How A President is Inaugurated by Clifford Howard

As you will remember, Thomas Jefferson was the first President of our country to be inaugurated at Washington. This took place in the year 1801, when our national capital was not much more than a year old; and you may imagine that the city was a very different-looking place from what it is to-day.

But now instead of a straggling town with a few muddy streets and about three thousand inhabitants, Jefferson would find our national capital one of the most beautiful cities on the face of the earth, with a population of nearly three hundred thousand; and on March 4 he would behold a scene such as he never dreamed of. Thousands of flags fly from the house-tops and windows, bright-colored bunting in beautiful designs adorns the great public buildings, all the stores and business houses are gaily decorated with flags and streamers, and everything presents the appearance of a great and glorious holiday, while the streets swarm with the hundreds of thousands of people who have come to the city from all parts of the country to take part in the grand celebration.

Everybody is moving toward Pennsylvania Avenue, where the parade is to march. No, not everybody: some fifty or sixty thousand make their way to the Capitol, so as to get a glimpse of the inauguration exercises that take place on the east portico; and although the ceremonies will not begin until nearly one o'clock, the great space in front of the Capitol is packed with people three hours before that time, some of them having come as early as eight o'clock in the morning to be sure of getting a good view.

Early in the morning Pennsylvania Avenue is cleared of all street-cars, carriages, and bicycles, and no one is allowed to step off the sidewalk. A strong wire rope is stretched along each side of the avenue, so as to prevent people from getting into the street.

Soon every window and balcony along the line is crowded with spectators. Even the roofs are black with people, and small boys may be seen perched among the branches of the trees, or hanging on to the electric-light poles. For a distance of nearly three miles, on each side of the street, people are packed so closely together that it is almost impossible for them to move. In every park and open space along the line large wooden stands have been erected; and these, too, are filled with those who are willing to pay for seats.

As the time for the morning parade draws near, the crowds become restless with eagerness and excitement. Policemen on horseback dash up and down the avenue to see that the road is clear, and every now and then a trooper or messenger in bright uniform gallops past. Suddenly the boom of a cannon is heard. The next moment there comes the distant roll of drums, and then, amid the inspiring music of brass bands and tremendous cheering, the procession appears moving slowly down the avenue on its way to the Capitol. Riding ahead is a squad of mounted police—big, brawny fellows, with glittering brass buttons. After them come the United States troops and naval forces, armed with their rifles and sabers that flash in the sunlight, and marching to the music of the famous Marine Band, while rumbling over the hard, smooth pavement of the avenue come the big cannons drawn by powerful horses. Then appears the chief marshal of the parade on his spirited horse, heading the body-guard of soldiers that surround the open carriage containing the President and the President-elect, sitting side by side. As the carriage, which is drawn by four handsome horses, rolls slowly along with its distinguished occupants, men and boys shout and cheer at the top of their lungs, and throw their hats into the air when their voices give out, while the women and girls wave their handkerchiefs and hurrah with the rest of the crowd. With hat in hand, the President-elect smiles and bows to the right and the left; and with the bands playing and people cheering, handkerchiefs fluttering and flags flying, he arrives at the Capitol a few minutes before noon. Here he meets with another rousing reception from the great mass of people who have been waiting for him for two or three hours; and it requires all the efforts of a small army of police to open the way for him and his party to pass into the Capitol.



The House of Representatives is about to adjourn, and many of its members have already come over to the Senate to witness the closing exercises there. Extra chairs and seats have been brought in for them and the many other prominent officials who also have gathered there, including the officers of the army and the navy, the justices of the Supreme Court, the cabinet officers, and the foreign ambassadors and ministers, many of whom are dressed in their gorgeous state robes. According to law, Congress must come to an end at noon; but if the presidential party has not made its appearance when the Senate clock is about to point to twelve, the hands are moved back a few minutes so as to gain time. And before the hands are allowed to get around to twelve, everybody has arrived, everything is in readiness, and the President of the Senate has administered the oath of office to his successor, the new Vice-President of the United States, who at once calls an extra session of the Senate, so that not a moment elapses between the death of one session and the birth of another. Then, after a short prayer by the chaplain and a brief address by the Vice-President, the distinguished people gathered in the Senate form in line, and, headed by a company of newspaper reporters, they march in dignified procession to the rotunda, and thence to the platform on the east front of the Capitol.

The nine justices of the Supreme Court, clothed in their black robes, walk out on the platform first, followed by the President-elect. As soon as the crowd catches sight of him, a deafening shout breaks forth from fifty thousand throats, and, amid the enthusiastic uproar that lasts several minutes, hats and canes, umbrellas and handkerchiefs, are waved aloft or thrown wildly into the air by joyous and patriotic Americans. Removing his hat, the President-elect comes forward, and, turning to the Chief Justice of the United States, takes the oath of office as required by the Constitution. Then comes the inaugural address, which, of course, only those near the platform are able to hear. But the thirty or forty thousand who can't hear the speech are willing to agree with everything that is said, and every little while they shout and cheer and applaud.



All this time the crowd on the avenue has been patiently waiting for the return of the President. The morning's procession was nothing more than a military escort; now is to come the great feature of the day—the grand inauguration parade. The ceremonies at the Capitol are over at half-past one, and the new President goes at once to the White House, greeted with rousing cheers all along the way, and prepares to review the greatest parade ever seen in the city of Washington. All the morning, companies of soldiers, political clubs, bands, and drum corps have been preparing for the afternoon's march. There are so many thousands who are going to take part in the parade that orders have been given requiring all companies to march in ranks reaching from curb to curb, a distance of one hundred and thirty feet, and to follow one another as closely as possible.

The march is begun a little before two o'clock; and, although the people have been standing on the sidewalks since early morning, they have plenty of enthusiasm left, and they fill the air with their shouts and hurrahs as regiment after regiment of magnificently drilled soldiers and horses marches by.

Even after the electric lamps are lighted, men and horses are still tramping along the avenue, and people are still shouting and the bands playing and flags waving. And all this time the President stands in front of the White House, reviewing the marching thousands as they pass along.

But although the big parade finally comes to an end, the festivities are not yet over. Late into the night the city is brilliantly illuminated by magnificent and wonderful fireworks and powerful electric search-lights that shine from the tops of the tall buildings and light up the great dome of the Capitol and the Washington monument. Then comes the grand inaugural ball. There are over ten thousand people present, and the scene is a glorious and wonderful sight.

It is almost sunrise when the last carriage rolls away, and with the closing of the ball the inauguration festivities end.