You Won’t Believe Why Inauguration Day Held On The 20th Of January

The USA has a rather unique process of only inaugurating the new president so long after an election. Many countries do it in a week or two, Great Britain normally does it the following day.

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In the United States, more than 11 weeks can pass between Election and Inauguration Day. This is to provide time for the president-elect to select a cabinet and make plans for the new administration. Although this is a long process, it used to be even longer. The date of March 4, 1789, was set by the Congress of the Confederation, as the date “for commencing proceedings” of the new government established by the U.S. Constitution.

The inauguration of George Washington was delayed by eight weeks due to an especially bad winter. Thereafter, incoming presidents and vice presidents took their oaths of office on March 4, a four-month gap. This was the time needed to count and report votes at the time and then travel to the nation’s capital. It soon became problematic such as the one in aftermath of the 1860 election that saw seven states leaving the Union during the long break.

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The then President-elect Abraham Lincoln had no power yet and James Buchanan, the outgoing president, did nothing, leaving the problem to Lincoln when he eventually took office. With the progress in transport and improvements in technology, the process took significantly less time, making the long delay unnecessary. Eventually, the 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, and moved the Inauguration Day to January 20. The first meeting of the new Congress was to take place on January 3.

This did not come into effect until the October of 1933 and again there were issues. America was in the middle of the Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the incoming President was unable to act and implement his New Deal.
It was only in 1937 when Inauguration Day first took place on January 20 when Roosevelt was sworn in for a second term. So, now you know a little more of the background as to why January 20, 2017, will see the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new President of the United States.