The Presidential Inauguration: Peacefully Handing Over Power

written August 23, 2016, by contentadmin

We often forget there is a moment when one person cedes power to another upon the taking of the Oath. There is no bloodshed. Washington played a key role in making this possible. Today this event is part of his legacy.


Matthew Spalding, Vice President, American Studies and Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics wrote the following:


“We take for granted the peaceful transferal of power from one President to another, but it was Washington’s relinquishing of power in favor of the rule of law—a first in the annals of modern history—that made those transitions possible. “The moderation and virtue of a single character,” Thomas Jefferson tellingly noted, “probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”His peaceful transfer of the presidency to John Adams in 1797 inaugurated one of America’s greatest democratic traditions. King George III said that Washington’s retirement, combined with his resignation 14 years earlier, “placed him in a light the most distinguished of any living man” and made him “the greatest character of the age.”  (2012)


There are many interesting facts and trivia about the Presidential Inauguration. One of the most curious is with our current President Barack Obama. While the 22nd amendment allows for a two-term presidency, President Obama actually took the Oath 4 times! The same number as FDR.


Share this chapter of history with your students and plan your class trip to Washington DC.


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