Information on First Ladies and their roles at the
did not attend the inauguration on April 30th; in fact she did not
arrive in New York City (then capital) until May, 27th.
1793----Martha was present
in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia(then
capital) on March 4, the date fixed by the Continental Congress for
1797----Abigail Adams was in
Quincy, Mass when her husband was inaugurated in Philadelphia.
1801----Thomas Jefferson was a widower when Chief
Justice John Marshall administered the first executive oath of
office ever taken in the new federal city in the new Senate Chamber
(now the Old Supreme Court Chamber) of the partially built Capitol
1805---- (same as above)
1809----Dolley Madison was
present in the Hall of the House of Representatives (now National
Statuary Hall). Subsequently the oath by Presidents-elect, with few
exceptions, was taken in the House Chamber or in a place of the
Capitol associated with the Congress as a whole..
1813---- ???? In the reference books I have there
are no details on Dolley's role at the second inauguration of
1817----Elizabeth Monroe was
not present at the swearing-in nor did she even make an appearance
at the Inaugural Reception held in her own home(the mansion was
still being repaired from the War of 1812). Because the Capitol was
also still under reconstruction, James Monroe was inaugurated
1821----The ceremony was indoors again in the Hall
of Representives, but held on March 5th as March 4th was a Sunday .
Mrs. Monroe did attend the Inaugural Ball.
1825----????Again I don't have any specific
references. I would assume that Louisa
witnessed the Inauguration, as the Adamses where already living in
Washington (JQA was Monroe's Secretary of State) and she had been
active in seeking the office of the Presidency for her husband. Yet
as First Lady she would retreat into the background.
1829----Andrew Jackson was a widower. Outgoing
President Adams did not join in the ceremony, which was held for
the first time on the East Portico of the Capitol building. This
was the location of the majority of future Inaugurations until just
1833----Andrew Jackson was a widower.
1837----Martin Van Buren was a widower.
1841----Anna Harrison was
not present, but had planned to arrive in May when traveling would
be easier. Her husband died one month after the inauguration, his
death was attributed to his delivering an hour and forty-five
minute Inaugural address in a snowstorm..
1845----Sarah Polk was
present at the inauguration and attended the Inaugural Ball, but
all dancing and music stopped in deference to her religious
beliefs. The Inauguration was held outside despite the pouring
1849----Margaret Taylor was
in Washington but whether she was at the Inauguration is in
1853----Jane Pierce was
ready to attend the Inauguration, but decided not to at the last
moment because she learned that her husband had actively sought the
Presidency after he had been denying the the same to her. She thus
blamed the death of their young son just weeks earlier on her
husband's ambition. It is worthy to note that Franklin Pierce did
not "swear" his oath, but "affirmed" it as allowed in the
1857----James Buchannan was a bachelor.
1861----Mary Lincoln was in
attendance and at the Inaugural Ball danced with Stephen Douglas
1865----Mrs. Lincoln again was in attendance.
1869----Julia Grant attended
and tradition has it that General Grant turned to her, shook her
hand and said, "Now, my dear, I hope you are satisfied". General
Grant broke what had become a tradition when he refused to ride to
the Inauguration with outgoing President Johnson.
1873----Julia was again in attendance and her
brother Fred was the Inaugural Committee chairman.
1877----Lucy Hayes witnessed
her husband's swearing-in probably twice. Because March 4th was a
Sunday (and no ceremonies could take place on a Sunday) and because
the election results of 1876 were so controversial Rutherford Hayes
was sworn in after dinner with the Grants on Saturday, March 3rd
and then again publicly on Monday, March 5th.
1881----Crete Garfield said
her husband was "almost superhuman" in delivering his Inaugural
address on a snow covered East Portico. In a little over six months
James Garfield would be dead.
1885----Grover Cleveland was a bachelor at his
inauguration yet just over a year later 49 year old Grover married
21 year old Frances Folsom.
1889----A rainstorm did not prevent Carrie Harrison from watching Benjamin take the oath of
office on the East Portico for the Centennial Inaugural.
was present as her husband became the only man to regain the
Presidency after having lost it, thus fulfilling a a prediction
Mrs. Cleveland had made the day they left the White House four
years earlier. On that occasion she told a White House staff member
to take good care of the mansion because "they would be returning
four years from today".
1897----Ida McKinley was
present, yet at the Inaugural Ball she fainted and fell
1901----Mrs. McKinley was present, but in a little
over six months, she would be a widow.
1905----For the Inauguration, Edith
Roosevelt arranged for seating of cabinet members and their
families and relatives. Thus watching Theodore's swearing-in was a
current(Edith) and two future First Ladies-- Helen Taft(William was
Secretary of War) and Eleanor Roosevelt (Theodore's niece and ,of
course, future wife of Franklin) . Tradition holds that Edith
Galt(the future Mrs. Woodrow Wilson) was in the mass of "common
folk" watching the proceedings.
