The Presidential Inauguration means something different to everyone – some love it as it revives a sense of country and pride, some think it’s a lotta fuss, but one thing does hold true and that is that there is a direct correlation between Inauguration Day and firsts – especially as it relates to the world of communications.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
- March 4, 1801 – Jefferson’s Inaugural Address is the first to be printed in a newspaper on the morning of the inauguration
- March 4, 1841- Harrison is delivers the longest Inaugural address (8,445 words). He died of pneumonia one month later, believed to have been brought on by prolonged exposure to bad weather at his March 4 Inauguration.
- March 4, 1845 – Polk’s is the first Inauguration covered by telegraph.
- March 4, 1853 – Pierce is the first President to affirm the oath of office and not swear it AND the first to recite his speech entirely from memory
- March 4, 1857 – Buchanan’s is the first Inauguration known to have been photographed.
THEN it takes a whopping 40 years for this…
- March 4, 1897 – McKinley’s is the first Inauguration to be recorded by a motion picture camera
- March 4, 1905 – Marks the first time telephone lines were installed at the U.S. Capitol for Theodore Roosevelt’s Inauguration.
It wasn’t until March 4, 1925 that radio broadcasted the first Inaugural ceremony – that of Calvin Coolidge
- March 4, 1929 – Hoover’s Inaugural Ceremony is recorded by talking newsreel
- January 20, 1949 – Truman’s is the first Inaugural ceremony to be televised
- January 20, 1953 – Eisenhower broke precedent, instead of kissing the Bible after taking the oath of office, he recited his own prayer
- January 20, 1961 – Kennedy is the first to invite a poet (Robert Frost) to participate
- January 20, 1997 – Clinton’s Inaugural ceremony is the first to be broadcast over the Internet
As the first African American President, it’s no surprise that President Obama has his own list of “firsts” as far as Inauguration Ceremonies are concerned. His January 20, 2009 Inauguration:
- Corralled the highest viewership ever of the swearing-in ceremonies on the Internet
- Welcomed the first woman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to emcee the ceremony
- Was the first inaugural webcast to include captioning
- And the first swearing-in ceremony to include an audio description.
Today was no different.
- President Obama once again added to the list of “firsts” by welcoming Richard Blanco as the inaugural poet. He is the first immigrant, first Latino, and first gay person to be inaugural poet.
- For the first time ever, hearing-impaired attendees were able to watch closed captioning of the event on their smartphones.
- The 2013 Inauguration is the first to provide attendees with an App helping those find their way around – even mapping out the port-a-potties.
- And lastly, this is the first Tweeted Inauguration. While Twitter had surfaced before the last Inauguration in 2009, the overloaded cellular system virtually shut down data phone usage on and around the Mall.
As the first to utilize social media (and use it well) and deliver a speech with the best of them, President Obama will most definitely be remembered for many things including his ability to communicate…well.