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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 17:53 GMT
Guide to the inauguration ceremony

George W Bush's inauguration as the 43rd president of the United States follows a long tradition that has become an elaborate part of the political and social calendar.

It is no longer just a swearing-in ceremony, but a huge money-spinner and a tourist event that the whole country is encouraged to take part in - whether on television or at the ceremony itself.

Saturday's schedule
1545 GMT: Bushes and Clintons leave White House for Capitol Hill
1650 GMT: Dick Cheney sworn in as vice-president
1659 GMT: George Bush sworn in as president
1830 GMT: Parade starts
1930 GMT: Bush motorcade joins parade route
For those with the money, there are balls and galas across Washington. The most exclusive cost $1,250 a ticket.

But other people wanting to capture a slice of history may have to settle for a pack of playing cards perhaps, or a commemorative car licence plate - all for sale at the official gift shop website.

For $260 you can order a panoramic photo of Mr Bush taking his oath ("a proud addition to every American's home or office"), or for $99, you might want a presidential pen set.

Bible hunt

George W Bush's inaugural parade involves 37 marching bands from high schools and colleges nationwide, plus six military bands.

But the presidential inauguration started with just 36 words, set down in the constitution:

I do solemnly swear/affirm that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend, the constitution of the United States.

The constitution mentions nothing of an inaugural address, parades, balls and the other activities that are now expected. It does not even decree that the president must place a hand on the bible while taking the oath.

Street vendor selling Russian dolls, St Petersburg
Other countries like to cash in too
That tradition, like many others, began with the first US President, George Washington.

When he was first sworn into office, there was a scramble to find a bible after the chief justice of the New York state judiciary determined that an oath without a bible would lack legitimacy.

But none could be found in Federal Hall in New York City where the first swearing in was held. A bible had to be borrowed from a Masonic lodge a few blocks away.

The constitution sets out the words that every president must say, but it was George Washington who began the practice of adding the words "so help me God".

And after taking the oath of office, Mr Washington stepped into the Senate chambers and delivered a brief speech, giving rise to the tradition of the inaugural address.

The first inauguration to be...
photographed - 1857, James Buchanan
broadcast on radio - 1925, Calvin Coolidge
televised - 1949, Harry Truman
broadcast live on the internet - 1997, Bill Clinton
But since then there have been many changes.

For one thing, the inauguration moved from New York to Philadelphia and finally to Washington, when Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office in 1801.

The inauguration was held inside until 1817 when it was moved outdoors.

That year, James Monroe was sworn in on the east portico of the Capitol. It remained there until Ronald Reagan moved the ceremony to the west side of the Capitol in 1981, where it remains in 2001.

Pomp and parades

Parades have always been a part of the inauguration, but they started off as relatively modest affairs.

George W Bush and wife Laura
George Bush's swearing-in is the 54th in the US
The trend for ever-larger parades began with the first organised parade in 1809 when the cavalry escorted James Madison.

Larger and larger parades have been the rule ever since, with the notable of exception of 1826 for the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. Mourning the death of his wife, Rachel, he quashed the idea of any parade in favour of a simple stroll to the Capitol.

His second inauguration, in 1829, was more boisterous. He chose to open the White House to the public instead of holding an official celebration ball.

An 1889 painting by Ramon de Elorriaga - The Inauguration of George Washington
George Washington started some traditions
Thousands of guests poured in, breaking dishes, overturning furniture, and causing a riotous mess.

The scene was repeated in 1865 at Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration. Thousands of people mobbed the White House, tearing through a buffet reserved for invited guests only, and leaving with several 'souvenirs'

By 1985, at Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, the cost alone of building the reviewing stands and bleachers, and housing the 730 horses to be in the parade, approached $1m (according to the New York Times, George W Bush is spending $30m on his inauguration).

Unfortunately, Mr Reagan's parade, which was to feature 12,000 people, 66 floats and 57 marching bands, was cancelled due to bitter cold temperatures.

A chilly reception

Indeed, rain, snow and cold have dampened many inaugurations.

Despite a very cold, windy day in 1841, when William Henry Harrison was sworn into office, the president-elect insisted on riding a white charger in a two-hour procession to the Capitol and for the long parade back to the White House.

The chill weather continued all day and although he had a cold, he refused to wear a hat or coat.

His cold led to pneumonia, he slipped into a coma, and he died in April 1841, the first president to die in office.


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