Inaugurations Home Page

Presidential Inaugurations: Words and Images

George Washington, First Inauguration
April 30, 1789

James Buchanan, Inauguration
March 4, 1857

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inauguration
March 4, 1865

Rutherford B. Hayes, Inauguration
March 5, 1877

Woodrow Wilson, First Inauguration
March 4, 1913

Delving into the presidential and other papers in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress and the trove of pictorial images in the Prints and Photographs and Rare Book Divisions in preparation for Presidential Inaugurations has resulted in the discovery of several felicitous pairings in which a contemporary recounting of an inaugural event in a diary or letter corresponds perfectly to an image of the same event. As solitary artifacts, letters, diaries, and visual images of inaugurations are wonderfully evocative of a certain place and time, but when certain words and images are brought together there is an element of drama, a synergy. Together, there is a greater resonance, a greater poignancy, a greater intimacy, a greater sense of the moment.