American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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Buchanan's Inauguration

Inauguration of James Buchanan
Inauguration of James Buchanan,
President of the United States,
at the east front of the U. S. Capitol
Albumen print, March 4, 1857
Manuscript Division (88A)


Montgomery C. Meigs (1816-1892), the Supervisory Engineer of the Capitol expansion, pasted the first-known photograph of an inauguration beside his journal entry for March 4, 1857. Photographer, John Wood, experimented with the photographic process in anticipation of documenting James Buchanan's (1791-1868) inauguration. Meigs wrote: "Mr. Wood has been trying some photography process of great speed for the purpose of taking a view of the inauguration. He made a view of the front of the Capitol in which the figures are, many of them, quite distinct. It took about 4 seconds."

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