The History of Presidential Inaugurations

Historian Jim Bendat discusses swearing-in of presidents through the years.
4:55 | 01/22/13

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Transcript for The History of Presidential Inaugurations
We're looking at the west. Front of the US capitol building the bleachers slowly clearing out at people. Here -- home or for a select few roughly 200 people they're gonna go to lunch with the president that includes congressional leadership members of the Supreme Court. Members of the president's family the vice president's Bentley there be dining on lobster and some other nice stuff we'll show you the menu in just a minute but let me let me get -- -- Jim -- Jim that presidential historian just as a reminder -- -- these events the united -- now. So. Choreographed and down to the minute every time death was not always that way was it. No actually today I think things went went off a little bit earlier than. And what they normally do. Normally the president tries to take the -- right around noon exactly today it was about seven minutes earlier than that. He began his inaugural address before noon eastern time also. -- I think the whole ceremony went quite quickly today. John F. Kennedy back in 1961. Wasn't sworn in until 1251. Almost an hour lights -- -- You never know about those kind of things. And there. There was also the -- -- Andrew Jackson throwing a huge party at the White House and people ripping down the drapes and getting into fights and things like Barrett. -- got back in 1829. And throughout the minute much of the eighteen hundreds they used to have receptions. The White House. It was a big one for Abraham Lincoln and 1865. But the -- you're referring to an 1829. -- represented the first real. Time that -- Washington outsider had become president. And people showed up in in Washington for Jackson's inauguration with their raggedy clothes and their muddy boots and they became double White House that afternoon. And they trampled the place they being messed up the curtains they -- the carpeting. Am somebody wanted to really. The White House officials wanted to get them out of their in the tried to figure out how can we do this. Someone got the brilliant idea of putting a couple of -- of whiskey out onto the White House lawn and slowly but surely everybody left the place. I have a lot of these kind of wild and crazy stories in my book which is democracy's big day the inauguration of our president 1789. To 2013. It is the only as journalists have and it was only looking for good stories -- you know I think we should bring back the whole like drunken fight saying I'm inaugurated today big time -- -- and that makes a lot more interesting in the script it's that we're seeing today. What is in your view this second craziest thing that happened on inauguration day in American history -- -- that. -- -- -- -- Well I think we should go back to 1960 when John F Kennedy's inauguration. We have a memorable inaugural address and everybody remembers that. But there were a lot of crazy things happened that day. First of all there was the indication. Cardinal Cushing was delivering the invocation and the podium actually started to catch fire. You can see there are pictures including one in my book. Of smoke billowing from the podium area there's a Marshal there who quickly pointed out it was a short in the electrical system but the looks of concern on. Outgoing Eisenhower outgoing president Eisenhower's space and incoming president Kennedy space stores are priceless -- Vice president Johnson -- the inaugurate the vice presidential inaugural oath that day. And then there was Robert Frost. The first -- want to ever. Commander of a poem at -- presidential inauguration we have a poem today. Well frost was the first in 1961. And he wrote a special poem for the occasion called dedication. But it snowed the night before the ceremony -- on inauguration morning. It was a bright sunny day and the sun was reflecting off of the fresh snow. Creating a -- are such that frost couldn't read the -- -- his new home. So -- even vice president Johnson stood up with a top pats to try to create some shade for frost is a picture about in my book. But even -- frost couldn't read the words and so instead he delivered a different poem. -- called the gift outright one which he knew by heart. But even man -- problems didn't end he concluded his news poetry by telling the crowd that his work had been dedicated. To the new president mr. John Finley. He mistakenly. Said John Finley who was a scholar from Harvard. And so the whereas I like to tell that story is Finley knew -- -- may have been a friend of -- But Finley was no Jack Kennedy. Yeah well said. Give bad debt thank you very much we appreciated as -- -- -- the presidential historian who is apparently written a book about inauguration day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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