Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out! Use these great illustrations to inspire kids to create their own White House pet stick-puppets and masks. Have the kids sketch out their ideas—they can draw a historical White House pet, the Obama's dog Bo, or a new pet to keep Bo company. Then using their sketch as a reference, have them draw their pet or pet’s head—if they are creating a mask—onto larger paper and/or cardboard. They can leave them black and white or fill their drawings in with color. Let them figure out how to construct their masks or stick-puppets! You give them all the supplies they need, and a bit of visual inspiration with the illustrations from the book—and let them do their thing!

Plan your ball to have busy activity moments as well as quiet moments. Sharing stories and poetry work well for those for quiet times! Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out can provide all the stories you need! Read the poetry, articles, and stories from the book aloud with the kids and invite them to discuss what you have read.  And encourage kids to share their own stories—stories about meeting presidents or presidential candidates, stories of visiting Washington, D.C. and/or the White House or Capitol, stories of their own families coming to America.  For example, ask if anyone has a relative who served in the current or past war; ask if anyone has visited a site such as Plymouth Plantation, Williamsburg, or Gettysburg; ask if anyone met candidates Obama, Biden, Romney, or Ryan on the campaign trail; and ask the kids to share a little of their experiences with everyone.

Have the kids draw what they might wear if they were invited to one of the “grown-up” inaugural balls held in Washington. Have them decide what kind of ball it would be and let them decide the theme—a cowboy ball, a rock and roll ball, or maybe a “Cinderella” ball with gowned ladies and men in formal attire. Then have the boys draw their costume or uniform, or tuxedo with black tie and tails—something that would be suitable for their chosen ball theme.  Have the girls do the same thing.

Provide a dance floor and play great music—as loud as you can! And encourage them to dance!!! Pre-record the music for your ball. Include good ole American rock and roll, waltzes, polka music, the hokey-pokey, country and western, and square dance music. Have fun teaching the kids different kinds of dances or just let them explode on the floor in their own style.

For more ball activities, take a look at all the activities already suggested above on this web page and incorporate them with other traditional kids’ party activities and games!

Create a Political Cartoon

Illustrators create different types of cartoons to share their viewpoint with the public or simply to make people laugh. For example, political cartoons provide commentary on political subjects, often using humor, exaggeration, caricature, distortion, symbolism, and irony to make a point.

Have students look through current or past newspapers and magazines for a cartoon about our government, politics, or a president. If you have a computer with an Internet connection, students can look for political cartoons online too. Spend time discussing and analyzing each cartoon. Are the cartoons simply designed to make people laugh or is there another message? What techniques did each cartoonist use to share his or her viewpoint?

After spending time looking at different types of political cartoons, ask students to create their own Inauguration Day cartoons. Another idea is to ask students to dig into history to find some fun subjects to illustrate. Students can choose to draw their political cartoons using pencils, pens, colored pencils, crayons, or even a computer graphics program. Be sure to have each student share his or her cartoon with the class.

Visit a Presidential Historic Site, Library, or Website

More than twenty states boast presidential birthplaces, historic homes, libraries, and museums. Many of these very special places include extensive exhibits profiling events from past inaugurations and include not only samples of menus and other memorabilia, but also audio and video exhibits that enable you to hear or watch inaugural events, such as swearing-in ceremonies and parades.

Before visiting a presidential museum or library, be sure to check out the special activities calendar by calling ahead or reviewing the website because many libraries offer child-friendly and family-oriented activities to engage young people throughout the year. For a comprehensive guide to finding presidential sites and museums, listed by state, check out the NCBLA’s "Field Trip Guide! Presidential Birthplaces, Houses, and Libraries."

If visiting a presidential museum or library in person is not possible, you can visit one virtually by checking out content on the library’s website. Many presidential museums and libraries offer articles, curricula, and other resources you can download and use free. For example, the Jimmy Carter Library website is now offering a multi-disciplinary educational curriculum titled “The President’s Travels” with content for students in grades 2 through 12. And the research section of the George Bush Library’s website offers online access to some of its print and audio-visual archives. Included in the visual archives are photographs from Bush’s life, including his time in public office. The photos are organized by topic, such as Various Campaigns, US Vice President, US President, and Presidential Transportation.

©2013 Mary Brigid Barrett and Geri Zabela Eddins and Heather Lang; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

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Learn More About the Presidents and Inaugurations

For more information about presidents and inaugurations, check out the following books and online resources:

Books

Bendat, Jim. Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of our President 1789-2009. New York: iUniverse Star, 2008.

Grimes, Nikki. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2008.

The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance. Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2008.

Santella, Andrew. U.S. Presidential Inaugurations. New York: Children’s Press, 2002.

Online Resources

“From George Washington to George Bush, Speeches and Parades, Dances and Tradition.” http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/21/politics/1989inaug-history.html

“George Washington, First Inauguration, April 30, 1789.”
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/piwi01.html

“George Washington gives first presidential inaugural address.”
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=511

“Inaugural History.”
www.pbs.org/newshour/inauguration/history.html

“Inaugural Luncheon.”
http://inaugural.senate.gov/index.cfm

“Inaugurals of Presidents of the United States: Some Precedents and Notable Events.”
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pinotable.html

“The Inauguration of George Washington, 1789.”
www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtoninaug.htm

“Laura Bush on Michelle Obama's WH Visit.”
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/President44/Story?id=6307674&page=1

“Malia Obama Calls Dibs on Lincoln's Desk: Obama Talks to Barbara Walters About Homework, History and Happy Family.”
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/President44/story?id=6339711&page=1

“Obama To Use MLK, Lincoln Bibles During Oath At Presidential Inauguration.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/obama-using-mlk-lincoln-b_n_2447174.html

“Oval Office Makeover.”
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/08/obamas-oval-office-has-new-look/1

“Oval Office Makeover.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/31/oval-office-makeover_n_700495.html

“The White House Historical Association: Traditions and Transitions.”
http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_press/press_feature-transitions.html


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OUR WHITE HOUSE. Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Bob Kolar and © 2010 by A.G. Ford. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

©2013 Mary Brigid Barrett and Geri Zabela Eddins; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance