Donald Trump is poised to fly out of Washington, D.C., down to Mar-A-Lago, on the morning of January 20, and, in doing so, he is intentionally skipping Joe Biden’s inauguration (via The Washington Post). This will be his final act in breaking Inauguration Day traditions. While skipping your successor’s swearing in is definitely against the norm, Trump is not the first president to do so.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our second and third presidents, were political enemies, and at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day of 1801, Adams left Washington, refusing to attend Jefferson’s ceremony. Then, proving the phrase “like father, like son,” John Quincy Adams, our sixth president and John Adams’ son, left the day before Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 (via Washington Post). Seems Jackson snubbed Adams’ invitation for a visit in the weeks before the swearing-in ceremony, and Adams returned the snub by leaving town early (via Time).
Trump will also miss out on the traditional ride from the White House to the Capitol
Andrew Johnson, our 17th president, skipped Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration in 1869. Apparently the two didn’t think much of each other (via White House History). In the biography Grant, author Ron Chernow wrote, “For two months before the Inauguration, the outgoing President dithered over whether to attend. In January, [Johnson] grumbled that Grant was ‘a dissembler, a deliberate deceiver’ and swore he would not ‘debase’ himself by going to the ceremony (via Time).” Interestingly, all three of these presidents who snubbed the Inauguration ceremonies of their successors were one-term presidents.
In 1974, in a slightly different situation, Richard Nixon, who resigned from office before being impeached — left the White House before Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in to replace him (via People).
Since Trump will be out of town, he’s also missing the traditional limo ride together with the outgoing president and the newly elected one. That tradition started with Andrew Jackson sharing a carriage with Martin Van Buren in 1837 (via White House History).
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