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Old Inauguration Day – March 4, 2023

Old Inauguration Day is an annual event that occurs on March 4 to commemorate the events that ushered in a newly constitution-defined inauguration date for president-elect and newly elected senators. The change to the constitution it celebrates, The “Twentieth Amendment”, moved the beginning and ending of the terms of the president and vice president from March 4 to January 20, and of members of Congress from March 4 to January 3. The passage of the “Twentieth Amendment” in 1933 also included provisions for what should be done when there is no president-elect.

History of Old Inauguration Day

Old Inauguration Day commemorates the events that ushered in a newly constitution-defined inauguration date for president-elect and senators in the United States. The holiday is called so to allude to the changed date of inaugural ceremonies before the introduction of the “Twentieth Amendment” to the constitution that moved the date from March 4 to January 20. Historically, there are several reasons for the introduction of the “Twentieth Amendment” to the constitution. 

First, it is to allow the president-elect enough time to move into the nation’s capital. But more so, the amendment was made to make sure the incoming Congress, rather than the outgoing one, would hold a contingent election if the Electoral College deadlocked regarding either the presidential or vice-presidential elections. The edit to the constitution moved the beginning and ending of the terms of the president and vice president from March 4 to January 20, and of members of Congress from March 4 to January 3. 

Its passage in 1933 also included provisions for what should be done when there is no president-elect. Nicknamed the “Lame Duck Amendment” due to the decline in power an outgoing official has during transition periods, the change the amendment introduced, is one of a handful of times in the past when the inauguration of a new president changed throughout the history of the country. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election in 1937 marks the first inauguration ceremony held on January 20 as recently included in the constitution. 

Old Inauguration Day timeline

The 1700s
First March Inauguration

Inaugurations begin to take place in March from the year 1793 until 1937 — before this, the first inauguration took place in April for George Washington.

1817
Inauguration Venue Moved

The location for James Monroe's swearing-in moves due to ongoing restoration work at the Capitol building following the War of 1812.

1877
The Only Weekend Inauguration

The inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes is held secretly due to a controversy in the previous year.

1937
First January Inauguration

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in as president and the first inauguration ceremony is held in January.

Old Inauguration Day FAQs

Why was the original inauguration day changed?

The date changed due to the introduction of the “Twentieth Amendment” to the constitution.  After its introduction, it sought to allow the president-elect enough time to move into the nation’s capital. It also changed to reduce the time for the next congress.

Why is it called Old Inauguration Day?

It’s known as Old Inauguration day to commemorate the constitutional date of inaugural ceremonies before the “Twentieth Amendment” to the constitution that changed the date from March 4 to January 20. 

How can I celebrate Old Inauguration Day?

Read up on the history of the U.S. to observe Old Inauguration Day. You may also visit old inauguration centers like the historic ‘Federal Hall’ in New York and ‘Congress Hall’, in Philadelphia to witness the changes to their architecture. 

How To Observe Old Inauguration Day

  1. Read up on the history of the U.S.

    Reading about the history of the United States and learning about events surrounding its elections is a good way to observe Old Inauguration Day. You can also watch previous inaugurations on YouTube to know exactly what goes on during the ceremony.

  2. Visit old inauguration centers

    One fun way to observe and celebrate Old Inauguration Day is to visit the buildings that served as the inauguration venue in states that were once the capital of the country. The historic ‘Federal Hall’ in New York and ‘Congress Hall’, in Philadelphia are the two primary venues.

  3. Persuade people to celebrate on social media

    To observe Old Inauguration Day, start conversations on social media platforms to encourage people to partake in the observance of the day. Be sure to use #OldInaugurationDay to track the impact of your Kickstarter. Who knows, you may end up trending the holiday!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Inaugurations

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt — the first

    Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to be sworn into office in January.

  2. The ‘Lame Duck Amendment’

    The legislation that changed the old inauguration date from March 4 to January 20 is nicknamed the “Lame Duck Amendment”.

  3. Longest address

    Harrison gave the longest address at a presidential inauguration — his self-written speech consisted of 8,445 words.

  4. The ultimate inauguration venue

    Inauguration ceremonies have been held at the west front of the United States Capitol since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981.

  5. The presidential oath of office

    Recitation of the presidential oath of office is the only part of inauguration ceremonies mandated by the United States Constitution.

Why Old Inauguration Day Is Important

  1. It highlights important events in U.S. history

    Several events transpired before the introduction of the “Twentieth Amendment” to the constitution to necessitate its introduction. First, it was the postponement of George Washington’s inauguration due to the electoral ballots taking longer to count in 1789. Then, the compromise of 1877 and the restoration of the Capitol building following the War of 1812, which led to James Monroe being sworn in at the Old Brick Capitol in Washington.

  2. It helps us know how times have changed

    Arguably the most important reason to celebrate Old Inauguration Day is that observing it helps us see clearly how time has changed. It highlights several important events in the history of America and the actors that took part in it.

  3. It highlights important figures in U.S. history

    Another reason is, it helps us identify sometimes long-forgotten but important figures in the history of the United States. Talk about the likes of James Monroe, Benjamin Harrison, and Warren G. Harding.

Old Inauguration Day dates

YearDateDay
2023March 4Saturday
2024March 4Monday
2025March 4Tuesday
2026March 4Wednesday
2027March 4Thursday

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