Trump is not the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration


Final preparations are made ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Many actions during Donald Trump’s presidency were controversial or went against usual protocol. Not going to the inauguration of President Joe Biden was the last act of defiance against an election Trump tried to have overturned.

Not since Andrew Johnson, the nation’s 17th president, in 1869 has an outgoing president slighted the incoming president by not attending the inaugural ceremony. Trump joins Johnson, John Adams, and John Quincy Adams all one-term presidents who made statements by not going to their successor’s swearing-in.

While Adams never recorded why he left, he may have wanted to avoid provoking violence between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, as this was the first time the presidency was transferred to an opposing party.

White House Historical Association

Trump and Johnson were also both impeached. Johnson, the first president ever to be impeached, was charged with violating the Tenure of Office Act, said Time. Trump was impeached by Congress for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in 2019, according to Congressional records. He was not convicted in the Senate. He faces a second Senate trial for inciting violence that happened in the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

In 1841 and 1921 respectively, Martin Van Buren and Woodrow Wilson didn’t attend the inauguration because they were signing last-minute legislation. In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned choosing not to stay for the inauguration of Gerald Ford, said the White House Historical Association.

Attendance at the inauguration of successors is not required or mandated by law but a traditional observation underpinning American democracy. “The image of the past and present President at the U.S. Capitol is seen as an image of the continuity of government and a graceful and peaceful transfer of power,” Time said.

“The peaceful transfer of presidential power from one administration to the next is a hallmark of American democracy,” said the White House Historical Association. “This transition, both peaceful and symbolic of continuity and change, continues to amaze the world and represents the best of American democracy.”

John Adams

Adams may have left the U.S. Capitol before the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson to avoid violence between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, according to the White House Historical Association. His son had also just died which could be another reason he skipped out on Jefferson’s swearing-in, said Time.

John Quincy Adams

Time said that Adams was offended when successor Andrew Jackson failed to visit him in the days leading up to the inauguration. He left the White House on March 3, the day before Jackson’s inauguration.

Andrew Johnson

Johnson and his successor, Ulysses Grant, shared a mutual dislike for each other, according to the White House Historical Association. Months prior to Grant’s inauguration, Johnson decided he wasn’t going to attend calling Grant “a dissembler, a deliberate deceiver,” according to Time.

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