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U.S. Presidential Inaugurations: John F. Kennedy

[John F. Kennedy, head-and-shoulders portrait
[John F. Kennedy, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right].
[Between 1960 and 1970].
Prints and Photographs Division.

Inauguration - January 20, 1961

Facts*

  • First president to be inaugurated on the extended East Front.
  • First time that a Speaker of the House administered the oath of office to the vice president. (Previously the oath had been given by either the President pro tempore of the Senate, the ex-Vice President, or a United States Senator.) (Roll Call, 1/18/1961).
  • First time a poet, Robert Frost, participated in the official ceremonies at the Capitol. (See official program.)
  • First time that both parents of the president-elect attended their son's inauguration. (Washington Daily News, 1/21/1961).
  • As the first Catholic elected president, Kennedy was the first to use a Catholic (Douay) version of the Bible for his oath.
  • First inaugural parade for which Army flame throwers were used to clear snow from Pennsylvania Avenue. (Washington Daily News, 1/21/1961).
  • First appearance of the Air Force Academy Band in the parade. (Evening Star, 1/3/1961).
  • First time that the parade was televised in color (NBC). (New York Times, 1/15/1961).
  • First inauguration celebrated with five balls.
  • Last president to wear traditional stovepipe hat to the inauguration.

 

President-elect John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Father Richard J. Casey, the Pastor
President-elect John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Father Richard J. Casey, the Pastor, after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Church [...] prior to inauguration ceremonies, January 20, 1961.
January 20, 1961.
Prints and Photographs Division.

The Gift Outright.
The Gift Outright.”
Robert Frost, 1942.
American Treasures at the Library of Congress
Manuscript Division.

Inaugural ceremony of John F. Kennedy, surrounded by crowd,
[Inaugural ceremony of John F. Kennedy, surrounded by crowd, January 20, 1961].
January 20, 1961.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Inauguration of President Kennedy on east portico of U.S. Capitol.

Dedication.
Dedication.
January 20, 1961.
The Papers of Stuart L. Udall.
Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
Manuscript Division.

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* This information is based on a compilation by the Office of the Curator, Architect of the Capitol, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, from contemporary accounts and other sources. Additional research provided by Library of Congress staff.

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