President Obama is being sworn in for a second term as president today, with a reenactment to be held tomorrow for public consumption. Until the Twentieth Amendment was passed in 1933, making January 20 our official inauguration day, most of our presidents were sworn in on March 4, which is a very lucky thing for historians.
That’s because the nascent science of photography might not have been up to the challenge of a stormy mid-winter photo shoot – early spring was more conducive to lugging equipment around and keeping it protected from the elements. And the light was better.
As a result, we have such treasures as photos of Lincoln’s first and second inaugurals in 1861 and 1865 and Ulysses S.Grant in 1869 (the Capitol looking much improved),
Teddy Roosevelt in his parade surrounded by Rough Riders,
and – exactly one hundred years ago – William Howard Taft handing off to Woodrow Wilson.
All photos courtesy of your Library of Congress.