In less than a week President-elect Barack Obama will take office. In the days leading up to the inauguration I will post a series of articles on presidential inaugurations, Past And Present.
Tennessee frontiersman Andrew Jackson, was the first president who was not a member of the nation’s eastern elite society. His election was seen as a victory for democracy and he was hailed as the people’s president. For the first time in the country’s history the festivities and celebrations following a presidential inauguration included “common” men and women.
“President’s Levee, or All Creation Going to the White House”
“This illustration by Robert Cruikshank depicts the large crowd that gathered at the White House for the reception following the inauguration of President Andrew.For the first time ever the White House was opened wide to the public”.
Margaret Smith was a respected member of Washington society. The following excerpts are from a letter she wrote to a friend describing Andrew Jackson’s inauguration:
“An almost breathless silence, succeeded and the multitude was still, – listening to catch the sound of his voice, tho’ it was so low, as to be heard only by those nearest to him. After reading his speech, the oath was administered to him by the Chief Justice. The Marshal presented the Bible. The President took it from his hands, pressed his lips to it, laid it reverently down, then bowed again to the people – Yes, to the people in all their majesty.”
“The President made his parting bow, the barrier that had separated the people from him was broken down and they rushed up the steps all eager to shake hands with him. It was with difficulty he made his way through the Capitol and down the hill to the gateway that opens on the avenue. Here for a moment he was stopped. The living mass was impenetrable.”
“It was the People’s day, and the People’s President and the People would rule.”