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Presidential Inaugurations: Words and Images

Rutherford B. Hayes, Inauguration, March 5, 1877

Image: Caption Follows

[Crowd at the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes on the east front grounds of the U.S. Capitol, surrounding Horatio Greenough's statue of George Washington, March 5, 1877]. Library of Congress. Manuscript Division. The Papers of Montgomery C. Meigs.

The diary of President Garfield is a medium-sized bound volume with covers of marbled red and blue paper and red leather corners and spine. A green label on the diary cover reads "Daily Journal for 1877." A U.S. representative from Ohio at this time, Garfield is more fulsome in his description of President Hayes's inauguration than he was for President Grant's second inauguration. He relates:

Attended the Senate and the Vice President was sworn in. Hence went to the East Portico and witnessed the Inauguration of Hayes. The President spoke clearly and forcibly, the Chief Justice administered the oath opening a new bible which Hayes kissed somewhere in the first eleven verses of the 118th psalm. Drove back with the Presidential party to the White House where a lunch had been prepared by Mrs. Grant.

After the luncheon at the White House prepared by Mrs. Grant for the newly inaugurated President Hayes, General and Mrs. Grant left the White House in their carriage and the White House staff and President and Mrs. Hayes bade them farewell, prompting this comment from Mr. Garfield: "No American has carried greater fame out of the White House than this silent man who leaves it today."

A striking parallel to Garfield's diary is a stereographic print of Hayes's inauguration showing a view of the crowd around Horatio Greenough's statue of George Washington on the grounds of the east front of the Capitol. The crowd parts near the base of the statue to make way for the presidential party in carriages drawn by pairs of white horses. Other details of Hayes's inauguration day are mentioned in the same Garfield diary entry of March 5, 1877:

At ten oclock called on Governor Hayes at Senator [John] Shermans [of Ohio, who was appointed secretary of the treasury under President Hayes] Š Rode with him [President-elect Hayes] in Senator Shermans carriage to the White House where we awaited the Committee. Rode from the White House to the Capitol with Governor Dennison and the other Commissioners of the District.

After the inauguration ceremonies, President Hayes returned to the White House, and Mr. Garfield continues in his diary: "There were many indications of relief and joy that no accident had occurred on the route for there were apprehensions of assassination." The density of the crowd around the carriages in this stereograph offers a visual impression which seems to mirror and even amplify the concern voiced by Representative Garfield in his diary.

Next: Woodrow Wilson, First Inauguration, March 4, 1913

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