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Five (Politically Incorrect) Facts About Past Presidential Inaugurations

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Editor’s note: This is from New York Times Bestselling Author Larry Schweikart’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Presidents Part I

Did you know that most facts about America’s early presidents aren’t in history books? Political correctness has taken its toll on some of our greatest heroes and portrayed them as evil men. New York Times bestselling author Larry Schweikart sets the record straight in his new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents Part I. As America prepares to inaugurate its 45th president, here are five interesting facts about America’s past inaugurations that aren’t easily found in academia (or the liberal media).


1. No one remembered to bring a Bible for George Washington to be sworn in on at America’s first presidential inauguration.

The judge who administered Washington’s oath had to send for a Bible from the local Masonic lodge. After saying “So help me God,” Washington dramatically bent down to kiss the Bible, followed by a loud cheer, “Long Live George Washington, President of the United States!”

2. Three of our early presidents – John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson – did not attend the inaugurations of their successors.

The men were so eager to leave Washington that they left town before witnessing the swearing-in of the men who took their places.

3. Andrew Jackson arrived armed to John Quincy Adams’ inauguration.

James Monroe and his guest Lafayette first feared the worst when they saw that Andrew Jackson was (customarily) armed with two pistols when he arrived at John Quincy Adams’ inauguration. Turns out, Jackson was just pulling their leg with a frightening expression on his face and soon broke out in a broad grin and congratulated the new president.

4. William Henry Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech in history – that possibly killed him.

The speech was two hours (and 8,445 words) long. While it’s unknown if he caught a cold that turned into pneumonia during that speech, he quickly became seriously ill and died a few weeks later.

5. The first inauguration ever filmed was in 1897.


William McKinley was the first president whose oath of office was captured on film and his presidency was marked by breakthroughs in invention and technology – telephones became common during his time and American cities began embracing electricity.

Larry Schweikart, Ph.D., is a retired professor of history at the University of Dayton and the coauthor of A Patriot’s History of the United States, a #1 New York Times bestseller. His most recent book, The Politically Incorrect Guide® to the Presidents Part I, debuted on January 9, 2016. He is the coauthor of the upcoming books How Trump Won and The Politically Incorrect Guide® to the American Revolution. Dr. Schweikart lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his wife, Dee, and three dogs.

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