Inauguration Day, April 30, 1789, began with the sounds of ceremonial artillery and church bells ringing across New York City, our nation's first capital. At noon President George Washington made his way through large crowds to Federal Hall where both houses of Congress were assembled. He was administered the oath of office and officially became the first president of the United States.
In 1801 Thomas Jefferson was the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C., the location chosen for the permanent capital. After his second inauguration Jefferson rode on horseback from the Capitol to the President's House amid music and a spontaneous gathering of mechanics from the nearby Navy Yard – a procession that grew into today's inaugural parade.
Presidents have celebrated in many ways since George Washington danced the minuet after his inauguration. James Madison and his wife Dolley, were the guests of honor at the first official inaugural ball, held at Long's Hotel in Washington, D.C. Modern inaugural festivities reflect not only the president they honor, but also the desire of many Americans to celebrate our nation's rich history and the transfer of presidential power.