The happy historians at backstory have a timely feature, Four More Years: Presidential Inaugurations in America. There are a few stories.
George Washington was afraid of acting like a king. No one knew just how the office of President would turn out. Honest George stood on a New York balcony, took the oath, and gave a tasteful speech. The wooden teeth worked well.
Probably the most exciting inaugural was in 1876. The country had endured eight years of Ulysses Grant, and was ready to elect a Democrat. The Republicans were good at dirty tricks, and got Rutherford Hayes elected, despite losing the popular vote. The Democrat, Samuel Tilden, had a power base in New York, and was rumored to have an army. The possibility of an armed fight over the election was real. Cooler heads prevailed. Mr. Hayes was allowed to take his ZZ Top beard into the oval office. Four years later James Garfield was sworn in, not knowing what was in store.
In 1865, the country had endured four brutal years of internal war. Abraham Lincoln wanted to start the recovery process. His speech is regarded as the best inaugural speech ever.
Backstory makes a point that few have thought about. They said that Mr. Lincoln was a lousy public speaker. The reason his inaugural speech is famous today is because copies of the text were printed in newspapers. This makes sense, as less than an hundred people probably heard his unamplified, unrecorded, address. This would also account for the popularity of the Gettysburg Address.
Today, it is the medium, rather than the message. We are inundated with clever words, designed to uplift, improve, educate, and motivate. With everyone screaming, no one is heard. It is tough to imagine an inaugural today having the impact of the ones in history.
This repost feature was written like H. P. Lovecraft. The pictures are from The Library of Congress. The images are Union soldiers, from the War Between the States.