On Monday, January 21, 2013, the newly elected President of the United States will take the oath of office marking the 57th formal Presidential Inaugural ceremony since 1789. In all, U.S. Presidents have been sworn into office 69 times—usually in public, sometimes in private following the death or resignation of a President, or because Inauguration Day fell on a Sunday.
The 2013 Inauguration will be the seventh time the constitutionally-mandated Inauguration date has fallen on a Sunday. There is no precedent for a public swearing-in to be held on a Sunday so all seven times, the public ceremonies have occurred the following Monday. The Inauguration of President James Monroe in 1821 was the first time the constitutionally-mandated Inauguration date fell on Sunday. After consulting with the Supreme Court and other government leaders, the decision was made to hold the ceremonies on Monday since “courts and other public institutions were not open on Sunday.” The second time this occurred was in 1849 with President Zachary Taylor. In the case of Presidents Monroe and Taylor, no private swearing-in occurred on the Sunday. However, in 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes elected to have the oath administered privately in the White House Red Room on Saturday, March 3, with the public ceremonies occurring at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, March 5. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson was privately sworn-in in the President’s Room of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, March 4, with the public ceremonies on Monday, March 5. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower took the oath of office in the White House East Room on January 20, 1957 with the public ceremonies following on Monday, January 21. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan had the oath administered privately at the White House and then due to extremely cold temperatures the public ceremonies were moved indoors to the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
The first 28 Inaugurations were planned by the Committee on Arrangements of the United States Senate, but since 1901, all Inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol have been organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC). A separate Presidential Inaugural Committee, appointed by the President-elect, has responsibility for all official Inaugural events other than those held at the Capitol. The military also plays a role with the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, which coordinates all military participation and support for the Inaugural ceremonies.
The United States Constitution specified the oath to be taken by the President, but the Framers of the Constitution provided that Congress would determine when and where the Inauguration would take place. As the nation grew, so did the public interest in the Presidential Inaugurations. By the late 1820s, what had typically been a small, indoor ceremony moved outdoors, allowing more people to witness this important event first hand. By the end of the 19th century, the Presidential Inauguration had evolved into an elaborate day-long event, marked by parades, fireworks, luncheons and glamorous Inaugural balls. As the event evolved, so did the Senate's role in the ceremony, and increasingly the House of Representatives became frustrated by their lack of involvement in the planning stage of Presidential Inaugurations.
In March of 1897, as preparations for William McKinley's first Inauguration were underway, members of the House of Representatives protested when they learned Senators would receive twice as many Inaugural tickets. Representatives were further angered when they discovered the Inaugural platform would be built entirely in front of the Senate wing of the Capitol. "In other words," the Washington Post reported, "the House is not to be recognized in this matter even a little bit." Senators defended their actions by reminding their House colleagues that, as a continuing body which advises the President on nominations and treaties, the Senate held a unique position within the federal government, one that was co-equal with the President. The Senate maintained its control over the 1897 Inauguration. However, in 1901, four years later, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies was formed to oversee Inaugural ceremonies at the United States Capitol. Representatives Joseph Cannon, John Dalzell and Thomas McRae joined Senators Marcus Hanna, John Spooner and James Jones to plan President McKinley's second Inauguration. Hanna chaired the committee, and continued the Senate tradition of accompanying the President-elect on his carriage ride to the Capitol. By all accounts, the joint effort was a success. The 1901 ceremony included parades and exhibitions viewed by the new President from a glass-enclosed reviewing stand at the White House, and the whole event was recorded—for the first time—by motion picture cameras.
Since 1901, Congress has created a new Inaugural committee every four years to plan and conduct the Inaugural activities at the Capitol, including the swearing-in ceremonies and the luncheon honoring the President and Vice President. As tradition dictates, the Committee includes the Senate Majority Leader (at the time of appointment), the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the House of Representatives. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration (at the time of appointment) traditionally chairs the Joint Committee.