March 4, 1829 may seem like an undistinguished day in history for most Americans today, but it marked the day of the continuation of an old American tradition.
It was the day president Andrew Jackson was inaugurated, and he held a White House open house for celebrities, politicians and even citizens.
According to history.com, the crowd became so large, reaching 20,000 people, and these people spent time wandering through the rooms and making a mess on the floor with the copious amounts of food available.
This tradition carried on until there were too many assassination attempts, which amplified the concerns for the safety and security of the guests and the presidents.
In 1885, the tradition eventually stopped when Grover Cleveland came to the conclusion that a parade may be more practical and allow for a safer event.
While many presidents continued this tradition, it became an informal custom in 1977 at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration when he, his wife and their daughter took the route to the White House.
According to The New York Times, “‘The decision whether to walk during the parade is apparently left to the new president, presumably with input from the Secret Service and other advisers,’ Ms. Goodwin noted [Doris Kearns Goodwin, a presidential historian]. The walk’s duration is also largely dictated by weather, security concerns and the politics of the time.”
Many times, the president and his brigade are met by protestors and encounter some opposition, such as people who do not agree with a specific policy the new president is for.
The past five presidents have all participated in this informal tradition since president Carter.
As with the 1885 inauguration, the security for such an event is heightened, and having a large housewarming party for the president would not be practical.
According to National Public Radio, prior to President Trump’s inauguration, it was expected that, “28,000 officials will be dedicated to security for the inauguration, including Department of Homeland Security personnel from the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard, as well as police from various departments in Washington, D.C., and from out of town, and some 7,800 National Guard troops.”
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org