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  • 1801 - Fearing possible violence and recrimination between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, President John Adams considered resigning several days early in order not to attend Jefferson’s inauguration. Adams ultimately did not do so, but nevertheless departed at 4 a.m. the morning of his successor’s inauguration. 
  • 1829 - Like his father, John Adams, President John Quincy Adams did not attend the inauguration of the incoming president, in this case Andrew Jackson. In late February 1829, President Adams moved to a mansion on Meridian Hill, and departed the White House for good on the evening of March 3, the day before the inauguration.
  • 1837 - President Andrew Jackson attended the inauguration of Martin Van Buren, leaving Washington two days later on March 6. He was driven to the railroad depot on a coach made with wood from the USS Constitution.
  • 1841 - President-elect William Henry Harrison arrived in Washington, D.C. in February 1841, occupying the National Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. On February 9, he met with Van Buren at the White House. On the following day, Van Buren and his cabinet met with Harrison at the National Hotel. On February 12, Harrison was honored with a dinner at the White House. When the National Hotel became overcrowded, Van Buren offered to leave the White House several weeks early to accommodate Harrison, but the president-elect instead decided to take a brief trip to Virginia before the inauguration. 
  • 1845 - While staying at the National Hotel in 1845, James K. Polk and his family were invited to the White House by President John Tyler for a dinner on March 2, two days before inauguration; this to celebrate passage of a joint resolution to offer Texas admission into the Union.
  • 1849 - The Polks left the White House on March 3, 1849 for the Willard Hotel. The typical March 4 inauguration was delayed until the 5th as the 4th fell on a Sunday. President Polk used the vice president’s office in the Capitol for last minute work. After one final walk through the White House, he wrote in his diary, “I feel exceedingly relieved that I am now free from all public cares. I am sure I shall be a happier man in my retirement than I have been during the four years I have filled the highest office in the gift of my countrymen.”
  • 1853 - In 1853, President-elect Franklin Pierce was treated to a dinner party by President Fillmore. The Fillmores moved out of the White House the day before inauguration for the Willard Hotel, renting space there while their home in Buffalo was being furnished. Fillmore rode with Pierce to the Capitol for the oath of office.
  • 1857 - In 1857, James Buchanan stayed at the National Hotel before the inauguration and was present at President Pierce’s final drawing room gathering on January 31. Afterwards, Buchanan returned to Pennsylvania before traveling back to Washington, D,C. on March 2. Early on March 4, Pierce said final farewells to his cabinet before riding with Buchanan to the Capitol. 
  • 1881 - The Hayes and Garfield families were close friends. They accompanied each other before the 1881 inauguration as their children played together on the White House grounds. Much of the Hayes family furniture and possessions had already been sent back to Ohio.
  • 1889 - In February 1889, President-elect Benjamin Harrison and his family were honored with a dinner at the White House. On the morning of March 4, with President Cleveland and President-elect Harrison at the inauguration, First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland gave autographed pictures to White House staff.
  • 1897 - In March 1897, First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland shed tears as she left the White House for the final time. President Grover Cleveland took a final walk among the State Rooms, asking one of the staff to remove the portrait of him for storage in the attic. After the inauguration, both Cleveland and the new president, William McKinley, talked amiably in the Blue Room.
  • 1909 - Shortly after taking office in 1909, President William Howard Taft was asked how he liked being president. President Taft replied, “I hardly know yet . . . When I hear someone say Mr. President, I look around expecting to see Roosevelt [Theodore, his predecessor]. . . So you can see that I have not gone very far yet.” 
  • 1913 - Before departing the White House early on March 4, 1913, First Lady Helen Taft used White House stationary one final time to write to her sons to keep as mementos. 
  • 1921 - On March 4, 1921, President Warren G, Harding opened his presidency with a luncheon provided by First Lady Edith Wilson at the White House, followed by a small dance and dinner in Georgetown instead of the traditional inaugural ball.
  • 1929 - Observers recalled President Coolidge to be quite melancholy in the weeks before the inauguration of President Herbert Hoover. Those building the reviewing stand commented that he “acted like a prisoner who had to witness the noise and bustle attendant on the building of a scaffold for his execution.” Upon their departure on March 4, 1929, the Coolidges gave small gifts to the White House staff. After a brief meeting between Coolidge and Hoover in the Blue Room, they departed for Capitol Hill for the oath of office. Upon assuming office, President Hoover added more telephones and radios to the White House, expanding its technological capabilities. Among the objects Hoover brought to the White House was an engraving of Francis Carpenter’s First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet, featuring President Abraham Lincoln. 
  • 1933 - During the transition between presidents Hoover and Roosevelt, the two met in the Red Room for tea on March 3, 1933, holding a rather cool meeting on how to deal with the economic depression. On the morning of inauguration, Hoover’s Medicine Ball Cabinet met one final time before the Hoovers met the Roosevelts in their cars outside the North Portico.
  • 1953 - Before inauguration day on January 20, 1953, the Eisenhowers stayed at the Statler Hotel. The previous December, First Lady Bess Truman had shown the newly renovated White House to Mrs. Eisenhower. While at the Statler, the incoming first family was joined by their son, John, on temporary break from military service in Korea. President-elect Eisenhower wore a stiff-curl brimmed hat instead of the more traditional high silk hat.
  • 1961 - After a snowstorm the preceding night, President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. The transition between Kennedy and Eisenhower was smooth with the Brookings Institute providing transition reports in the weeks before inauguration.
  • 1969 - Despite the national tension of the late 1960s, President Johnson remained dedicated to a smooth transition of power, meeting in September with candidates Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace. President Johnson personally delivered his last State of the Union on January 14, 1969. The last letters President Johnson signed in the White House were letters to his sons-in law, then serving in Vietnam. 
  • 1980 - In 1980, the Reagan and Carter transition teams held a meeting at the White House movie theater. This was only the second time a transition team had held a meeting in the White House. The first was when the Ford and Carter teams met. President Carter worked to finalize a deal on the Iran hostages until the last possible moment, even remaining on the telephone while en route to the Capitol.
  • 1989 - For the Reagans’ last Christmas in the White House, the East Room was transformed into a winter wonderland with trees, carolers, and a sleigh. On the morning of January 20, 1989, President Reagan spent time in the Oval Office with personnel having already moved most of the Reagan possessions out of the White House. Before leaving, the Reagans said farewell to staff on the Second Floor. With the bicentennial of the American presidency, comparisons were made between George Washington and the new president, George H. W. Bush, with the slogan “George to George.”

Compiled by the White House Historical Association. Please credit the Association by its full name when using this as background material. Specific sources consulted available upon request.

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org

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