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Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administering the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, March 4, 1889

[Detail] Administering the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison, 1889.

Creative Writing

An illustration or photograph can serve as the basis for writing a diary entry, newspaper article, or short story describing a presidential inauguration. Choose a president, examine some of the primary sources in this collection, and imagine what it was like to attend a past inauguration.

  • Was George Washington as nervous as Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay describes in his April 30, 1789 journal entry recalling the first presidential inauguration?
  • How did it feel to stand out in the rain for forty-five minutes in 1841 as William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address in American history?
  • What was the prevailing mood in 1865 when Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address in the midst of the Civil War?