Trump Is Not the First President to Snub an Inauguration


[Here’s how to watch the Biden inauguration.]

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 place an finish to “American carnage” in his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2017, former President Barack Obama appeared on from a seat simply past Mr. Trump’s left shoulder.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who attended that inauguration as the previous vice chairman 4 years in the past, will take his personal oath of workplace on Wednesday. However Mr. Trump has introduced that he shall 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 often an indication that American society is within the midst of main political feud,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley mentioned. “The truth that the incoming and outgoing presidents can’t shake fingers and co-participate in an inauguration implies that one thing’s off-kilter within the democracy.”

That was the case for John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson — three presidents who had 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 resulted in 1801, it may have gone badly. The US 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.

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The election of 1800 was laborious 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 vice chairman on the similar time.

“This drawback overshadowed Adams’s impolite refusal to point out up for the inauguration,” mentioned Carol Berkin, a professor of historical past at Baruch Faculty in New York Metropolis.

Democracy appeared so wobbly in the course of the voting course of that civil conflict was a definite chance. However in the long run, Jefferson claimed the presidency peacefully. And on Inauguration Day, Adams left Washington quietly, before dawn, in a stagecoach sure for Baltimore.

Credit score…John Singleton Copley, through Related Press

John Quincy Adams, the sixth American president, adopted in his father’s footsteps when he declined to attend the swearing-in of the person who had unseated him: the populist Andrew Jackson.

Like his father, Adams had variations along with his successor that weren’t simply political. The lads additionally disliked one another, Dr. Berkin mentioned.

The election, which passed off at a time when the suitable to vote was increasing to a barely bigger pool of white males than earlier than, concerned loads of mudslinging. Jackson gained, 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.

Johnson was not on the poll within the presidential election of 1868. The Democratic Celebration as an alternative nominated Horatio Seymour, who was in flip beat by Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican. However the animosity between Grant, who had led the Union to victory within the Civil Struggle, 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 gather him on the morning of the ceremony and was turned away, based on a report from The New York Herald.

That snub, which occurred 152 years in the past and mirrored deep schisms in a rustic making an attempt to get well from the deadliest conflict in its historical past, seems to have been the final time a departing president declined to attend his successor’s inauguration for political causes.

(There have been different situations that weren’t essentially political. Martin Van Buren didn’t attend the 1841 inauguration of his successor, William Henry Harrison, for causes that stay unclear. Woodrow Wilson accompanied his successor, Warren G. Harding, to the Capitol on Inauguration Day in 1921 however was not effectively sufficient to take part within the ceremony. Richard M. Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974, didn’t stick round to see Gerald Ford take the oath of workplace within the East Room of the White Home.)

Mr. Trump introduced on Jan. 8 that he wouldn’t attend Mr. Biden’s ceremony. “To all of those that have requested,” the president tweeted from an account that’s now suspended, “I can’t be going to the Inauguration on January twentieth.”

And whereas Mr. Trump was not the primary to make such a choice, each Dr. Berkin and Dr. Brinkley identified that he had damaged from his predecessors by refusing to just accept the outcomes of the election that unseated him.

Dr. Brinkley mentioned that whereas it was “an esteemed American custom” 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 — had been extraordinary sufficient to overturn outdated precedents.

“For some time, I believed it might be useful for the nation if Trump had been there for the inauguration,” he mentioned. “However all the things modified on Jan. 6, when Trump grew to become an insurrectionist.”

The White Home didn’t reply to a request for remark.



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