Jan. 20, 2009 – Barack Hussein Obama
was sworn into offi ce as the 44th President of
the United States of America, marking a new
chapter in American history.
As our fi rst black president, Obama takes
his place in the annals of historical presidential
fi rsts. Rather than hammer home the fact
that President Obama will have his hands
full dealing with the problems our country
is facing, I decided to take a light tone and
stroll down memory lane with some other
memorable presidential fi rsts.
After all, why should President Obama
get all the credit for being a historical fi rst?
Plenty of presidents did things before other
presidents did them. It happens all the time.
April 30, 1789 – George Washington
is sworn into offi ce, making him the fi rst
president to be anything at all – notably the
fi rst to be a hemp farmer and a slave owner.
He also set inauguration precedent by using
the phrase “so help me God,” kissing the
Bible after taking his oath, and supplicating
himself to the “Almighty Being who rules
over the Universe,” establishing forever the
place of religion in American politics – as a
political tool and patriotic speech-fi ll.
March 4, 1837 – Martin Van Buren becomes
the fi rst president not born as a British subject.
Van Buren was also the fi rst president to
pretend to get along with his predecessor
by riding to the inauguration together with
Andrew Jackson, likely discussing the benefi ts
of long trousers over knee breeches.
March 4, 184 – William Henry Harrison is
inaugurated in the pouring rain without a hat
or an overcoat, and proceeds to give the longest
inaugural address in history. Harrison dies
thirty days later of complications resulting
from a common cold-though the unoffi cial
cause of death is stupidity-making him the
fi rst president to die in offi ce.
March 4, 1853 – Franklin Pierce affi rms
the oath of offi ce, rather than swearing, and
cancels the inaugural ball. Pierce’s refusal to
swear or dance earns him his place in history
as the dullest president ever.
March 4, 1861 – Abraham Lincoln
rides with an armed cavalry escort to his
inauguration, making him the fi rst president
to have a “posse packing heat.” Four years
later, Lincoln allows African-Americans to
participate in the inaugural parade, making
him also the fi rst president to use “token
March 4, 1917 – Woodrow Wilson says
“take that!” to former presidents James
Monroe and Rutherford Hayes – as well as
Godby taking the oath of offi ce on Sunday,
making him the fi rst president to not care that
it was Sunday.
Jan. 20, 1937 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
one-ups Woodrow Wilson by giving the fi nger
to every prior president by getting inaugurated
on January 20. Roosevelt is also the fi rst and
only president-so far-to be elected to four
Jan. 20, 1969 – Richard Milhous Nixon is
the fi rst president to swear the oath of offi ce on
two Bibles, making him twice the Christian of
any previous president. Interestingly enough,
Nixon was also the fi rst and only president to
resign. We can only assume from his extra
holy inauguration that he was too good to be
Jan. 20, 1997 – William Jefferson Clinton
becomes the fi rst president to have his
inauguration webcast live, making him also
the fi rst president to be trapped in the internet.
Clinton was also the fi rst president to be
named Clinton. Will he be the last, magic
8-ball? “All signs point to yes.”
Jan. 20, 2001 – George Walker Bush is
inaugurated. Bush was not the fi rst Bush to
become president, nor is he the fi rst former
presidents’ son to be elected. He is, however,
the fi rst president to be mis-underestimated.
Nov. 2, 2004 – George Washington becomes
the fi rst president to roll over in his grave as
Bush is elected for a second term. During this
second term, Bush becomes the fi rst president
to enjoy the highest, then the lowest approval
rating for a president in recorded history.
You can see the history of the U.S.
Presidency is laden with monumental fi rst
occurrences. It’s merely a matter of perception.
Every time a new president is elected it’s the
fi rst time for something; why should the fact
that Barack Obama is the fi rst ever African-
American President of the United States seem
Maybe when all the major news networks
grow tired of covering the “monumental
change” angle, we can catch back up with
news that really matters-like the Obama
dog. Have they picked one yet?
The anticipation is killing me!
Jan. 20, 2009 – Barack Hussein Obama