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What's Important About Jan. 8?

If you lived in the South during the 19th century, you'd have no trouble answering this question.

Joseph Yeager, engraver. 'Battle of New Orleans and Death of Major General Packenham [sic] / West del.'J, [between 1815 and 1820(?) George Washington's first inaugural address, April 30, 1789

During the War of 1812, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson led a small, poorly equipped army to victory against 8,000 British troops at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson became a hero (and later the seventh president of the United States). Every Jan. 8, during the 19th century, many people held parties and dances to celebrate the anniversary of the great victory.

More about the Battle of New Orleans, including a performance by Bill and Jesse Robinson of the song "Eighth of January," is available in America's Library, the Web site for kids and families.

Jackson was inaugurated seventh president on March 4, 1829. Materials related to his first and second inaugurations can be found in "'I Do Solemnly Swear': Presidential Inaugurations," an extraordinary collection of materials from the Library's collections that are available in the American Memory Web site. Jackson's first and second inaugural addresses are here, as well as images from those events.

This presentation is one of more than 125 thematic collections in American Memory, a Web site of more than 9 million multimedia items from the Library and other major institutions.


A. Joseph Yeager, engraver. "Battle of New Orleans and Death of Major General Packenham [sic] / West del."J, [between 1815 and 1820(?). Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-62 DLC (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: PGA - Yeager--Battle of New Orleans ... (B size)

B. George Washington's first inaugural address, April 30, 1789. (George Washington Papers) George Washington (1732-1799) delivered his first inaugural address to a joint session of Congress, assembled in Federal Hall, New York City, on April 30, 1789. The newly elected president delivered the speech in a deep, low voice that betrayed what one observer called "manifest embarrassment." Aside from recommending constitutional amendments to satisfy citizens demanding a Bill of Rights, Washington confined himself to generalities. He closed by asking for a "divine blessing" on the American people and their elected representatives. In delivering an inaugural address, Washington went beyond the constitutional requirement of taking an oath of office and thus established a precedent that has been followed since by every elected president.

The Confederation Congress had set the date of the first inauguration as Wednesday, March 4, 1789. Members of the new Congress, however, were delayed in arriving in New York and were unable to count the electoral ballots as early as anticipated. Consequently, the inauguration was postponed until Congress officially notified Washington and the president-elect traveled from Virginia to New York. Subsequent inaugurations took place on either March 4 (or March 5 when the fourth fell on a Sunday) until 1937, when the Twentieth (or Lame-Duck) Amendment changed the date to Jan. 20 (or Jan. 21 when the 20th fell on a Sunday). Manuscript Division. Reproduction information: Contact:

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