Inauguration Day is the time set to swear in the new president and vice president of the United States. It is the day a new president officially takes control.
The presidential election takes place in November, but there needs to be some time before the elected leader can take control.
January 20 wasn’t always Inauguration Day. The first inauguration was set for March 4, 1789 but George Washington couldn’t make it to the ceremony in time, and it was delayed by a bad winter.
Historically, it took time to pack up and move to Washington D.C. This was before automobiles and planes, so traveling by horse and wagons took much longer. In the meantime, the current president had little power and this gap in time has caused problems in the past. For example, during the 1860 election, outgoing President James Buchanan didn’t pay heed to the nation’s civil unrest and incoming President Abraham Lincoln was forced to sit idly aside while seven states left the Union in what was called the long “Secession Winter.”
On January 23, 1933, the 20th Amendment was ratified, moving the Inauguration Day to January 20.
Into the Present
Inauguration Day represents a peaceful and smooth transition of power from one leader to the next. The new president will take his oath of office. After a celebration and speeches, the president and his family officially move into the White House.