1909----Held indoors in the Senate Chamber because
of a blizzard, Nellie Taft not only
witnessed William's inauguration, but, when Theodore Roosevelt left
immediately, foregoing the traditional ride back to the White
House, Nellie took TR's place and rode alongside her husband.
Before the Inauguration, Edith Roosevelt began a tradition that
continues to this day when she gave Helen Taft a personal tour of
the White House
1913----Ellen Wilson was in
1917----Edith Wilson, whom
the President had married in December 1916 after Ellen had died in
1914, witnessed the inauguration on Monday, March 5th as March 4th
was again a Sunday. The President had also been sworn-in the day
before in a private ceremony.
who was so instrumental in her husband's attaining the Presidency
broke precedent and rode with Mrs. Wilson to the Inaugural. This
witnessed the ceremony while finding time to to seek out and speak
to Nellie Ross, the nation's first woman Governor.
1929----Lou Hoover held up
the ceremony as she and Grace Coolidge literally became lost in the
throng of officials.
1933----As Eleanor watched
FDR take his first oath of office, she looked out at the thousands
of faces in the crowd, many with tears in their eyes, and thought
to herself "how would these poor people ever pay their hotel
1937----Eleanor , but held for the first time on
January 20th as per the new 20th amendment to the
1941----Eleanor and 18 other members of FDR's family
watched as for the first time in our nation's history a President
broke the tradition started by George Washington of only serving
two consecutive terms.
1945----Eleanor, but held on the South Portico and
no formal celebration followed because of the ongoing war.
1949----Bess and Harry
Truman hosted the first integrated inaugural ball .
1953----Ike began his Inaugural address with a
prayer and ended it by kissing Mamie.
1957----Mamie again, and again two swearing-ins as
January 20th was a Sunday--January 20th in the East Room and
January 21st on the East Portico..
1961----The "First Lady" Inauguration as in
attendance were the following past, present and future First
Ladies--Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie
Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird
Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford. The ceremony was held on the
expanded East Front of the Capitol.
1965----Lady Bird began a
new tradition--holding the Bible while her husband took the oath of
1969----During the ride back to the White House,
Pat Nixon and Richard had to stop standing
and waving and sit down because protesters were throwing
1973----Pat again, more protesters and stones.
1977----During the motorcade after the
Inauguration,Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter
shocked everyone by getting out of their cars and walking !
1981----Nancy Reagan in her
$1700 dress and $1500 alligator purse watched her husband take the
oath of office from a new location--the west side of the Capitol.
While the ceremony was taking place, American hostages held by the
revolutionary government of Iran were released.
1985----Nancy again with a $46,000 Inaugural
wardrobe watched as the ceremony was held in the Capitol Rotunda
because of zero degree temperatures outside. Also another "double
inauguration" with the 20th being a Sunday. The oath was first
given on that day in the Grand Foyer of the White House and
publically on the 21st in the Rotunda.
1989----The Bicentennial Inaugural--Following the
ceremony, Barbara and George Bush walked
back to The White House with Barbara even leaving the entourage to
go over and kiss NBC Weatherman Willard Scott!!!
1993----Hillary and William
Jefferson Clinton walked back to the White House .
1997----For the final inauguration of the 1900's
Bill and Hillary again, but this time daughter Chelsea stood right
by her parents as her father took the oath of office for the second
time. He would become the second President to be impeached.
2001----The first inauguration of the 2000's was a
REAL FIRST. For the first time in US history an ex-President and
First Lady watched their son take the oath of office as George
Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush watched George W. Bush become
the 43rd President. Laura Bush and their
two daughters stood by as with tears in his eyes and exactly on
time, George W. Bush was sworn in on a cold misty day .
2005----George W. Bush was sworn in for his second term
with almost 145 family members watching. His short 20 minute speech mentioned
the word liberty 15 times and freedom 27 times Laura Bush
held the family bible and their two daughters stood by their father as he took the oath of office. .
2009----The first African-American President Barrack Obama took his
oath of office on the Abraham Lincoln bible held by his wife, Michelle
while their two young daughters looked on. Also watching was former
first lady Hillary Clinton who already had made history by becoming a
US Senator and was about to be approved as the next Secretary of State.
The largest crowd to attend an inauguration saw the oath of office
delivered incorrectly, and was readministered in private the next day.
Most information was obtained from First
Ladies by Carl Sferrazza Anthony --one the best books on
First Ladies and also from
Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents
comments are appreciated along with any information you can
Presidents and Their
First Ladies, dramatically speaking