Trump will join these three other presidents who boycotted their successor’s inauguration
It has been more than 150 years since a president of the United States skipped the inauguration of their successor
In his final tweet as president, Donald Trump made history.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump announced just before his Twitter account was permanently suspended.
By not attending the inauguration of his political rival President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, Trump joins just three other presidents who declined to participate in the symbolic transfer of power from one commander in chief to the next.
The snub is so rare that it hasn’t occurred in more than 150 years. When the last president boycotted an inauguration, the first transcontinental telegraph line had been stretched across the nation for less than a decade.
Here are the other presidents who skipped their successor’s inauguration:
The first outgoing president to skip the inauguration of the incoming president was John Adams, America’s second commander in chief.
Adams left the White House at 4 a.m. on March 4, 1801 — the morning of President-elect Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration — and left no reason why he didn’t attend the event, according to the White House Historical Association.
“He may have wanted to avoid provoking violence between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, as this was the first time the presidency was transferred to an opposing party,” the association wrote. “He was also never formally invited by Jefferson and perhaps didn’t want to impose.”
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams, the sixth American president and son of the second, also did not participate in his successor’s celebratory first day in office. John Quincy Adams moved into a Washington mansion in February and officially left the White House on March 3, 1829, the night before President-elect Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, according to the association.
The 1828 election had been especially contentious and once arriving in Washington three weeks ahead of the inauguration, Jackson never reached out to Adams.
“Adams rightly saw Jackson’s behavior as a deliberate snub and refused to attend the inauguration,” the association’s website stated.
It would be 40 years and nine inaugurations before another president would boycott his successor taking the oath of office.
In 1869, impeached President Andrew Johnson left the White House after Civil War hero President-elect Ulysses S. Grant refused to share a carriage from the White House to the Capitol with Johnson.
“When it was suggested that two carriages carry them separately, Johnson said he would simply not attend the ceremonies, remaining instead at the White House with friends and colleagues and signing last-minute legislation,” reported The Associated Press.
Karl Rove, the former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser for President George W. Bush, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that there are similarities between Johnson and Trump.
“Though both were elected as Republicans, neither Mr. Trump nor Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s running mate in 1864, was a longtime party member,” Rove wrote, also noting that each served one term, was impeached and acquitted.
He adds that “Johnson was ignored at the 1868 GOP convention, beaten at the Democratic one, and succeeded by Ulysses S. Grant. Mr. Trump was defeated at the polls and then in more than 50 courtrooms as his lawyers failed to present credible evidence of widespread fraud.”
“In skipping his successor’s inauguration, Mr. Trump is acting selfishly, unwisely and unpatriotically. The U.S. needs presidents to model good behavior. It isn’t even in Mr. Trump’s interest; Americans applaud people who are gracious in defeat and dislike sore losers,” wrote Rove.
In an interview with the AP, Barbara Perry, the director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia, said the attendance of outgoing presidents to their successor’s inauguration is important because it reinforces the idea of a peaceful transition of power and provides a deterrence for potential adversaries looking to capitalize on division in America.
“We pride ourselves on this peaceful transition of power, but also don’t fool with us, don’t think that because we’re transferring power from one man to another, one party to another, or because we’ve had a controversial election, that we’re enfeebled and that we’re weak and that you can attack us,” she said.