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Six Presidents That Skipped Their Successor’s Inauguration

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John Adams

You can’t go back any further than the second president skipping the third president’s inauguration. In general, Adams was angry and upset after a contentious presidency and not being re-elected. There was a tie in the electoral vote and the election went into Congress. It took 36 votes to break the electoral college deadlock between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Adams came in third. However, Adams and Jefferson remained somewhat cordial and Adams invited Jefferson to dine with him in the White House in January (before the final outcome). John and Abigail left early at 4:00 am on inauguration day for their long trip home to Quincy, Massachusetts. These two men that were best of friends became enemies but eventually rekindled their friendship. They also died on the same day – the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence which they, along with Benjamin Franklin, helped create and write. Jefferson was Adams’ Vice President. It was said that Adams left early with a desire to cool the political temperature, not out of anger, and to get home at a reasonable time.

John Quincy Adams

Like father, like son. He skipped Andrew Jackson’s inauguration who he hated especially after a very bitter election and a rebuff to Adams’ offer to Jackson to use the White House for the inaugural festivities. The election of Adams over Jackson was decided for Adams in the House since neither candidate received a majority of the electoral votes. It was brokered by Henry Clay (who was a third candidate) in what was called the “corrupt bargain.” Jackson handily won a rematch four years later and Quincy Adams tried to smooth over some of the animosity by offering the use of the White House. Quincy Adams left the White House on the evening of March 3rd purposely choosing to not attend the inauguration. Jackson won a second term and Quincy Adams served 17 years in the House of Representatives.

Andrew Johnson

He succeeded to the presidency after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He was not a popular president or well-liked, was impeached escaping conviction by one vote in the Senate and failed to secure his party’s nomination for reelection. Johnson’s nemesis, Ulysses S. Grant, was elected president by a wide electoral vote but very narrow popular vote. Johnson, who was a divisive racist was snubbed by Grant, who won the popular vote by overwhelming support from the freed slaves in the South, who refused to ride in the same carriage as Johnson to the inauguration. Instead, Johnson remained in the White House signing last-minute legislation.

Woodrow Wilson

He did not attend Warren Harding’s inauguration. The morning of the inauguration Harding was driven to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the President joined him and they rode to the Capitol. Wilson waited until the final session of Congress of his presidency concluded and then left. Due to Wilson’s ill health, his doctor did not feel he was strong enough to attend the outdoor ceremony in the cold windy weather. Harding gave Wilson an appropriate Good-Bye and thanked him for the courtesy extended to him. Harding took the oath at 1:18 pm, the exact moment Wilson did eight years earlier.

Richard Nixon

He left Washington, DC before Gerald Ford was sworn in. No animosity toward Ford, but under the circumstances Nixon handled it admirably.

Donald Trump

He did not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration yesterday and this completes the list. I am making no comments since this is a contentious issue and I do not want to express any political opinions.

If you have any tax, business or financial issues you want to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.

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