The inauguration of an American president usually takes place at a public ceremony marked by pomp, circumstance and the presence of a predecessor.
This has been the customized for about two centuries: a present of participation from the departing head of state that symbolizes the peaceable switch of energy. When President Trump promised to put an finish to “American carnage” in his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2017, former President Barack Obama regarded on from a seat simply past Mr. Trump’s left shoulder.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who attended that inauguration as the former vp 4 years in the past, will take his personal oath of workplace on Wednesday. But Mr. Trump has introduced that he will probably be absent. And whereas that call is a break from the norm, it isn’t with out precedent: A handful of American presidents have additionally missed the inaugurations of their successors.
“It’s usually a sign that American society is in the midst of major political feud,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley stated. “The fact that the incoming and outgoing presidents can’t shake hands and co-participate in an inauguration means that something’s off-kilter in the democracy.”
That was the case for John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson — three presidents who have been bitterly at odds with those that unseated them. All three males served no multiple time period. And Johnson, like Mr. Trump, was impeached.
When the presidency of John Adams led to 1801, it may have gone badly. The United States was in its infancy and had by no means seen a head of state switch energy to a political opponent — on this case, Thomas Jefferson, whose republican imaginative and prescient for the nation was at odds with the robust central authorities favored by Adams.
The election of 1800 was arduous fought, marred by private assaults and deadlocked for weeks, partly as a result of the nation had not but labored out the kinks of electing its president and vp at the similar time.
“This problem overshadowed Adams’s rude refusal to show up for the inauguration,” stated Carol Berkin, a professor of historical past at Baruch College in New York City.
Democracy appeared so wobbly throughout the voting course of that civil warfare was a definite risk. But in the finish, Jefferson claimed the presidency peacefully. And on Inauguration Day, Adams left Washington quietly, before dawn, in a stagecoach certain for Baltimore.
John Quincy Adams, the sixth American president, adopted in his father’s footsteps when he declined to attend the swearing-in of the man who had unseated him: the populist Andrew Jackson.
Like his father, Adams had variations together with his successor that weren’t simply political. The males additionally disliked one another, Dr. Berkin stated.
The election, which passed off at a time when the proper to vote was increasing to a barely bigger pool of white males than earlier than, concerned loads of mudslinging. Jackson received, and Adams left the White House on March 3, 1829, the day earlier than the inauguration.
The subsequent president to snub his predecessor was Johnson, whose presidency was, like Mr. Trump’s, marred by impeachment.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. will develop into president of the United States at midday on Jan. 20 in a scaled-back inauguration ceremony. While key parts will stay conventional, many occasions will probably be downsized and “reimagined” to higher adapt the celebration to a nation battling the coronavirus. Mr. Biden will probably be sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the Capitol’s West Front someday earlier than midday. The new president is then anticipated give his inaugural handle and conduct a evaluate of army troops, as is custom. But as a substitute of a conventional parade earlier than cheering spectators alongside Pennsylvania Avenue as the new president, vp and their households make their approach to the White House over a mile away, there will probably be an official escort with representatives from each department of the army for one metropolis block.
President Trump introduced Friday that he wouldn’t attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Mr. Biden referred to as that call “one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on. Still, it is a major break with tradition for a president to skip the ceremonial heart of the country’s democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.
George W. Bush, has confirmed he would travel to Washington for Inauguration Day, along with Laura Bush, the former first lady. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are also expected to attend, along with former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. This year, tickets are not available to members of the public. Planners are urging people to stay home and participate in virtual inaugural events to prevent large crowds that could easily spread the coronavirus. Events will be live streamed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and by The New York Times.
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the term of each elected president and vice president begin at noon Jan. 20 of the year after the election. Every president has taken the oath of office, and they cannot assume their positions without doing so. Symbolically, it marks the peaceful transfer of power from the current president to the next. Inauguration Day will be all the more important this year, as Mr. Biden ascends to the presidency at a time when political division has threatened the nation’s democratic institutions and his predecessor has gone to extreme lengths to stay in power.
Johnson was not on the ballot in the presidential election of 1868. The Democratic Party instead nominated Horatio Seymour, who was in turn beat by Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican. But the animosity between Grant, who had led the Union to victory in the Civil War, and Johnson, a Southerner who opposed Reconstruction, was clear.
It culminated in Johnson’s refusal to attend the inauguration in 1869 — a decision that was so last minute that a carriage arrived to collect him on the morning of the ceremony and was turned away, according to a report from The New York Herald.
That snub, which happened 152 years ago and reflected deep schisms in a country trying to recover from the deadliest war in its history, appears to have been the last time a departing president declined to attend his successor’s inauguration for political reasons.
(There were other instances that were not necessarily political. Martin Van Buren didn’t attend the 1841 inauguration of his successor, William Henry Harrison, for reasons that remain unclear. Woodrow Wilson accompanied his successor, Warren G. Harding, to the Capitol on Inauguration Day in 1921 but was not well enough to participate in the ceremony. Richard M. Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974, did not stick around to see Gerald Ford take the oath of office in the East Room of the White House.)
Mr. Trump announced on Jan. 8 that he would not attend Mr. Biden’s ceremony. “To all of those who have asked,” the president tweeted from an account that’s now suspended, “I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
And whereas Mr. Trump was not the first to make such a call, each Dr. Berkin and Dr. Brinkley identified that he had damaged from his predecessors by refusing to settle for the outcomes of the election that unseated him.
Dr. Brinkley stated that whereas it was “an esteemed American tradition” for a president to attend the inauguration of his successor, the occasions of two weeks in the past — when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol — have been extraordinary sufficient to overturn outdated precedents.
“For a while, I thought it would be helpful for the country if Trump were there for the inauguration,” he stated. “But everything changed on Jan. 6, when Trump became an insurrectionist.”
The White House didn’t reply to a request for remark.