History of White House transitions and inauguration
UPDATED 5:05 PM PT – Saturday, January 9, 2021
As President Trump announces he does not plan to attend the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden come January 20, he will be the first president to refuse to attend in more than 150 years.
Although his decision is a rare one, President Trump would actually be the fourth outgoing president to decline to attend the event in which his successor is sworn in. The incumbent’s attendance is generally a symbol of a peaceful transition, although the former presidents skipped the ceremony for different reasons.
The last president to miss the ceremony for their successor is Andrew Johnson, who refused to attend the inauguration of incoming Republican President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869.
The two were at odds politically and their disdain for one another was mutual.
In 1829, John Quincy Adams did not attend the inauguration ceremony for President Andrew Jackson. Adams had actually beaten Jackson in the previous election. The race itself was especially tense with both parties accusing the other of different forms of corruption.
The first president to skip his successor’s inauguration was John Adams in 1801 when he left Washington before Thomas Jefferson’s’ swearing-in.
Despite President Trump’s decision not to attend the ceremony later this month, he vowed for an orderly transition of power in the coming weeks.