Traditionally, the group that is seated on the platform includes the president and vice president and their families; the president-elect and vice president-elect and their families; the chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court; former presidents; the diplomatic corps; cabinet members and nominees; members of Congress; governors; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other guests, according to the joint committee.
In 2017, when Mr. Trump was sworn in, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were in attendance, as were Mr. Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle Obama, and former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. President George H.W. Bush was unable to attend because of poor health; he died in 2018.
Nov. 9, 2020, 9:12 a.m. ET
How long is the Inaugural Address?
Every president since George Washington has delivered the Inaugural Address, which has ranged from 8,445 words to 135 words, according to the committee. During his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 2017, Mr. Trump spoke for 16 minutes before hundreds of thousands of followers and spectators. In his speech, he vowed to shatter the established order and reverse a national decline that he called “this American carnage.”
The next day, Mr. Trump disputed independent estimates of the attendance, saying that up to 1.5 million people had been there, a claim disproved by photographs. Visual estimates of the size of the crowd put it at one-third the size of Mr. Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
Has the event always been in January?
No. The ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933 fixed Jan. 20 as the date. Before that, inaugurations traditionally took place on March 4. Through history, the ceremony has taken place on other dates and in 10 different locations.
Washington, the nation’s first president, was sworn in on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City.
Andrew Jackson’s first inauguration, on March 4, 1829, was the first ceremony to be conducted on the East Portico of the Capitol. The crowds of attendees were so excited that they rushed toward the new president, who then retreated into the Capitol and rode a horse to the White House.