George Washington delivering his first inaugural address, 1789.
Library of Congress
By Lily Rothman and Ryan Teague Beckwith
Updated: January 20, 2017 4:36 PM ET | Originally published: January 19, 2017

The Inauguration ritual undertaken by Donald Trump on Friday is in some ways mostly pomp and circumstance: the Inaugural Address, the Inaugural Parade, the Inaugural Balls. But it’s also a crucial moment in American democracy, a celebration of the peaceful transfer of power even in the most divided of times.

Inauguration Day has also been, over the years, the occasion for plenty else, from weather problems and missing Bibles to do-overs and not a few live animals. There were even some dead ones, too.

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Here’s a look back at something to know about every single Inauguration Day in American history, as well as a look at what each President said on that all-important event. (A good resource to find the full text of each inaugural address is the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.)

The following nine swearing-in ceremonies are not included, as they were not regularly scheduled Inaugural festivities—and, in fact, were hardly festive at all, given the circumstances: John Tyler in April of 1841 following the death of William Henry Harrison, Millard Fillmore in July of 1850 following the death of Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson in April of 1865 following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Chester A. Arthur in September of 1881 following the assassination of James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt in September of 1901 following the assassination of William McKinley, Calvin Coolidge in August of 1923 following the death of Warren Harding, Harry S. Truman in April of 1945 following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson in November of 1963 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford in August of 1974 following the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Write to Lily Rothman at

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