Inauguration of President Jackson
March 4, 1829, Inauguration Day was a sunny day. Approximately 20,000 people crowded onto the Capital grounds. President-elect Jackson had been staying at the Gadsby Hotel. Jackson left the hotel surrounded by veterans of the wars in which he had fought. The President-elect walked toward the Capital without a hat. People were thrilled to see him. A spectator of the event was quoted saying: “There is the old man … The old veteran … There is Jackson!”
When Jackson arrived at Capital, he went into the Senate Chamber to watch John C. Calhoun being sworn in as Vice President. Jackson emerged onto the portico of the Capital and gave his inaugural address. Jackson’s address is known mostly for its vagueness on the big issues of the day, (i.e. tariffs and internal improvements). Both opponents and supporters of tariffs could interpret Jackson’s word as supporting their positions. Jackson stated that internal improvements (one of the “hot button” issues of the times) were important and should be supported by the Federal government to the extent that the Constitution allowed. Jackson’s policy position was clear on one issue alone. Jackson spoke decisively about reform. Not since Thomas Jefferson had been inaugurated had there been a real change of government in Washington. Many considered reform long overdue.
President-elect Jackson ended his speech with a prayer asking for God to continue to care for the United States. Jackson then took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice George Marshall. After enjoying the cheers of the crowd, Jackson mounted a white horse, and led a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
Unfortunately, the White House was not prepared to receive the throngs of people who followed the newly elected President. Jackson had been angered by the attacks mounted by Adams’ supporters on the character of his recently deceased wife. As a result, Jackson refused to call on Adams the day before his inauguration, as was the custom. In reaction to Jackson’s insult, Adams moved out of the White House the night before the inauguration and did not take part in the ceremony.
When the Jackson procession arrived at the White House there were no police on hand to maintain order. The house was quickly filled beyond capacity. The people rushed at whatever food was given, breaking glasses, and anything else standing in their way. President Jackson was quickly spirited back to the Gadsby Hotel. That evening, Jackson who was still in mourning, did not attend the Inaugural Ball. Instead, his niece, Emily Donnellson, who was his official hostess (filling the role of First Lady), represented him